Stopover: Cathedral of St. Gregory the Great (Legaspi City, Albay)

Also called the Albay Cathedral, the first church was buried in 1754 and destroyed during the February 1, 1814 eruption of Mayon Volcano. The present cathedral, located near Penaranda Park, was built in 1834 mainly through the generosity of Pedro Romero.  During World War II, the church was damaged by American bombers and its reconstruction continued until 1951.

The Cathedral of St. Gregory the Great

The Cathedral of St. Gregory the Great

That same year, when the Episcopal Seat of the Diocese of Legaspi was established, the church was elevated to become a cathedral. Its nominal patron is Our Lady Mother of Salvation while its secondary patron is Pope St. Gregory the Great. In 2001, during the golden jubilee of the church, a gate with monolithic pillars and arch was constructed.

The simple Romanesque-style facade

The simple Romanesque-style facade

The church’s simple Romanesque-style façade has a semicircular arched main entrance with a projecting portico, both flanked by niches with statues of St. Raphael and St. Peter, and superpositioned coupled columns on pedestals supporting a triangular pediment. At the ends are single superpositioned columns with a pinnacle on top. The pediment and second level are separated by an entablature.

The centrally located square bell tower

The centrally located square bell tower

The second level has a centrally located rose window flanked by rectangular windows.  Above the pediment is a centrally located square bell tower.  The side entrances have semicircular arched entrances flanked by superpositioned fluted columns.  Above the entrances are statued niches.

Side entrances with a statued niche above it

A side entrance. A niche with the statue of St. Lorenzo Ruiz is above it

Cathedral of St. Gregory the Great: Mons. F. Reyes St., Old Albay District, Legazpi City, 4500, Albay. Tel (052) 820 4603.

City Mayor’s Office: City Hall, National Highway, Legaspi City, 4500, Albay. Tel.: (052) 820-1400.

City Tourism Office: Legaspi City, 4500, Albay. Tel: (052) 480-2698 and (052) 820-1843. Website: www.legaspi.gov.ph.

How to Get There: Legaspi City is located 556 kms. southeast of Manila.

Stopover: Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (Malilipot, Albay)

Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

The town’s church was first built in 1789 by Fr. Simeon Vasquez. The present church was started in 1851 and completed in 1877.The church grounds have a good view of Mayon Volcano.

The Baroque-style, 2-level facade

The Baroque-style, 2-level facade

Author’s notes:

Its 2-level Baroque façade has a semicircular, recessed arched main entrance, in varying widths, flanked, on each side, by 3 pilasters (the center one taller and wider than the other two), all mounted on pedestals. These, in turn, are flanked by semicircular arched windows.

A trio of columns

A trio of columns

The main entrance

The main entrance with recessed arches in varying widths

The second level has a semicircular arched niche with a statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (below which is stamped the year “1877”) flanked, on both sides, by a pilaster and a semicircular arched window.  All throughout the façade are decorative scrollwork while the statued niche has a fleur de lis keystone.  The triangular pediment has a centrally located oculus.

Niche with statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Niche with statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Detail of decorative scrollwork

Detail of decorative scrollwork

The whole façade is flanked by two 4-storey, hexagonal bell towers topped by domes. The two levels are separated by an entablature with a frieze of decorative, alternating diamond and floral patterns which continues around the bell towers.

The modern church interior

The modern church interior

The bell tower with Mt. Mayon on its left

The bell tower with Mt. Mayon on its left

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church: Poblacion, 4510 Malilipot, Albay.  Tel: (052) 325 8965 and 558-2379.

Mayor’s Office: Municipal Hall, Poblacion, 4510 Malilipot, Albay. Tel.: (052) 820-7950

Stopover: Church of St. Joachim and St. Anne (Malinao, Albay)

The Church of St. Joachim and St. Anne was built by Franciscan Fr. Francisco de Sta. Ana in 1619, destroyed by lahar triggered by a typhoon during the 1766 Mayon Volcano eruption and later rebuilt.

Church of St. Joachim and St. Anne

Church of St. Joachim and St. Anne

Author’s notes:

This church’s simple Romanesque façade has semicircular arch main entrance (above which is a rose window) flanked by rectangular windows and superpositioned coupled columns on pedestals that extend to the second level.  At the ends of the facade are single superpositioned columns topped by pinnacles. On the church’s right is the four-storey bell tower.

