Friday, April 9, 2010


It’s Black Saturday yet our family welcomed the day with a full blast smile. Why? We went down to Albay to check out the ever famous Cagsawa Ruins and shopped for Pasalubong in Iriga!

Thanks Stacey for our group photos and the signage shot!

Here is a shot of Mayon Volcano on our way inside the Cagsawa Park.

The Cagsawa Ruins:

From the article Cagsawa Ruins - A Legacy to the Bicolanos (

For almost two centuries the Cagsawa Ruins has stood as a symbol of Bicol region’s impressive landscape, rich history and the people’s strength and resiliency to face and to rise from the ravages of Mother Nature.

There is an entrance fee of 10.00 pesos for adults.

Cagsawa Ruins Park is a few minutes jeepney ride from Legazpi City. Legazpi City is one of the most important cities of Bicol. By air, it is 55 minutes away from Manila. About 9 hours travel time by air-conditioned buses that ply the route daily.

A statue of Jesus Christ can be seen in the park. Seriously, there were a lot of people when we visited the park. Most of them are families having good times and some tourists enjoying the place.

Cagsawa Ruins Park is one of the most visited places in the area. From this point tourists are afforded with an unhampered view of the majestic Mayon Volcano with its world renowned perfect cone.

Folklore states that originally Kagsawa was derived from the word “KAG” meaning owner and “SAWA” meaning python. Kagsawa could also mean excesses or too much. The February 1, 1814 Mayon eruption was said to be a divine justice for the people’s overindulgence.

The 1814 eruption was recorded to be worst eruption of Mt. Mayon. Some 1,200 people who took refuge and sought the sanctuary of the church during the eruption all died when the church was engulfed by the flowing lava.

Only the Cagsawa church belfry remains today. It is a grim reminder of the events that took place and many people come to see the belfry as a reminder of times past. Through all the developments done by the local government, the Cagsawa church belfry remains standing, with the giant stones spewed by Mt. Mayon around and with the history of the region buried underneath.

I took this shot using the edge of the cross and the Mayon Volcano in the background. I just love the output!

These are some big rocks which the Mayon Volcano had during it's eruption in the past.

The place is now called Cagsawa Park. It is managed today by the municipal government of Daraga, Albay.

I am inside the ruins of the church. More rocks are seen below.

At the entrance of the park visitors will find a wide variety of souvenir shops and stalls which showcase native products and handicrafts. A wide selection of T-shirts with native scenes and designs are also available.

We finished touring the place at around 11 am. Right after, we picked up my Auntie and we had our lunch in Embarcadero.

To be continued...


This is my third day in the Philippines now and my second day here in Bicol. Today, we expect to endure a long and hot yet enjoyable day to observe Bicol's Holy Week. To my expectations, I'm pretty excited to experience the solemnity of the religious tradition which is different in Manila and Brunei.

To start off the day, we decided to observe the Bisita Iglesia and the Procession at night. And so, to prepare for our battle, we took our powerhouse breakfast. What’s for breakfast? Pansit Bicol,puto, sinapot (banana fitters), kalamay, at daing na tilapia! Good thing, the big portion of food we had didn't reflect in our tummies. Plus, it also helped to have a big breakfast as we planned to do some "fasting" for lunch.

As our main intinerary, today, we visited seven churches around the vicinity! Our first stop, say hello to...

  1. Our Lady of Penafrancia Church (The new one)

Our Lady of Peñafrancia Church was built in 1711 by Rev. Miguel Covarrubias. It houses the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. He constructed this church in fullfillment of the vow he made during his youth. The second church was built in 1750 by Bishop Isidoro de Arevalo, repaired and improved in 1876-1877 by Bishop Francisco Gainza. The image was solemnly crowned by the Rt. Rev. Guillermo Piano on September 20, 1924.

The concept for the building the Basilica Minore came from Archbishop Pedro P. Santos in 1960. Construction began on April 18, 1976, but was delayed for a number of years due to finance problems and was not completed until September, 1981.

On May 22, 1982 it was dedicated as The Church of Nuestra Señora de Peña de Francia and it wasn't until May 22, 1985 that the Church was given the title of "Basilica Minore" from Rome after a request from the third Archbishop of Caceres, Leonardo Z. Legaspi.

The Peñafrancia Basilica Minore houses an image of the virgin Mary that was sculpted in 1710. It was commissioned by Miguel de Cobarrubias who moved to the Philippines from Spain with his family and believed that the virgin Mary had helped him numerous times in his life.

Information are from Wikipedia. Photos courtesy of Stacey and me!

To be continued...


Our long drive to Bicol started at 4 in the morning. Everyone was (obviously) excited. Too bad, my eldest brother and his wife weren't able to join the long planned trip. Ate Charmaine, my brother’s wedding cannot travel anymore because of her due pregnancy.

It was a sunny day. We started a smooth travel. We greeted the morning by praying the rosary, a family tradition.

We traveled on a Maundy Thursday. We expected everyone is going home to their provinces. However, we didn't expect a series of bad road encounters. That migraine causing road experience started in SLEX. The vehicles moved slowly. And that flow included us.

We experienced more comgested roads in San Pablo, Candelaria, and in Sariraya Quezon. Some roads were trafficked well but some were left without proper coordination. Waaaah!

Apart from the frequent stop overs for toilet use, we also stopped in one terminal in San Pablo where we bought some chips and water. Of course, we also had some cam whoring on the side!

Positively, I didn’t feel any boredom on our way. The marvellous mountains, the tall Coconut Trees, the smooth roads (although there were some rugged), the bahay kubos, the vast rice fields, the animal farms, and a lot more sceneries were just a lovely sight to digest. These are views which I don't normally see even in the green city of Brunei. Iba pa rin talaga ang Pilipinas.

As the clock hit 1 noon, we planned to have our lunch on one area. We had lunch at Atimonan Quezon near the sea shore. Interestingly, the fresh breeze calmed our hungry senses as we enjoyed our Adobo and rice. On one hand, the scenery perked up our spirit that indeed, in a few more hours, we will be in Bicol.

After eating our lunch, we took the luxury of enjoying the scenery by taking our pictures!

After another 5 hours, we reached Bicol. Bicol is very distinct not only because of its green fields and coconut farms, the pungent farm scent was just calming.

Baao Camarines Sur is the hometown of my parents. This is where they grew up, met and deepened their love for each other.

It only takes 8 hours to reach Bicol, however, in our case, we had in 13 hours. Blame it on the road congestion! Seriously! Thankfully, munching the ever popular "shingaling" helped us ease the traveling discomfort.

Okay. I would like to commend my youngest brother for driving 13 long hours. As a tradition in our family, once you conquered driving Bicol, you can now call yourself a pro. In my case, oh well!

Positively, despite the long dreading hours of travel, our exhausted bodies were energized with great food. And I mean really mouth watering and incomparable set of dishes prepared by my Auntie. For dinner, we had adobong bicol, tilapia, we had choco suman, homemade kalamay at leche flan.

That night, I had to break my virginity on liquors. And so I tried drinking the much raved “The Bar.” Okay. I didn’t like it. Seriously, I’m so not into Alcohol. Maybe this is the reason why I fit in Brunei’s no-alcohol policy!

Here are some bonding moments captured by Stacey's SLR! "The Bar" is on the middle!

Soon, we hit the slack and hoped for more extreme and unforgettable moments with our relatives in Bicol. Plus, we were also excited to visit the pristine beaches of Caramoan. Also, try the emerging tourist spot in Camarines Sur - The Camarines Sur Water Sports Complex.

Photos are courtesy of Stacey Pierce.