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Click here to read the first part of my Legazpi trip.

The Pili Nut Hills are located in Caguiba, Camalig, while my next is destination is in the heart of Legazpi City. It was already 3.30pm when I decided to descend from the grotto's summit. More than an hour later, I found myself at the foot of one of the city's most famous landmarks. Ligñon Hill has been developed into a great destination offering several activities (biking, rappelling, paintball, zip line, et cetera). I had only wanted to visit the Japanese tunnel but it was already almost 5pm when I arrived and the attraction was already closed.

The ascent took about 15 minutes. The summit was swarming with people, but there was that perfect amount of happy in the air.

ligñon hill
Legazpi City from 156-m above

ligñon hill, mayon volcano
The Mayon from Ligñon Hill at sunset

But what really caught my attention was the Mayon Volcano. I enjoyed a breathtaking view of the sunset while Mayon stood proudly beside it. I couldn't help but be amazed at how beautiful everything was. I have lived in Bicol half of my life and have seen the Mayon countless times, but it was the first time that I had actually looked at it.

You can find several food kiosks and souvenir shops on the summit. A group that I encountered during my hike up was having their afternoon snack and invited me to join them. They were quite surprise to find out I was alone because, after all, you don't get to chance upon solo lady travelers that often. It was a fun conversation, and I was able to get some helpful information for my itinerary the next day.

I started to make my way down when a motorcycle pulled over beside me. The motorist introduced himself as Chris and said he had overheard my conversation with the group at the summit, and if it wasn't too weird, he could help me get to Bacacay Beach. I told him I wasn't going to Bacacay until the next day and was on my way to Embarcadero to meet up with my sister for dinner. He offered me a ride. Two seconds later, I found myself sitting on the back of his motorcycle-- well, this was after I sent his plate number to my sister. (Please don't tell my mother.)

Embarcadero at night

On my second day, I finally convinced my sister to tag along to my morning destinations. Our Lady of the Gate Parish Church (Daraga Church) was built on a hill that is located very near the city. There would not be a more accessible place to enjoy a picturesque view of the Mayon. Blown away would be an understatement, from this church, I was overwhelmed/astonished/flabbergasted (take your pick) by the sight of the world's most perfect cone volcano.

daraga church
Daraga Church on a Sunday

ligñon hill, mayon volcano
The Mayon from Daraga Church at 8am

The Baroque style church itself is also a wonder to behold. Volcanic rocks form its structure. Unfortunately, it has started to deteriorate. It has been washed with lime in an effort to preserve its facade, which explains its current color. The inside has also been heavily renovated. This more than 200-year-old piece of history is a National Cultural Treasure.

The Cagsawa Ruins is less than 30 minutes away from Daraga Church via a jeepney. From the highway, you may either take a tricycle or walk to the site. It was a hot day, so we opted to ride. The belfry is a remnant of a Franciscan church that was engulfed by the lahar during Mayon's most violent eruption in 1814.

cagsawa ruins, mayon volcano
Postcard-perfect, Bicol's most iconic attraction

ligñon hill, mayon volcano
The Mayon from the Cagsawa Ruins at 9am

When I was in high school, I saw this play about Daragang Magayon (Beautiful Lady) and her suitors Panganoron (Clouds) and Pagtuga (Eruption). Legend says that the Mayon rose from the grave of Daragang Magayon and her true love. But you don't need to know its story to appreciate its beauty. One look is enough to tell you why it's called Daragang Magayon.

Today's lesson: Discover your own.
Mood: awakeawake
(This entry is the third and final part of this series, follow these links to read the first and second parts: Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave & Pili Nut Hills in Camalig, Albay and Ligñon Hill, Daraga Church, Cagsawa Ruins & Mayon Volcano .)

Aside from habitually incorporating coconut milk or gata in as many dishes as possible, did you know that we also love to eat crushed chili pepper or siling labuyo for breakfast? Just kidding, but we do have a penchant for spicy food. Being a Bicolano myself, I have tried every popular traditional delicacy, including Bicol express and laing/pinangat. This time, I wanted to try something different yet still familiar. I have read several articles praising a restaurant called 1st Colonial Grill in Legazpi, where they serve chili flavored ice cream.

