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Bicol Region Road Trip with Super Typhoon Bebeng

My first-ever backpacking trip in the country. I brought my favorite Diana F+ camera and the ever-so-reliable Vivitar UWS, each loaded with a roll of Kodak Ektachrome 200 - yes, on an unexpectedly gloomy, rainy day. I was hoping for the best but also expecting the worst shots.

Mayon Volcano on a cloudy day.

Bicol (also spelled as “Bikol” and also called “Bicolandia”) is one of the many regions in the Philippines. We headed straight to Legazpi City, in Albay, one of the provinces in Bicol. It’s a 12-hour drive from the country’s capital Manila, by land. Legazpi City is also the location of the most active volcano in the Philippines – Mayon Volcano (see top photo).

Breathtaking view of Legazpi City from Ligñon Hill.

After eating a bowl of hot and tasty lugaw (also known as porridge or congee) we headed to our first tourist destination – Ligñon Hill. It’s one of the best places to view Mayon Volcano and the rest of Legazpi City. Entrance is free boys and girls!

The best view of the majestic Mayon Volcano is on top of this hill. It took me 20 challenging minutes to climb. I just felt like I just burned off all the calories that I gained from my breakfast earlier.

Ligñon Hill Japanese Tunnel

Another must-see attraction at the foot of Ligñon Hill is the Japanese Tunnel. According to the locals, it was where the Japanese hid their arsenal during the later part of WWII. Creepy.

Cagsawa Ruins, Albay

Our next stop, which was only 10 minutes away from Ligñon Hill was Cagsawa Ruins. Townspeople fled here when the Mayon Volcano erupted and was where they all perished when the structure was swallowed up in the lava flows.

It was starting to rain hard. Our 3rd and last stop before heading to Donsol was this architectural beauty. Daraga Church is an 18th century Baroque structure. It has been recognized as one of the Philippines’ national treasures.

Calm before the storm.

After all the tourist spots, we drove all the way to Donsol, which is located in Sorsogon. It was only an hour and a half drive away from Legazpi City. Donsol is the home of the whale sharks (Butanding is what we call these gentle giants), it’s the best place to interact and swim with them in a certain area, 6 to 9 months (November – June) in a year.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do much of what was left on the itinerary – which included whale shark watching and firefly boat ride. We got stranded here for two days because of the super typhoon that flooded the main roads of the entire province.

Personally, I would definitely come back soon to have an encounter with the whale sharks and the fireflies. But this time, I’d make sure to check the weather forecast beforehand.

Lesson learned!

All photos by me, mayprodrigo

The Diana F+ is a new twist on the ‘60s classic cult camera. Famous for its dreamy and soft-focused images, the Diana F+ is now packed with extra features such as panorama and pinhole capabilities. Available in our Online Shop.

written by mayprodrigo

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