Albay has a special place in my childhood. I have fun memories of many summers spent in Albay. My mom hails in Daraga and we would visit her home often. No matter how long the drive, it’s always the majestic Mayon, the imposing Daraga Church and enjoyable time with cousins and siblings. My last visit though was drenched in tears like the heavy rain that poured upon us the day we said goodbye to my dearest lola (grandma). I was close to her. Relatives always say I’m her favorite apo (grandson). That was more than a decade ago. When an photo assignment from InFlight came recently, I thought I guess it’s time to come back. Not only to retrace the steps of my youth but to re-discover Albay.
Drive to Albay
We took a 12-hour drive from Manila using the convenience of our vehicle. Stopping whenever we want wether for some interesting sights, hunger pangs or simple restroom breaks. The drive to Bicol was less cumbersome this time than I remembered. Most of the road now are paved making the travel a lot more comfortable and faster. Of course we passed by places I usually look forward to whenever I travel to Bicol, like the treacherous twisting turns of the Bitukang Manok (chicken intestine) road in Quezon, the breezy roadside eateries in Atimonan Quezon and the first glimpse of Mt Mayon’s conical grandeur in Polangui.
Albay is such a large province consisting of 18 municipalities. It is home to the iconic Mt Mayon and where concoction of fiery coconut infused dishes were born. Meals exploding with spiciness and aroma akin to how regular Mt Mayon has erupted to let out steam. Recently, Albay was included in UNESCO’s list of World Network of Biosphere Reserves last March 2016, citing the province as an example of sustainable development and biodiversity.
Legazpi Boulevard Mornings
First order in our first day of our work itinerary was to visit the Legazpi Boulevard. The 4.095km seawall and coastal road was inaugurated last 2009, quite a long time ago but it was new to my eyes. With the view of Mt Mayon and the sleeping lion hill they call Kapuntukan Hill along the cerulean waters of Albay Gulf, Legazpi Boulevard is undoubtedly one of the scenic boulevards in the country.
The early morning vibe was active and energetic. There were people jogging, biking or simply walking. We came a few days before a major triathlete event and encountered some of the participants training for the event. I’m impressed how lucid the waters along the port was. My amazement to both the athletes and how clean and pristine the surrounding was.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.