Bicol region is known for its spicy foods such as Bicol express and the original Laing, the best-tasting pili nuts and the smallest and the biggest fish in the world.
The peninsula and the other islands comprising the region are also home to a chain of mountains and volcanoes. These give it a unique geographical appeal because of the great contrast between massive land masses and the surrounding seas.
The presence of the divine nature hovers in the air as if they are suddenly limited by another and yet they create a certain harmony that both gives the feeling of watched and taken care of by a mystical force.
Bicol’s hot spots
The country’s fifth region. It has a total land area of 17,632.5 km2 or 5.9% of the total land area of the Philippines. It is said to be volcanic in origin because of the number of volcanoes, hot springs and crater lakes that surround the whole region.
Aside from these, the famous perfect conical shape of Mayon volcano and being part of the Pacific Ring of Fire best describe the region, but what else should people know about this rich, mountainous region of the south?
Landing in Naga is a good place to start. Naga is a first-class independent city. It is the cultural and economic center of the region.
Here you can find different specialty stores that sell decorative pieces, souvenir items and lots of Bicol goodies. It was like the usual metropolis because of the public transportations and different establishments, but the locals make the place more different by being so accommodating despite the use of different vernacular.
A few hours of drive will bring you to one of Bicol’s pride- Camarines Sur or simply CamSur.
Camarines Sur is where the wakeboarding is. A water sports complex was built at the heart of CamSur that makes it more ideal for a summer getaway. There is a man-made lagoon wherein a person rides on a board as he is being pulled by a rope that is powered by a system of pulleys and conveyors.
Star Alcorcon, a wakeboarding first timer from Manila shared her extreme experience on this emerging water sport in the Philippines. “It was fun and exciting!” she said.
“It is difficult in the beginning because it requires strong arms. Being able to maintain being on the board is also another challenge,” Alcorcon said in Filipino, when asked to share her difficulties as a first time wake boarder.
The CamSur water sports complex is a place not only for interested Filipinos but also for those tourists around the world. Hundreds of foreigners do visit CamSur everyday to experience the Boracay-inspired beach and of course, to do wake boarding.
“There is an increase in the number of foreigners that visit this newly developed CamSur water sports complex. Most of the time they (foreigners) will stay here for weeks and even month because they like being in the beach and the water sports that we are offering,” Mr. Raul Ocampo, one of the sports complex supervisor said.
High with Bicol’s Mayon and other mountains
Mayon leaves you in awe when it chooses to show itself. It is always hidden by clouds and there are only brief moments when its peak is left visible. Its majestic and almost perfect cone shape is a testimony of how the power that created nature really is.
Mayon gives a sense of security for it makes its presence felt and leaves the people watched and protected all. An excellent way of exploring Mayon from afar is going around it.
–The presence of the divine nature hovers in the air as if they are suddenly limited by another and yet they create a certain harmony that both gives the feeling of watched and taken care of by a mystical force.–
Mayon is an isolated mountain so it is possible to go around it. Every face of the mountains gives a different feel to it. At the end of the day, one can only say that he has seen Mayon if he has seen all of its faces.
Aside from Mayon, Mt. Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon , Mt. Asog/Iriga, Mt. Isarog/Panicuason Trail, Mt. Isarog/Patag-Patag Trail, Mt. Labo, Mt. Malinao, Mt. Masaraga, and Mt. Pulog, are also ideal places for mountaineers. These trails are not as beautiful as Mayon’s but it’s interesting to find out the hidden mystery of each mountain trail.
The famous Butandings
Donsol is where you can find the biggest fish in the world – the Rhincodon typus. Hearing that it is a shark will
automatically make people think more than twice to meet this giant. However it is the most gentle giant that the seas can offer. It filters the waters and feed on algae, plankton, krill, crab larvae, and small squid or vertebrates.
After reaching the place, an orientation will be done to be every curious Butanding watchers. In the orientation, visitors will be informed about the basic things to remember when coming into close distance with the Butandings.
You can never be too close so as not to disturb the big sea creature. Three meters is the recommended distance.
“They can really be sensitive. We don’t want to disturb their marine habitat. For those tourists who will not follow our instructions, they are immediately transported to the shore,” said one of the managers of Butanding watching attraction.
He also added that they are protecting the Butandings from being harmed. This will only be achieved if there are strict rules to follow.
“This attraction is made not for mere enjoyment. We are encouraging the people to take good care of these creatures so that it will reach the next generation,” he added.
Boatmen always come in four – the captain, the spotter and two other crews. They try their best to ensure that their passengers get the satisfaction of watching the whale shark.
“It is not always easy to spot a whale shark. Moving away from the shore takes around 30 minutes. For those who choose to swim and have contact with the whale shark, it is easier,” Mang Felix, one of the boatmen, said in Filipino.
The boatmen have to look for a whale shark and drop you off into the water and leave you so as to not disturb the whale shark (because of the boat’s engine). For those who choose to just watch the whale sharks, things are a little bit more challenging.
The boatmen do not always follow the rules in terms of contact. When they see a boat heading towards a whale shark, others follow. This greatly disturbs the whale sharks and makes them swim away.
“The boat ride lasts for two hours can be extended depending on the visibility of whale shark. We are more than happy when we see passengers become excited when they see the whale shark,” Mang Felix ended.
Bicol in not just another place to visit, it has a lot of exciting surprises that will surely make everyone satisfied and happy. The thrilling and jaw dropping nature encounter in Bicol can never be replaced by the themed-parks and huge malls of the metro.