When Daragang Magayon Removed Her Veil

Legend says that Mayon Volcano marks the grave of the most beautiful princess in the whole Bicolandia. She is so beautiful that the legend only refer to her as Daragang Magayon or “beautiful maid.”

I feared that I will not see the beauty of Mayon Volcano during my visit to Legazpi City. The volcano is always hiding behind the clouds. I waited for a long time but the weather is not improving. Rains, fogs and cloudy skies accompanied me in the days of my stay in Legazpi.

However, in one rare moment, Daragang Magayon heard my plea and removed her veil. At least I saw her beauty!
Mayon Volcano as viewed from Legazpi City, Bicolandia

I even saw the world-famous perfect cone of Mayon Volcano.
Mayon Volcano's perfect cone.

Now I understand why Bicolanos of old made the story of Daragang Magayon the legend of Mayon Volcano. The volcano is indeed beautiful. It is way prettier than Taal Volcano of Batangas.

The legend of Mayon Volcano is a tragic one. Daragang Magayon, because of her beauty, has many suitors. She turned down mighty warriors, datus, and rajahs. She fell in love with a Tagalog prince named Ulap. One of Daragang Magayon’s unfortunate suitors became angry and killed Ulap and Daragang Magayon. The two lovers were placed side by side in a grave, which rose higher and higher until it became Mayon Volcano.

Daragang Magayon is known for her beauty but I think the tragedy of her life made her a cruel maiden. Mayon Volcano spewed smoke and lava since time immemorial. The volcano buried many towns, one of which is the town of Cagsawa that I will talk in the next blog post.
View of Mayon Volcano from Legazpi Port, Bicolandia
Mayon Volcano's veil is creeping back.

Seeing Mayon Volcano’s beauty should be the top priority when visiting Legazpi City. Thus, you should visit Legazpi City before the onset of rainy season. Go during the season when there is no cloud that will block the view of Mayon Volcano’s perfect cone.

As for me, my visit to Legazpi City is somehow complete. I am glad that Daragang Magayon removed her veil even for just a moment.

A Few Shots Outside Albay Cathedral

Since my work is the major obstacle to pleasure, I had no choice but to finish the job assigned to me during my stay in Legazpi City. I toiled under the sun as quick as I could so I will get a free day to visit the ruins Cagsawa.

Woe to me! I am in the Queen City of Bicolandia but I didn't got the opportunity to visit its many tourist spots. Even Mayon Volcano hid behind the clouds most the time. I almost accepted the notion that I will never see the volcano's perfect cone. I was fortunate, however, because the beautiful Mayon Volcano showed herself one morning. I will talk about this wondrous event later.

Despite me being busy, I still managed to visit one place in Legazpi City. This city has many tourist spots like the tunnel used by the Japanese soldiers during World War 2, Ligñon Hill for those who love hiking and rapelling, and an eco-park. I never went to any of these places. The place that I visited is the heart of Legazpi City. The heart of Legazpi City is the Albay Cathedral.
Albay Cathedral, Legazpi City, Bicolandia

I consider Albay Cathedral as the heart of Legazpi City because it is this church that started it all. It represents the fact that Legazpi City exists due to the toils of Spanish Catholic missionaries, who went to Albay to bring the Good News to the natives.

Albay Cathedral strated as a wooden chapel in the 1580s when missionaries came with the Spanish conquistadores. The early Christian communitiy in Legazpi was under the care of Franciscan friars and also fall under the jurisdiction of Doctrina of Cagsawa. Albay Cathedral is currently the seat of bishop of Legazpi.

It was cloudy, with a chance of rainshower, when I visited Albay Cathedral. The first thing that I noticed is the arch at the front of the cathedral.
Arch of Albay Cathedral, Legazpi City, Bicolandia

The photo is not good. Electric wires spoiled the view. It is the same complaint that I have with Santa Cruz Church in Manila. Spaghetti electric wires are unsightly. It would be good if these wires were placed underground just like in Makati Central Business District.

