My family decided to live independently (it is popular in the Filipino culture to have this kind of ‘extended family’ ties) after two (2) or three (3) years since I was born. As far as I could remember, we settled in an apartment in Blue Ridge in Quezon City. My father was a resident doctor then at the adjacent hospital known as the Labor Hospital (nowadays, it is the Quirino Memorial Medical Center) and for years, he had practiced his medical expertise as a general surgeon. Then my papa decided to render his service as a government doctor and he chose to be assigned at the Bicol Region since he is a Bicolano. Since then, it was a privilege for us to be with our papa in three occasions in a month.
The first time we accompanied my father at the bus terminal headed to Bicol, I really cried a lot. I was aware that my father would be away for a long period of time and that really broke my young spirit at that time. This instance happened two (2) or three (3) times more the moment we sent papa to the terminal. Nonetheless, I realized that my tears went futile when it happened and it was the reason I stopped being a crybaby. Well, my father also talked to me heart to heart why he needed to be away.
To Legazpi City: A glimpse of the ‘Perfect Cone’
On one instance, I woke up seeing my mama, papa and our nanny packed a lot of baggage and they were all in a hurry. I even remembered my mama reprimanding me for asking too much questions about what was going on. After packing our things, we headed again to the terminal and all I had in mind that my father would be again, leaving us. As we boarded the bus, my other siblings were comfortably seated and seemed to be happy. The co-driver of the bus then signaled it was time to go and I found myself trying to go out of the bus, then my papa said, ‘sit tight’ then he smiled. At that moment I knew we were going with my papa. I thought that time I was going to enjoy it.
After a ‘gruesome’ 8 hours of trip, my siblings and I were surprised, but pleased with what we were seeing in the background. Everything was literally ‘green’. What we were seeing were coconut trees, hills and mountains-these things we do not usually see in the concrete jungle of Quezon City. All of a sudden, what we saw next gave us mixed feeling of admiration and at the same time fear. In my mind that time, I was asking myself, ‘am I only dreaming?’. ‘That is the Mayon Volcano’ my father was giving us a heads up. Nonetheless, my brothers and I could not even fathom what we were seeing. It was definitely exciting and I remember overhearing my brother, ‘can we climb it?’. Our curiosity stopped after a group of clouds block our wonderful view.
We stayed at one of our papa’s ancestral home (yes, they do have a lot of ancestral homes scattered around the Bicol Region). The sun was setting and the clouds were still persistent in blocking our object of admiration. After a hefty meal and some mingling with our relatives, we called it a day.
‘Daragang Magayon’: Lady Beautiful
As soon as I woke up, it seemed like a beautiful lady was peeking on me as I again saw the majestic Mayon Volcano! True to its legend and description, Mayon Volcano is world-famous because of its ‘perfect cone’ shape. It was named by the locals after the mythical heroine ‘Daragang Magayon’ or Lady Beautiful. My brothers and I talked about it, and I remembered my cousins, who were locals of Legazpi, just simply laughed at us, but that did not stop our curious awe of the famous volcano. Since it was our first time at Legazpi City, our relatives with our parents decided to give us a trip at one of the scenic and tourist spots around Mayon Volcano: the Cagsawa Ruins.
Cagsawa Ruins: The silent witness of the dark side of this beauty
Being at the Cagsawa Ruins, it felt a bit strange as for my experience. All the while, I thought that once you saw the famous belfry, you were, literally, set at the foot of the Mayon Volcano. Well, it did not work that way. The bell tower or the belfry was a mute eyewitness to the terrible outburst of Mother Nature through the volcano. I was even imagining survivors trying to help their way up to the tower for refuge as they saw the raging lava. Well, that was the past and we were here to be fascinated by the beauty of the Mayon Volcano!
Seeing Mayon Volcano and knowing a bit of its past make me proud being a Bicolano. As always, I convinced my friends to go and visit Bicol, particularly Legazpi City and see the wonders the place it can give. It is definitely a must for all tourists and visitors alike to experience one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces. Mayon Volcano is considered to be one of active volcanoes in the Philippines and the local government never fails to give ample reminders of safety measures to guarantee a well-spent vacation. Mayon Volcano: ‘Magayon ini’ (it is beautiful)!