To Hills, Lake, and Ruins

I’ve always wanted to explore Albay. However, all I’ve known about it is the famous active volcano with the perfect triangular shape. The pride of all Bicolanos and the so called “sister volcano” of Mt. Fuji, our very own Mt. Mayon.

Well apparently, there’s a lot of hidden natural treasures here. The beautiful places in Albay are made by Mother Nature herself. There’s Mt. Mayon itself, then Quitinday Green Hills, Hoyop-hoyopan Cave, Sumlang Lake, Kawa-Kawa Hill, and so much more! There are also some man made modifications that allow beautiful views of Daragang Magayon like Puro(Legazpi Boulevard) along the port of Legazpi and Lignon Hill near Legazpi Airport.

It was a spur of the momemt decision to go to Quitinday. My roommate Irene and I were bored and with exams and community presentations done, we had nothing to do. Originally, the plan was set to Friday but it was only Wednesday and we were bored out of our wits so she asked if we can go the next day. I agreed and called on four others who wanted to come. Only one also agreed so we set the call time to 6am the next day. Ha! As if! 6 am in my dreams hahaha. As per Filipino time tradition, we left Daraga around 9:00 am. The night before, I looked for directions on how to get to Quitinday and several websites told the same thing. From Daraga, ride a Legazpi-Polangui jeepney. Ask the driver to drop you off at the intersection to Quitinday. There would be tricycles waiting along that intersection. All they ask for is 500 pesos for a round trip service. Please don’t haggle. The ride is half cemeted and half rough road and it takes about 30-40 minutes to arrive. At first glance you’ll think that it was a wide plain with some bahay kubo sari sari stores.

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Entrance to Quitinday Hills

Upon arrival, we went to register and paid the entrance fee of 20 pesos. The lady at the stall stated that there were no guides that day but she had a tarpaulin depicting the bird’s eye view of Quitinday and it was actually very straight forward. Upon climbing the main hill, there will be a bahay kubo rest place. Two paths lead away from there, one to the north and the other south. The south path is steeper and higher and show you the rolling hills while the north path shows you Mayon in all its glory. Neri and Irene were quite excited to go that the moment the lady said we can climb up, they went straight to the parking lot hahaha. The lady laughed saying they were going in the wrong direction. Apparently, we were already standing on the foot of the main hill. At the back of the kubo was the “stairs” going up the main hills. “Stairs” because it was not man made in the sense that it was cemented or wooden but because it was dirt. Compacted dirt molded to form a stair-like formation with railings of bamboo.

So up we went. 5 minutes up and we were already catching our breath. It was very steep!IMAG9760.jpg But it was very compact. Good thing that the weather was perfect. I can’t imaging if it was rainy and the ground was muddy. There were some parts where the formation of the stairs were lost so you step on rocks while holding on to the railings for dear life. Note: Please look at the railings before you hold them. We were all victimized by holding what we thought was a strong bamboo but was hollow inside or was cut further along. 10 minutes later, we arrive at the bahay kubo rest place and immediately, we were given the whole 360 degree view of the gorgeous rolling hills of Quitinday.

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It was beautiful. To the north we can see the perfect cone of Mayon. To the south we can see another hill. Everything was picturesque. Long grass talahib were everywhere but in that area where the bahay kubo was, it was plain carabao grass. We rested a bit at the kubo. That 10 minute trek puts a toll on your lungs. Seriously. Note: Bring lots of water. Gatorade would be better. And snacks, don’t forget snacks BUT PLEASE BRING YOUR TRASH DOWN WITH YOU.

We decided to first go to the higher hill. But what we thought would be an easy climb was apparently an even steeper hill! And there was only half of the “stairs”. The rest were rocks and plain dirt, though there was also bamboo railings.

The climb took less than 5 minutes but upon reaching the top, you’ll need another 5 minutes to catch your breath and unfortunately, there were no chairs at the top. The view, however, was absolutely stunning. Note: At this point I’m running out of adjectives so bear with me guys LOL.

You can see the entire Quitinday Hills as well as the plains down below and it also shows you a beautiful view of Mayon.

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The sun and wind were also stronger there. We would’ve stayed longer but the heat was really strong so we went down. Neri and Irene went first as I was busy taking videos of the path and the view. I went down holding my monopod with the phone in it, no longer recording when whooosh! I slid down the hill. I tried to stand but slid down a few more inches. My monopod was on the ground but there was no phone! Aaaaah! I looked around and it wasn’t on the ground. I finally found it on top of the talahib. Good thing it wasn’t buried all the way down and I saw the aluminum shine. The ground pala at that point was literally dirt, and it was loose dirt so it was slippery. If there weren’t rocks I would’ve slid all the way down to the bahay kubo. Anyway I’m bookmarking that down in my unconscious as Experience so it’s all good, though my butt hurt a bit. Once again, we rested for while in the bahay kubo before proceeding to the next hill.

The path to the north hill wasn’t as visible as the one on the south. It seemed to be a steep path going downward and it was covered by bushes. It was also a dirt path with no bamboo railings. Past that however, is another hill with another set of steep path but with the stairs-shape like before. There was also bamboo railings on its side. It wasn’t as steep as the other hill so this climb was easier. On top you’ll be presented with the majestic view of Mayon with its perfect cone.

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Like the previous hill, there were also talahib that surround this area. Note: At this point offer a bit of prayer to thank the Lord for His creations. You’ll really feel relaxed here. The sun isn’t quite as strong but the wind gets stronger. My cap even flew away and once again, good thing it flew unto the tall grass. Once again, there are no chairs in that hill and eventually the heat got to us. We then decided to go down. The trike driver waited for us and even took us to the famous Let’s Pinangat for lunch.

Lake.

When we were riding the jeepney to Quitinday, Neri shouted out that she saw a sign pointing to the entrance to Sumlang Lake. It was only noon when we went down to eat. Since we still had a lot of time, she suggested we go to Sumlang Lake. To go to Sumlang Lake from Let’s Pinangat, ride a jeep going to Legazpi. You’ll see along the road a large sign saying entrance to Sumlang Lake. From the main road, you can walk towards the entrance, about 15 minutes. Entrance to the Lake is 10 pesos. You’ll be bombarded with native furnitures and instagrammable scenes. There are water activities available near the lake shore, most of which costs less than 50 pesos. We availed the boat? ride. They let you choose which boat? you wanted. There were different pieces of furniture per boat and two landmarks across the lake. A large Sumlang Lake sign with the majestic view of Mt. Mayon in the background, and a little island with a beautiful piece of native furniture you can sit on. We didn’t avail of the other activities but did take a lot of pictures.

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Ruins.

From Sumlang Lake, we rode a jeepney going to Legazpi once more and asked to be dropped off at Cagsawa. Along the road, there was a huge statue of the Cagsawa Ruins, that’s the landmark.  From there, you can ride a tricycle to get to the gate entrance of Cagsawa or you can take a 10 minute walk to the entrance. Entrance fee is 25 pesos.

Good weather and daragang magyon peeking out of the clouds means a crowded landmark. There were crowds of families and tourists visiting the landmark. It was quite different from when  first visited it.

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What a great day to start the summer! 😀

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