The arch displays the name of San Gregorio Magno or Saint Gregory the Great, who is the pope 6th Century pope and Doctor of the Church. The saint is secondary patron of Albay Cathedral. The primary or titular patron of this cathedral is much greater and she goes by the title Our Lady Mother of Salvation.

Also displayed on the arch are the coat of arms of bishops who served the Diocese of Legazpi. One these is the coat of arms of Bishop Concordio Sarte.
Coat of Arms of Bishop Concordio Sarte, Legazpi Diocese, Bicolandia

The bishop served the diocese from 1980 to 1991.

The cathedral is closed during my visit. I had no choice but to take photos out side of the church.

I noticed something peculiar in the structure of Albay Cathedral.
Albay Cathedral, Legazpi City, Bicolandia

The front of the cathedral has a finish of smooth cement. The side walls of Albay is still made of stone blocks.

My favorite photo that I took during my visit to Albay Cathedral is this:
Jesus Christ at Albay Cathedral, Legazpi City, Bicolandia

The welcoming gesture of this image of our Lord reminded of this passage in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (11:28):

“Come to me, all you who labor and are brdened, and I will give you rest.”

I didn't linger long at Albay Cathedral. I took some photos and went back to work. I wish that I can enter Albay Cathedral during my next visit Legazpi City.

A Quick Peek at Tabaco Church

The grey Catholic church is the first landmark that I saw when our bus entered the poblacion of Tabaco City. Its massive structure is impressive and I vowed to visit this church. I was surprised when my companion asked me this question: “do you want to visit that church now?” It seems like he knows that visiting churches is part of my itinerary.

I answered “no” to his question. We came to Tabaco City to work and I placed work over my unofficial “sightseeing”. My time to visit this church will come so there is no rush to visit this church.
Tabaco Church, Tabaco City, Bicolandia

That time came in the afternoon of our first day in Tabaco City. I left our cheap hotel and proceeded directly to Tabaco Church. The Holy Mass is currently underway so the church is crowded.
Tabaco Church (in Bicolandia) is crowded.

I failed to take photos of the interior of Tabaco Church because of the crowd. I just contented myself with taking photos outside of the church. The bell tower caught the attention of my camera.
Bell tower of Tabaco Church, Bicolandia

The bell tower is old and grey like the church beside it. I noticed that the gate blocking the stairs leading to the top of the bell tower is ajar. I decided to climb without any permission.

The interior of Tabaco Church bell tower is dark and damp. Rubbles are everywhere and it seems like the place is in dire need of cleaning. Still, the place is the good place to take photos of Tabaco City. I took a good shot of the park in front of Tabaco Church.
A park located in front of Tabaco Church, Bicolandia

The monument of “Christ the King” is located at the center of the park. Do you notice the angels surrounding Jesus Christ?

I also took this shot:
A shot of Tabaco City from the bell tower of Tabaco Church, Bicolandia.

I am about to take another photo when an old man suddenly appeared inside the bell tower. I thought that he will scold me and throw me out of the bell tower. He didn't.

The old man told me that the kampanero (ringer of the bell) is dead that's why no one cleans the bell tower. He is at the bell tower to fix the wirings in preparation for Semana Santa (Holy Week). I am grateful that he allowed me to continue taking photos.
Bell of Tabaco Church, Bicolandia
Bell of Tabaco Church

The old man told me that the Tabaco Church was built through the donations of the parishioners. He told me that his grandmother and other Tabaqueños donated blocks that were used to build the church. The original structure of Tabaco Church was established in 1616 but it was destroyed by the 1814 Mayon Volcano eruption. The current structure was built between 1864 to 1879.

I didn't linger long in Tabaco Church. I left after I made a mini-tour of the bell tower. I hope to see the interior of this church in the future.

Bicolandia's City of Tabak

Rows upon rows of tobacco plants is the first thought that came to my mind when I first heard about Tabaco City. That same thought also played in my mind while we were traveling from Bulan to Tabaco City. I imagined myself in the middle of a tobacco plantation with arms outstretched letting my palms touch tobacco plants while I walk.

