22 Jun2006

Majestic Mayon Volcano

by Marketman

mayon1

The Mayon Volcano is absolutely MAJESTIC! It is spectacular, stately, dignified, powerful, imposing and perhaps unrivalled in its beauty brought about by a near “perfect” cone. If a young child were asked to draw a volcano, they would draw something very similar to Mayon, regardless where they lived on the planet. I first saw the Mayon volcano in 1973 when I was roughly 10 years old. I thought it was great then but its majesty must not have sunk in, for I would have endeavored to return to see it again sooner than 33 years later! I had to go to Legaspi and its nearby towns to take care of some family business and my 48 hour trip was an eye-opener on many fronts and I am so eager to share what I discovered on this short but exhausting trip. Coming up as quickly as I can write them will be at least 12 posts on the food, produce, materials and experiences in Albay…

I flew into Legazpi on the early morning PAL flight. Disembarking from the plane, I was greeted with a phenomenal view of the volcano, though its upper third was covered in clouds. mayon2It’s actually possible to go a few days without the volcano completely revealing itself to tourists so I had my fingers crossed that the Volcano Gods were going to be nice to Marketman! After checking into the Venezia Hotel (I chose this hotel on reader recommendations), I looked out my window and again stared directly at the most impressive natural cone on the planet. I actually sat near the window armed with my camera for at least 30 minutes waiting to take a photograph… My cheesy 4.0 megapixel instamatic was not up to the task and I have horrible photos but these are the ones that best convey what I actually stared at again and again over the two day trip.

On the second day in Albay, we drove to the Cagsawa church ruins to see the classic postcard view of Mayon with the half-buried church tower. While the spot is still enchanting, the mayon4nearby tourist kiosks and handicrafts stores are a bit off-putting. The last time I visited, it was pretty much a grassy field with the ruins all by themselves. We then drove around to the “back” of the volcano (from the city) and rose about 2500+ feet on an 8 kilometer road up to the “Mayon Resthouse” (now abandoned) that sits about 1/3 of the way up the volcano. I got this terrific view of the plains and sea from this observation point. It doesn’t look too high up or that the mountainside is steep, but it was. Driving up was a great experience as it is nicely wooded (recently re-forested, I think), and there were vegetable farmers, ornatmental plants, abaca trees and hydrangeas dotting the landscape. We got there and had a nice view of the plains below and waited a few minutes to be enveloped in a thick cloud that cut our visibility to just a few meters…

There were tons of large ferns on the mountainside and Marketman is seen here looking off into the foggy yonder… From the observation point we continued to mayon3drive around the volcano and actually circumnavigated it and saw it from “all sides.” I am told you can arrange to climb the volcano starting from the observation point (1/3 the way up) and the trek will take 12 hours… 6 hours going up and about 5 hours coming back down. Thanks, but no thanks. Doomed to be a lowlander, I decided seeing the edge of a sulphur/lava pit wasn’t on my top 10 list of things to do/see before I died. But just this morning, a few seconds after taking off from the Legazpi airport, the pilot climbed rapidly, banked North sharply and passed within a kilometer or two from the crater and I got to see it pretty close up after all… What a terrific way to end a trip to Legazpi!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. edee says:

    great photos!…looking forward to your bicol posts :)

    Jun 22, 2006 | 6:52 pm

     
  2. sasha says:

    Hi Marketman,

    I’m glad you liked the Mayon, which is an abbreviation of the word “ma’ayon” that means “beautiful” in the Bicolano dialect or as my cousins used to tell me. (I wonder if that’s true?)
    Anyway I grew up in Manila but my dad’s family was from Albay and most of the summer vacations I remembered in my youth were spent in the vicinity of this beautiful volcano. I haven’t been back since I came to Australia in the mid-80s but it’s nice to re-live the memories…look forward to hearing about your adventures MM!! :-)

    Jun 22, 2006 | 6:53 pm

     
  3. mae says:

    What breathtaking views! The photos are absolutely beautiful!

