The Bicol region was one of the first five provinces I saw during the early days of my travel. But because most of it was because of work, there was only one time where I got to see beautiful places in the region. The first destination I saw was the strong waves of Bagasbas Beach in Daet. I also visited Cagsawa Ruins and the Daraga Chuch. I went to Albay numerous times but every time I went there, the marvelous Mayon Volcano was covered with clouds.
I went to Bicol from the night bus or a plane from Naga or to Albay. The trip with my friend in Camarines Norte and Sur was by bus and because it was either we were sleeping or we were standing we didn’t see the amazing scenery along the roads. Until recently I traveled because of work again, but this time we went there by driving.
There are so many interesting mountains when you enter the Bicol Region. You can either enjoy it while on the road or when you are at your destination.
Bicol Nature Park and Mount Labo
There are four mountain ranges in Camarines Norte. They are Mount Bagacay, Mount Cadig, Mount Labo and Susong Dalaga Mountain. Mount Bagacay is a dormant mountain in Paracale town. On its peak is overlooking the Labo River that runs to the town of Vinzons. You can also see it from Calaguas Island.
Mount Labo is an active stratovolcano located in the town of Labo. Other mountains are part of the Bicol Natural Park which connects Camarines Norte – Basud and Mercedes and Camarines Sur – Sipocol and Lupi. The natural park is also known for the winding road called Bituka nang Manok. The Mountain of Susong Dalaga is also located in the park.
Mount Isarog and Mount Iriga are both a stratovolcano. Mount Isarog covers the 6 municipalities in Camarines Sur.
Mount Iriga also is known as Mount Asog is a kilometer away from Lake Buhi.
There are three volcanic mountains in Albay called Magayon Trio – Mount Masaraga, Mount Malinao and Mount Mayon.
Mount Masaraga is found in the municipalities of Ligao City, and Mount Malinao is between Ligao city and Tiwi. The Tiwi Geothermal Plant is located in the mountain of Mount Malinao. The beautiful perfect coned shape Mayon Volcano is visible in the municipality of Guinobatan in Albay.
Mount Bulusan is the most active and prominent volcano in Sorsogon. Connecting Albay to Sorsogon are the mountains called Pocdol Mountain also known as the Bacon – Manito Volcanic Belt and Mount Pulog.
Mount Bintacan, Mount Batuan Mount Culangalan, Mount Caloomutan, Mount Homahan, Mount Jormaqam, Sharp Peak and Gate Mountains are concentrated near Mount Bulusan.
All the mountains and volcanoes are visible while driving along the Pan-Pacific Highway.
Daraga is a city in Albay at the foot of the magnificent Mayon Volcano. The famous landmarks in Daraga are Cagsawa Ruins and the Daraga Church.
The Cagsawa Ruins is a historical landmark at the heart of Cagsawa Ruins Park. It is the best location for tourists to enjoy the scenic view of Mayon Volcano. The park is protected and maintained by the municipality of Daraga and the National Museum of the Philippines.
The ruins were from the old baroque church before it was burned down by the Dutch pirates in 1600. It was rebuilt by the Franciscan friars in the 1700s. On February 1, 1814, the Mayon Volcano erupted and buried the town of Cagsawa. Only the belfry and some parts of the convent was left.
Cagsagwa Ruins park houses the Cagsawa National Museum and the third-largest regional branch. The museum has photo collections of the volcanic eruption of Mount Mayon. There is a gallery for a geological collection like rocks, minerals, fossilized plants and shells and porcelain and earthenware found in the Bicol region.
Galeria de Cagsawa, Patio Cagsawa and other ATV Adventure companies are all located in the park.
Our Lady of the Gate Parish
Another place to visit in Daraga is the Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church. It is at the top of Santa Maria Hill. The church architecture is baroque.
Naga is in the center of the Bicol Region and located in Camarines Sur. The City of Naga is also known as the Pilgrim City. It is the largest destination of the Marian pilgrimage in Asia because of the devotees of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
The city is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Caceres. The dominant Catholic religion is supported by different historical and influential institutions. There are so many churches run by different religious institutes like Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Peñafrancia Basilica De Minore, Ateneo de Naga University, University de Santa Isabel, University of Nueva Caceres, Naga Metropolitan Cathedral and San Francisco Church.
The Porta Mariae or Marian Gate is located at Barlin Street with a neoclassical architectural style. It stands as a symbol of the Bicolano’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia. It adds beauty to the historical church of Naga Metropolitan Cathedral.