The church facade

The church facade

The bell tower

The 4-storey bell tower

Its triangular pediment above the second level features a remarkable relief sculpture of St. Anne holding baby Mary, riding a cow and chasing off pirates.  St. Anne is credited with saving Malinao from a pirate attack.

Bas relief at the triangular pediment

Bas relief at the triangular pediment

The church's modern interior

The church’s modern interior

Mayor’s Office: Municipal Hall, Poblacion, 4512 Malinao, Albay. Tel.: (052) 488-4550

How to Get There: Malinao is located 545 kms. from Manila, 5 kms. from Tabaco City and 32 kms. northeast of Legaspi City.

Stopover: Church of St. Lawrence the Martyr (Tiwi, Albay)

Church of St. Lawrence the Martyr

Church of St. Lawrence the Martyr

Tiwi’s present church, built in 1829, replaced the town’s original church which was built in 1776,  by Franciscan Fr. Pedro de Brosas at the mouth of a site called Tuytoy (“bridge”) Swamps.  The church was burned by Moro pirates and later abandoned due to its vulnerability to typhoon-induced tidal waves.

The centrally located, square bell tower and triangular pediment

The centrally located, square bell tower and triangular pediment

Author’s notes:

The church’s dark, simple but charming façade is dominated by a centrally located, square bell tower, and it’s gently protruding, semicircular arched main entrance, flanked by coupled columns, is topped by a triangular pediment with a centrally located oculus.

Superpositioned coupled columns with pinnacles

Superpositioned coupled columns with pinnacles

Flanking the main entrance are two statued niches and another set of coupled columns capped by pointed pinnacles.  The first level is separated from the triangular pediment by an entablature.

The modern church interior

The modern church interior

Church of St. Lawrence the Martyr: San Lorenzo St., Sitio Basag, Brgy. Tigbi, 4513 Tiwi, Albay.  Tel: (052) 488 5107. Feast of St. Lawrence the Martyr: August 10.

Mayor’s Office: Municipal Hall, Poblacion, 4513 Tiwi, Albay.  Tel.: (052) 435-4866.

Philippine Ceramics Arts and Crafts Center (Tiwi, Albay)

After lunch and some special halo-halo at DJC Halo-Halo & Snack Inn, we again boarded our van for the short, 7-km. drive to the quiet, little coastal village of Putsan, touted as the birthplace of pottery in the Philippines.  The barangay is said to be rich in red clay and feldspar which are the basic materials in pottery making.

Philippine Ceramic Craft Arts (PhilCeramics)

Philippine Ceramics Arts and Crafts Center (PhilCeramics)

Here, we were to visit Philippine Ceramics Arts and Crafts Center (PhilCeramics), a state-of-the-art terra-cotta production center in the Bicol region which has been identified as a tourist destination by the Department of Tourism. The building, situated on a 1,500 square meter lot donated by the Barangay Council of Putsan to DTI-Albay, has a total floor area of 1,000 sq. m..

Clay being hand molded

Clay being hand molded

PhilCeramics introduced the modern technology of pottery making in Tiwi which is now the leading terracotta ceramic industry in Bicol Region. This project of Department of Trade and Industry, allocated P15.7 million under the General Appropriations Act of 1994, started operating in January 2001.

A pair of steady and trained hands working on the potter's wheel

A pair of steady and trained hands working on the potter’s wheel

The village then formed a cooperative, the Putsan Ceramics Manufacturers Association (PCMA), whose role was to process clay, through the PhilCeramics facility, and to sell them to the entrepreneurs.  PCMA now has 57 members from Brgys. Baybay, Bolo and Putsan. Three were able to put up their own display centers of their products. It now provides a sustainable livelihood through pottery making.

Various patterns being smoothly and uniformly carved out

Various patterns being smoothly and uniformly carved out

Many potters, though, not yet ready to adapt to the modern processes, still choose to abide by the traditional method of pottery.  Traditional potters dry clay and molded pots under the sun along the sides of road or in front of their houses, and use the conventional way of baking, burning piles of hay and chaff on their yards, with the molded items underneath.

