Roadtrip to Bicol: Discovering my Bicolana roots…

Why I would always say I understand how our Fil-Foreigners feel towards living here and trying to discover their Pinoy roots? Coz I too is a mix of race. Mum is “Chinoy” – Filipino Chinese. Her dad (my grand dad) hails from mainland China, from a family of Chinese traders who migrated to the Philippines in the 18th century to do business of course. While the other half of my mum is Filipino, from the land of spices, Bicol. My grandmum hails from Legazpi, the city capital of Bicol in Region 5 of the Philippines. From my Dad’s side, it’s just Pinoy which I am very fond and proud of. 🙂

I’ve already had my fill of family history on my Chinese decent. Since a small kid, the sister of my grand dad regaled me with stories of how our Chinese ancestors migrated here and all, met most of my Chinoy relatives too, but I’ve known little about the other half of me, the one that hails from Bicol. Sure, growing up there were throngs of relatives from Bicol vacationing in our quaint little house but I haven’t been there. I haven’t met and seen everyone.

So I was uberly excited when mum told me we’re going to Bicol. A grueling 11 hours of land travel but it only takes 45 minutes in a plane. Mum opted that we do land travel though, said I’ll be enjoying the sights going there.

What I discovered while in Bicol…

1) I love all the food that has coconut milk & spices in it. Sobrang sarap! :)) And if you happen to like good spicy stuff with coconut milk, you’ve gotta try “pinangat” for Php45 per order in a local food place in Camalig called “Let’s Pinangat!” From Legazpi City (centro), ride a jeep going to Guinobatan, stop at Camalig, Fare is Php25. The quaint little restaurant along the highway is very popular so just ask the manong jeepney driver to drop you there. Another amazing thing, you can bring home Pinangat to Manila coz they have frozen versions of it. Just pop it in the microwave when you get home! Awesome, noh?! 🙂

the best Pinangat in town! a must try.
the best Pinangat in town! a must try.
they got awesome Bicol Express too! Delish! :)
they got awesome Bicol Express too! Delish! 🙂

2) Mayon Volcano, although very active and highly dangerous, is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life. For the best view of Mayon, you can hike through Lignon Hill. It’s a 30-minute steep hike but the view is just majestic at the top of it. Do it early in the morning (around 5 to 6am) so you can fully see the volcano, no clouds covering the tip of the mountain. Lignon Hill is near the city center. From Centro, you can ride the jeepney or tricycle (special ride for Php50), going there.


top of Lignon hill. sigh. so many clouds to see Mayon in full. :(
top of Lignon hill. sigh. so many clouds to see Mayon in full. 😦
canteen at the top of Lignon Hill! food, refreshments, and souvenirs are available there.
canteen at the top of Lignon Hill! food, refreshments, and souvenirs are available there.

3) If Tiwi, Albay is famous for its hotsprings, in Guinobatan (my Lola’s place) there are a lot of cold springs in the area. Water is good enough to drink, that’s how clean and cold it is.


one of the hidden cold springs near my lola's home.
one of the hidden cold springs near my lola’s home.
people bathing in the cold water.
people bathing in the cold water.

Locals call it “Sagurong” but I call it manna from heaven! :)) an ample solution to cool down on a very hot summer afternoon. The water is just freezing cold and fresh. This is where the locals bathe, do the laundry and occasionally drink water.

4) It’s fun to travel via commute, just riding public utility vehicles, asking around for directions. It’s pretty cheap too!

5) Bicolanos are the most trust-worthy, quirky, and highly-accommodating bunch of people.

6) It’s also better if you just DIY your trip in Legazpi. I don’t recommend hiring tour coordinators coz their tour prices are ridiculously high for a fairly easy travel. Just do your research and plan your trips. It’s easy. 😉

7) Philippines truly is the basketball capital of the world. why? I saw 1 makeshift Basketball court at the foot of Mt. Mayon. Seriously.

Basketball at the foot of active Mayon Volcano, anyone?! :))
mayon at the backdrop.
mayon at the backdrop.