Naga Metropolitan Cathedral
It is the oldest standing cathedral in Luzon which was established in 1595. It is also known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist. The architecture of the building is Baroque-Romanesque and stands near the different universities in Naga.
Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine
Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine is a baroque church under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Caceres. It was the home of the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia before it was transferred to Peñafrancia Basilica. It is where the Translacion procession of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia starts which is the signal of the Peñafrancia Festival.
Peñafrancia Basilica De Minore
The Peñafrancia Minor Basilica is the only Basilica in the Bicol Region which was constructed in 1976. It was opened in 1982 in honor of The Church of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia. The image of the Virgin Mary sculpted in 1710 is located here.
San Francisco Parish
San Francisco Church was established in 1578 and built by Franciscan Friars. It is located along the busy street of Peñafrancia Street surrounded by malls, restaurants, hotels, and banks. It also near the El Pueblo de Camarines Sur a Sus Quince Martires del 96, a historical landmark for the Katipuneros.
Naga City also has the Naga Airport and as the heart of Camarines Sur, it also the jump-off point of going to the famous Caramoan and other municipalities surrounding Mount Isarog.
The IRRI Rice world Museum and Learning Center is located inside the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Riceworld showcase the historical, cultural and technological information of rice.
The exhibits highlight the old technology used in farming rice, the science behind the production of rice and the cultural aspect of rice as a crop for the rice farmers in the Philippines.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) also houses the International Rice Genebank and also the home of different agricultural research and science laboratories dedicated to rice and agriculture. IRRI is located in the UPLB Campus in Los Baños, Laguna. It also gives a great view of the ricefields and different mountains in Laguna.
After the tour of the museum, you can also enjoy sumptuous food inside the IRRI Main Cafeteria or enjoy snacks and coffee in IRRI Coffe Shop – BeanHub.
Los Baños in Laguna is famous for UPLB Campus, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the dormant Mount Makiling and resorts and hot springs.
Mount Makiling is a dormant stratovolcano in the boundaries of Laguna and Batangas. It is a scenic view while driving on South Luzon Expressway. It is known as the first national park in the Philippines and was declared ASEAN Heritage Park in 2013 as Mount Makiling Forest Reserve. It also famous for mountain climbing having two trails, one is the UPLB trail and the other one is the Maktrav trail which starts in Santo Tomas, Batangas.
Aside from the different buildings for academic study and research and administration, the campus is famous for the UPLB Freedom Park, fertility tree, Jamboree and the Boyscout of the Philippines Camp Ground and the Makiling Forest Reserve with the famous Makiling spring.
Hot Springs and Laguna Lake
On the coast of Laguna lake are some private resorts and hot springs. I went to Splash Mountain resort for a group tour. I also stayed in the City of Springs in Brgay Baybayin and I enjoyed the view of Laguna Lake. Other famous spring resorts are Al Fresco, Laresio Lakeside Resort and 88 Hotspring.
There are three parishes in Los Baños that I have seen, first is the Roman Catholic Parish of San Antonio de Padua in Lopez Avenue towards the campus. Second is the Diocesan Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus inside UPLB Campus near the main gate. Another one is in town which is the Immaculate of Concepcion Parish Church.
Restaurants in Los Baños
I stayed for almost 10 months in Los Baños for work and stayed at an apartment near the University of the Philippines Los Baños Campus. I enjoyed the different restaurants inside and outside the campus, especially near the vicinity of the campus.
My favorite restaurants are:
1. Bonito Bar and Restaurant
2. Venice Italian Restaurant/La Gondola Veneziana
3. Mio Cucina
6. Infusion Gourmet Café and Deli
8. Auntie Pearls’ Pizza
10. IC’s Bar and Grill
I also love the Ginhawa Craft Studio Cafe inside UPLB.
There are two lakes in the Lumban – Caliraya – Cavinti Road in Laguna. The lakes give a panoramic view of the mountains of Mount Banahaw and Mount San Cristobal which is in the boundary of Laguna – Quezon.
Caliraya Lake is a man-made lake in the municipalities of Lumban, Cavinti and Kalayaan. It is served as a large water reservoir for generating hydroelectric power in Southern Luzon.
In early 2000, Lake Caliraya became famous for high-end vacation homes and resorts for the rich and famous. Different resorts surround the lake which offers different watersports activities.
Caliraya Recreation Center
It is the first Christian family resort in Asia which started in 1980s. The property is 7.6 hectares of landscapes and scenery with a 3-level hotel overlooking the lake. It is a good camping site and also a place for gatherings and events such as team building and wedding venues.
