I have always wanted to see the magnificent Mayon Volcano. I have been to Naga City several times (for work-related purposes), but I didn't have the opportunity to go further down south in Iriga, Albay to see the world-famous Mayon and the ruins of Cagsawa Church.
Luckily, my friend was invited to visit the University of Northeastern Philippines in Iriga City for a consultancy assignment. He requested to bring me with him, and so... off we went to Bicolandia!
After an hour of plane ride from Manila to Naga City, we needed to travel another 45 mins to 1 hour by land to reach Iriga. We were billeted in our hotel, the Iriga Plaza Hotel, right in the heart of the town... and still, no Mayon Volcano in sight. We were told that it's another hour of travel to Cagsawa / Daraga. But it's alright... we took some rest first and treated ourselves with a nice meal. Unfortunately, i'm not really a fan of spicy and coconut-based foods! Which means, a trip to Bicol is always a gastronomic nightmare for me... Thank heavens, there are already a good number of restaurants down there who realized that there are people like me who just don't eat spicy and coconut-based food...
And finally, after a day of meeting the University officials and going around town, it's time to see Mayon! The Bicolanos have this funny saying that if it's your first time to see Mayon and be lucky enough to see the tip / crater, that means you are still a VIRGIN! According to them, the tip is always covered with thick clouds, even on a sunny day. (Actually, most mountaintop are always covered with clouds like the Makiling, Arayat, etc.)
Well, well, well.... the tip/crater appeared while we were there! And our guides/hosts officially labeled us as VIRGINS in Bicol! But we wittingly retorted that this "virginity" is something that we need to lose while we are there! Hmmm.... did we or didn't we?
I am still amazed at how the force of nature buried such a wonderful structure back then... and how sturdy this church's belfry is! Still standing after hundreds of years... According to the information we gathered, the Cagsaua Church was built in 1700s and was buried by rocks and lava during the eruption of 1814.
And today, this has become a famed symbol of Mayon's destructive force. A sterling and gripping reminder of how something so beautiful as Mayon Volcano can be so ruthless and indiscriminating.
When in Naga City, try to dine at this Cafe...
A quaint place that serves organic food
(from pastries to drinks).
Colorful native products are sold
very cheaply. Must-buys.
The Church of Daraga built in 1773. This sturdy Baroque structure which is made of stone has been a refuge during the 1814 eruption. Situated on a higher ground, the church survived several eruptions that followed.
The church became the headquarters of the Japanese forces during WW2. It also suffered major damages during the heavy bombings of the said war. What a shame that it was the work of man (the war) that damaged the church...
Restoration took place in 1971-73.