Tag Archives: legaspi

Bicol Trip 2010: Day 2

We had gotten several instructions on how to get to Cam Sur. King’s instructions was the clearest one we had (plus, I wrote it down). So we went to the terminal beside Pacific Mall (near the SM Savemore, which IMO should be SM Savepoint, like in RPGs) and boarded a van for Naga. We were just in time for the last three seats. Fee for the full trip is P150 per person, but since we were getting off at Pili, it was only P130. Just tell the driver to let you off at the CWC crossing.

The trip is roughly two hours, about half of which I spent sleeping. It was rather uncomfortable, but I didn’t mind it much. The driver let us off the crossing, and we took a trike to the CamSur Watersports Complex. It’s inside a compound that’s houses several government agencies, although much of the area is being developed into several resorts.

We decided on signing up for half day use of the cable park. Since it won’t open until 10 AM, we had roughly two hours to kill. We did so by taking beginner lessons on wakeboarding at Winch Park.

Ideally, we were told that first timers should go knee boarding before trying wakeboarding. This is so that you’ll have an idea on how to balance yourself on the board, as kneeboarding doesn’t really require much effort compared to wakeboarding. Since the park is closed, we opted for wakeboarding basics.

Feeling athletic
I consider myself a fairly athletic person, having taken up taekwondo and archery in the past. Still, prefer less strenuous sports, and although I do like to swim but I’m quite intimidated by water. First thing I asked was “Are there life jackets?” then “How deep is the water?”

Let me just say that it is not a fun experience when you lose your balance and hit the water… at first. After a while, it just gets frustrating because you see everyone (your brother, mostly) crossing the water easily after one or two falls. Still, the moment where I was able to complete a round was really exhilarating. Sure, I wasn’t fully standing, and maybe I still had some issues with how to properly balance myself, but it was so worth it. After a while I was also able to try standing up slightly, then making a turn.

I also realized that I was able to start off with no problems when the operator suddenly ran the machine while I was still chatting with the instructor. Better because I wasn’t tense with expectation?

Miks started on the cable park earlier. He was able to complete one round by the time we got there. Nez immediately tried kneeboarding, while I decided to pass it up in favor of catching my breath. Around this time, other guests were arriving, including several Australians who seemed to be wakeboard enthusiasts, judging by their equipment and physique. Thank God for shades, because I couldn’t stop ogling at them.

The half day rent on the cable park includes free use of the swimming pool, which we took advantage of while waiting for our food orders.

Food tripping again
We didn’t have breakfast so I was truly starving by the time noon rolled in. CWC had its own restaurant, which was pretty much the only place you can get food from inside the compound. Price-wise, most dishes fell below the P200 line. I had an order of Filipino breakfast (tapsilog) and a side dish of hakaw. Miks had this ground pork dish (the name escapes me) while Nez had some sort of rice toppings. Oddly enough no one thought to take photos of the food, probably because we were so hungry.

I wanted to take home CWC’s menu which was shaped like a wakeboard. Miks and I asked if we could get it, and they said no. Too bad.

For dessert, we had banana split, which didn’t really stand out. The menu described it as four scoops with pili nut toppings. It was only three scoops with no pili nuts. There’s a cherry though. Later on we ordered laing pizza and it was good! The laing was well made so it didn’t overpower the tastebuds. Oddly enough, it mixed well with the cheese. Definitely well recommended!

On to Naga
We spent the remaining hours cleaning up, then took the shuttle to Naga. Our original plan was to go back to Legaspi after lunch, but Nez wanted to go to Naga, after seeing signs for the 300th anniversary of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia.

I have heard of it before, thanks to various relatives and a friend’s mother who is from Naga. While I’m not a religious person, I still think it warrants a visit, so I was game. When we got to Naga, we were confused about where to go. The trike driver who took us to CWC said that we should go to the Basilica where the Ina (as Our Lady of Peñafrancia is fondly called by her devotees) is housed. She will be transferred to the Cathedral the week after (note: it’s the week of September 13 to 17), before heading back to the Basilica. We again took a trike.

