As our coaster maneuvered through the winding mountain road in Labo, Camarines Norte, I couldn’t help but marvel at the breathtaking views that unfolded before my eyes. Unlike my previous nocturnal journeys to Bicol during my childhood, this daytime adventure through Labo municipality was a delightful revelation. Little did I know that this unassuming destination held a myriad of hidden gems waiting to be explored.
Where is Labo?
Labo, nestled at the heart of Camarines Norte, is a place that often gets overshadowed by the more popular tourist spots like Daet and Calaguas in Vinzons. But Labo, with its untapped potential, beckons to intrepid travelers seeking off-the-beaten-path experiences.
As we ventured deeper into Labo, I learned that it is dissected by the Pan-Philippine Highway (AH26), spanning an impressive 57 kilometers. This central location makes it easily accessible to passing public bus transportation, just 16 kilometers away from Daet and a manageable 326 kilometers from Manila.
Our first stop was Canapawan River, where we received a warm welcome from the locals at the Canapawan Barangay Hall. A short walk along a descending road led us to the inviting Canapawan River. Here, we discovered the Canapawan Eco Tourism and Farm, a community-based initiative that had been in operation since August 2022. For a mere P10, visitors will have the privilege of immersing themselves in the cool, refreshing waters of the river, indulging in a leisurely picnic, floating on a charming cottage, and even spending a memorable night camping under the starry sky. And, oh, the culinary delights! I can still savor the taste of their mouthwatering pancit bato, generously complemented by local delicacies like suman and camote.
Revitalized by our river escapade, we continued our journey along the meandering road, eager to uncover more hidden treasures. After an 8-kilometer drive, we arrived at our next destination, the captivating Malatap Falls. What struck me was its accessibility, just a short walk from the main highway. With an entrance fee of Php 10, we stepped into a paradise of nature’s cascading marvels. The multi-tiered falls danced before us, inviting us to plunge into its inviting pools and revel in its beauty. It was awe-inspiring to learn that Labo boasts a total of 38 waterfalls, 30 of which have been documented. I couldn’t help but imagine the possibilities, spending days immersed in the sheer joy of chasing waterfalls, one after another.
Lunch at Casanayon Resort
A short 5-kilometer drive from the falls led us to our lunch oasis, the enchanting Casanayon Resort along Capalonga Road. Nestled in Labo, this charming resort not only offered a sumptuous boodle fight spread but also showcased its cozy accommodations and inviting swimming pool. It was the perfect spot to rejuvenate and soak up the ambiance of Labo’s natural wonders.
Labo Agriculture and Weaving
Beyond its picturesque landscapes and tourist attractions, Labo thrived as a prosperous municipality rooted in agriculture. The vast land areas were primarily dedicated to farming, yielding some of the most delectable small and sweet “queen” pineapples. Our curiosity led us to explore the Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative (LPMPC) in Barangay Malasugui, established in 1987. The cooperative played a pivotal role in supporting local farmers, developing agricultural products, and creating livelihood opportunities. It was fascinating to witness how they had transformed their queen pineapples into a refreshing local fruit beverage called “Queench.”
As we delved further into Labo’s rich tapestry, we discovered another thriving industry—weaving. A visit to a local workshop unveiled the intricate process of utilizing piña fibers from pineapple plant leaves and abaca fabrics to produce exquisite textiles. The dedication and craftsmanship were evident in every piece.
Labo Ecotourism Potential
Labo’s charm extended beyond its natural and cultural offerings. The origin of its name added an intriguing layer to its identity. Legend has it that the name “Labo” stemmed from a misunderstanding between a local and a wandering Spanish missionary. Crossing a river, the missionary inquired about the place’s name, to which the boatman responded, “Labo po ng tubig!” meaning “The water is murky!” in reference to the river’s condition. From that moment, the name “Labo” stuck as the name of the municipality.
Labo, with its ecotourism potential, stands as a testament to the wonders of nature that thrive within its borders. Endless waterfalls beckon explorers, while three majestic mountains—Mt Labo, Mt Bagacay, and Mt Cadig—wait to be conquered. The lush forests teem with endemic wildlife and vibrant flora, offering a haven for nature enthusiasts.
Labo, once overlooked, now emerges as an ecotourism destination that begs to be discovered. It invites intrepid travelers to embark on a journey of awe and wonder, where nature’s beauty and cultural heritage intertwine to create an unforgettable adventure.
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.