Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Albay: Mayon Volcano, Cagsawa Ruins, Daraga Church, Lignon Hill & Balay Cena Una

Mayon Volcano as seen from Lignon Hill
It was a sunny day in Albay, perfect day to catch a glimpse of Mayon Volcano! It isn't my first time to visit Albay. But seeing Mayon again is something to look forward to.

We took a morning flight to Legazpi and were met at the airport by our guide from Donsol EcoTour for our tour around Legazpi City and neighboring Daraga.

Cagsawa Ruins
We first visited the Cagsawa Ruins. Unfortunately, a bridge going to the former parking area was washed away during a recent typhoon. So we had to cross a makeshift bridge to get there.

This view from the Cagsawa Ruins is probably the most popular shot of the Mayon Volcano, with the ruins of the Cagsawa belfry in the foreground. The Cagsawa Ruins are what remain of the former town that was buried by the 1814 eruption of Mayon.

Daraga Church
From Cagsawa, we proceeded to the Daraga Church. The facades, belfry and baptistry of the Daraga Church are designated as a National Cultural Treasure. I've always wanted to take a photo of the Daraga Church with the Mayon Volcano in the background. But in the many times that I visited, there were lots of vehicles parked in front of the church. I finally was given an opportunity during this trip! It is testament to the harmonious relationship between architecture and nature that made our country the Pearl of the Orient then.

Balay Cena Una
Lunch was at Balay Cena Una in Daraga, a beautiful example of adaptive reuse, reminding us that old architecture can be made economically-viable in the 21st century.

With Alberto Molero and Nellie Huang of WildJunket.com at Lignon Hill
Our last stop before proceeding to Donsol, Sorsogon was Lignon Hill. It was my first time up the hill. And it was definitely a revelation since it provided a really majestic view of the Mayon Volcano towering over verdant rice fields below. It's probably the best view of Mayon!

More photos of Albay, Sorsogon and Camarines Sur in the Ivan About Town FB page.

Thank you to Director Verna Buensuceso and Christie Navarro of the Department of Tourism Team Europe for arranging the trip of Nellie Huang and Alberto Molero of WildJunket.com to Bicol! Thank you also to Director Maria Ravanilla and Amy Detera of Department of Tourism Bicol Region for her valuable assistance and warm hospitality!


  1. Wow! Amazing close up shot on the second to the last pic Sir Ivan! I was in Legazpi last month and Mayon was covered with clouds all the time. Fortunately, it was all clear on my last day in Legazpi and I finally saw her full glory.

  2. Anonymous6.3.12

    i still can't believe they call the Daraga painting job a restoration. It's bastardized, as are most of Bicol centuries-old churches, notably Tiwi church.

  3. I don't think it was painted. I was told it was lime washed. While I'm also not comfortable with the white color (the church facade was most probably painted in bright colors when it was finished), it will fade. And soon I hope!

    Here is information from Archt. Raj Busmente of NCCA in May 2011:

    In February 2009 the walls were cleaned by the NHCP.

    For the Phase I Conduit was Municipality of Daraga point person was Archt. Ana Lorilla under the supervision of National Museum began in May 15, 2009, basically the wall that faces Mayon which includes the following scope of works:

    1. Mechanical and chemical cleaning.
    2. Repointing of loose stones
    3. Repair and water proofing of concrete gutter. Removal of asbestos pipe, replaced with PVP Pipe.
    4. Repair and consolidation of rubble stone and masonry
    Restoration of stone sculpture and engravings
    5. Restoration of buttresses.
    6. Lime plastering and lime wash.

    For the Phase II the implementor was Bicol Consortium for Dev't Initiative Inc. point person Archt. Ana Lorilla under the supervision of the National Museum, the main facade scope of works:

    1. Mounting of scaffolding
    2. Removal of cement plaster
    3. Mechanical and chemical cleaning
    4. Removal and loose stones and plants
    5. Restoration of sculpture and engraving
    6. Lime plastering
    7. Repair and consolidation of stones
    8. Lime washing

    The basis for restoring is done through study, research, laboratory testing, and sometimes experimentation. If the church was with paletada then we put back what it had on, what others may call as Reverse Engineering. If it does not have paletada further studies are done if the stones might need paletada and then this is placed as protective skin layer of the building.

    The lime wash had caused a culture shock amongst the community and tourists since most people are not familiar with lime wash, comments such as, "why did you paint the wall of Daraga Church white?" was a common question.

    The NCCA admits to the lack of public information drive in preparing the community and the tourists as to the visual impact that conservation and preservation does to the eyes. After 243 years of non-restoration, of course this is what will happen if it looks new again.

    In April 13-14, NM, NHCP and NCCA went to Daraga to meet with the Mayor to explain the buffer and core zone importance of a National Cultural Treasure. On the same day a forum with the media and public forum was also conducted explaining that what was done to the Church was to protect, preserve, conserve and restore it so that future generations will be able to still have the heritage to enjoy. Painful as it may seem to most people even to the community who seemed to become angry it is the scientific method and will continue to be done to all the National Cultural Treasures and other Heritage Churches that require 'paletada'.

    Hope that more people would come to understand what Heritage Conservationists are doing to protect Heritage and eventually accept it. I honestly believe we have a long way to go.

    Mary Rajelyn Javier-Busmente

  4. From Archt. Manolo Noche: True that sometimes the process of conserving may result in a sort of shock factor with the resulting finished product, as with the case of Daraga, Pasig, San Agustin, when a new coat of palitada was applied. But one should ask, are we to preserve what we are familiar with or preserve what is to ensure the continuing legacy of a patrimonial structure. Lime washing will definitely make the building appear white, but as i always say, give it time and it will start to turn grey, with all the pollution in the atmosphere. Personally, I find the white was on Daraga rather pleasing and reminds me so much of the mission churches in California, which are all white washed.

  5. Additional comment from Archt. Raj Busmente: I spoke to Archt. Ana about the lime wash on the facade of the Daraga Church, we're deducing it must have been the source of the lime that made it quite too white. Give it a few years or so it will start to stain, actually it's already stained.

  6. Anonymous18.4.12

    hi! is it possible to go to mount mayon then donsol then calaguas in 4 days?


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