After Vera falls, I took a jeepney bound for Ligao where I will be spending the night with my former roomie back in Manila. Instinct told me that top loading would be a great way to see and appreciate the view Bicol has to offer to first timers like me, so I climbed the jeep and rode on top. I was even able to air dry my wet swim shorts. It was great view atop the jeep. I saw another view of Mt. Mayon to my left and while Mt. Masaraga and Mt. Malinao where to my right. After about an hour, I reached Ligao– the last of the “triangle of cities” around Mt. Mayon (I started with Legaspi, then Tabaco). First stop was this beautiful, old church of St. Stephen Protomartyr. I also checked the inner courtyard via the school beside it. There’s so much history when you walk in old town, specially in old structures waiting to be told. I particularly liked the white and gray contrast the church has.
After the city tour, I rested for a bit in my friend’s room which I was excited to see since he has always told me he wakes up to the view of Mt. Mayon everyday. I wish I had his window view. According to him, at night molten lava from the volcano can sometimes be seen as if it were sliding down from nowhere. , Next stop was the most prominent spot of Ligao, the Kawa Kawa hills. Made up of three hills, one is shaped like a kawa (cauldron) with its middle part shallow like a crater. At the highest part of the rim, the view is breathtaking. I took of a picture of these rice fields across Ligao. Pilgrims visit the hills as stations of the cross are spread out along the trail/steps to the hills. In summer, lots of sunflowers fill one side of the hill which according to my friend looks really gorgeous. Two food stops are worth trying in Ligao:
- Kuyang’s. They serve typical Filipino food such as sisig and lechong kawali. You’ll dine al fresco in this place,
- D’barcode. It’s a quaint bar in the heart of the city which offers reasonably priced pulutan and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Enjoy conversations while listening to live music or dance with people on the dance floor. D’barcode has yet to put up its signage as it is relatively new.
D’barcode I was supposed to go straight to Naga after Ligao, but I learned you can easily cover most of Naga in half a day so I added Polangui to my itinerary. My friend’s best fiend, who is from Polagui, told me there’s nothing to see, but since I’ve always believed that there is always something in anywhere, I looked at the map and found Lake Danao interesting. There actually is another lake named Danao in Leyte but this one in Bicol is in the middle of Mt. Malinao and Mt. Masaraga. It is home to the now World’s smallest fisch commercially produced named Tabios. Pandaka pygmea used to be the smallest before it went extinct. After consulting my map, I rode a jeep from Ligao to Polangui, got off at the market and walked for around 1.5 km to Sts. Peter and Paul Church which is near the junction to Lake Danao, thinking there would be jeepneys or motorcycles there. Unfortunately there were none. So after saying my morning prayers in the church, I decided to go back to the market where a lot of habal-habal are parked. As I was about to rent a habal habal for 200 to take me to Lake Danao, my friend’s best friend texted and told me her cousin, Aloy, was available to drive me to Lake Danao since he wanted to see it too. After arrangements were made, I met Aloy and started the drive up the mountains. Lake Danao was such a serene place. I walked around it while appreciating the view as the lake peacefully gleamed. It’s isn’t everyday you see a natural lake, you know. Right now, it is being developed to be a tourist attraction. Stairs are being constructed with viewing decks when I visited. Lucky for me, I was able to check the place without the buzz of so much people. Though I know tourism is important, sometimes it also becomes destructive to the spot itself.
I’m really amazed how locals can sometimes be clueless to what their home has to offer. Sometimes it takes a stranger to see the beauty a place has to offer (parang love haha!). At the same time, I’m also amazed how Aloy shared my excitement to go around their place. After Lake Danao, Aloy brought me to a hill that he and his cousin have always wanted to check after seeing a picture of the view online. I named it “The Hill in Polangui.” We climbed this steep hill (almost a 90-degree climb) and saw this view! It was one of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen. The hill is high enough to give you a great view of the city and a gentle breeze to blow you to sleep. If I had time, I would have slept there for siesta. After hanging out for a while, we headed downtown to have lunch at the Polangui Market as it is always wise to eat in markets where local food can usually be tried at a very low price. I tasted kulit ng kalabaw (carabao’s skin) with bittergourd leaves.It was yummy! I also bought kalamay (which is called panutsa in Manila) as pasalubong. Kalamay in Polangui is hardened sugar in coconut shell (which can be used in champorado and desserts according to Aloy) which is different from the kalamay of Batangas which is a dessert made of sticky rice.
I had a great time in Ligao and Polangui! Sometimes, I really feel envious of friends who grew up outside Manila. Imagine mountains, lakes, and fields at arm’s length. I can imagine my self bringing my calculus assignment in high school to that hill and answering it there. Imaginations. I would have to settle for short, sweet, memories. I am super happy I trusted my instincts and found new places off the beaten path. Last stop: Naga!