My sister and I ordered tinapa rice and pork sisig to share. I was surprised when the rice came out and it was served in a kawali-- it was good enough for 4 persons! And when I saw that it was topped with slices of green mangoes, salted eggs, tomatoes and tinapa flakes, I think I levitated. All my favorite flavors in one pan! The taste? I can't say it was magical but it was good enough to make me want to go back.

The sizzling pork sisig was not as crispy as I had expected but the siling labuyo was a nice addition to the recipe. It was not very spicy-- well, not until I started chewing on the chopped chili. It was very, very hot.

tinapa rice spicy sisig
Tinapa Rice and Spicy Pork Sisig

For dessert, we ordered sili ice cream along with 3 other flavors: malunggay, pili nut and tinutong. The malunggay is my least favorite because it tastes very much like...malunggay. I like malunggay, especially with gata, but not in my dessert. The pili ice cream was a better surprise; the flavor is very similar to almonds. Tinutong translates to burnt in English; the ice cream is made of burnt rice and it is unusually delicious for something burnt.

Allow me to compare the sili ice cream's flavor to Gelatissimo's chocolate chili gelato. Some people find Gelatissimo's spicy ice cream good, even poetic-- chocolate is an aphrodisiac, chili is hot and seductive, gelato is an Italian ice cream, so you can't go wrong, right? My experience: sweet on the tongue, spicy in the throat, and painful in the stomach. The sili ice cream, however, is more delicate. It has just the right spicy kick. The fact that its base is vanilla probably adds to the subtlety. The spicy flavor doesn't linger long, so your taste buds get to recover faster, encouraging you to eat another spoonful of this piquant frozen treat.

bicol ice cream
Left to right: malunggay, pili nut, tinutong, sili

Chris, whom I met the day before had offered to tour me around. I took a van from the Legazpi Satellite Terminal and met up with him in Bacacay at around 1.30pm. I had only initially planned to visit the black sand beach but he also suggested a trip to Misibis Bay; it is located in the island of Cagraray and a popular private getaway for the upper class. I was a little worried about the time as I had to catch the last trips to Sorsogon and Gubat but my new friend assured me that I would be able to make it back on time. It was a pleasant motorcycle ride until we got a flat tire, we were already at the bridge that connects Cagraray to the main island, only 30 minutes away! Chris had to go back to Bacacay to get the tire fixed via another rented motorcycle. I waited by the bridge for more than an hour. We did get the motorcycle running again but not until 4pm.

misibis bay, cagraray
The Cagraray Eco Park sits atop a hill

misibs bay, cagraray
Cluster of islands

We did not go into a private resort but were still able to enjoy the impressive natural scenery, which the island offers for free. But since it was already getting dark, I did not get to take that many photos.

misibs bay, cagraray
A stunning silhouette of the Mayon Volcano at sundown

misibis bay, cagraray
A beautiful sight to end the day

It was already past 6pm when we got back to Bacacay. I was a little disappointed that I did not get to see the beach in daylight. We still went to a public resort but the stars and moon were barely lit. It was almost pitch black save for some of the cottage lights along the shore. I arrived in Albay at around 8pm and did not get to leave for Sorsogon until the next day.

This trip is one of the best travels I've had in a while. It has taught me important lessons and reminded me of some of life's realities. Had I not met Chris, I would not have been able to visit Misibis Bay during that weekend. We also had some very interesting conversations while on the motorcycle. It's funny how things can dawn on you in the most unlikely situations. But hopping on a stranger's motorcycle is one of the most dangerous things I have done and this is something I would never suggest to anyone. YOLO and carpe diem do not justify the stupid things we decide to do, and they will certainly not be able to help you once you get into trouble for that decision. Should you still take the risk, you must remember to be responsible. The first time I met Chris, I immediately studied him and made use of my instinct. I constantly communicated with my sister and sent her every important information, I also created the circumstance to introduce them before I went to Bacacay. I was lucky but not everyone could have the same luck.

Today's lesson: Meeting new people is fun but it still requires caution!
Mood: amusedamused