For almost two centuries the Cagsawa Ruins has stood as a symbol of Bicol region’s impressive landscape, rich history and the people’s strength and resiliency to face and to rise from the ravages of Mother Nature.
Cagsawa Ruins Park is a few minutes jeepney ride from Legazpi City. Legazpi City is one of the most important cities of Bicol. By air, it is 55 minutes away from Manila. About 9 hours travel time by air-conditioned buses that ply the route daily.
Cagsawa Ruins Park is one of the most visited places in the area. From this point tourists are afforded with an unhampered view of the majestic Mayon Volcano with its world renowned perfect cone.
Folklore states that originally Kagsawa was derived from the word “KAG” meaning owner and “SAWA” meaning python. Kagsawa could also mean excesses or too much. The February 1, 1814 Mayon eruption was said to be a divine justice for the people’s overindulgence.
The 1814 eruption was recorded to be worst eruption of Mt. Mayon. Some 1,200 people who took refuge and sought the sanctuary of the church during the eruption all died when the church was engulfed by the flowing lava.
Only the Cagsawa church belfry remains today. It is a grim reminder of the events that took place and many people come to see the belfry as a reminder of times past. Through all the developments done by the local government, the Cagsawa church belfry remains standing, with the giant stones spewed by Mt. Mayon around and with the history of the region buried underneath.
The place is now called Cagsawa Park. It is managed today by the municipal government of Daraga, Albay.
At the entrance of the park visitors will find a wide variety of souvenir shops and stalls which showcase native products and handicrafts. A wide selection of T-shirts with native scenes and designs are also available.
Inside the park are restaurants where tourists and local residents feast on native food and delicacies. Inasal na sira (grilled fish) and Bicol express-a spicy shrimp dish with coconut cream is highly recommended. Both these dishes are quite famous all over the Philippines and should not be missed.
Cagsawa Park now boasts a modest sized swimming pool with plenty of loungers where visitors can laze and gaze at the majestic vista of Mt. Mayon.
Plants and flower lovers will be thrilled with the display of exotic flowers and orchids that are on sale. One needs to be a good haggler though to get a good buy.