by Danny Tariman
I and my family had been on the road for 4 days now. We had just been from Caramoan Islands – the first leg our Bicol road trip. We were fascinated by the crystal clear waters and the islands, and the top-notch accommodation and food. Yesterday on our second leg of the tour, we were mesmerized by the natural beauty of Sorsogon – the lake, the beach, and its scenic countryside.
The third leg of our tour is the majestic Mayon volcano and its surroundings. I thought the place is the usual ordinary sight I see every time I pass by the city en route to Catanduanes. But it is different now. I am so excited to re-discover the Mayon Volcano and Legaspi City.
En-route to Legaspi, we stopped by the Cagsawa ruins. This is the belfry that was left of a church after a massive eruption of Mayon Volcano in the 1800’s. Because of the volcanic debris that fell onto the church roof, it collapsed, leaving only the bell tower which has become a landmark in Bicol. Aside from the usual picture taking, you can also taste some local delicacies. Try the pili nuts in all its varieties!
It was a late Sunday afternoon drive, and so upon reaching Legaspi City, we first went to San Rafael Cathedral where we attended the Mass. This church is in the middle of the city, you wouldn’t miss it. After the Mass, we had a quick dinner at LCC where we ate the pinangat (taro leaves slow-cooked in coconut cream) that we bought from Camalig, Albay – a town before reaching Legaspi. This pinangat is a must-taste when in Legaspi.
The following day, we continued our discovery tour driving to Lingon Hills. I noted that it is the only hill popping out of a vast plain. This hill is surrounded by Legaspi City and the town of Daraga, and is overlooking the airport. You can see from the top the scenic view of the city. This is an uphill drive – you have to put your gear on first or second all the way to the top. When you reach the summit, you will be greeted by a nice shopping arcade selling all kinds of souvenir items and a nice viewing deck. Indeed a good spot to take photos.
Our 2 children will not have a complete experience without riding the zip-line, a thrilling cable ride from the top to the hillside, where you can see the city and its surroundings.
Our next stop, another exciting experience for our children, is the ATV ride to Mayon Volcano. We rented the All-Terrain Vehicle, for each one of them. This took them to the Base Camp of the volcano. They passed through rugged trails and rivers on their ATVs.
This discovery tour cannot finish without tasting local food. And so, after the ATV ride, we went for a late lunch at Small Talk Cafe. This cafe is small cozy place offering unique Bicol food – pasta with a t wist of Bicol taste. Samplers: spaghetti in creamy finely-chopped taro leaves cooked in coconut milk; ravioli in hot chili (siling labuyo) and tomato sauce. Aren’t these very creative, uniquely Bicol gourmet? Really volcanic! Oh, we missed the chili ice-cream at that time – this is a creamy home-made vanilla ice cream spiced with hot chili syrup. Hot ice cream? Out-of-this-world indeed!
We capped the day with a late afternoon stroll at the city’s latest shopping center – the Embarcadero de Legaspi. This is a sea-front mall with many al-fresco restos and cafes. It is a glittering sight at night. We did some souvenir shopping here. There are local crafts and native delicacies sold in this mall. There is this nice shop at the mall corner which sells good quality t-shirts with nicely designed local prints (Mayon, Bicol, Legaspi, etc). Make sure to buy some.
A re-discovery tour indeed for me, and a discovery tour for my family!