Hidden Gems of Legaspi
by Danny Tariman
I had been to the City of Legaspi several times already. Yes, you read it right, several!
But there is always something new that the city offers for my past few visits.
The last time I visited the place, I was with about 25 relatives in a convoy of 5 cars.
This time, September of 2015, I was with 20! Again all relatives – cousins, nieces & nephews, with in-laws – from my maternal lineage. We went to Legaspi to “celebrate life”, and to thank the Lord for giving us an uncle who had been instrumental to the unity of the clan, and who almost always organized family reunions since I was a little boy.
On a tight window for tour, we discovered “little known gems” of Legaspi City.
Early in the morning, we went to this new Legaspi Boulevard by the sea. This gave us an excellent unobstructed view of the almost perfect cone mountain, the Mayon Volcano. From the Embarcadero Mall, we went straight ahead to this seaside road, which not only offers a fantastic view of the Mayon, but also a refreshing view of the sea fronting the city.
In the middle of the boulevard is a wharf-like structure that extends to the sea. At the start of this protruding road is the big signage “LEGASPI”. Wow, we took our turns to get a photo at this spot. With the letters as foreground, and the Mayon as the backdrop, who wouldn’t recognize that you are in Bicol?
From the boulevard, we drove to a steep ascent to Lingon Hill. Another breathtaking view of Mayon from another perspective. This also gave us opportunity to get a grand perspective of the city. Yes, it looks grand, viewing the city from a high stand point. I have a separate blog on this, “Rediscovering Legaspi and Mayon”.
Our next stop was another “gem” – the Daraga Church. It is a centuries-old church that sits atop a hill. According to history, this was built by Franciscan Order in 1773. Wow, this is almost 250 years old! The baroque-style church is typical of old churches in the Philippines. The facade is clearly made of stone, awashed with whitish color which is said to have been painted using lime. From the Daraga market, the church was a short ascending drive. There are some small souvenir shops in front of the church.
If you want quality Bicol sweets and specialty products, Albay Pili Store is the place to go. Situated near the St Gregory Cathedral in Old Albay, Legaspi, this place offers a variety of pilinuts: from crispy, to sugar-coated candies, to candy bars and others. I had noted that the walls of this store – which looks like an ancestral houses renovated to fit a small store – a number of photos of TV and movie personalities! I was told, celebrities go to this place to buy Bicol sweets.
I had been to Cagsawa Ruins many times. But I was surprised this time of the new attraction to this otherwise ‘old’ place – the Patio Cagsawa. Indeed a refreshing addition to the “photo-tired” bell-tower ruins of Cagsawa. The place is a lot better now, the parking and the souvenir shops are well, or rather better, organized this time.
I will not compete this story without mentioning the very nice and homey accommodation of the Third and Sean’s Place located in the center of the city. It is an ancestral house turned into a hotel. Being an ancestral house, it is a fusion of contemporary and antique design. The room we had has a large bathroom, with a big jacuzzi inside! It has a big fully-furnished kitchen and a large dining hall which we were able to use. It feels like home; we were attended to by the owners themselves. So you would think it was expensive? It is not. Check this out at 0942-286-9866 you look for Nitz, or call 0947-957-8756 or 052-4814427 and speak to Karen.
Indeed, it is more fun in Legaspi!