photo credit: ceciliatanphotography
Top Tourist Destination: Mayon Volcano and the Bicol Region
Mayon Volcano is one of those postcard perfect scenery which you can find in Philippine bookstores that litters the various malls in the country today. It is admired for its perfect and symmetrical shape, though capable of wreaking havoc to the countryside when it erupts. Mayon Volcano is the country’s most active volcano, in the Bicol Region, which erupted a total of 48 times in the last 400 years. The first known eruption was recorded in 1616 by a Dutch explorer Joris van Spilbergen. The last eruption occurred in July 13, 2006 which saw 40,000 people evacuated from within the eight mile danger zone at the southeast side of the volcano.
Mayon Volcano is the main tourist attraction of the Bicol Region and was declared as a protected landmark on July 20, 1938. It was reclassified and renamed as Mayon Volcano Natural Park in the year 2000. The local folklore refers to the volcano as having been named after the legendary and beautiful maiden, Daragang Magayon.ceciliatanphotography
Mayon Volcano at Present
The local government led by present Albay governor, Joey Salceda, declared the 8 mile danger zone to dissuade tourists from venturing nearer an erupting volcano. They have warned tourist guides and thrill seekers not to go near the site when the alert level is up since it can be very dangerous. Emergency measures like force evacuation are implemented when local residents refuse to budge or vacate their homes when there is an impending eruption.
In times of Non-Volcanic Activity
The natives of the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur and Norte, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, and Masbate are known as Bicolanos. They are descendants of the Austronesian speaking race from Southern China. Their local language is known as Bicolano. The majority of the locals are Roman Catholics who are active participants in church festivities in the region all throughout the year.
Bicol Express by Raymund Macaalay/
The Bicolano’s taste of food is noted for their prominent use of chili peppers and coconut milk. An example would be the popular Bicol Express which is a mixture of pork, coco milk, red and green peppers, and shrimp paste. This dish was named after a local passenger train service that runs from Manila to the Bicol region, a place that is known for its hot and spicy cuisine.
Feast of the Virgin of Penafrancia
The Bicolanos are known for their observance of an annual festival in honor of the Virgin of Penafrancia that is presently enshrined at the Basilica Minore at Calle Balatas in Naga City. The festival is held every third Sunday of September where a crowd of an all-male devotees carries the image of the Virgin to the cathedral, while shouting Viva La Virgin! The festivities run for nine days with all roads leading to Naga City where devotees congregate to pay homage to the miraculous patroness of the Bicol Region. The feast day is preceded by a nine day novena in honor of the Virgin. Other highlights are cock fighting, bicycle racing, and a fluvial boat parade.
The official hymn of the Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia was composed by Fr. Maximo Huguera, CM 1924 and translated to Bikolano by Fr. Jesus Esplana and Fr. Sohl Saez.
On Arts and Music
Bicolanos are known for their song Sarung Banggi, a poignant love song composed in 1910 by Potenciano Valladolid-Gregorio of Albay; and Ibalong, an epic saga about heroism and bravery.
Ibalong, is an epic saga about heroism and bravery of local heroes. It is a story of the mystical origins of the first man and woman in a place called Aslon and Ibalon, which now comprises the entire Bicol Province. The epic saga tells of the bravery of Handiong, one of the heroes of Ibalon who won the battle over the seductive serpent, Oriol, before creating a new village. The epic tale tells of events that are similar to the Genesis and includes a story on how the Mayon Volcano came about.
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