I was confused when I reached Tabaco City after half-a-day journey from Bulan. What I saw at the city park is a monument of tabak, which is a big knife being crafted in this city.
Tabak Monument of Tabaco City, Bicolandia
Tabak Monument at the park of Tabaco City.

The monument was established by the city government to show that the accepted origin of the Tabaco City's name came from the “Tabak ko! Tabak ko!” legend.

The legend says that some Spanish soldiers came to the place where Tabaco City now stood and asked a maiden about the name of the place. The overprotective father, thinking that the Spaniards will kidnap his daughter, shouted “Tabak ko! Tabak ko!” (My bolo! My bolo!). The Spaniards thought that the father is shouting the name of the place. Thus, the overprotective father's “Tabak ko” became Tabaco.

The legend supported by the Tabaco City government is very common and many places in the Philippines traced the origin of their name from the misunderstanding between the locals and Spaniards. Other historians claim that Tabaco City's name came from tobacco or tabaco as rendered in Spanish. Tobacco is the city's major product during the Spanish period.
I prefer the “tobacco” over the “tabak ko” etymology because it is more probable. Another reason is it's horrifying to imagine that I stand in the middle of a field of tabak with outstretched arms and my palms touching the blades. The tobacco plantation is more idyllic than a field of tabak.

Tabaco City began when Franciscan missionaries began their apostolic work in the area in 1587. Tabaco Church marked the flourishing of Catholicism in the area when its first structure was established in 1616. The church is one of the earliest structure in Tabaco City.

The heritage of Tabaco City was inscribed at the base of the Tabak Monument. Inscribed of course, is the Tabaco Church.
Bas relief of Tabaco Church, Bicolandia

I will feature Tabaco Church in the next post.

Another heritage inscribed on the monument is tabak making.
Tabak making in Tabaco City, Bicolandia

I didn't buy any tabak in Tabaco City. I was worried that the tabak might be confiscated at the airport.

The inscription that caught my eye is this:
Tabaco Pei Ching High School in Tabaco City, Bicolandia

I never thought that a Chinese school could be found in Tabaco City. Tabaco Pei Ching High School was established in 1920. One of the popular alumni of this school is the showbiz writer Ricky Lo. Too bad that I failed to take a quick peek at this school.

The city park is the best place to stroll during dusk. Tabaqueños flock this park during the evening because it is located conveniently near the mall and Tabaco Church.
City park of Tabaco, Bicolandia

I stayed at this park in my first evening at Tabaco City. The air at park was cooler than our “airconditioned” room in a cheap hotel.

Another interesting building is a white house that I saw while I am on my way to Tabaco Port.
White house of Tabaco City, Bicolandia

This white house is the house of the poetess Angela Manalang Gloria. I never know anything about this Filipina poet until I saw her house. Read more about Angela Manalang Gloria here.
House of Angela Manalang Gloria in Tabaco City, Bicolandia

The white house was established in the 19th Century by Mariano Villanueva. It was then owned and used as headquarters of Smith, Bell and Company. It was bought by the poetess in 1965. Aside from being the house of a poetess, this building was considered as one of the biggest house in Tabaco and the only remaining example of a house made of stone in Bicolandia dating to Spanish period.

It can be seen that Tabaco City is more prosperous than other towns, excluding Legazpi City, located around Mayon Volcano. The city is also rich in history and heritage. What made me sad is that the tobacco plantations are gone. My dream of touching tobacco plants didn't happen. I guess I have to go to Ilocos for that.

Affordable Beach Resort at Bulan

One of the things that I like in Bulan is the Sabang Park and Beach Resort. I like it because it is very affordable. I only paid 5 pesos to enter this beach resort. This is the reason why the park and beach resort is packed with people. Anyone can bring their own family without paying so much just for a dip in the sea.
Sabang Beach Park and Beach Reost in Bulan, Bicolandia

Too bad that I reached Sabang Beach while I was walking around Bulan. I had no beach wear nor extra clothes so I didn't dare to dip in the sea. I didn't even had a companion that will guard my precious camera. I have no choice but to walk around the resort and take photos.

