The priests of the Vicariate of Palo decided that for the next outing we will be touring the Bicol region. We set aside four days for this semi-annual break. Being the local traveler, I was tasked to make the itinerary that would maximize our time and go to as many places as possible. Of course, I saw to it that the trip will include a visit to some beaches in the region. From the travel blogs that I read, aside from the natural wonders found in Bicol of which Mayon volcano and the now famous Caramoan islands stand out, old churches also abound in almost every town in the region. Hence this trip would combine nature and religious sites visits in three Bicol region provinces: Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur.
To maximize our travel time, we left Palo, Leyte at past ten on a Sunday evening just after we finished our masses for the day so that we will be able to take the early morning ferry trip from Allen, N. Samar to Matnog, Sorsogon. There were 14 of us priests in four cars. By five o’clock in the morning the following day we already arrived at the port in Matnog, Sorsogon. Sorsogon, however, would be visited on our way back, hence we drove straight away to the province of Albay where our first stop was for breakfast in the town of Camalig. In Bicol a very popular dish which every traveler should not miss is the pinangat and the Bicol express. Pinangat is made up of gabi leaves with daing (dried fish) and green sili (chilli peppers) inside, slowly cooked with lots of coconut milk. Bicol express, on the other hand is sautéed pork meat cooked also with coconut milk and plenty of chillis. Having a prominent sign, we found ourselves taking breakfast at the Let’s Pinangat restaurant in Camalig.
After having our fill, we had our first church stop at the town of Guinobatan. This was followed by other church visits in Ligao City, Oas and Polangui in Albay. Then we entered the province of Camarines Sur and made a visit to the churches of Bato and the brick church of Nabua. From Nabua we proceeded to Pili where we took our lunch at the CWC (Camsur Watersports Complex), found at the Provincial Capitol Complex. No one dared to ride on the wakeboard so we just contented ourselves watching the many who keep on flopping on the water unable to keep afloat.
Since it was just the week right after the fiesta of Our Lady of Penafrancia wherein they celebrated 300 years of devotion to Ina as they lovingly call Our Blessed Lady, all the hotels were still fully booked. Luckily, I found a retreat house which could accommodate us for an overnight stay: the Caritas Christi Prayer and Renewal Center run by the Daughters of Charity at Conception Pequeña, Naga City. Upon learning that we were priests, the Sister in-charge asked only for donation for our overnight stay which included breakfast. So from CWC we went to the retreat house for a much needed rest as the whole night was spent on travel. In the evening we had an invitation for dinner at the Basilica of Peñafrancia as the Rector, a colleague of mine at the CLSP (Canon Society of the Philippines) Msgr. Muloy Vergara was celebrating his birthday. This was preceded by a quick visit to the Cathedral and the Peñafrancia Shrine.
The ferry which brought us from Allen, N. Samar to Matnog, Sorsogon arriving at 5 am.
The famous pinangat of Bicol
The Let's Pinangat restaurant in Camalig, Albay.
Church of Guinobatan
The belfry of Guinobatan
Altar of the Church of Guinobatan
The Station of the Cross
Church of Ligao
Inside the church of Ligao
The Adoration chapel of Ligao
Church of Oas
The altar of Oas church
Side altar of Oas
The other side altar of Oas dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel
The Baptistry of Oas
Old arches still can be found at the side of the church of Oas
Stations of the cross made of wood.
Belfry of Oas
The Adoration Chapel of Oas
Church of Polangui
Inside the church of Polangui
The church plaza of Polangui
The church of Bato
Inside the church of Bato
The altar of Bato Church
The church Rectory of Bato
Church plaza of Bato
Church of Nabua
Church altar of Nabua
A replica of the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia
Stations of the cross surround the church plaza of Nabua
The wakeboarding area of CWC
Vegetable salad at the CWC restaurant
The pizza pie
Wakeboarding at the CWC
We contented ourselves with just watching the many who keep on falling from their wakeboards.
The Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of Peñafrancia
The altar of the Naga Cathedral
The Cathedral Convento
The Porta Mariae built in 2010 in commemoration of the 300th year of their devotion to
Our Lady of Penafrancia, fondly called Ina.