The Bicol Region is one of the travel destinations in the Philippines that often finds itself in people’s bucket lists. It is composed of six provinces, namely, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Masbate. Bicolandia is most famous for Mayon Volcano located in Legazpi City, Albay.
The Bicol Region is also abundant with beautiful beaches and hot and cold springs that travelers often visit during the summer. Many tourists find ease in traveling around the region as many of the famous spots can be reached via land or a short boat travel. As the tourism industry continues to get its boost from the steady influx of both local and foreign travelers, amenities such as hotels, restaurant chains and malls in cities like Legazpi and Naga are easily accessible.
For tourists who are seeking a historical and cultural experience, there are also many places that are worth visiting.
Here are some of the historical and cultural sites that the Bicol Region has to offer.
The Cagsawa Ruins
The Cagsawa Ruins in Albay was declared by the National Museum as a national cultural treasure in 2015, the country’s highest designation for a cultural property. The Cagsawa Ruins are the remains of the Cagsawa Church which was built by the Franciscans in the 17th century. When Mount Mayon erupted in 1814, the town of Cagsawa was engulfed with pyroclastic materials, leaving most of the town damaged and killing thousands of residents. Only the belfry of the Church remains to be seen, which contributes to its mystery and solemnity.
Also known as the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Porteria, the Daraga Chruch is also another national cultural property declared in 2007. The Daraga Church, built in 1773 by Franciscan missionaries, sits atop the hills of the town of Daraga, Albay. It served as a refuge for residents of the nearby town of Cagsawa during the violent eruption of Mayon Volcano in 1814. The church is an architectural gem distinguished by a combination of Renaissance Gothic and Mexican Baroque styles. The church’s façade was carved from volcanic stones and features four spiral columns with medallions at the center.
St. John the Baptist Church
Located in Tabaco City, Albay, St. John the Baptist Church, was declared as national cultural property in 2012. The church was initially constructed in 1600s but due to successive eruptions of Mayon Volcano in 1766 and 1814, it underwent many reconstructions up to the mid-1800s. The bell tower of the Church served as a lookout post during World War II while the church itself served as a refuge during the Spanish, Japanese and American occupations.
Bagatao Island Lighthouse
The Bagatao Island Lighthouse is located in Magallanes, Sorsogon. The iron tower stands 29 feet high and was first lit on May 15, 1904. The lighthouse was built towards the end of the Spanish colonial period, where the Philippines was opened to a wider network of international trade upon signing of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade.
The Ruins of Presidencia Building
The Ruins of Presidencia Building can be found in Barcelona, Sorsogon. It sits across the Barcelona Church within the premises of the Barcelona Ruins Park. The Presidencia Building served as the municipal hall of Barcelona and also as a fortress from pirate attacks. Underground tunnels connect the building to the church, however, due to safety reasons, exploring them is prohibited. After being used as a fortress during the Spanish and Japanese regimes, the building was reverted to being a municipal hall. However, the structure was destroyed when the town was hit by a series of typhoons. The building was no longer restored but instead made into a historical landmark.
The Bicol Region is rich with culture and architecture and those mentioned above are only some of the must-see destinations for tourists who want to explore and experience the region’s long and eventful history.