Painting designs in warm and vibrant colors

Painting designs in warm and vibrant colors

Of the 80% of households in Putsan that were into pottery, 20%used the PhilCeramics service facility while 60% stuck to the traditional methods of production. However, the two groups have different markets and there never was a competition between the traditional and modern potters. The traditional potters produce pots and big jars while the modern potters invest on decorative items.  The peak season of the industry is from December to March.

Aromatherapy burners

Aromatherapy burners

Specifically, PhilCeramics is mandated to undertake research and development activities and serve as a training center that will hone the skills of the local producers, giving rise to new breed of TC entrepreneurs. Today, it has developed 25 new entrepreneurs in Putsan who are active users of the service facility.

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Stars and crescent moons carved into the jars

As a production center, it provides access to common state-of-the-art service facilities for clay processing, kiln firing, casting, use of spray booth, and electric throwing machines, thus enabling local producers to manufacture export quality products.. It is also a display center providing a space to interested local producers who wish to maintain an exhibit of their products. Through the transfer of appropriate technology, it also seeks to improve the quality of products.

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As a product development center, it conducts continuing product development activities in coordination with the PDDCP and other agencies. A training center, it provides a series of basic and advance skills training to potential and existing TC workers, producers and entrepreneurs. For trade development, it conducts trade seminars and forums, trade fair participation and market matching activities that enhance the marketability of the terracotta wares.

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Upon arrival, we observed the pottery making process within the factory.  The process begins with heaps of red clay being dug out.  The clay then undergoes a long, meticulous process to make them fine and ready for shaping.  Then, these chunks of red clay are ground, milled, sifted and pressed into finer lumps with a bit of water and white clay blended in the mixture. Three mixtures are used in making a pot – red clay (himulot na pula), black clay (himulot na itom) and feldspar (baras). Water is added to complete the formula. An average of 20 to 40 kilos of clay is produced daily.

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The processed clay is then distributed to the parahurma (the local term for potter) of Putsan for them to mold right inside their homes, making modern pottery a communal enterprise in the village.  Jars and pots are then hand-molded in delicate shapes, by men, on top of an electric-driven throwing machine.  A pair of steady and trained hands works on the potter’s wheel, molding clay into the shape of pots or jars.

Pots being dried under the sun

Pots being dried under the sun

Then creativity kicks in, with various patterns (butterflies, flowers, moon, stars, etc.) smoothly and uniformly carved out.  The molded and carved out jars and pots are then placed into petroleum gas-powered ovens and baked. Women paint the designs in warm and vibrant colors.  A tight watch is made over the oven as too much heat can also break the pots and jars.

Display center of finished products

Display center of finished products

Product prices vary depending on size and design but most do not exceed PhP500. The products made are mainly for local consumption since bringing them to Manila would be expensive due to the high cost of freight services from Albay. However, the local government is also extending financial help to the pottery industry with the long-term goal of penetrating the export market.

Ceramic key chains

Ceramic key chains

Products include elegant vases (PhP50-250), ash trays (PkP50-100), pencil holders (PhP35-60), miniature jars cut and holed to become candle holders (PhP50-65)and aromatherapy burners (PhP65-300), key-chains (PhP10), ref magnets (PhP35), candle holders, decorative wind-chimes featuring butterflies and flowers (PhP75) and lamp shades (PhP65-150).  Coffee mugs and tea cups are made-to-order.

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The ceramics from Tiwi, because of its improved quality and design, is now gradually being introduced to the world of fashion and interior design. Some ceramic-made accessories are now being fashioned into accents for bags, curtains and blinds. Ceramic accents that looked like cookies are used for wall frame products.

Horoscope key chains

Horoscope key chains

While we were in the facility, we met up and chatted with Japanese Ms. Yukiko Takiguchi, Ms. Chiaki Koyama and 27 year old Mr. Yuji Ueno.  Yukiko, who arrived in Albay early this year, was studying pottery making in the facility.  During her training, she learned the Bicolano dialect.  When we arrived, she was assisting Chiaki at molding a pot at the potter’s wheel, with Yuji, a volunteer by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), looking on.

