Our road trip to Bicol was truly a rewarding experience. It was our first long road trip as a family. Traveling with friends made the journey twice as fun and exciting.
Taking our first glimpse of Mayon
It was a long drive! We left around 9:30 in the evening and arrived at Bicol a little after 7:00 in the morning.
Catching the first glimpse of Mt. Mayon on the road somehow eased the aches and pains of our tired bodies.
I’ve seen Mt. Mayon countless times on photos and videos but there’s something magical when you see the majestic volcano with your own two eyes for the first time. Its beauty is truly breathtaking. We were enthralled by its perfect cone and undeniable splendor.
They say Mt. Mayon doesn’t always show her regal beauty to first timers. Some people who visit Albay to see Mt. Mayon leave disappointed. Town folks say that Mt. Mayon is moody just like a woman. According to locals, she only reveals herself to those of pure hearts. We were blessed because her grandeur greeted us with open arms.
Learning the legend of Mt. Mayon
Mt. Mayon has an interesting legend that has been passed on from generation to generation. The story is about a beautiful woman named Daragang Magayon in Bikolandia. During that era, a maiden was not allowed to marry a man living outside the Kabikulan. Daragang Magayon had a rich and powerful suitor named Paratuga but she fell in love with an outsider, a Tagalog, named Panganoron. Daragang Magayon told her father, Tiong Makusog the truth. Her father loved her so much that he vowed to help Daragang Mayon follow her heart’s desires. When Paratuga found out, he kidnapped Tiong Makusog and demanded Daragang Makusog to marry him to save his father’s life. Daragang Makusog had no choice but to agree to Paratuga’s selfish whims.
When Panganoron heard the announcement of the date of marriage, he waged war against Paratuga to get back the woman he loves. The war occurred on the wedding day itself and sadly Daragang Magayon was killed by a stray arrow. Panganoron was attacked from behind and killed while he was holding the wounded Daragang Magayon in his arms.
Tiong Makusog buried his daughter along with all her belongings. To the surprise of everyone, a hill emerged at the grave of Daragang Magayon. Clouds formed at the top of that hill and it began to rain. At night the people heard deafening noises of rolling stones and experienced earthquakes. The hill continued to grow through the passage of time. That hill is known today as Mayon Volcano, name derived from Magayon while the town’s name Daraga is derived from Daragang.
Praying for safe travel
My family and friends stopped and offered prayers at Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine in Naga, Camarines Sur. We asked the beloved Patroness and Queen of Bicol addressed by Bicolanos as Ina (mother) to guide and keep us safe during our trip.
Relaxing at Misibis Bay
Our first major stop was Misibis Bay, a tropical island getaway in Cagraray Island in Albay.
On our way there, our convoy stopped at the middle of a bridge to take photos. There were a few passing cars; each one seemed to tolerate our group selfie craze because I didn’t hear a single car honk.
After settling in our rooms, the adults yearned for sleep especially the designated drivers but the kids were too excited to head down to the beach.
Our group spent two relaxing days at the private island resort. We spent most of our time at the pool and nearby beach.
We also went around Cagraray Eco Park. The amphitheater is a sight to behold. The venue was used as a pit stop of Amazing Race Asia 4 – Philippine leg. It was also featured in several films and TV programs.
The simple but lovely Cagraray Island Chapel overlooks the bay with Mt. Mayon at the background. The chapel is surrounded by glass walls. Large chandeliers hang above the rows of wooden benches.
Riding the ATV through lahar-covered roads
Riding the ATV was exhilarating! Everyone in our group joined the ATV adventure. The older kids were thrilled to ride their own ATVs while the younger ones didn’t mind riding with either their mom or their dad.
We drove through dirt roads and pine-laden landscapes. We went uphill and downhill; took sharp turns; maneuvered our way through huge boulders; evaded cows; and crossed shallow rivers.
We stopped at one point and made our way to Mayon’s lava wall (a formation caused by Mt. Mayon’s 2006 eruption). The climb was quite scary (at least for me since I’m terrified of heights). Some of the boulders shook under my feet. I’m thankful because one of the guides helped me on the way up.
The view on top was worth the nerve-racking climb. There was a helipad at the top of the wall with an remarkable view of Mt. Mayon. Our group took our time taking photos and we did our own version of Running Man Challenge. Haha!!!
While my husband, son and my friends climbed down the boulders, I chose to take the easy way down by riding the zip line. Despite my fear of heights, the zip line seemed like a better option than going down the shaky rocks. It was an adrenaline-jumping journey down which I surprisingly enjoyed.
It was already dark when we rode our ATVs back to the base camp. It was a different experience because we had to be more careful at night. I made a sudden stop on the way when I saw a frog leaping to cross the other side. Good thing there was a good distance between me and the ATV behind.
We got back to the camp safely. Everyone was tired but happy.
Photos by author.
Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University. Rachel is a mom to a charming boy and married to an entrepreneur who has a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog called Heart of Rachel.