Chasing Mayon

As usual, I’ve wanted to see Mayon in person ever since I learned about it in HEKASI back in elementary. I’m not the biggest fan of geography but I appreciate symmetry and as we all know, this Bicolandia pride is famous for being almost perfectly conical-shaped. When I was younger, I actually didn’t get all the fuss about Mayon because I thought all volcanoes are conical shaped and all craters are located at the tip of the mountain. Apparently, that isn’t the case since there are different kinds of volcanic landforms.

An interesting thing about our anyong tubig at anyong lupa is where their names come from. Almost everything has its own surrounding folklore. From love stories like Magda and Dapio which birthed Magdapio falls more popularly known as Pagsanjan, to tragedies like proud royalties cursed with an ugly child who was hidden from the public until the poor kid died and was turned into something as beautiful as Tinago falls. As for Mayon, it was allegedly named after a legendary heroine “Daragang Magayon” which means Beautiful Lady in English. A fitting name if you ask me because Mayon is beautiful and just like a lady, she’s a little bit shy, hiding under all those clouds. For one and a half days, me and my companions went all around Albay just to have a glimpse of her beauty and we were amazed every single time the skies cleared, even if for only a couple of seconds.

Oh, and aside from folklore surrounding its name, there are also different superstitious beliefs as to why one doesn’t see the volcano’s perfect shape. According to Kuya Cleto, Mayon doesn’t show itself to people who are no longer virgins HAHA of course that’s absurd so we just laughed at it. Another is from Ate Clarisse who told me that if you were able to see Mayon in all its glory, then you’re a kind person. Heartwarming, of course, but I’ve long ago learned that goodness doesn’t have to do anything about what you see but what you do.

Our first stop in the chase was of course Cagsawa ruins, a park managed by the municipality of Daraga and the most famous viewpoint. It’s full of tourists so taking pictures without photobombers is close to impossible. It’s a funny sight, though — everyone so engrossed with taking the perfect profile/cover photo without caring how they look like to third parties. There are even designated areas where you can do any of the typical turista shots with Mayon (carrying a boulder, holding the crater, etc). When we arrived, the view looked like this:caramoan (52)But we were hard-headed people who wouldn’t leave unless we are proven kind virgins so we waited until the skies cleared and hurriedly took shots before the clouds covered the mountain again. Success!caramoan (54)I wanted to try the ATV but none of my companions were interested in accompanying me. Besides, it was getting late so next time na lang 😦

Next stop was Daraga church or Nuestra Senora de la Porteria or Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church. We were supposed to attend the 6PM mass but it turned into a visit only because the homily and readings and songs were in local language we couldn’t understand a thing. The place was built by Franciscans in 1772. I like the faded look of the facade. There’s a section in the parish where the design is explained in detail since the infrastructure followed the prescription of the Vatican II council. I was under time pressure so I wasn’t able to digest everything basta there were a lot of saints and symbolism present.caramoan (55)caramoan (57)The church is located on top of a hill so it offered a beautiful view of Mayon. Plus, we went during dusk which created a rather dramatic sight. caramoan (56)My favorite picture of Mayon during our brief stay.caramoan (23)After checking in and having dinner, we went to Embarcadero de Legazpi. During day time, I think Mayon can be seen in the horizon but what did we expect at night? So we just took pictures at I ❀ Legazpi, enjoyed the breeze and were awed by the moon which was so enchanting that night this photo does not give justice to what we saw.caramoan (59)The next day we went to Lignon Hill to see Mayon from another perspective. But she wasn’t succumbing this time despite us waiting so the bad-‘di-na-virgins left dejected. Look at those clouds tho k.caramoan (61)Instead of trying to copy Sakura Parks in Japan, why don’t we have Bougainvillea Parks instead? They come in different colors, are also pretty and match my shoes. Another k.1221Japanese Tunnel at the base of Lignon Hill.caramoan (63)My favorite thing about tunnels: they’re cooler, a welcome respite in the summer heat.caramoan (64)Before going to our next destination, we stopped for some halo-halo at DJC. How do you make this perfect Filipino dessert even better? Of course you add cheese! I can’t believe not everyone has thought of that. I like DJC’s version because it only had the basic ingredients like leche flan, saba, ube, gulaman and ice cream. Seriously, who likes beans in their halo-halo? Also, the ice+milk to toppings ratio is just right though I would have preferred more of the former (I let other people eat the laman of my halo because I like the sabaw haha).caramoan (24)Afterwards we went to Mayon Skyline Hotel and Convention Center in Tabaco City. It was a long, winding, elevated drive since the place is the closest you’ll ever get to the crater, being situated almost halfway up the mountain’s slopes. When we arrived, Mayon was hiding again so we decided to check out the Planetarium first.caramoan (25)After paying the entrance fee, we were ushered in a room and were shown outdated (not to mention redundant) clips about Mayon and its history of eruptions. I hope whoever is in charge of the place decides to upgrade the visuals especially since it’ll be an avenue to engage noobs like me who already forgot almost everything they learned about Volcanology in high school. Also, is it really that hard and expensive to produce quality videos these days?caramoan (67)We were minding our own businesses but when someone shouts “Ayan na, ayan na“, we abandon whatever we were doing to capture Mayon before the clouds envelope it again.caramoan (69)Being near doesn’t always give you the best view. Sometimes appreciating from afar is better. Naks.1234After having enough of Mayon (charot lang we couldn’t get enough of it we even stopped a couple of times on our way to Naga just to take pictures of it haha), we went to SM Naga for First Colonial Grill because our trip wouldn’t be complete without having Sili ice cream. Said ice cream comes in three spiciness levels. For comparison, we had levels 1 and 3 plus Pili Nut for balance. Level 1 is bearable even if you’re not fond of spicy things. Meanwhile, level 3 needs a certain kind of courage and perseverance haha. The Sili ice creams were okay, not something I’m keen on trying again. The spiciness comes as an aftertaste. My favorite easily goes to Pili Nut.caramoan (1)Last of course is the quintessentially Filipino practice of buying pasalubong! The Marzapan de Pili was delicious. The brand of laing I bought, unfortunately, was bad especially when compared with Jamea’s family’s version. The dark chocolate with Pili Nut is so good I regret not having bought more.caramoan (65)Goodbye Bicol! I will definitely come back for your food, the ATV ride, and Mayon ❀


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