There were not many people at the Basilica, although there were a lot of construction going on outside, probably in preparation for the celebration in the coming days. Outside the church is a tarpaulin board where you can write your wishes or prayers. Nez, Miks and I all noted down our prayers. Mine was for my family.

The Basilica is fairly new. By this, I mean it wasn’t as old as Daraga church or some of the older churches we saw along the way. Still, it was pretty impressive. There were huge stained glass works of the various stations of the cross, letting the light flow from outside and casting a colorful glow in the church. The altar is big, reminding me of the church in Dumaguete. At the very top of the altar is the image of Ina. There is an entrance in the side of the altar to a prayer/devotion area, where you can touch the image through a small cubby hole while saying a prayer. We were lucky to get there before anyone else, so there were no lines.

As I said earlier, I am not a religious person. In fact, you can even say I’m somewhat skeptic of the Catholic Church, even though I am Catholic. Still, there was something about the place, and the devotion of the people there that touched me, and I couldn’t help but cry while I was there.

We went around a bit, with Nez going to the souvenir shop to get something for her grandma and offer a mass for her siblings, who are taking the bar.

We headed back to SM to look for a Starbucks so she can get a mug for her sister. Tip: there is no Starbucks in SM Naga, but there is one along the road to the Basilica. It’s right next to Yellow Cab, which is across a gas station in an intersection. I don’t know the name of the street.

The trip back to Legaspi took roughly two hours, again most of which I spent sleeping. Back in Legaspi, we decided on a quick dinner at McDonald’s (yes, we eventually gave in), then walked back to our hotel.

A funny thing happened while we were walking. A
lady behind me asked “Saan yung Tanchuling Hotel?” Apparently, she was also a visitor in Legaspi like us. Nez and Miks were ready to reply that they didn’t know, but I quickly answered with the directions. How did I know? we passed it several times before and I often retain information like that.

We all crashed pretty quickly after we arrived at the hotel. Our bodies were starting to hurt from the wakeboarding, and Nez told me that she had to get some cold canned drinks to put on her aching muscles. I doubted that we’d get up early the next day to get to Bacacay.

I still haven’t sent my postcards.

Bicol trip 2010: Day 1

My best friend Carmenez invited me on a trip to Legaspi, Albay. It had been years since I last stepped foot on my motherís home province and I jumped on the chance. A few days later, she asked if I knew of anyone else who wanted to go, so I took my brother Miks along.

The moments before the actual flight were rather tense. one reason was mostly due to my carelessness, and the other one was purely because of fate. But when the plane was in the air and we landed in Legaspi, we didnít really care and had a grand time laughing about it.

Day 1: Legaspi and Daraga
It was Miksí first time to ride a plane, and his first visit back to Bicol after twenty years. He was roughly two years old when he first visited, and hasnít been back since. He said that the plane ride was rather short (less than an hour from Manila to Legaspi), but enjoyed it nonetheless.

Upon landing, we immediately whipped out our cameras for a shot at the tarmac, even though we were asked not to take pictures in the runway. Since there were not much activity, the airport personnel was a bit more accommodating.

We were able to get a ride with someone Carmenez knew from work, so we arrived at our hotel pretty quickly. Sampaguita Tourist Inn is located along Rizal St., and is easily accessible through public or private transportation. Itís relatively cheap and clean. Our room had three single beds, one bathroom, a TV with cable, aircon and fan. itís the bare essentials, but for P750+ per night, itís very good. Thereís no WiFi in the rooms, but thereís a free connection at the lobby. Thereís also a restaurant on the first floor, but I donít know how the food is.

After dumping our things and freshening up a bit, we headed out. Pacific Mall was our first stop, where we were told we can easily get rides to where we needed to go. A trike is P7 per person, but for some reason the drivers kept asking for P30 for the three of us. It wouldnít be so bad, but the total of those extra three pesos does make a difference.