    Jun 22, 2006 | 8:07 pm

     
  4. Dennis says:

    I’ve spent numerous summers in Bicol as a youngster, my mom being from Tabaco, Albay. But around my early teens, the idea of spending a month (or more) away from friends (girlfriends specially) kept me from going with the family on our annual summer vacations. Last May, I had a chance to visit the province, and I had never felt more sorry missing those fun summer family vacations. It only took me 23 years to return, and I now realized that I had missed a lot.
    MM, the way you had described Mt. Mayon, I couldn’t have described it any better. I was completely in awe too, the first time I saw it again. It’s the most incredible work of nature I’ve ever seen, and it seems to look more spectacular at every glance. You’re also right about the Cagsawa ruins being “ruined” by the kiosks and craft vendors. The observation area you were referring to must be what used to be called the Mayon Resthouse. Which means you indeed went around the volcano. Along the way from Legaspi you must’ve passed through the City of Tabaco, which used to boast of having the best market in all of Albay. But politics and big business has completely ruined it. The old market had burned down several times within the last decade or so under questionable circumstances , and now has been totally torn down and being replaced by what looks kinda like the Satellite market in Legaspi. The old market was multi-story, and allows vehicle access all the way to the top floor.
    I’m immensely enjoying reading your articles specially the Putahe Idol and now this Bicol trip, and I’m looking forward to “at least 12 posts” on your experiences in Albay.

    Jun 23, 2006 | 12:33 am

     
  5. Kate says:

    You were close, Sasha. The word is “magayon,” at least in our clan’s part of the peninsula. As they say in Bicol, you can cross into the next town and they’ll have a totally different word for the same thing. Awesome photos, MM. I teared up looking at them. Salamat.

    Jun 23, 2006 | 1:09 am

     
  6. Marketman says:

    Dennis, honey and all the Bicolanos who sent earlier recommendations of where to stay and eat, many thanks…I took a lot of your counsel as you will see in the coming posts… Dennis, I actually passed by the new Tabaco market but we didn’t stop… Oh, and you are right, it was called the Mayon resthouse, I just couldn’t remember the name, will adjust the post now. Thanks.

    Jun 23, 2006 | 6:53 am

     
  7. linda says:

    The views are absolutely breathtaking!

    And as for MM, ang pic mo – parang si Brad Pitt (brunette) na nakatalikod!hehehe!

    Jun 23, 2006 | 11:12 am

     
  8. Ron says:

    Hi MM. Very nice photos!
    I think our DOT should regulate Kiosks and handicraft stores in our tourist spots. Do our DOT people even visit this tourist spots?

    I remember when I first went to the crater of Taal volcano in the 90′s with an Australian Geologist. All you can see going up to the crater are birds, cows and grassy areas until finally at the top, you have to push through the tall cogon grasses to finally see the crater.

    Now, when you hike to the crater of taal volcano, you will be harassed by people who wants you to rent their horses, and what you will see first at the top are small huts selling bottled mineral water and softdrinks!

    Are you the one on the photo MarketMan? Camera shy ka talaga!

    Jun 23, 2006 | 4:23 pm

     
  9. Lyza says:

    I’m glad more and more of our kababayan appreciate the beauty our country has to offer. I grew up in Legazpi and after college and settling down in Metro Manila I always come home at least twice a year for vacations and now my kids refer to Papa’s house (their Lolo) as the place where Mayon Volcano is. In college, my siblings and I take turns bringing our friends over during summer to show them the sites.
    It’s a pity you were 1 month early MarketMan. Mayon is acting up right now and the view at night is an experience one shouldn’t miss, especially if it’s already erupting. We used to go up to our rooftop, bring blankets to lie down on and watch the eruption at night – we had nature’s own gigantic fireworks! It’s not really scary because of it’s elevation and frequency – we even had classes and life went on as usual. Well, this is generally true except for those living and farming in the slopes who had to be evacuated.
    Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed your visit.

    Jul 22, 2006 | 11:10 am

     
 

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