Daragang Magayon is the most beautiful maiden in the whole Bicolandia. She is even praised for her goodness. Aside from beauty and goodness, Daragang Magayon is also a cruel woman. She buried people, houses and whole communities in her fury.
The ruins of Cagsawa Church are the testament to her cruelty. Daragang Magayon buried people, houses and whole communities under lahar and rocks in her fury. The ashes that covered the surrounding towns gave ancient Bicolanos a hard life.
I praised the beauty of Mayon Volcano in the previous post. This volcano is famous for having a perfect conical shape. Tourists around the world visit Legazpi City just to get a glimpse of Mayon Volcano. Seeing the perfect cone of Mayon Volcano is one my goals during my visit to Legazpi City. Another goal for me is to visit the famous ruins of Cagsawa Church in the town of Daraga.
|Map of Mayon Volcano and its vicinity.|
Mayon Volcano has a diameter of 6 kilometers. The volcano is divided like a pie by the towns of Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Malilipot, and Santo Domingo; and the cities Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco. Cagsawa Ruins is located at Barangay Busay in Daraga.
My companion and I left Legazpi City for Cagsawa Ruins by riding a jeepney bound to Daraga. We don’t know the location of Cagsawa Ruins. Fortunately, the jeepney driver helped us to find the place where we should alight. Our walk to Cagsawa Ruins began with a cemented street until we reached the river.
I got excited when I saw the “untamed” crossing at the river. I thought that I will embark into an adventure that entails us to walk along trails, climb dangerous cliffs and swing from one tree to another. The thrill of adventure ended when we reached the other side of the river. I discovered, to my dismay, that the road to Cagsawa Ruins is made of well-paved concrete.
“Where is the adventure!?” I complained. “The path to Cagsawa Ruins is too tame.” I complained again. I kept on complaining until I saw this:
I was awed by the remaining bell tower of Cagsawa Church. This is the only intact part of Cagsawa Church that remained after the 1814 eruption of Mayon Volcano. I only see this bell tower on the old 10-peso bill and postcards from Bicolandia. I am glad that I can finally see and touch the ruins!
An old photo shows that the façade of Cagsawa Church is still intact. Unfortunately, the passage of time and neglect caused the destruction of the façade. I wonder how long the bell tower of Cagsawa Church will continue to stand.
Only the broken walls remained of the main part of Cagsawa Church. What angered me are the people who vandalized the walls as shown in this photo:
It is sad that many Filipinos don’t value their heritage.
The first Cagsawa Church was built in the 16th Century under the jurisdiction of the Parish of Camalig. The Dutch, which was then the enemy of the Spanish Empire, ransacked the towns around Legazpi Bay and burned Cagsawa Church in 1636. Another church was built after 1724 by Fray Francisco Blanco OFM. The church was then buried by lava and rocks during the eruption of Mayon Volcano in 1814.
The latest addition to the ruins of Cagsawa Church is the image of the Lord of Divine Mercy, which was dedicated during the 2007 Divine Mercy Convention. Cagsawa Church is still part of the Catholic heritage despite the fact that it is now being managed by the local government of Daraga. I am glad that Daraga allowed the image of our Lord to be erected inside the Cagsawa Ruins Park.
Stalls selling pasalubong can be found within Cagsawa Ruins Park. This is the best place to buy souvenirs and sweets. I suggest that you haggle with store owners so you can get the lowest price for their products. What surprised me is the presence of a swimming pool near the ruins of Cagsawa Church.
I hope that no more swimming pools or resorts are built in the area. The place is already too tame for adventurers and the presence of resorts will just tame it more.
Mayon Volcano is hiding during my visit to Cagsawa Ruins Park. Is she ashamed of what she did to the people of Cagsawa? Possibly not because Mayon Volcano continues to be an active volcano. She is just waiting for the right time to spew her anger to Bicolandia.
Until her next eruption, let us marvel to power of this volcano and pray to all people buried under lava and rocks, which are now covered by green grass.