Yukiko and Chiaki at the potters wheel

Yukiko and Chiaki at the potters wheel

Yuji, now working with Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO), also teaches students the concept of town watching, a popular activity on disaster education in Japan. Ueno is also bringing to Bicol the Iza! Kaeru Caravan, a famous Japanese fun-filled learning workshop and game on DRRM developed by PlusArts, a Japanese non-profit group, and the Japan Foundation.

PhilCeramics Arts and Crafts Center: Brgy. Putsan, Tiwi, 4513, Albay.

How to Get There: Tiwi is located 12 kms. from Tabaco City, 39 lms. from Legazpi City, and 538 kms. from Manila.  Brgy. Putsan is 2 kms. from the main road.

Sinimbahan Ruins (Tiwi, Albay)

Along the road opposite the town’s market, our media group made a stopover at the Sinimbahan Ruins, the roofless remains of Tiwi town’s original church which was built, in 1776,  by Franciscan Fr. Pedro de Brosas at the mouth of a site called Tuytoy (“bridge”) Swamps   The church was burned by Moro pirates in 1846 and later abandoned due to its vulnerability to typhoon-induced tidal waves.

Sinimbahan Ruins

Sinimbahan Ruins

All that remains of this single-nave church are the crumbling volcanic stone walls, and the buttresses that support it, and the equally sorry-looking bell tower on the church’s left. The walls are heavily overgrown with foliage and enveloped by roots of banyan (locally called balete) trees which cling to the cracks and crevices of the walls, making the ruins look charming but, actually slowly destroying it.

A child lounging by a church window

A child lounging by a church window

Three remaining church buttresses

Three remaining church buttresses

The interior walls once had a glass-encased, embedded niche which contained human bones but the glass and the bones have long disappeared. The niche seems to have been used as a grilling oven.  Other walls, probably that of the adjoining convent, now form part of a pottery factory.

Remains of the bell tower

Remains of the bell tower

An attempt has been made to reuse it as a chapel, evidenced by the presence of a lava boulder altar and an image of the Blessed Virgin hanging on the wall but, probably when there are no services being held (or probably abandoned altogether), the interior is used for other purposes.

The lava rock altar

The lava rock altar

During our visit, a tricycle and an owner-type jeep were parked inside and a badminton net and a basketball backboard were also installed for recreation.  There were no church pews or other furniture save for two loungers beside the shade-giving walls.

A balete tree slowly making the walls crumble

A balete tree slowly making the walls crumble

The niche that once contained human bones

The niche that once contained human bones

The ruins is listed as a “tourist attraction” in the town but, from the looks of it, neglect, indifference and the corrosive effects of rain and wind will finish what tidal waves failed to totally destroy.  I truly hope that plans for its restoration, similar to that done to the Bancurro Ruins in Naujan (Oriental Mindoro), are in the works.

Part of the church walls used by the pottery factory

Part of the church walls used by the pottery factory

A jeep and tricycle parked inside

A jeep and tricycle parked inside

Sinimbahan Ruins: Brgy. Baybay, 4513 Tiwi, Albay

Mayor’s Office: Municipal Hall, Poblacion, 4513 Tiwi, Albay.  Tel.: (052) 435-4866.

Corangon Island (Tiwi, Albay)

Kurangon Island

Corangon Island

From the brown sand beach at Brgy. Baybay in Tiwi, our media group boarded 2 motorized outrigger boats to the tiny coral island of Corangon (from the local word meaning “coral”).  Babes, Boyet, Leony, Star, Oliver, Ms. Norma Caayao (our Tiwi lady guide and photographer) and I boarded one boat while Rommel, Nestor and Mr. Andrew Zuniga (DOT Region 5) boarded the other.

Brown sand beach at Brgy. Baybay

Brown sand beach at Brgy. Baybay

As it was low tide, the islet was somehow visible from the shore. Our less than a kilometer boat ride to Corangon took just 15 mins. and we made landfall by 11 AM. Rommel and Nestor, not wanting to get their camera equipment and feet wet, just photographed the island from the relative safety of their boat.