I’m pretty sure if those  NBA stars will see this, they’d be elated! :)) awesome. just awesome. I think we are a bunch of awesome island people with a swagger love for sports, especially basketball! 😀

8) You can find the most delish rice porridge in Guinobatan! Just 2 house away from my Lola’s home is a makeshift restaurant cooking the most awesome lugaw in the whole of the country! For a very affordable price of just Php12! it comes with tender beef strips too. 🙂

Lugaw! :)
The best Lugaw ever! 🙂

9) Legazpi and Hawaii has a common thing about them. They both have awesome black sand beaches! Those popular black sand beaches in Maui and Honolulu, yes we have it here in the Philippines too!


Fine black sand from Mayon Volcano, check.



our view from our cabana. since summer is almost at its end, most of the tourists have gone home. we just owned the resort, not one soul was there during our stay! :))


one of the black sand beaches we visited in Sto. Domingo, Albay. More can be found in Tiwi and Bacacay. Words and pictures just couldn’t do justice on how beautiful and serene the place is. Don’t mind my cousin modelling there. :))))

10) A must see: Embarcadero de Legazpi and Legazpi boulevard. Too bad I ran out of batteries while were in the boulevard so I got no pictures at all. 😦 more dining choices, a bit of nightlife, ATM stations, grocery and department stores, you can visit Embarcadero. Its an open-air mall, pretty muck like how SM Baguio is. There’s a duty free there too so if you wanna shop, just don’t forget to bring your passports so the guards will let you in. Shop or you can just chill and feel the breeze along the boulevard or watch the sunset.

Welcome to Emarcadero de Legazpi!
Welcome to Emarcadero de Legazpi!

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stalls to shop! yep its right in Embarcadero! my cousin said: “Civilization, finally!” :)) guess we’re stuck for so many days in the barrio that we are just too happy to see some shops! i am too happy to see ATMs coz I was running low in cash at that time! :))


if we have Jollibee in Manila, they have Bigg’s diner. Its everywhere! 🙂


Duty-free shopping at Embarcadero. Don’t forget your passports like I did! XD


the view along the Embarcadero harbor till the Legazpi Boulevard. plain blue sea meeting mayon.

11) Old Baroque churches are also a sight to see in when you’re in Legazpi. We visited 2, the famous Daraga church with a view of Mayon at the sides and Sto. Domingo church in well, Sto. Domingo, Albay.


the old church made of limestone. This is Daraga Church.


the side view of the church. I think this church will be perfect for pre-nuptial shoots. 🙂


Sto. Domingo Church. I just love its old world charm. 🙂

12) There’s just Pili nuts everywhere! Delish but a bit pricey. Good thing we have loads of Pili trees in our backyard! :))


eating Pili nuts require hard work. but in the end its all worth it. :))

after all the hard work! pili nuts minus the shell.
after all the hard work! pili nuts minus the shell.

13) Cagsawa Ruins reminds you that a beauty such as Mayon Volcano can also bring destruction as worst as what happened in Cagsawa.

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my Aunt told me that there were a few expeditions before, to exhume and restore Cagsawa Ruins to its formal glory, but something’s always happening to those who manages the project, unexplained deaths, mysterious stuff and all. so the local government decided not to exhume it anymore and leave it as it is.

14) You just can’t help but fall in love with Legazpi. Simplicity of life, easy and laid back. Easy smiles of everyone around you. What’s not to love, really? 🙂


Centro. The bustling city of Guinobatan.

my Lolo Berting and his version of tricycle back rides! :))) gwapo noh? 🙂

and of course, its pretty awesome to meet everyone in your family, finally saw where your Grand mother came from. Discovering that you have same quirks like your Lolos and Lolas, that your cousins and aunts & uncles are just as awesome as you. Among all the trips I made in my life, this has been the most fulfilling and gratifying one, finally completing that other half of me that I haven’t had any privilege of meeting and exploring before.

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it. ~George Moore

Its a rare chance that I travel, I get lost then I find my way back.. More to it, I was able to find myself in the process. This is why I am in love with traveling. So until the next great adventure of traveling and discovering stuff! keep on moving your feet! 🙂