What is the reason why you’re travelling to different places? To relax and unwind? To experience a different culture? To visit famous and historical places? To have an adventure?
What about travelling on a different purpose?
Have you tried to travel for a cause? To extend a little help to those who needs it?
I experienced it once on our Trip in Sagada. That trip changed how I view life as an individual. It became an eye opener for me. I’ve seen movies and documentaries about social issues like poverty but it’s a different impact when you see it by your own eyes. I promised myself to do it again.
24th of December 2016, when a lot of families evacuated their home for safety as the typhoon “Nina” approaches Bicol Region. The typhoon did not recognize that it is Christmas the day after and still continued to ravage the area leaving it with at least 7 dead, 19 missing and 2 provinces under State of Calamity.
I was able to fulfill my promise. Another travel for a cause was plotted in Malinao, Albay.
One month after the havoc, we joined an outreach to provide a little help to the families affected by the typhoon. The plan is while we’re there, we would also visit the tourist spots that the place offers.
9PM of January 27, 2016 we started our 13 hour drive from Manila. There are 2 vans that carries the 23 volunteers and 6 admins. There is also a Starex van that carries the goods (rice, canned goods, instant noodles, sugar and instant coffee)
Our first destination is Hoyop-hoyopan Cave in Camalig, Albay. Just like the Sumaguing Cave in Sagada, the cave has a good ventilation. You will literally feel the air that is blowing towards it. According to our tour guide, that’s where the name came from since “Hoyop” in Bicolano Dialect means “to blow air.”
The ground inside the cave is damp due to the water drips from the Stalactites. I don’t know if the ground is slippery because its wet or we should blame our newly bought sandals from Sandugo.
There are also rock formations that can be seen inside and large flat form that serves as the Dance Floor for parties during the Martial Law.
Until now, the cave is still a sanctuary from typhoon and other natural calamities.
Outside the cave were souvenir shops mostly key chains and necklaces made from rocks/crystals which are abundant on the Cave.
After caving, we went to Dad’s Eatery for our late lunch. They served us with Inolokan, Pinangat and Pork Nilaga.
The weather did not favor us when we reached the Cagsawa Ruins. Cluster of clouds are everywhere blocking the magnificent Mount Mayon not far from the place, a warning of rain later the day. The only thing that I’m thankful that time is it saves my skin from being toast although I’m willing to get sun burn as long as I can see the perfect cone.
However, that did not stop us to enjoy the picturesque view of the Cagsawa Ruins.
Opposite the Ruins, were stalls where you can rent All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and choose a trail for the ride of your life.
We have a free 15 mins fun ride for ATV that is included on our travel package however, they want more so one of the Admins, Ate Pia (Byaheng Sulit)negotiated to rent the ATV for PHP 800 per head for Green Lava trail which is normally PHP 1500.
They convinced me to ride the ATV by myself. Even though it is my first time to drive a vehicle with an engine (I can only ride a bicycle), I agreed for the sake of experience.
There are three controls that you need to remember. Gas, Hand brake and Foot Brake. All those controls are on the right side. Watching others maneuvering their vehicles seems very easy, but when I tried it; it’s not. Maybe because it’s my first time? Or I just don’t know how to drive. I think it’s the latter.
Its already 5 PM when we started the trail. The first part of it is very challenging since you need to cross rivers with large rocks so you need to press the gas further but remember the brake.
Since the Green Lava Trail route is a 2-3 hour drive (one-way), I can feel tiredness after an hour of driving. My shoulders are becoming heavy as I control the vehicle and my hands and arms are starting to get numb on the effort of pressing the gas and squeezing the brake. There are 2-3 times that I lost control of the wheel. Not my best moments.
During the ATV ride, I realized two things. I can’t drive and I’m a reckless driver.
I really want to quit that time but that is not an option so I kept moving until I joined the others reached the summit at 7:45PM.
We cannot see anything since it’s almost pitch dark on the surrounding. Illumination came from the 25 pairs of headlights of our ATV. Even though that is the case, the city lights from a far are still beautiful.
15 mins is enough for us to take a pictures since the scenery in front and behind us are engulfed by darkness then we decided to descend.
My hands and shoulders are still numb due to fatigue so I decided to hitch to one our guides instead of driving.
After a tiresome yet enjoyable ATV ride, we had a scrumptious dinner at KC Land where we would crash for the night. We had Pork BBQ, Bicol Express, Sisig, Grilled Tilapia and Salad consists of Bitter Gourd, Apples, Pineapples and Tomatoes.
With our stomach full, we unloaded the goods from the van and started re-packing. After we prepared the goods that we will distribute, rain poured and we ended the day listening to the drops of rain and soft blowing of the wind making it as our lullaby to a deep sleep.
7 o’clock in the morning when I woke up. It is still drizzling outside but it’s not a reason why I should not wander around, appreciate the beauty of the place and of course, do Photo Ops.
We headed for breakfast after 30 mins. We had fried rice, hotdogs, scrambled eggs, tuyo and tinapa with sliced tomatoes on the side. We went to our room after that to do our morning rituals.
The next agenda is the main reason why we come this far, to give a little help. The recipients are already waiting with their umbrellas and raincoats when we reached Malinao, Albay.
As we start handling the goods to the residents, the rain halted making it easier for us hand out everything that we had on the van. (Thank you Lord!)
After emptying the van, we decided to visit Vera Falls but since the bridge that needs to be crossed is broken, we chartered a Habal-habal (motorcycle) to get there.
Then we descended a flight of stairs before reaching the waterfall.
Our last destination in Bicol Region is the Ligñon Hill.
Even on our last stop over, we still did not get a glimpse of the perfect cone but at least we had another reason to go back aside from I want to redeem myself on the ATV. I will go back to finish it on daytime and maybe the Black Lava Trail. I would also want to check the Black Beach and Quintinday Hills.
On this trip, I witnessed Filipino’s “Can Do Attitude.” In every situation that they face, they can still find a reason to smile and keep moving even though life if tough.