Having a family is a blessing. More if they are with you on your travels. Coming from a big family, it is very rare for us to find time to bond together. The most common things we do is to just have a big buffet of food or swimming on the beach or just simply spend time together. We had this rare opportunity to hang up together last October 2016 at my sister-in-law’s ancestral place in Ligao Albay. It was a perfect timing coz I just went back to the Philippines from staying for more than one year in different cities in China. We visited few of the most famous touristic spots in the city.

Let me enlighten you with little information about the places we’ve visited.

MAYON VOLCANO. One of the most famous tourist spot in Albay is The Mayon Volcano, renowned as the “Perfect Cone” because of it’s perfect symmetrical shape. It is one of the world most active volcano. Mayon’s most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1200 people and devastated several towns.
the volcano rises 2462 m above the Albay Gulf and has very steep upper slopes averaging 35-40 degrees capped by a small summit crater.  Historical records of eruptions date back to 1616 and range from strombolian to basaltic plinian, with cyclical activity beginning with basaltic eruptions, followed by longer term andesitic lava flows. Eruptions occur predominately from the central conduit and have also produced lava flows that travel far down the flanks. Pyroclastic flows and mudflows have commonly swept down many of the approximately 40 ravines that radiate from the summit and have often devastated populated lowland areas.


Source: adapted from GVP / Smithsonian Institution

THE LEGEND OF MT. MAYON:

Characters

  • Daragang Magayon – the beautiful lady from the Kabikulan and the love interest of Panganoron and Paratuga. Her grave was believed to be in the place where Mount Mayon has risen.
  • Panganoron – the love interest of Daragang Magayon, a tagalog warrior, which means their love affair is prohibited.
  • Paratuga – a rich but celfish native in Kabikolan who aims to win Daragang Magayon’s heart.
  • Tiong Makusog – the chief of the village and the loving father of Daragang Makusog who was abducted by Paratuga so that the damsel will be forced to marry him.

Story

The legend tells the story of the most beautiful maiden named Daragang Magayon(Beautiful Lady) in Bikolandia or Kabikolan, long before the separation of the Philippines to mainland Asia. During those times, it is prohibited for a maiden to marry a man living outside the Kabikulan. Though Daragang Magayon had a native and rich but selfish suitor named Paratuga, she fell in love with a stranger, a Tagalog, named Panganoron (Clouds).

One night, she told her father Tiong Makusog about her love affair with the stranger and though it is prohibited and it hurts the father’s heart to know that his only daughter is in love with a stranger he still told her that he will find the best way to fulfill the wish of his daughter. Unfortunately, Paratuga kidnapped Tiong(Uncle) Makusog(Strong)  and demanded Daragang Makusog to marry him in exchange of the life of his father. When Daragang Makusog learned about this, she hurriedly went to the house of Paratuga and agreed to marry him.

Then the date of the marriage is announced. When the news finally reached Panganoron he planned to save the girl he loves and decide to throw a war against Paratuga. The war happened on the day of the wedding and there Daragang Magayon was killed with a stray arrow and when Panganoron is holding the weak body of the beloved, he was attacked from behind. Both of them were killed.

Tiong Makusog buried his daughter along with all her belongings including the bride price given by Paratuga. The inhabitants of the land were surprised to the grave of Daragang Magayon into a hill. Also at the top of that hill were clouds that burst out rain. And at night the people experience thundering noises of rolling stones and earthquakes. The hill kept growing and growing. Today, it is now known as The Mayon Volcano, deriving its name from “Magayon” and the name of the town Daraga is derived from Daragang.

Source: en.wikipilipinas.org

 

The Cagsawa Ruins (also spelled as Kagsawa or Cagsaua) are the remnants of a 16th-century Franciscan church, the Cagsawa church.

It was originally built in the town of Cagsawa in 1587 but was burned down by Dutch pirates in 1636. It was rebuilt in 1724 by Fr. Francisco Blanco, but was destroyed again, along with the town of Cagsawa, in February 1, 1814, during the eruption of the Mayon Volcano.

The ruins are currently located in Barangay Busay, Cagsawa, in the municipality of Daraga, Albay, Philippines. It is part of Cagsawa Park and is protected and maintained by the municipal government of Daraga and the National Museum of the Philippines, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area. The International Tourism Bourse, one of the world’s top travel trade shows based in Berlin, has even recognized the site as one of the places to visit in Asia

 

THE LANGUAGE:

I am a native of Bicol Region. I was born and raised in Naga City. My father’s ancestor is from Ligao, Albay, while my mother is from Iriga City. Majority of their relatives are from Pili Cam. Sur. I am a fluent speaker of Bicol language. Bicol (Bikol) different form of dialects. According to McFarland (1974) splits Bikol into 11 dialects, Lobel (2000) splits Bikol into 12 different dialects (including Partido Bikol, which McFarland does not differentiate) and 4 main branches. Our dialects has a lot of similarity with Spanish words.

 

Getting back to our “Family Getaway”, it was the most memorable one that we had. But as everyone was busy creating their own memoirs, we all forgotten to take a groupie. Everyone were busy discovering what were the best things in this place. Bicol is branded as URAGON, means someone who possess strong ability, vitality or power. CHILI is also popular in this province. Almost all the variety of food has super spicy chili which I could not bear to eat. I am from this province but I am allergic to spicy food. A lot of tourist were intrigued with “Chili Ice Cream” and “SPICY SHAKES”. It is just a normal ice cream with “SILING LABUYO” (Cayenne Pepper). At the left side of Cagsawa Ruins, there are lots of CARINDERIA (small restaurant) where we ate our lunch, they served native traditional dishes such as “Laing” (or Natong) is a spicy dish that is Coconut milk (or cream) based with dried taro leaves. Another famous dish is “Bicol Express”, it is a stew made from long chilies, coconut milk, shrimp paste or stockfish, onion, pork, and garlic and “PINANGAT”is a dish which combines taro leaves, chili, meat and coconut milk. The ingredients are wrapped in gabi (taro) leaves, tied securely with coconut leaf and simmered in coconut milk. Well there are a lot of dishes and I opted for something which is not spicy, but sadly chili is their main ingredients.

After lunch, we stroll everywhere and took photos from each and every corner. Afterwards my siblings, nieces and nephews decided to ride an ATV Ride to the lava wall. There are lots of groups of tour operators that offered us. Some are extremely expensive that ranges from Php 500 to more than 2,000 per pax. Would you imagine from that price we got it for Php 250 per pax.

Before going on the trail, the guide taught us precautions and familiarization of how ATV works. Here you will master acceleration, brakes, and steering of your ATV. This one is fun enough already and it will gives you more expectation as to what you will experience later on.

 

 

The trails was just about 45 minutes, it offers a magnificent view of Mayon Volcano specially if its not cloudy. It has rocky trail and river trail that adds up to the excitement of your Bicol experience. As for me, it’s been almost a decade since the last time I drove. My first attempt of driving was an epic fail. I lost control of the steering wheel and I lost my way to the carabao road. A bit scary for as my daughter is riding with me but it was exciting. I feel like an expert driver after making water splash along the river. It was muddy, sandy and steep that adds more and more excitement to our adventure. The two tour guides focused on me for the whole duration of the trail. I don’t know if they are concern with me or with the ATV, hahaha! I survived without breaking the ATV to the crater of Mayon Volcano. We rested there for few minutes and took a lot of picture. The view was very relaxing. But everyone was making fun of how I drove. Well they’d been driving for a long time continuously and I was not. Overall, it was a fun adventure and I must say that an ATV ride is a must when visiting Cagsawa Ruins.