Lumot Lake or Lumot Mahipon Lake also called Sierra Lake is also a manmade lake in Cavinti, Laguna. It is separated from the much developed Caliraya Lake by penstocks or long channel pipes. It was an auxiliary water reservoir in Caliraya lake as part of the Kalayaan Hydroelectric Powerplant.
It has become a popular destination for watersports and glamping sites.
When we were younger, it was a destination for my cousins who loves to go fishing. My older cousins from Lucban would go there to fish and they also taught us how to fish using a fishing rod made of bamboo.
After going to the popular destinations in Tagaytay, where should we eat in Tagaytay? What are the best restaurants in Tagaytay? I’m not sure how many times I’d been to Tagaytay, but here’s the list of famous restaurants in Tagaytay.
1. Mahogany Market and Bulaluhan
2. Balinsasayaw in 7180 aguinaldo Highway
3. Breakfast at Antonio’s in Aguinaldo Highway, Bagong Tubig, Tagaytay City
4. Bag of Beans Summit Ridge 115 Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City
5. Bag of Beans Charito
6. Josephine’s Aguinaldo Highway
7. RSM Lutong Bahay
8. Steaktown in The Lake District
10. Carlo’s Pizza One Destination, Aguinaldo Highway
11. Diner’s Bulalo
The most famous beach resort in the early days is Matabungkay Beach. Matabungkay is a barangay in Lian Batangas and famous for the white sand beach just 2 – 3 hours away from Manila.
There are so many resorts in Matabungkay and one of the famous one is the Matabungkay Beach Resort and Hotel which celebrates the Balsa Festival. The festival became an annual event with different activities like Balsa Race Competiton, Balsa Décor and Cultural Dance.
Another place to visit in Lian Batangas is the town of Lian is the Archdiocesan Shrine of Saint John the Baptist. The patron saint of Lian is St. John the Baptist hence the town fiesta is celebrated every 24th of June.
Tagaytay is the summer capital of Southern Luzon because of the cooler climate provided by its altitude. It is the most popular holiday and weekend destination, with its close proximity to Manila and with a breathtaking view of Taal Volcano and Taal lake.
It is officially known as the City of Tagaytay in the province of Cavite. It is closest to the boundaries of Sta. Rosa, and parts of Canlubang in Calamba in Laguna and Talisay, Batangas.
Tagaytay’s Picnic Grove
This is the first place I’d been to in Tagaytay during my college days. We rented a van and went to Tagaytay with my first-year barkada in UST.
It is a picnic area in a scenic hilltop view of Taal Volcano. It has numerous picnic huts and tables. You can also enjoy horseback riding, zipline and cable car rides. It also has an eco-trail with a hanging bridge. It is located along Tagaytay – Calamba Road.
People’s Park in the Sky
It was originally named Palace in the Sky and a mountain top mansion during the Marcos era. It was left unfinished and it was turned into a park and became the most-visited destination in Tagaytay.
The Shrine of Our Lady. Mother of Fair Love is located in People’s Park. There’s also the Doppler weather station within the park. It is located in Mount Sungay in Tagaytay which is also near Silang, Cavite and Cabuyao Laguna.
Sky Ranch Tagaytay
Sky Ranch is an amusement park in the middle of Tagaytay City. It has different rides and attractions. The different rides are carousel, sky cruiser, trains, bumper cars, boats and race, city rail, coaster, mini Viking and the famous Sky eye.
Pink Sisters Convent
Adoration Convent of Divine Mercy or famously known as the Pink Sisters Convent is one of the places I often go to in Tagaytay. It is a Catholic church and a very solemn place in the hustle and bustle of Tagaytay City. It is along Emilio Aguinaldo Highway going to the narrow street of Arnoldus Road. Besides the convent is the Angels Hills Retreat and Formation Center.
Ina nang Laging Saklolo Parish
Another beautiful church in Tagaytay is the Ina nang Laging Saklolo Parish and is located along Tagaytay – Calamba Road.
Lucena is the capital city of the province of Quezon and also a highly urbanized city. Lucena is also known as the “Cocopalm City of the South.”
The famous landmark in Lucena is the Saint Ferdinand Cathedral which is the heart of the city. It is also the seat for the Diocese of Lucena. It is a Spanish style church. There are 12 other churches in Lucena and is spread to the different barangays.
The Lucena Perez Park is a park named after the Governor. It is sometimes called Quezon Park since it is in front of the Quezon Provincial Capitol Building. Across the street is the Manuel L. Quezon Monument.
Lucena also has the Quezon Convention Center and the Lucena Grand Terminal.