Making landfall on the island

Making landfall on the island

This unassuming, half-hectare islet lacks features that typically make a seascape picturesque as it is devoid of any vegetation or rock formations, being mainly composed of crushed corals and beige-colored sand. The swirling and pounding action of waves and sea currents have caused the coral rubble to surface above the sea line and evolve into this island.

The author with postcard-pretty Mt. Mayon in the background

The author with postcard-pretty Mt. Mayon in the background

However, Corangon is not as boring as it seems as it is probably the only islet in Albay province where the stratovolcanic Magayon trio, the province’s three most beautiful mountains — the 2,463 m. high Mt. Mayon, the 1,450 m. high Mt. Malinao and the 1,328 m. high Mt. Marasaga — are fully visible. Its quiet charm reminded me of White Island in Camiguin where the postcard-pretty, 1,332 m. high Mt. Hibok-Hibok and the 580 m, high Mt. Vulcan Daan, both also stratovolcanoes, can be seen.

Cloud-sheathed Mt. Malinao

Cloud-sheathed Mt. Malinao

Corangon Island  is also a haven for tourists who want to see a different, picture-perfect view of the famous and stunning Mayon Volcano – from the sea.  The island is also accessible from Malinao via a 30-minute boat ride. Fishermen also offer chartered rides to the islet at an affordable price.  A dive site, Corangon Island is one of the top 5 dive sites in the Bicol Region.

Our media group with Mt. Masaraga and Mt. Malinao in the background

Our media group with Mt. Masaraga and Mt. Malinao in the background

Corangon Island, home to different marine species and beautiful corals, is a declared municipal marine sanctuary (the 4.4 sq. km. Corangon Shoal Fish Sanctuary and Marine Reserve) and, as such, anyone who wants to visit it needs to first ask permission from the Municipality’s Agriculture Office (MAO).

Shadow over Kurangon

Shadow over Corangon

The office administrator will ask about the purpose of the visit, then ask visitors to log in. A good idea would be to bring a letter of request, addressed to Ms. Leonila V. Coralde, the head of the MAO, indicating the purpose of your trip.

The crushed coral of Kurangon Island

The crushed coral of Corangon Island

Municipal Agriculturist Office (MAO): 4513 Tiwi, Albay.  Tel (052) 435-0432.

Mayor’s Office: Municipal Hall, Poblacion, 4513 Tiwi, Albay.  Tel.: (052) 435-4866.

Stopover: Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (Tabaco City, Albay)

First built by Franciscan Fr. Pedro de Alcareso in 1616, the present structure, built by secular clergy, was completed in a period of 16 years (1864-1879).  The stately Baroque-style church was declared as a National Landmark on August 1, 1973 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 260 and amended by Presidential Decree No. 1505 on June 11, 1978.

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

The church was also one of the only two declared sites in Bicol Region that were categorized by the National Museum of the Philippines as a National Cultural Treasure of the country. Its marker was unveiled on June 22, 2012.

4-storey bell tower

4-storey bell tower

Column pinnacle

Column pinnacle

The church, built with dark volcanic soil and stones found in the area, has an unusual floor plan with inexplicable compartments and walls with stones bearing mason marks, rarely seen in the Philippines.  The beautiful bell tower, embedded with Rococo designs, has rocaille elements and a beautiful and unique tower clock.

The cathedral interior

The cathedral interior

City Mayor’s Office: Poblacion, Tabaco City 4511, Albay. Tel.: (052) 487-5200

How to Get There: Tabaco City is located 558 kms. from Manila and 21 kms. (a 45-minute drive) northeast of Legaspi City.

Bicol Adventure ATV (Daraga, Albay)

From the Cagsawa Ruins, we again boarded our van for the short drive to the Bicol Adventure ATV compound where we were to experience the thrill of riding an all-terrain vehicle towards the Lava Wall of Mt. Mayon, the world’s most perfect coned volcano.  I have seen the beauty of the Mayon Volcano only from the fringes of Legaspi City and Tabaco City and towns of Camalig, Daraga, Malilipot and Sto. Domingo but, today, we were to appreciate its beauty up close via this more thrilling option.

