From Lignon Hill Nature Park, we next drove down to the nearby town of Daraga. About 3.5 kms. northwest of the town, 500 m. north of the highway, we entered the Cagsawa Ruins, a place I first visited 7 years ago during a stopover on our way to Naga City (Camarines Sur). Much has happened since my first visit. In 2006, mud flows from Mayon Volcano, triggered by typhoon Reming (international name: Durian) buried 8 villages in the town (killing at least 1,266 people) and we passed many ruined and buried homes.
|The Cagsawa Ruins|
Still, the Cagsawa Ruins, the most visited and photographed site in all of Albay, remains as it seemed during my last visit, the big difference being my classic, postcard view of Mt. Mayon’s perfect cone wasn’t obstructed by swirling afternoon clouds. The blackened church bell tower (or belfry), as well as the broken down walls of the priest’s house and municipal building (all destroyed during the February 1, 1814 eruption that killed 1,200 townspeople), have still withstood the test of time and the elements.
|Other ruins at the site|
Something I never noticed before was a mini-resort with rental cottages and 2 modest-size swimming pools (adult and kiddie) to the right of the ruins. This begs the questions “Why build a resort at the very site where thousands have died while escaping the wrath of the volcano?” “Did they dig up skeletons when they dug the pools?” The resort owner who built it was somehow unmindful of the sacredness of the place.
|The swimming pool beside the ruins. “What were they thinking?”|
Right outside the ruins were a chain of souvenir shops selling a colorful assortment of locally produced products such as bags and baskets; Tiwi ceramic ware; furniture (wicker chairs, sala and dining sets, etc.); Tabaco cutlery items (bolos, knives, grass cutters, etc.), arts and crafts made from Mayon’s ashes, hardwood, abaca and shells; exotic flowers and orchids; T-shirts with different designs; and native food delicacies such as kuyog, pili nut confections (salted, sugar-coated, etc.), canned pinangat, and sweet pineapple wine. Restaurants on the site also offer bicol express (a spicy shrimp dish with coconut cream), inasal na sira (grilled fish) among other dishes.
Cagsawa Ruins: Brgy. Busay, Daraga. Admssion: PhP10. Parking fees: trucks and buses (PhP20); cars (PhP15) and motorcycles and tricycles (PhP5).