“Uragon” (sometimes spelled as “oragon”), is a Bikolano slang for someone who is feisty, determined, principled, fighter, unafraid of consequences, and one who stands up for his principles. No wonder other ethno-linguistic groups like the Tagalog would look them up as brave and determined yet warm and graceful like the Mayon Volcano, their most-sought ‘Bicol Express’. and their thirst for waves and adventure as exemplified in their world-renowned CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC).
I really have proven that it’s always the journey and not the destination. So even if I already went to the same place twice, I definitely had a brand new experience. This is my travelogue as my friends, my boyfriend, and myself traversed Naga and Legazpi in three (3) days.
In this visit in the region, we gave ourselves a little push, to have a taste of the “uragon” blade. Kami na ang matapang!
Day 1 – Naga: Bigg’s Diner, Church Heritage tour, and Wakeboarding at CWC
A flight through PAL Express (formerly known as Airphil Express) seat sales, however delayed, did not keep us from enjoying the NAIA terminal. Thanks to my travel buddies namely Feo, Myc, and Karl, I experienced for the first time to really shoot at the terminal. Talking about maximizing the use of the Php 200.00 terminal fee! And so, we are off to Naga for a jumpstart.
We chose CBD Plaza Hotel. They have good facilities for a budget hotel – from economy room to suites. For a good price of Php 2,400, we get to have airport transfers, request for early check-in and late check-out, and daily breakfast. They have clean rooms, toiletries, slippers, and located right beside SM Naga, Naga City Terminal, and food and convenient stores. It is also some 20 minutes away from the CWC (commuting would never be a problem as well).
Speaking of commuting, the best way to roam the City is the traysikad (known as tricycle in the metro). for Php 8, you get to go to your destination.
After check-in and packing our stuff for wakeboarding later that day, we are off for lunch at the Bigg’s Diner – known as the biggest foodchain in the Region. Inspired by the 50s, you can just see vinyl records, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, the Radio Flyer, and black and white tiles, among others, adorning the place. Enjoy it with their Extreme Cheeseburger and fries, you’ll be back for another for sure. The Diner is located at Centro Naga.
Full for the rest of the day, we began our Church Heritage Tour. Just across the Diner, we walked passed the Plaza Quince Martires. May I say that their plaza is really clean (so is the rest of the City). We then arrived at the San Francisco Church.As a practice, I would wish and pray as I enter the Church and knock on the wooden doors as I leave.
Even walking was an option, we rode to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral. Also there to amaze us the Porta Mariae – a triumphant arch inaugurated in 2009 to commemorate the devotion of the people of Naga to the Lady of Peñafrancia.
Then we had the chance to witness a wedding and be amazed by the size of the Basilica Minore de Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia, home of the blessed image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. The best place to cap our Church Heritage tour.
Naga wouldn’t be more famous, if it’s not for the CWC. We are fortunate enough to really learn how to wakeboard. It is definitely safe and enjoyable for beginners. Not only you get to wear safety gears, but also to get proper guidance from local instructors. Lucky for us, it was a Sunday and we were just few. So instead of a 2-hour wakeboard, we get to have an hour and a half more to enjoy to place.
And we dared ourselves not only to try the CWC Restaurant classic pizza but it’s Bicolano Pizza (laing pizza) as well. And may I say, it was really hot but definitely delicious!
Too tired to do extra stuff after arriving at the hotel at 9:30 PM. We were set for another adventure the next day – Legazpi, Albay.
Day 2: Legazpi City day tour
We took the better option to ride a UV Express van for Php 140 for a 2-hour trip to Legazpi. Oh my, instead of leaving at 6:00 AM, we left at almost 10:00 AM. We fell in-love way too much with our beds. And did I mention, us girls are already feeling our muscles ache because of the wakeboarding?
