I grew up and stayed most of my life in the province of Albay. Albay is part of the Bicol region located on the southern part of Luzon, the biggest archipelago in the Philippines. Albayanos or the people of Albay, speak the local dialect called Bikol but some terminologies may vary from every town. Albay has been synonymous to the legendary Mayon Volcano.
I am enjoying my life working and experiencing different cultures away from home, there will always be a piece of me that will forever missed the province I have lived for years.
Here are the reasons why my heart belongs to Albay:
Albay is the first province in Bicol to pass ordinance banning the use of plastic bags and other synthetic materials that are harmful to the environment. The ordinance is being followed in the whole province by promoting the use of paper, cloth, banana leaves and other environmental friendly materials. The store owners around the province and the locals are compliant with the ordinance. The local government is doing its best to protect Albay’s ecosystem. Fresh air, clean and green environment are what Albay province offers.
Delectable spicy food
Most of the food in the whole Bicol region make use of the “gata” or coconut milk with chili peppers on it. Bicolano cuisine differs from any other Filipino regional cooking because our palate favors spicy flavors. The spiciness and the creamy paste like consistency of the food are the two prominent characteristics of the local cuisine. The food is very enticing. Every bite wants you to eat more. Some of the must try food are bicol express, pinangat and pancit bato. Bicol express is a spicy dish made up of pork, shrimp paste, chili peppers and coconut milk. Pinangat is a gabi or taro leaves chopped into small pieces, wrapped and simmered in coconut milk. Pancit Bato is a type of noodles that originated from Bato, Camsur but very famous all over Bicol. The difference to other pancit or noodles is, it is cooked with shrimps, chinese longanisa and petchay (Chinese cabbage). Most of the small carenderia (restaurant) will serve the local cuisines. Coconut trees, gabi or taro leaves and chili peppers are locally grown so prices are affordable.
I used to eat a lot of sinapot (fried banana covered with flour) and biniribid (deep fried rice flour with coconut milk glazed with brown sugar) and binutong (glutinous rice with coconut cream wrapped in banana leaves). These are my local favorites. These are some of the cheap and tasty snacks sold on the streets that I loved since I were a kid. The vendors will roam around the neighborhood to sell these native delicacy.
Legazpi Boulevard is one of the places to visit in Albay. It is popular place for joggers and families. Locals love this place. There are sidewalk vendors, small stalls and restaurants to choose from. It has become a hub for a great food trip.
The ice creams are popular to try because of the unique flavors. Visit 1st Colonial Grill in Daraga, Albay to experience sili (chili) ice cream. You can choose from mild to super spicy chili ice cream according to your choice. It taste sweet and creamy but will kick spiciness after 5 seconds in your mouth. Colonial Grill added more variants to try like pili and malunggay that are equally mouthwatering.
Legaspi four season’s chicken is very well known in Legaspi City, Albay for the fried chicken with special sauce. One of the best fried chicken I have eaten. Once in Albay, it is something to try. Albayanos are craving for this!
Abundant hidden tourism gem destinations
Albay is blessed with diverse natural attractions. From the majestic Mayon Volcano with its almost perfect cone to black and white sand beaches, waterfalls, hot springs, Spanish churches and ancestral houses, Albay is home to numerous natural, scenic and cultural spots. Locals have been enjoying these hidden remarkable attractions that still remain untouched and waiting to be discovered. Partly due to its pristineness, the province was declared as a Biosphere Reserve in UNESCO’s MAB Programme as it is proud home of approximately 462 flora and fauna species, 137 of which are endemic.
Mayon Volcano dominates the province landscape. It is one of the active volcanoes in the Philippines and in the world. Mayon’s name was derived from the local word “Magayon” which means beautiful. Mayon Volcano is shortlisted in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
Cagsawa ruin is a perfect place to take photos with the Mayon. The Cagsawa church was built during Hispanic time. When an eruption happened in year 1814, it killed thousands of people on that area including the town of Cagsawa. Only some part of the tower remain. It symbolizes Albay’s rich in history and people’s strength and adaptability during calamities and disasters.
Lignon Hill is a long winding road going up of the hill that provides scenic view of Legaspi City. It is open for joggers and for those who are into sports activities. Zip lining and rappelling are some of the activities to do. Entrance fee costs around 20 php/.40 usd/ .160 omr.
In Albay we have black sands. No one needs to go Hawaii to see one of the most fascinating pure black sand beaches in the world. Albay is the home of the finest, very distinct black sands located on the towns of Bacacay, Sto. Domingo and Tiwi.These black sands derived from cooled lava of the volcano. Something rare to see in the Philippines.
Albay is progressing and booming. Every time I visit my province there is always new restaurants or places to discover. There are new tourist spots that are open to the public and new activities to try for leisure, relaxation and travel. There are various development in infrastructures that includes affordable and luxury type of hotels ready to cater all kind of tourists.
It is accessible by land, air and sea. There is the Legaspi Airport. Right now, there is an ongoing construction of Bicol International Airport, the first in the whole Bicol region. It is a 3.5 billion project on a 200 hectare plateau, 15 km away from the Mayon Volcano. Public transportation are available everywhere. It is easy to go and see neighboring provinces.
Albayanos are resilient and accommodating
People are resilient. Despite all the natural calamities and disasters that struck the province, people are persistent to get back on their feet. Albayanos are flexible and have positive attitude towards life. Albayanos will make way to make their visitors feel comfortable and relaxed.
How to get there:
Take a bus from Cubao to Legaspi,the travel time is around 10-12 hours. It costs around 700-1300 php/ 15 – 28 usd/ 5.7 omr- 11 omr. I prefer buses of Cagsawa tours, Penafrancia, Isarog or RSL. These are air-conditioned buses, more comfortable for a long hours of trip.
One can also travel by plane about an hour and it is worth around 1500-2500php/ 32-53 usd/12- 53 omr. There are daily flights from Manila to Legaspi.
To visit popular places like Cagsawa Ruins, Lignon Hill or Legazpi Boulevard, jeepneys or tricycles are the best and cheapest public transportation to take. Most of the tourist spots are easily accessible by private and public transport.
Cagsawa Ruins. Take a jeepney going to Camalig or other third district towns (Guinobatan, Polangui or Ligao) and tell the driver to drop you off to road that leads to Cagsawa Ruins located in Busay, Daraga, Albay. There is a large Cagsawa signage so you will never get lost.
Lignon Hill. From Legaspi City, take Daraga Loop 1 jeepney and tell the driver to drop you off at the foot of the hill, where there is a tennis court.
Black sands of Bacacay. Take a jeep or van from Legazpi City bound to Tabaco or any first district towns. Tell the driver to drop you off in San Jose junction and take a tricycle to Brgy. Sogod where the resorts are.
Albay has a lot to offer – from food, tourist spots, clean environment to safe places to go around. There is so much to see! I am proud to be an Albayano. I am excited to share more about my hometown on the upcoming blog posts!
Where do you want to go in Albay? Share on the comments below.