To many, the desire for travel is a basic human impulse. For me, given the freedom to do what I want, I would undoubtedly choose to explore the world. Whenever I have the opportunity, I never hesitate. I had never been to the southeast part of Luzon, in the Philippines, so when a high school classmate invited me there to attend his son’s wedding, I jumped at the chance. Our destination was Sorsogon, the farthest part of the Bicol Region. Although the travel time by plane would only take one hour, we decided to travel all the way by land, for 8-9 hours. We knew we will see much more by land travel. Before heading to Sorsogon, we stopped one day in Legaspi, Albay province to be mesmerized by the beauty of the Mayon Volcano,. We wanted to see the tip of the volcano because there is an old folk tale “ whosoever sees the tip of the volcano from afar, possesses a pure heart”.
The Mayon Volcano is the most active, beautiful volcano in the country, and for sure, one of the most in the world because of its perfect cone shape and symmetry. As a Filipino I am allowed to brag.The name Mayon means beautiful and of course there is a legend attache
Daragang Magayon was a Royal Family princess who fell in love with Handiong, a brave and strong warrior-prince from a rival tribe. Their love sparked a bloody tribal war. To stop the violence and suffering of their people, the couple committed suicide. The spot where Magayon was buried created Mt. Mayon. Yes, this is the Filipino version of Romeo and Juliet. As the sun began to say “hello” we reached Legaspi, and the volcano was already visible from the road ….very huge and beautiful to our sight.
First, we indulged ourselves in the Bicol Region’s very tempting, spicy cuisine. Bicolanos are known to love spicy foods. A joke goes “when a strong typhoon visits Bicol, the Bicolanos would first see the safety of their chilli plant before their own home”.
Then we proceeded to the Legaspi City’s Tourist Center for a guide to roam the volcano circumference. The guide educated us on how Mayon Volcano is an active volcano with an elevation of 2.46 km, 20 km of base and, yes, it is rather large. The mountain was proclaimed as a national park in the year 2000. The volcano is most active with a 48 eruptions since1616. The damage has been so extensive that the Tourist Center has published an information booklet. On the lighter side, in October 2008, Mayon Volcano was included in the search for7 new wonders of nature. It is also the most photographed Philippine volcano.
For those, who want adventure and mountaineering, this is is one of the most exciting mountains to climb. The best time of the year to climb is from March to May, and the safest approach is from the northwestern slope. Up and down usually takes 4 days.
The circumferential volcano tour ended at about 4 in the afternoon. Actually, there is a second phase the next day that covers the “Hayop-hayopan cave” where the sound of the wind passing through the cave sounds like different animals. Also, the “Hot Spring” of Tiwi where the water is said to be warm and gentle. However, the wedding calls.
Away from Legaspi going to Sorsogon, we once more we saw Mayon Volcano and now the volcano looks very, very near to us, and is very, very huge, and seemed ready to fall. Yet, to the residents of the area, although the volcano is very close to them, they believe no destruction will happen if it erupts. To them, it is a friendly volcano.
The wedding is over and I am back to my usual day-to-day routine I believe I will return to be captivated by the beauty of Mayon Volcano again.”
It is more fun in the Philippines” the slogan of the Philippine Department of Tourism shouts. So anyone out there wants to travel? Try the Philippines…it delivers!