Arrived in Legazpi and our first stop for our itinerary is lunch. So expected! The moment we mentioned sili icecream to our trusted tour guide (Legazpi City can be toured through commute, but it’ll definitely be more comfortable if you hire a van. Fortunately, Mr. Diego Montessor, Jr. of Easy Travel, proved it easy for us.), immediately dropped us at 1st Colonial Grill. It offers all types of Bikolano dishes. Featured here of-course is the most-sought sili icecream, pili icecream, tinutungang ice cream (roasted rice grains that added much flavor and aroma), and malunggay icecream. I left the main the dishes for your imagination. These desserts were definitely the best sellers.
For our tour, we went to Daraga Church. And by the time that we went there, we also did not miss the opportunity to mesmerize ourselves with Mt. Mayon as well. This centuries old church was built by the Franciscan missionaries in 1773 in honor of the patron saint of Nuestra Senora dela Porteria.
Next stop is the Cagsaua (commonly spelled as Cagsawa) ruins, which was also built by the Franciscan missionaries in 1700s. It displays the famous bell tower which completes the view of Mayon in history books. A tour guide (who also acts as the photographer of the group) would tell us the story of the place and show us different creative shots. Tourists also have the option to try the ATV lava bed adventure tour with Php 599 (per hour, I think) as minimum cost. There are a lot of souvenir shops stationed there as well. We bought bell tower carvings made of granite at Php 150 – certified hand-made at a good price.
Legazpi would not be complete without the Lignon Hill. This place is a famous viewing deck for Mt. Mayon and the rest of the city. Further, it is a home of various adventure activities like zipline, rappelling, and hanging bridge cross. For our group we tried the zipline (a beginner feat) and hanging bridge and was aiming for the Japanese Tunnel afterwards (though, we didn’t have the chance to go inside the Japanese Tunnel as it was already closed by the time that we got there). When done in groups, you’ll definitely feel adrenaline rush from your toes to your temple. You can request the staffs to take your pictures by the way. They can print copies and save it on a CD as souvenirs.
Capping our tour is a cool evening walk at Legazpi Boulevard and Embarcadero. I remember very well those cool and clean sea breeze blowing towards us as we stroll and take pictures of the boulevard. We even had the chance to stand at the breakwater. This is also a place for joggers and triathletes alike.
After the tour, we were dropped off at the Legazpi Central Terminal to catch the last trip back to Naga City. We only had a quick dinner at Savemore before we hopped on the van.
Back at our hotel again at 9:30 PM, but this time craving for an evening snack, we feasted on some chicken and I-can’t-remember-what-else.
Day 3 – Church Heritage tour continues, photowalks, Geewan, and souvenir shopping
We initially planned to Malabsay Falls that day. But since I cannot really tell how far it is from our hotel and we were definitely tired with all our adventure during the past two (2) days, we resorted to continuing our Church Heritage tour, do souvenir shopping, and have lunch at Geewan.
I didn’t miss lighting a candle and saying a prayer for INA (as the people of Naga also called Our Lady of Peñafrancia). I also noticed the statue of Fr. Miguel Robles de Covarrubias who promoted the devotion to INA.
We also had the chance to check the Museum of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. We have witnessed how the devotion began and continued up to this day. Much can be learned from this Museum. Every diorama, aureola (twelve stars), crown, and “manto” (cloak), tells a story. It is definitely a must-see for tourists and lay persons alike. We are even blessed enough to step on the actual float being used for the annual fluvial parade (held during September).
For Bikolano goods, we went back to Centro Naga. For pili nuts and other goods, RPM must be the choice. We discovered Tribu Bikolano shirts for quality souvenirs as well.
Also, we did not miss shooting at the Plaza Rizal before heading for lunch.
Then to cap it all, we had our hearty lunch at Geewan. Bikolano dish, known or not to others, will be seen here. From left, we had pinangat (porked wrapped in gabi leaves and cooked in coconut milk), kandingan (Bikolano bopis), and tinutungan (fish cooked in vinegar, malunggay, and coconut milk). After lunch, we headed back to the hotel, in time for our travel to the airport for our flight to Manila.
This travel was definitely a memorable one especially to our muscles, taste buds, and hearts (but, of course). All credits to my friends and my Dear.