Sabang Beach is located at a place where the sea meets the river. The visitors of the beach resort can either swim on salt water or fresh water.
River beside Sabang Beach of Bulan, Bicolandia
The river beside Sabang and the place where it meets the sea.
The place boasts of a beach with fine sands. There are cottages that can be rented by families who are picnicking.
Cottages of Sabang Beach Resort in Bulan, Bicolandia

The sea is quite fine. People can dip in its waters during calm weather.

Sabang is both a beach resort and a park. Park amenities is just few meters away from the beach. I saw that Sabang Park and Beach Resort has a conference hall, which was being used by the members of Couples for Christ (CFC) during my visit. It is also a mini-zoo of sorts because there is a cage that holds some birds. There is a playground for the kids and some benches where couples “smoochie smoochie” without care.
Playground at Sabang Beach Resort in Bulan, Bicolandia

What interested me is an old monument that honors those who fought the Japanese during the Second World War.
World War 2 Monument at Sabang Beach Resort in Bulan, Bicolandia

I think that no one is honoring the Second World War heroes now based on the condition of the monument. No one, not even the resort management, cared to clean the monument.

The people of Bulan is blessed to have a beach resort that is so affordable and accessible. How I wish that we have this kind of beach resort in Manila. When will Metro Manilans enjoy a dip in a crystal clear water at place where Pasig River meets the Manila Bay? That is a dream that the people of Bulan enjoys now.

At Bulan the Second Time Around

The Sorsogon town of Bulan is the first place in Bicolandia that I ever set my feet on. A big ship brought me to this town in my first visit. For my second visit, a passenger boat brought me from Masbate City to Bulan.

It is evening when we reached Bulan after the long and noisy travel aboard Kulafu. I am glad to stand on solid ground again. It is good that our guide in Bulan bid us to stay in his house. At least we are spared from looking for a hotel after the exhausting sea voyage.

Nothing changed much in Bulan since my last visit. Jollibee is still the only fast food restaurant in the town. The noisy market is still there. The only change that is noticeable is the pier of Bulan. The old pier was demolished and was replaced by a new one.
Port of Bulan, Bicolandia
The improved pier of Bulan, Sorsogon.
The sea was calm during my stay in Bulan. The wind was still but the days were hot. It is still a perfect day to do my work. I prefer the sun than the rain when I am outside of the office.
Calm sea and sky of Bulan, Bicolandia
Calm sea and sky of Bulan.
Bulan is strategically located near the tip Bicolandia peninsula. The town is an important port for vessels going to Masbate and Ticao Islands. The poblacion of Bulan is small because the whole town is still dominated by trees and farms. This means that the air in Bulan is still not that polluted.
Poblacion of Bulan, Bicolandia
The small poblacion of Bulan.

I only visited two places in Bulan. One is the Sabang Park and Beach Resort, which I will talk about later. The other is the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church or more popularly known as the Bulan Church. According to Dennis Lizano of Historical Bulan blog, Bulan Church is the biggest parochial church in the whole Bicolandia.
Bulan Church in Bicolandia

Most notable landmark of Bulan Church is the reproduction of the Pieta.
Pieta at Bulan Church, Bicolandia

Bulan Church is truly big. It even has an altar on the side for masses for small group of people. I think that this church is old but I can't find a plaque or monument saying its date of establishment. Its belfry is fairly new because it was erected in May 2000.
Altar of Bulan Church in Bicolandia

I attended the Holy Mass in the early evening. It all went well because I memorized the flow of the Holy Mass so I could still get the gist of it even if the priest was speaking in Bicolano. The only parts that I didn't understand are the readings and the homily.