Bicol Adventure ATV compound

Bicol Adventure ATV compound

The units available for our use are 150cc, 500cc (CFMoto Terralander 500) and 625 side by side variants. Virtually no prior experience on riding four wheeled ATVs is required. Everything is on the right handle – press a ledge to accelerate and retract another to brake.  The engine doesn’t turn off, even at full stop. However, we were all given a short briefing on the safety rules that have to be heeded:

Single passenger ATVs

Single passenger ATVs

  • A safe distance of at least 2 m. from each other’s vehicle must be maintained.
  • Never go crazy on the speed even with the off-road vehicle’s maneuverability’s capability to hit marks of up to 82kmph.
  • Never panic when tackling a steep uphill or downhill slope maneuver to avoid the ATV from toppling over yourselves or tilting sideways unnecessarily.
ATVs being readied

ATVs being readied

Then, we donned our helmets and were allowed a 5-10-min. practice ride on a mock trail along a rocky river track to allow first timers to get used to the ignition, throttle, brakes and direction.

The mock trail

The mock trail

The ATV was easy to maneuver as the tires were of a wide cross-section and it was designed for woods patrol and off-road exploration. It’s pretty stable too, unless you hit on a big rock.

The author trying out the ATV on a mock trail

The author trying out the ATV on a mock trail

Still, in the end, we all decided to let our guides drive our ATVs as we weren’t familiar with the trail and, with the sun now low in the sky, we were hoping to catch the sunset.

The author with his ATV guide and driver

The author with his ATV guide and driver

Together with our drivers, Lito and Euden and Star and Oliver rode in pairs while Ida, Leony and Nestor (who drove most of the way) where in a bigger ATV.  Boyet and I rode at the back of our respective drivers.

All geared up and ready to go ....

All geared up and ready to go ….

There are countless paths and trails that Mayon Volcano offers and the trail pathfinders of Bicol Adventure ATV are continuously looking for new sites to develop. One of the trails they developed is the challenging Green Lava Wall Trail.

Our ATV ride begins ......

Our ATV ride begins ……

The trail is a 7 km. (14 km. total trail) long river, sand and rock adventure challenge.  It would take us around 2.5-3 hours to and from the 1968 lava wall located 2,500-3,000 ft. above sea level in Brgy. Miisi, Daraga. We all rode on ATVs that are powerful enough to manage this trail. We left by 5 PM.

The Green Lava Trail

The Green Lava Wall Trail

Our ATV ride wasn’t short of excitement as we travelled a landscape dotted with big lava rocks ejected by the explosion of Mayon Volcano more than 100 years ago. From the bleak gray, the scenery turned green as we entered and drove through a forest.

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The trees that surrounded us were a welcome relief from the heat and the breeze was cooler. The forest trail, however, produced more dust. The last part of the trail was the uphill climb to the Green Lava Wall along a much narrower and bumpier road with plenty of sharp curves.

The gully created by Mayon's lava flow

The gully created by Mayon’s lava flow

By 5:45 PM, we reached the end of the trail, the now vegetated bed of lava that Mayon Volcano spewed during its 1968 eruption. When we alighted and saw ourselves, we all looked like we came out of a coal mine.  The now cloud-free summit of Mayon Volcano can be clearly seen, something Euden (a first-time visitor to Albay who was leaving for Manila the next day) had failed to see during the past two days.

The media group with the now cloud-free Mt. Mayon in the background

The media group with the now cloud-free Mt. Mayon in the background

From this vantage point, we had an exhilarating view of Albay Gulf, Misibis Bay, Legazpi City, the 3rd district of Albay in the west and, in the distance, the peak of Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon.  While enjoying the very cool wind, we also saw the dramatic sunset we were hoping for.  What more can you ask for?

The dramatic sunset

The dramatic sunset

The return drive, even if it was now downhill, was no less shorter as we had maneuver carefully down the trail.  Besides, darkness now set in and, with headlights on, we had to be on the lookout for large rocks.  It was almost 7 PM when we arrived at our starting point and, with great relief, we wash away the dust, mud and grime from our skin and hair – all proof of our great adventure.

The return drive begins - cautiously .....

The return drive begins – cautiously …..

The Bicol Adventure ATV was a truly unforgettable experience, enjoying the thrill of the ATV ride, with all its bumps and curves and, upon arrival at the Lava Wall, enjoying a quiet moment as we viewed the perfect cone of Mayon and dramatic sunset and felt the cool breeze touching our skin.

