November 2011

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Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"As I am going near up to the mountains, there's no way to say that the road going to the town is deadly because as I saw the view, my senses became alive!."

Why risk your life to a rough road where everywhere is a cliff? As the rain falls down, the rough one-lane road turns into mud and expect land slides. No wonder, years ago, one family perished in this road and 6 of them died as they drop down to a cliff during the night. This is the condition 10 years back.

The mischievous yet breathtaking Cervantes roads
Maps by Wikipedia
Location Highlighted in Red
To begin with, this is the part two (2) of my previous post about our scooter trip to Cervantes entitled "The Great Wall of Ilocos, Reaching Ilocos' Last Frontier via Scooter."
More than a decade ago, there was no well-paved highway and the lovely town becomes isolated most of the time.

However now, thanks to the previous administration of PGMA for funding this highway (The only thing I appreciate about Gloria unless corruption proven) and the highway construction began a decade ago. Before the construction of the multi-billion highway project of Tagudin-Cervantes-Sabangan road and some roads connecting the town to the rest of the Cordilleras, going to Cervantes is not well-recommended, it was a personal choice.

Asking if I went here because of personal choice, no. It was in fact an accident! During the summer of 2010, I and my bro decided just to make a fun road trip.

We were about to cross another province using a scooter, until I decided to take a turn to a new road that took my attention and that is the Tagudin-Cervantes-Sabangan Road.

Taking the less-known road, I really had no idea what to expect in this town but our scooter continues to go (with my bro as the driver). I just stopped talking and although I am nervous, the road trip went on and although I am still undecided if we will pursue the road trip or not to an unknown path, my mouth was frozen to talk about it and my mind just got blunt to decide.

An hour without a decision (and my brother just continues to drive farther while waiting for my decision), is also an hour of many kilometers taken at a speed of not less then 60 kph. The road isn't straight, it was full of curvatures but the speed of our scooter was just optimum to take the empty but curving roads.

Because of the late decision, we have gone far and there's no way of turning back. We were so hungry because there is no human civilization happening to the long stretch of miles we have taken to this unfamiliar and unknown path.

There's no place where we can buy a food, at least water to relieve our thirst until we were able to see a waterfall and drank the water from the falls.

The lush green mountain is carved with a curving road. Can you spot the waterfall here? Take a keen look.
It is not just a landslide, it is a rock slide. Travel at your own risk.
There are road signs and it was my first time to see a road sign with label: 
"Caution Falling Rocks"
In fact, our parents didn't have any idea where we were going this day. We just told them we're going to a pool party in a nearby town but that is just an excuse so that we can go out the house both. Our parents knew that once we were together that early, something they don't want will happen and a scooter ride to a highway isn't their kind of stuff.

Going to Cervantes is like being a contender in the show SURVIVOR, the only difference is that we are the only two in the game not in a beach but in a mountain, and the format conforms - the place in new to us, it is unfamiliar, no water, no store to buy food, no person to cry for help, no gasoline station, with a dangerous environment (e.g. falling rocks) and everything. I think this is more thrilling than any other reality show.

Because the road you are taking is really dangerous and we can just say "deadly," big signage are everywhere to warn travelers. But as I am going near up to the mountains, there's no way to say that the road going to the town is deadly because as I saw the view, my senses became alive! Wow! Such a very beautiful town with snaking roads!

The beauty is very endless. In fact just before the town of Cervantes is the town of Suyo, Ilocos Sur. in the same way, Suyo is lovely and the photos above can attest to that. You just need to take this town first before going to Cervantes using the aforementioned road. We were literally above the clouds and the air gets thinner, the air is getting really freezing cold and we were above the clouds.

Please notice the mountain at the photo above. Can you see the line of trees at the top of the mountain? Well, the part lined with trees is in fact the road we have to take. The experience was beyond compare! Just before we take every road, the mountain at your sight will give you an idea how much effort and resources you are going to spend and gives you a time to decide if you'll going to continue in taking the path or just back out.

In Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, pine trees abound. When we were so tired with my bro, I had the chance to lay down to the road blocks that goes directly to the cliff together with the pine trees and the clean cool air.

Dare to take that Road? Taking that path is a way to reach Cervantes.
Finally, after taking the deadly road as shown above, we were able to reach the valley where the civilization now occurs.