Bulan Church is plain since it lacks the complicated designs that can be found in other Catholic churches. But, it doesn't mean that Bulan Church is not beautiful. This photo from Flickr shows a good shot of Bulan Church. What disappoints me is that the church is dusty. The image of Mama Mary and other saints are covered in dust. I hope that the parishioners of Bulan Church become more active in cleaning their church.

Noisy Boat Travel to Bicolandia Mainland

I only stayed in Masbate City for three days to finish the work assigned to me. I had no choice but to pack my bags and begin another journey to other parts of Bicolandia. My office ordered me to go to the Sorsogon town of Bulan.

The fastest way to reach Bulan is to ride a passenger boat at Masbate City port. The boat is scheduled to leave Masbate City at 2 PM every day. Our guide took us to the port after we finished our lunch. The Masbate City port is managed by Philippine Ports Authority, which is a government-owned corporation.
Entrance to Port of Masbate City, Bicolandia

We found the Bulan-bound boat berthed at the wharf. The boat's name is Kulafu 5.
Kulafu berthed at Masbate City, Bicolandia
I saw porters load sacks of rice and other cargoes to the open space at the front of Kulafu. This boat is not for people who want an easy travel. Its seats are just monobloc chairs. The open window is this Kulafu's aircon that also bring in saltwater when the sea is rough. The worst part is that the engine of the boat is too noisy. You can hear the “brrrrrrrrr” of Kulafu's engine a mile away.
Port of Masbate City, Bicolandia
One last look at Masbate Port.
Kulafu's engine started at around two o'clock. We moved away from Masbate in no time.
Masbate City, Bicolandia as viewed from the sea
View of Masbate City from the sea. The Masbate Cathedral is at the center of the photo.

Masbate City may already be urbanized but other areas of Masbate Island still have the rural ambiance. The province still boasts of large tracts of greens, which I saw after a few nautical miles.
Island of Masbate, Bicolandia
Mountains ans greens of Masbate Island.
Kulafu moved southeastwards aiming for the south end of Ticao Island.
The red line shows our route from Masbate City to Bulan.
Travel on open sea is boring. There were no dolphins swimming beside our boat. I even waited for a kraken to eat Kulafu but to no avail. I only got excited when we saw land. We finally reached the south end of Ticao Island!
South end of Ticao Island, Bicolandia

I got excited when I saw land just after two hours on open sea. I now understand why sailors of old are so mad to see land. Being at the sea for a long time makes one miss dry land so much.

The sea got rough suddenly the moment we passed Ticao Island. We are back to the open sea but the boredom is gone. The winds are strong and waves came crashing at Kulafu. The sprays forced us to close the windows. Everything is doing fine until a woman became sea sick. Other passengers stood up to help her. We tended the sea sick woman until we reached Bulan.

It was dark when reached Bulan. We traveled for four hours. Our journey would have been much longer because the boat's captain wanted to save fuel and made Kulafu travel very slowly. The boat traveled faster when the woman got sick. What happened to the woman was bad but it had a good effect, somehow.


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Wrong Timing in Masbate City

“You are two weeks early for the rodeo!” This is the greeting made by our guide when we met him outside of the Masbate City airport. Indeed we are too early and I was saddened by that fact.

I was surprised the first time our guide told us about the Rodeo Festival. I thought that the Filipino cowboys can only be found in Bukidnon. We passed by a statue of a man ahorsed while we were going to the guide's house. The statue confirmed that Masbateño cowboys are real.
Rodeo statue in Masbate City, Bicolandia
(Photo by: Scott Stevenson)
Masbate City is the capital of Masbate, which is the southernmost province of Bicolandia. Our guide said that Masbateños are more Visayan than Bicolanos. I think that what he said is true since Masbate Island is close to the Visayan islands of Samar and Leyte.
Masbate Island, Bicolandia

How to Reach Masbate City

Visitors can reach Masbate City by sea or by air. There are RoRo vessels and ferry boats that connect Masbate City to other ports in Bicolandia and the Visayas. People from Metro Manila can ride the RoRo bus that will cross sea on a RoRo ship from Pilar, Sorsogon. Another alternative is to ride a boat from Bulan, Sorsogon to reach Masbate City. I just did that but on the reverse route when I traveled from Masbate City to Bulan.
Boat berthed at Masbate Port, Bicolandia
The boat Kulafu about to leave Masbate Port for Bulan.

