We spent Saturday on a whirlwind tour of several sites throughout Albay. Our party consisted of Adrian, a teacher at Bicol Regional Science High School, Rose, a teacher at Marcial O. Rañola Memorial School (MORMS) and Jenn's host teacher, our fearless driver Jerry, IREX staff member Hannah, and of course Teachers for Global Classrooms fellows Jenn, Angelo, and myself.
First up was one of the oldest churches in the region. It had been originally built in the 1600s. It was destroyed by volcanic eruption sometime in the 1800s and rebuilt shortly thereafter.
We didn't get to stay long as a funeral procession arrived and we did not want to be disrespectful. The funeral attendees and casket arrived via jeepney. Jeepneys serve as a privatized bus system in the Philippines. Owner-drivers creatively paint and customize their jeepneys to ensure that they catch the eye of potential passengers. Here is a detail of the jeepney that served as a hearse on this day:
After a brief stop to see some old houses in Camalig, and another brief stop at a large mural memorializing the victims of a 2006 flash flood, we drove half way up the 8081-foot tall Mayon Volcano to the Mayon Skyline Convention Center. The convention center is no longer open, due to its dangerous location on the volcano. But with outstanding views and terraced park areas, local families utilize the location for picnics, outnumbering the tourists taking pictures. Unfortunately, Mayon was "being shy," as the locals say, obscuring her summit from our view. I think Angelo, at the base of the Y, was disappointed:
At the altitude we were at, we were just under the cloud layer. That was a pretty cool sight to behold. It reminded me of climbing Kilimanjaro a decade ago, when we hiked through what seemed like a foggy patch to emerge above the clouds of an overcast sky for those below.
Next we visited a pottery factory that manufactures a wide variety of pots, vases, and other products, all sculpted by hand. The skill and speed of the potters was a sight to behold.
We then ventured to Legazpi harbor, where we took a short walk along the boulevard/jogging path. It was a lot cooler by the sea, but not nearly as cool as the Mayon Skyline. We posed for our second "large cement letters photograph" of the day. I took the G, of course:
There were very few boats in the area. This was one of the only ones:
We had several interesting foods throughout the day. Our first refreshment stop was the home of the original halo halo, a shaved ice drink that includes coconut milk, jellies of various types, nuts, cheese, tapioca, custard, corn kernels, and probably a half dozen other things. Halo halo is incredibly popular in the Philippines. Our lunch was at a beautiful Japansese-Filipino fusion restaurant. We had a salad made from locally foraged ferns that had a wild, herbal taste unlike anything I've had before. It was really delicious. Our last stop of the day was at the Oriental Hotel in Legazpi. Easily the swankiest hotel in the city, it features a bar and infinity pool overlooking the greater Legazpi area towards Mayon. We decided to have a round of high-priced ($4) cocktails in order to relax and enjoy the view. I had a drink made from rum, coconut, pineapple, and pili nut, a nut native to the area.
From Legazpi we returned to Ligao City, calling it an early night as we needed to wake early for our island hopping adventure the following day. Here are some bonus photos!