Mall nanaman?
Pacific Mall is a Gaisano mall, hence the familiar uniforms of the department store ladies. The funny thing was it was only a few blocks away from our hotel, and we couldíve easily walked to it. It houses several familiar establishments like McDonaldís, Jollibee, Bench, Penshoppe and National Bookstore.

We had lunch at Graceland, all because we thought there were two Jollibee stores in the mall, thanks to the mascot Qweenie. For less than P100, you get a full meal. Miks and I had lechon kawali with Bicol Express, while Nez had porkchop with laing.

Right on the second floor is the store my friends and I know and love so well: Booksale. Since I was with the friend who introduced me to it, we just had to pass by. Iím sure my brother rolled his eyes as we made a beeline for it. I purchased a book for Lolo, while Nez hauled in some pocketbooks at P15 each.

We finished running our errands and headed off to the Philippine Ports Authority office, where Nez met up with people she knew from work. We took a trike from the mall, which then dropped us off in front of the Naval base. Unfortunately neither the trike driver nor the security guard we asked knew where PPA was, so we were off for a long walk. We made some wrong turns but eventually ended up where we needed to be.

Most of Legaspiís government offices are located in one compound. I saw the Civil Service, DOST, DOT, LTO, Commission on Audit, DILG among others. There were other government offices outside the compound but they were more like satellite offices.

The Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga

365/September 6: Cagsawa Ruins and Mt. Mayon

We headed off to Daraga to see the Cagsawa Ruins. The last time I was there, it seemed like it was just a big field with the bell tower in the middle of it. Now thereís a gate, where you have to pay the entrance fee, plus stalls where you can buy souvenirs. Inside the compound, we ran into King, a young man who took us around the ruins and told us the story behind it. He was also really cool to take pictures of us, and gave us information on where we could go next. If ever you do stop by the Cagsawa Ruins, look for King.

Our next stop was Daraga church, which sits on top of a hill. Daraga was celebrating its fiesta the next day, so the church was all spruced up. It had an amazing view of Mayon, and thanks to Kingís tips, we were able to get great pictures of the church and the volcano.

It was late afternoon when we got back to Legaspi, so we opted to go to Bacacay the next day, after wakeboarding in CamSur. Instead, we freshened up and went downtown to look for the bus terminal. Legaspi has a busy downtown district, the only thing I recall ever seeing back then was LCC Mall. We took a walk around but didnít find what we wanted. We poked around an ukay-ukay store, and I finally saw the post office, complete with a really odd statue of kneeling headless man. According to my research, it was originally found along the townís port area and is a memorial to a guerilla hero beheaded by the Japanese during World War II.

Legaspi’s night life
A short walk away is the Embarcadero, a waterfront development full of stores and restaurants, considered as the portal of nightlife in Legaspi. Much of it is still under development, and will house a hotel and spa as well as a IT park in the future. For now, it has enough to keep one entertained. We had dinner in Biggs Diner, one of Bicol’s popular food chain.

At first, Nez wasn’t impressed because it functioned quite like McDonaldís where you have to line up to order instead of sitting down then ordering from a menu. However, when our orders came, we didnít have anything bad to say about it. For the price, Biggís is well worth it. The servings are, well, big, and the taste lives up to the images that are posted on the menu board.

For a Monday night, there were a lot of people milling about. There was a boxing event, and there was a live band playing. Nez wanted coffee, so we looked around for a coffeeshop. No Starbucks or CBTL, instead, we saw La Mia Tazza. Like Biggís and Graceland, it is purely homegrown. Many of the drinks and the desserts have incorporated what Bicol is known for. I just tried tea, but I heard that they have drinks with pili nuts. My mom would love that.

We spent the rest of the evening listening to the band, then headed back to Sampaguita to rest as we had to get up early the next day.