Words and Images by Sherlyn Mae Hernandez–
Bicol Region, Philippines (composed of 6 provinces – Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate, and Catanduanes) is one local destination I will always keep on coming back – the food is great, the views are spectacular, the people are naturally kind, and there will always be new places to see. Below are 9 things that made my recent trip to Bicol Region an unforgettable one:
1. Immerse with the sunflowers at Kawa-Kawa Hill
The sunflower garden atop Kawa-Kawa Hill is just a short (but steep!) climb from the foot of the hill, but all the sweat and energy are worth it. The City of Ligao celebrates the Sunflower Festival annually to commemorate its cityhood. The city government is also doing a good job maintaining the sunflower garden. Tip: the sunset view here is also perfect.
2. Eat at Bigg’s Diner
Bigg’s Diner is the largest food chain in the Bicol region with branches in Batangas province (Lipa City and Batangas City). What I love with Bigg’s are (1) its very beautiful retro-inspired interior, and (2) the food! I always make it a point to dine at Bigg’s everytime I visit Bicol region. Their must-try is their chicken – it can practically compete with either Jollibee Chickenjoy or KFC Chicken. Tip: try their garlic parmesan chicken. I promise, it’s worth it!
3. Appreciate the beauty of Mayon Volcano
You can have a view of Mayon Volcano in many spots in Albay and Camarines Sur provinces. This time, I was able to view the volcano in a new spot – at Barangay Penafrancia, Daraga, Albay.
4. Get some street food at the ‘Hepa Lane’
There is a street near the Post Office and LCC Mall called the ‘hepa lane’ because you can have all kinds of street foods there – isaw, dynamite, barbecue, name it. The Master Sisig stall provides the yummiest sisig in hepa lane. You can buy a Sisig Rice Meal for only PHP40.
5. Visit Daraga Church
Daraga Church is one of the historical treasures of the province of Albay. It is currently undergoing rehabilitation with the supervision of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts. The white coating is a lime coating meant to protect the outer layer of the church and will wear out over time to go back to its original color.
6. Witness the sunset at Sumlang Lake
Located at the Municipality of Camalig, Albay, Sumlang Lake also provides a good view of Mayon Volcano while cruising in a bamboo raft (balsa). You also have the option to ride an aqua bike or kayak. Be sure to go hours before sunset becuase it closes at 6PM and people are lining up early.
7. Try the famous sili (chili) ice cream
Bicol Region is famous for its spicy cuisine. The sili ice cream is one of the most popular desserts in the region and is really a must-try. Some restaurants (like the 1st Colonial Grill, another restaurant chain in Bicol Region) serve sili ice cream. This time I got my sili ice cream in a cone from the kiosks at the foot of Kawa-Kawa Hill in the Municipality of Ligao, Albay.
8. Get lost at Naga City Ecological Park
Naga Ecological Park is perfect for families and group of friends who want to spend some quality time. The area is very child-friendly and it has a huge playground built by Graceland, a local bakery and restaurant chain. Adults and kids-at-heart can also enjoy the playground, especially the hedge maze.
9. Dine at The Oriental Legazpi
Jasmine Restaurant at the Oriental Hotel Legazpi serves delicious food and at the same time gives a nice ambiance with its beautiful interior and a nice view of Mayon Volcano at the same time. Their cookies and cream milkshake is really, really worth the money.