The sun gently rises from a rice-paddy-lined horizon. The feeling is warm and familiar from the window seat where I am staring blankly at the distance. With the absence of Manila’s urban smell, the atmosphere is fresh and rejuvenating. I am confident that this will be a great trip and to walk within my comfort zone. Soon enough we reached Iriga City and I went home to drop my belongings. All the while excitement brews rapidly to spend the night beneath the moon and the stars. I picked my bags again but this time it only contains the ones I need for the hike and for my overnight camping in Ligao City.
St. Stephen The Protomartyr Parish
8:00 AM | The province of Albay is rich for its natural gifts as well as historical ones. Ligao City is not different having its rich history and St. Stephen parish is a great edifice that translates the old days to the present. This church is built at the heart of the city evident that Ligaonons are god-fearing and religious people. Not far from the church, the park, the city public market, and government offices are just a walking distance away.
10:00 AM | All of my optimism died down and I felt I was hit by a truck when I reached the Highlands. Mayon is apparently hiding on the clouds as usual. It is unfortunate and somewhat I felt depressed. Why does the weather have to go against my plan?
Nonetheless, I continued; dragging my feet and riding a motorcycle over the winding uphills and slopes. It will take 20 minutes to reach the open hills. the view is wonderful that even the grass blooms to an unthinkable beauty. While the bashful Mayon still hides in her blanket of clouds, here I am appreciating the little things that otherwise no one will notice.
Oma-Oma Highlands is an area slowly being developed for camping and a vantage point to see Mayon Volcano and the town below. These open hilltops are grassland that is being utilized as grazing grounds for cows and farming for crops that are mostly corn and sweet potatoes.
The sun’s heat would be unbearable if it were not because the clouds that occasionally casts its shadow over us. The hut at the hill proved to be very useful and the breeze that cools down our skin. Before the clock strikes at noon we then proceed to get our lunch and continue to our next destination.
1:00 PM | The road is dusty and rocky while the sun’s heat is relentlessly beating overhead. A sigh of relief upon reaching Bambusetum. It is surprising to see bamboos planted in an orderly manner. The shade that it provides is priceless. The gentle rustling of the leaves is a natural orchestra along with the chirping of nearby birds is truly relaxing. It is a good experience identifying the different species that are available on site.
Another thing to look forward to is the sunflowers that occupy a certain portion by the hill. There are but a few flowers that are in bloom and many few that we can expect from the time of my visit. After enjoying much of the scenic landscape I retired on a bench under the generous shade of a mango tree.
Divine Mercy Shrine
3:00 PM | The Divine Mercy Monastery Of The Carmelite Nuns Of The Holy Trinity is a place for pilgrims from all parts of Bicol Region. Many consider this shrine as a place of healing and prayer. The interior is beautiful and the stained glass resolves an atmosphere of peace and stillness. With all its beauty, the most special to me are the steps of the stairs that tell a story about who built this edifice. It is the hand and footprints that are embedded on the tiles that bear the names of the donors.
Mt. Masaraga Campsite
5:00 PM | The crown jewel of Albay stands tall and having her perfect cone make her admirable from all angles. One of the places that you can enjoy an unobstructed view of Mayon Volcano is from Mt. Masaraga Campsite.
The trek to the campsite is easy and only lasts for about 45 minutes. It is a delight witnessing the shadow of Mt. Masaraga engulfs Mayon Volcano and as the sunsets from the west. The last few minutes of sundown give the peak a red-colored peak that seems like the summit is on fire.
Soon enough, the darkness covered the landscape; households turned their lights and the skies above me showed the stars. I spend the night simply appreciating how beautiful nature is and how different it is from the city. The air is clean, crickets and geckos replace the noise of traffic and the gentle breeze that whispers peace. I always love the idea of fresh fruit plucked from the source. Wild berries are available in a garden and it was a treat to taste its sweetness lingered with sourness.
As the sun rises the next morning, I welcomed the day walking barefooted. Slowly destroying the harmony of the blades of grass and tiny globes of dew from the morning lawn. I never expected this short getaway bring so much happiness to me. It started on a low note but Mother Nature never ceases to amaze a traveler’s heart.
The hike intended for Mt. Masaraga did not happen because the mountain is closed waiting for its eventual opening. I may have only enjoyed camping on the site but soon enough, I know I will summit Mt. Masaraga. Honestly, I never imagined how beautiful Ligao City is until this trip. It made me realize that we don’t need to travel far to explore a new experience. Sometimes, it is just on the neighborhood waiting for us to discover. Ligao City is indeed a true Bicolano gem.
Itinerary and Expenses
- Bus fare from Manila to Ligao City costs around 600-750 Pesos.
- From Ligao City ride a tricycle to Brgy. Tas-Tas for 12 Pesos per way. The terminal is near Ligao Church. Upon arriving in Tas Tas ride a motorcycle to Oma-Oma Highlands for 100 Pesos per way.
- From Ligao City ride a Tricycle to Kawa-Kawa Hills for 12 Pesos per way.
- From Kawa-Kawa Hills ride a tricycle to Tuburan Crossing for 12 Pesos then take a Jeepney going to Sabloyon, the fare is 20 Pesos.
- Camping Fee at Mt. Masaraga Campsite is 50 Pesos.