A vehicle to a great adventure ......

A vehicle to a great adventure ……

Bicol Adventure ATV: Belfry – Cagsawa Church Ruins, Daraga, 4500 Albay.  Mobile number: (0917) 571-4357 (Globe) and (0922) 868-2589 (Sun). E-mail: taikee@bicoladventureatv.com.  Website: www.bicoladventureatv.com.

Rates:

Green Lava Wall Trail–PhP1,500 (2.5hours)
Cagsawa Trail–PhP599 (45mins.)
Hoyop Hoyopan Cave–PhP2,000 (3.5hours)
Cagsawa to Lava Front–PhP1,850 (3hours)
Trial Ride–PhP110 (15mins.)

Sumlang Lake (Camalig, Albay)

After our visit to the Natural Carpet Industries Factory, Brgy. Sumlang Chairman Felipe Noe M. Mapa, Jr. invited us to visit scenic and tourist-friendly Sumlang Lake, Camalig’s newest tourist attraction. To get there, Euden, Lito, Star, Oliver, Ida, Babes, and I rode on an SUV while Nestor, Rommel, George and Alex road on a red pickup as we negotiated the short distance, along a narrow dirt road, to get to the lake.

Sumlang Lake with the partly cloud-shrouded Mt. Mayon in the background

Sumlang Lake with the partly cloud-shrouded Mt. Mayon in the background

Upon arrival, we all sat on bamboo benches under shady coconut trees overlooking the lake, partaking of a merienda of  pinangat sandwiches, langka (jackfruit) and fresh buco.  While dining, we all enjoyed the majestic view of the partly cloud-shrouded perfect cone of Mt. Mayon and observed children flying their kites along the lakeshore.

Boarding our nicely furnished bamboo rafts

Boarding our nicely furnished bamboo rafts

Later, Felipe invited us to go cruising on the lake on board bamboo rafts. Accompanied by boatmen using long poles to move the raft, Mr. Jockey Serrano (of the Albay Provincial Tourism Cultural Affairs Office), Boyet, Ida, Babes, Lito and I boarded the bigger raft while Rommel rode solo on the smaller raft, seated on a woven wicker canopy chair.  The others decided to stay behind.

The smaller bamboo raft with Rommel on board

The smaller bamboo raft with Rommel on board

Crusing the lake on a bamboo raft (photo: Rommel Natanauan)

Cruising the lake on a bamboo raft (photo: Rommel Natanauan)

The raft ride on the placid lake was an experience by itself. On the raft, Jockey, Babes, Lito and I were comfortably seated on rattan armchairs and sofas with soft, white cushions and woven wicker canopies to partly shield us from the heat of the sun. Ida and Boyet tried out the day bed with rattan roofed canopy. A driftwood center table completed the rustic furnishings which are all products of Bicolano creativity and ingenuity.

The pensive Ida enjoying the rustic scenery

The pensive Ida enjoying the rustic scenery

Thus comfortably seated, we enjoyed the rural scenery of coconut, banana and fruit tree plantations; rice fields; water lilies; swimming ducks; grazing cows and occasional, roosting cattle egrets; all with postcard-pretty Mayon Volcano as a backdrop.  The lake is also an ideal spot for fishing as carp, tilapia and dalag (mudfish) abound. 

Lotus flowers

Lotus flowers

Sumlang Lake: Brgy. Sumlag, Camalig, 4502, Albay

Mayor’s Office: Municipal Hall, Poblacion, Camalig, 4502, Albay. Tel.: (052) 484-1965.

Municipal Tourism, Culture and Arts Office: Camalig Tourism  and Pasalubong Center, Brgy. 2, Camalig, Albay.  Mobile number: (0927) 621-3315.  E-mail: camalig_tourism@yahoo.com.

Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office (PTCAO): Albay Tourism Bldg., Albay Astrodome Complex, Capt. F. Aquende Drive, 4500 Legaspi City, Albay.  Tel: (052) 481-0250 and (052) 742-0242. E-mail: albaytourism@yahoo.com and albaytourism@gmail.com.