 At the town center is a market, college, hospital, school, the town hall, and there you are, carinderia! We reached the town center for fun and beyond expectation! Now, would you dare to take the deadly road? But I think it is better to go this way, "Are you willing to see the beautiful town?"

Then if yes, you must take the deadly road because along the road to Cervantes is where you can find the real thrill of traveling to Cervantes. The trail was challenging but reaching  and seeing the beauty of an exceptional town is already a good reward that is more than enough.

Tags: Cervantes, Ilocos Sur | Cervantes, Ilocos Sur Adventure | Motorcycle Ride to Cervantes, Ilocos Sur | Cervantes, Ilocos Sur Highway | Cervantes, Ilocos Sur Road | Tagudin-Cervantes-Sabangan Road | Tagudin-Cervantes-Sabanga Highway |Road Trip to Cervantes
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
"Wow! The scene I used to see in my history textbooks is now before me face to face, bold and intimate and for a bonus, I reached halfway the peak of the mischievous active volcano."

The beauty and the majesty of the almost perfect cone Mayon Volcano of Albay never stops amusing me. Yes, I know, I have posted two versions of the Mayon Volcano in this blog, one in Daraga and other in Ligao City, but I believe that in every town and city located in the slopes of the Mayon, a single story is worth another single article. I may be overdoing it or making a redundant post about Mayon but every town and city located at the volcano's slope has its own story to tell and another version of the Mayon worthy to be given another post.

Mt. Mayon stands majestically and I will climb halfway to its crater, Yey!
Maps by Wikipedia
Location Highlighted in Red
Tabaco City in Albay also has its own version of the Mayon. 

Remember, villages and communities surround the volcano 360 degrees.

Unlike the Legazpi City side, the Mayon's cone shape is more perfect at Tabaco City side because at the peak, you can still see the pointed part unlike at the Legazpi City side where the peak is cracked.

One thing more, Tabaco City has its own offering of the Mayon that other towns and cities don't have. The volcano is also a like the famous food Bicol Express on which it has a lot of versions and every version is worth a try - although collectively, it is just the Bicol express.

As to Mayon, it is a single natural wonder with different offerings, perceptions of beauty and stories by different communities that is also worthy to tell.

Mayon Rest house is a park located at the slopes of the Mayon Volcano at Tabaco City side and this park is located halfway the tip of the volcano.

The rest house was built initially by the Americans with seismological instrument that then used by the Philippines Astronomical, Geological and Seismological Agency. I understand that there is also a planetarium here but during my visit, those structures were abandoned and looked dilapidated.

Mayon Rest house is also the starting point for mountaineers who want to climb all the way to the peak, as of me, I can only manage to go halfway for the meantime.

In fact, if you think I hiked going to this elevation, you're wrong because there is actually a well-paved highway that will lead you to the Mayon rest house park. If you want to go all the way to the top, then you need to hike.

Look! I am now very close to the tip!
I was in a point where I know I am now very close to the crater of the volcano and I can see the dark peak caused by lava flows coming from the angry and burning crater with sulfur.

At the Mayon rest house park, the air is not that usual countryside air. It was so special and to note, it has some extra romance.

The air is fresh and that is inherent there because there is no mechanical civilization happening so there are no carbon monoxide and green house gases except from the smoke of your vehicle should you wish to bring it here. Very unexpectedly, the air is too chilly that as the sun went down the horizon, I have to wear a jacket because I can not take the cold air penetrating my bones.

So what could I ask for? It was my first time to see the Mayon Volcano and the bonus here is the fact that I  was also able to come to it more intimate and closer face to face.

Wow! The scene I used to see in my history textbooks is now before me face to face, bold and intimate and for a bonus, I reached halfway the peak of the mischievous active volcano. It was a very fulfilling trip that I was able to see the different versions of Mayon Volcano at different towns and cities.

This was in fact the chosen location of the Mayon rest house park because according to observations and studies, the lava flow doesn't go through here so the park is left untouched, safe and secured.

The Mayon rest house is just a very nice place for leisure and to relax and it is very close to nature. Mayon rest house is also the home for the Bonsai Kids. They are the children who sell bonsai plants for a living helping their parents for their daily basic needs.

At the park, there are also some cottages for picnicking but as I said, the air is cold so consume the food fast, it might get frozen, lol!

