Living in the city for almost all of my existence, I could not have possibly imagined my life inhabiting away from it. I have learned to adapt to its chaos—almost like I thrive in it.
But living here, though, it’s fun and lively, have its cons. Getting constantly saturated with the rush hour traffic or how your work drains the soul out of you can be a little bit stressful.
So, as soon as my Dad brought up the idea of spending three days away from the Metro, I grabbed it. I need to wash off this veil of stressors that I currently have. A moment of pure peace and quiet—with no dependencies back home—might be the cure I was looking for.
I took out my notebook and jot down some research of where to’s in Bicol. But I also kind of want for life to surprise me a bit so I roughly wrote down five. There’s a part of me that wants the adventure to flesh out as we get there.
We departed at 10am. First destination is Kamay ni Hesus in Quezon. I am not the holiest person you’ll ever meet. But this kind of family trip has some bargains. After all, I am here to enjoy and just take my time de-stressing.
Laughs filled the car as we navigate our way through unknown routes fed by google maps. I kind of miss this. Me sitting alongside my mom, my dad driving, and my siblings fighting over nonsensical things. Just like the old times.
Our first detour was in Liliw, Laguna. I have been wanting to visit this town for the longest time now. I’ve heard fantastic stories about its food. Personally, I feel like I was transported in an old town. The streets are narrow and it leads to a slope. The houses are mostly wooden with old-fashioned exteriors. The sereness is quite noticeable. I was pleased.
I deliberately asked my family to spend lunch at Arabela, the most raved restaurant here. Since it’s both my sister and dad’s birthday, I just figured we’ll order lots—and I MEAN, CRAZY LOTS—and it will do my blog some favor.
My little brother gifted our sister a cake of her choice in the resto. What a sweet kid. So we decided, as a group, to pick five different cake slices so we can have a variety of desserts to munch.
Afterwards, we headed out and walked aimlessly in the crowded streets packed with street foods amongst other things. We found a local shoestore where we found countless of footwears that looked familiar because ther are also the once being sold at the malls in the city. Our father bought each of us a pair. Kilig. Felt like a kid again where I’ll just grab anything and let my parents pay for it. Adulthood has its vicious way of forcing you to be thrifty for the money that you actually worked your ass off for.
Our journey ended there to start another. We continued driving the countryside til we reached Kamay ni Hesus. Funny thing about this trip is that my Mom and I ended up not going up the stairs because we got caught in the rain. We ran for cover and found a tricycle parked somewhere where we sat until the rain stopped. We watched every raindrop and listened to the sound it created as it hit the ground. I took some photos of my Mom, as well, because she wants to show to her friends once we get home.
It’s almost sunset when we decided to drive for Naga City. I looked at google maps and it said more than 6 hours. Wow. I usually could not bare sitting for more than 3 hours but this one went surprisingly well.
Once we reached the zigzag road they colloquially call “bitukang manok”, people by the road helped people pass by lighting up their flashlights. Well, of course, they asked for coins and since it’s Christmas, the only way we can return the favor is to actually provide them with some. I rolled my windows down, and started handing out coins and shouted “Merry Christmas” as I passed by them.
The night grew darker, even more so in this place covered with tall trees. We figured our dad must be dog-tired from driving endlessly for hours, so I hit up my spotify playlist and we (my siblings and I) started singing at the top of our lungs til we reached Naga City.
Morning came sooner and the trip’s time is getting shorter. We went to Naga Metropolitan Cathedral and attended the mass. I bought myself taho as the mass went on. The vendor thanked me and greeted me a Merry Christmas. I swear, it warmed my heart though it was actually raining outside.
Last on our list is actually visiting the Shrine of Penafrancia. The church is a little more low-key, with less people and a quieter ambiance surrounding it. We were directed to go at the back part of the church where we can climb a stair to be able to touch the statue.
We left Naga City for Legazpi City, Albay before lunch time. It was still raining heavily that we barely saw what the view was.
I booked us at Mayon Lodging House, a few stones throw away from Sumlang Lake and Cagsawa Ruins. The lodge is strategically located in front of Mayon Volcano. But since the downpour is non-stop, we cannot see most of it.
After settling our stuff and sleeping for a bit, we started to check out the City. We first went to Cagsawa Ruins then drove to Daraga Church where a local kid run beside us to show us a way. Then, we decided to eat at 1st Colonial Grill, famous for its sili ice cream.
We dozed off early. The next morning, I woke up to my Mom saying that Mayon Volcano is slowly showing up. Immediately, I picked my camera up and run towards the roof deck. I was wowed by Mayon Volcano’s majestic beauty. I swear, I almost cried. Must be because of everything I have been feeling prior this trip. But seeing it, in person, when everyone believed it would not show up because of the weather, somehow made me realize how lucky I am. That in spite of every rain, a wonderful tomorrow would welcome me.
I took my time, watching the hovering clouds disappear in thin air. And when I went back to our room, Mayon Volcano once again disappeared. Just. like. that.
Before leaving Bicol, we went to Sumlang Lake where we rode a boat made out of bamboos and spent the rest of the morning sailing in the lake. Once we got off the boat, it rained again. The angels must be on our side because our luck has been on point since the beginning of this trip.
On our way home, we got sidetracked to a field, where I swear Google Maps directed us to (yet again!). It was funny because the road was so bumpy our packed meals almost overturned. Then we found a highway where we stopped to eat by the roadside with beautiful views both behind and in front of us.
We stopped by the gas station to freshen up where a rainbow also showed up. It reminded me of how long I haven’t seen one. Still spectacular. Still gives hope. Still colorful, like our lives.
The simplicity of life in the province, made me realize how I should try to slow down things and appreciate the littlest things in life. Because life is fleeting, we must cherish every moment. And that real beauty takes time. Like Mayon Volcano, beauty can get shrouded in a sea of clouds, but if the timing is right, it’ll come out. Regardless.
One more takeaway I got is that the memories of the journey impacts the trip. So enjoy it. Take time to smell the flowers, or to laugh out loud at dad jokes even if it’s the corniest thing you have ever heard. Those things, in the end, will be a lot more memorable than the destination. Believe me on this.