I reached Masbate City by riding a Manila-Masbate flight of AirPhil Express in the early morning. Our guide said that AirPhil Express has one flight in the morning. Zest Air, he said, uses the Masbate Airport in the afternoon.

Very Short Tour around Masbate City

I went to Masbate City for some office errands. What I like with Masbate City is that it still has clear seas, which should be envied by inhabitants of Manila. Clear seas means that the city also has plenty of beach resorts. It is sad that I went to city of clear sea but have no time to swim because of work. Sobs!
Clear sea of Masbate City, Bicolandia

I just made a short tour around the poblacion just to ease my “itchy” feet.

Visitors who reached Masbate City by the sea route will be welcomed by this arch outside of Masbate Port:
Welcome arch of Masbate City, Bicolandia

My tour was uneventful. The only interesting place that I visited is the Masbate Cathedral.

The cathedral was established Spanish missonaries in 1578, which made it one of the oldest structure in the whole island. It was re-constructed in 1954. Masbate Cathedral was dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua.
Aisle and altar of Masbate Cathedral, Bicolandia
Aisle and altar of Masbate Cathedral.

I went to the Masbate City hall, their city park and markets but I was not able to shoot some photos. I will do it the next time I will visit Masbate City. I will take photos of the sea, beaches, and of course the action-packed Masbate Rodeo:
Bull riding during the Masbate Rodeo. (Source: Masbate.com)


Visit Ahab Reviews and Tips and read about the Chow Pao on Chowking menu.

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Another Tour Around Bicolandia

One of the things that I fervently wish to see is the perfectly-coned mouth of Mayon Volcano in the province of Albay. Well, my wish came true because I got another chance to visit Bicolandia, specifically the southern provinces of the region. In the previous visit, I went to two Camarines provinces located in north Bicolandia. My most recent trip to Bicolandia took me to the provinces of Masbate, Sorsogon and Albay.

Bicolandia, officially known as Bicol Region, is the peninsula extending southeastward from Luzon Island. Bicolandia includes the provinces of Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Masbate. Bicolanos, the inhabitants of the region, is known for their love of dishes with gata and chili.

I have seen a lot of places, met a lot of people and heard many stories but what highlighted my Bicolandia trip is my visits to the churches located on the town where I stayed. So, let me give you a preview of future posts for my Bicolandia trip by showing you these churches.

Masbate City

Masbate is the Bicolandia province nearest to the Visayan islands. The capital of this province is Masbate City, which is known for its rodeo. The church that visited here is the Saint Anthony of Padua Parish Church.
Masbate City Chrch in Bicolandia

Read my post about Masbate City.

Bulan, Sorsogon

Bulusan Volcano was spewing ashes during my first visit to Bulan. I am thankful that the volcano is quiet during my second visit. It is also my second visit to Bulan's Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church.
Bulan Church of Bicolandia

Read my post about Bulan, Sorsogon.

Tabaco, Albay

I thought that the name of Tabaco City came from tobacco. I imagined the place to be covered with rows upon rows of tobacco plants. I was wrong because the tobacco plantation is now gone. The church that I visited here is Saint John the Baptist Church.
Tabaco Church of Bicolandia

Read my post about Tabaco City.

Legazpi City

Legazpi City known to have the best view of the majestic Mayon Volcano. This city is becoming popular with tourist not only because of Mayon but also because of resorts like the Misibis. I visited two churches during my stay in Legazpi City. The one is the Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Great. The second church, which I made sure that I will never miss, is the Cagsawa ruins.
Legazpi City Cathedral in Bicolandia

I will talk about the tourist spots, the sights and of course the churches in these towns and cities of Bicolandia. So please stay tuned.