View of Mt. Mayon from the Cagsawa Ruins
One of my wishes for my 34th birthday is to finally set foot on the Bicol Region. Over the years my plan for a Bicol trip sat reluctantly at the backseat, it was already becoming both funny and pathetic.
So last August 19-21, I took the chance to go to Sorsogon with friends. We took advantage of the Ninoy Aquino Day break and explored the province. It was about a 12-hour road trip, longer if you’re lucky enough to have interesting stopovers.
A visit to Bicol will not be complete without a look at the majestic Mt. Mayon, of course. Pro tip from the Sili Shake vendors: throw in a free key chain, it works. In case you’re wondering, as I did wonder, a sili shake is usually made with a base fruit (mango, lychee, etc.) and chili pepper. There’s pure sili shake without the base fruit for the hardcore, I was told.
I love laing, kinunot and pinangat. Out of respect, I never declare myself a fan of any regional cuisine without investing enough time and effort on getting to know the variety of food. Our weekend stay in Sorsogon proved that my knowledge of Bicolano food is way below fan level.
My favorite for this trip is fried baluko (pen shell or Pinnidae). It’s mussel and scallop rolled into one. Three of us consumed about two plates of the seafood at the ancestral home of the Jimenezes of Talisay, Sorsogon City, who generously hosted our stay and made sure we were always full.
Fish sanctuary, cave and Subic beach
There was a low pressure area forecast that Sunday. We still took the risk of visiting Matnog in Sorsogon for the fish sanctuary, Subic beach and a quick swim inside a cave which houses a zen garden. Since the weather report wasn’t so good, we had the beach almost to ourselves.
The crew cooked the fresh seafood and meat we bought from the market before our boatride to Subic Beach. We had lunch boodlefight-style, where I was the last woman standing and eating.
Beehive at Balay Buhay sa Uma
Just before dinner, we drove to the Balay Buhay sa Uma Bee Farm in Bulusan. Balay Buhay also has accommodation for those who are planning for a retreat. They offered two types of honey when we visited: the sweet floral one made by Apis dorsata bees and the sweet and sour type made by stingless Tetragonula biroi bees. I neglected the stingless bee lessons in my organic agriculture course, but this lovely garden made me want to try out the enterprise.
After that quick stop, we went to the San Benon Hot Springs in Irosin. It was my first time to try dipping into a hot spring. I used to think this was an activity that’s too touristy for me. The experience melted this misconception and my tiredness away.
Santa Clara Park Hotel
We stayed at the Santa Clara Park Hotel in Sorsogon City for two nights. The deluxe room we chose had the rate of only PhP1,500 per night, plus PhP200/night for the extra bed. This option has aircon, fan, hot and cold shower, free WiFi and cable TV. There’s a pool but we didn’t have the time to enjoy it. The staff and Tiger (the reception dog) are friendly. I suggest confirming reservation through both phone and e-mail.
The pink beach of Subic Island, Sorsogon
I went back to Manila with happy first-timer memories, a bag of pasalubong (conserva, molido, pili crunch and tablea from Aling Nimfa’s), and an urge to go back whenever possible. Where’s your suggested next Bicol destination?