Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

D A R A G A   T O U R

The Cagsawa Ruins in the town of Daraga in Albay was like the beach destination Boracay to me. Almost everyone I know have been to both places. Everyone except for me. Mayon Volcano of Bicol was a nagging local tourist spot to me until last week when I finally embarked on a 9-hour bus ride aboard Cagsawa Tours to Legazpi City.

I was to stay at The Oriental Hotel and visit other interesting places in Legazpi City and Daraga, but the Cagsawa Ruins would be my prime visit. And did it feel exactly like it. Standing there on the same spot where thousands of tourists before me stood to have their photos taken with the church bell tower and with Mayon Volcano in the far background, the experience felt surreal.

Lonely and Desolate Road Since 2006

Aboard a hired car, I took to the famous tourist site one afternoon of January. My arrival was made more interesting when I entered the road that let me traverse a brief landscape that I did not see in postcards and textbooks. I crossed a shallow river via a lonely-looking bridge. The surrounding seemed like out of a post-apocalyptic movie set. There was a decrepit kubo or native Filipino house and a cemented residence that was stripped down to its foundation. Both houses, of course, were abandoned. Everything distant to the left and right sides of the road leading to the Cagsawa Ruins looked devastated.

It turned out, according to my tour guide, that the area did suffer from the devastation of 2006's typhoon Reming. I was told that roughly 1,000 local residents died due to the passage of lahar or mudflow from Mayon Volcano one fateful night. The site was desolate for a while until plants started to grow again.

It was a weird feeling to note that I finally had the courage to visit this part of Bicol because I've not been hearing of super typhoons passing its way for the past year and yet there I was learning of the last typhoon that devastated the area.

You've probably read in books and online that the most devastating eruption of MayonVolcano was in 1814 which made the Cagsawa Ruins the way it is today, leaving just a bell tower standing and burying about a hundred Cagsawa residents who were inside the church during the eruption. I guess something like that is still a possibility in the future because the volcano is not dormant. Its last eruption was just 3 years ago anyway.

Eyewitness account of the February 1, 1814 Mt. Mayon Eruption from the Legazpi City Facebook account:
"After frequent earthquakes, the mountain suddenly threw forth from its bowels a cloud that seemed of snow and which rose in the form of a pyramid, taking the aspect of a beautiful crest. As the sun was shining brightly, the destructive phenomena presented distinct and beautiful effects. The volcano appeared black at its base, darker higher up, variegated in the middle, and on the peak an ashen color. While contemplating this spectacle, we felt a violent earthquake, followed by a strong thunder. The mountain spewed forth lava with great force and the cloud that crowned it gradually increased. The ground became dark, the air was lit up; rays and sparks could be seen emerging from the mountain, forming a horrible tempest. Immediately there started a rain of large and incandescent carbonized stones that set fire to anything they touched and consumed it; shortly thereafter, smaller stones, sand, and ashes fell."   ~ Fr. Francisco Tubino of Guinobatan

Bustling Tourist Site

The car advanced and crossed the area of souvenir shops until I arrived at the Cagsawa Ruins gate. Beyond the gate were numerous tourists from all walks of life. The sprawling property is separated from Mayon Volcano by more than 11 kilometers of rice field and ground area. The heart of the place, the Cagsawa church bell tower, was there before me standing like it knew of my visit. That day was bittersweet, though, because just a few meters from the bell tower stood the erected human-sized wooden cross that represented the town's mourning in remembrance of the place's dead residents of the 2006 mudflow.

Souvenir Section

There was nothing much to do in the area except to take photos of the volcano, yourself, and the bell tower. Outside of the gate, however, I ended up buying a native snack and shirt for souvenir to bring back to Manila. There were numerous native bags and snacks to choose from. Souvenir t-shirts were everywhere also.

C H E C K   O U T   M Y   L E G A Z P I   C I T Y - D A R A G A   V I S I T

+ My Infinity Pool View of Mayon Volcano at The Oriental

+ Revisiting World War II Inside Legazpi City's Tunnel

+ Abundance of Time at the Albay Park & Wildlife

More Photos Below:

My travel stamina partner, Laminine   +   My personal blog, New Self    +   Pasig City Natin


  1. i really hope that bell tower will stay until i come to visit bicol.

    1. I only put off visiting Mayon Volcano for so long because of the typhoon cycle. Now that it seems to have taken a break in Bicol, I did not hesitate anymore. Go and take that trip ASAP before Mayon starts to wiggle its toes LOL.

  2. hi idol..thumbs up! keep it up..

  3. Great photos! Unfortunately, we had the same experience with very shy Mayon covered in clouds. Check out our visit to Cagsawa here
    Live Love and Lou Cagsawa Ruins in Albay


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