While at the park, you can also afford to view the beauty of the province of Albay from this elevation.

Take note, at this elevation halfway at the Mayon's tip, you can already be in an elevation where you could look down to some smaller mountains around.

So, I must say, Mayon has endless stories to be told and to tell you, this isn't the last post for my Mayon encounter, more to come. As I said, every single story is worth to have a separate post.

Tags: Mayon Rest House | Rest house at the slope of a volcano | Rest house on a volcano | Park at the slope of a Volcano | Parks on a Volcano | Tourist Spots in Tabaco City | Tourist Spot in Tabaco | Tourist Spot in Tabaco, Albay | What to see in Tabaco City, Albay | Places to visit in Tabaco City, Albay | Mayon Volcano Up Close | Photos of Mayon Volcano Up Close

Some cool netizens liked, commented, and shared this.
Photos, videos and stories of town explorations.
 "These products have been a part of the daily living of the Bicolanos and have become their identity - hence a part of their culture. Shop the culture of Bicol now!"

The Bicolandia experience isn't complete without tasting their Bicol Express Versions and an ample dose of shopping which I call it the Bicol Cultural Shopping since the Bicol way of living is linked with these products and of course, already a part of their culture. 

Lots of abaca [Manila Hemp] products are displayed for shoppers to choose from
Maps by Wikipedia
Location Highlighted in Red
The Bicolandia region always has a lot of good stuffs to offer and at this post, I will try to suggest some of the great stuffs you have to shop in Bicol as souvenirs before leaving the region .

From fashion apparels, food, pasalubong and even deadly stuff can be bought in Bicol, LOL! In Legazpi Grand Terminal, the melting point of all public transport services that will lead you to the different towns and provinces of Bicol, I discovered a lot of souvenir items or pasalubongs that you should not miss most of them are cheaper than 100 pesos.

Here are some suggestion on what to shop in Bicol and we'll sort it by location.

Legazpi City Grand Terminal [Albay]

Abaca Products

Legazpi Grand Terminal is where you can find all-in-one stop shop that offers a lot of Bicol and other local products.

Bicol is a region that has a good production of abaca or Mainla hemp, hence, the making of products for this plant is a vibrant industry.

Head wears, bags, furniture, house decors, and even flip flops have their own abaca versions and they are all here at the Legazpi Grand Terminal. It won't cost you that much because most products are cheaper than 100 pesos but I won't give you a false assurance that eveything is under 100 pesos margine.

You have to negotiate to some products for discounts but of course some huge products are not always below 100 pesos. There are also more costly products but I think just enough for the size and the materials used.

A creative frame made from abaca
Aside from fashion apparels, should you wish to buy souvenirs you want to see whenever you got home, there are also frames especially made from Manila hemp and the product is just colorful.

The abaca fibers have been joined together in a way known by them to come up with a very beautiful frame you can display at home.

Pili Nuts

Ok what else? If we talk about food as pasalubong what comes first to your mind? Bicol express might be a good deal but don't forget the Pili Nuts! Pili nuts is most likely the most popular sweets from Bicol.

I did not grow up from Bicol so please correct me if I am wrong because I believe the two photos just above are the Pili nuts yet to be extracted [the nuts inside].

I must be wrong because they don't look similar, the other is black but the other is white. So now, I am confused if which of them is the real Pili Nuts but vendors of each kind told me they are Pili Nuts.

Well just forget about it because what is important is to eat and bring home that controversial nuts, lol!

Ok, here are the suggested pasalubongs, the Pili nuts now in a container and I just hope there will be no confusions here because they are labaled with "Pili Nuts."

Ok, just done shopping, Legazpi Grand Terminal is waiting for you! In fact we had four (4) bags of shopped products, it was just too inconvenient to have a picture with those plastic bags.

Siling Labuyo Key Chains

Ok what else? Don't forget that Bicol is the home of siling labuyo that makes every mouth go crazy and hot.

If you didn't have the guts to eat the hot and spicy Bicol Express with the iconic siling labuyo which might be due to health issues or you just don't want spicy food, why not just buy that siling labuyo key chain as a souvenir and a proof that you can not beat them, lol!

There you have that siling labuyo, don't worry it is not spicy to your budget. For less than 30 pesos you can have them without hurting your tongue.

Daraga Albay: Cagsawa Ruins Souvenir Shopping