I had a short-term work assignment in Naga City in 2003. During the weekend, a visit to Mayon Volcano in Cagsawa, Daraga (2.5 hours drive from Naga) consumed my Saturday. However, the volcano was in its gloomy state. Though I’ve read it in history books many times, it was still interesting to see the surviving bell tower of Cagsawa Church. I even bought a souvenir shirt showing Cagsawa Ruins. Out of the 47 eruptions of Mayon Volcano, the one in 1814 was considered as the most destructive.
Lava flowed but not as much compared to the 1766 eruption. Instead, the volcano was belching dark ash and eventually bombarding the town with tephra that buried the town of Cagsawa—only the bell tower of the town’s church remained above the new surface. Trees were burned; rivers were certainly damaged. Proximate areas were also devastated by the eruption with ash accumulating to 9 m (30 ft) in depth. 2,200 Albay natives perished in what is considered as the most lethal eruption in Mayon’s history.
While I enjoyed shopping in Daraga and was able to savour the authentic laing, pinangat, bicol express, and sweets, I was disappointed that I didn’t see Mayon Volcano in a mesmerizing view as shown in the postcards. My Bicolano hosts/guides claimed that “Nahihiyang magpakita sayo. Ibig sabihin kailangang tingnan mo uli siya. Pinapabalik ka niya uli sa Bicol” (The volcano is shy to show up. That means you need to see her again. She wants you to come back to Bicol). That’s an old belief that later on proved to be seemingly correct.
Then, I was assigned for a couple of weeks in Legazpi (capital of Albay) in 2004. From the city proper, the volcano was very visible. Hence, I easily took note if it was a perfect time to go to Cagsawa, which is only 15-minute drive from the city. However, the moment we would reach there it was no longer clear. The volcano is playing hard to get.
In 2005, I was back to Naga for a back-to-back assignment in Tabaco. Aside from the other sidetrips during the weekend, we paid a visit to Cagsawa again. Finally, the view was almost clear. Just almost. We didn’t settle for it and took 180 degrees turn to see the other side of Mayon Volcano. We had to drive up to Mayon Resthouse. It was so foggy then and after almost an hour of driving and walking up, we were literally at the foot of the volcano. The resthouse itself was eerie because it was already non-operational for a number of years. No washrooms, restaurants, etc. I hope they would be able to revive this.
On the day of our flight from Legazpi to Manila, Mount Mayon unexpectedly showed up again.
She was very clear. Finally I had my own acceptable Mayon Volcano shot. Ibig sabihin hindi na niya ako pinapabalik (That meant she no longer asks me to be back). Just now I realized, there was a strange bird in the photo. 🙂
After 47 times of eruption and being ruined, Mayon Volcano is still beautiful. Making it 11th in the 2008 Seven Wonders of the World.
This is my entry for this week’s Photo Hunt.