Tag Archives: Legaspi

Hidden Gems of Legaspi

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.

An unobstructed view of the "perfect cone", the Mayon.
An unobstructed view of the “perfect cone”, the Mayon, from Legaspi Boulevard

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?

The new Legaspi Boulevard: perfect for photo shoots.
The new Legaspi Boulevard: perfect for photo shoots.

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”.

Lingon Hills overlooking the city and the Legaspi Airport
Lingon Hills overlooking the city and the Legaspi Airport

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.

A new discovery for me -- the Daraga Church.
A new discovery for me — the Daraga 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.

My cousins -- all male -- at Patio Cagsawa
My cousins — all male — at Patio Cagsawa

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!

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An all-female relatives at Patio Cagsawa
Another side of Lingon Hills with Mayon at the background
Another side of Lingon Hills with Mayon at the background

Rediscovering Mayon & Legaspi

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 leg004belfry 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 leg002plain. 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 leg001ATV 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 leg006wist 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 leg003night. 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!

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