Founded in 1587 by Saint Pedro Bautista on the upper Yawa valley under the patronage of St. James the Greater, the town of Cagsawa was buried by rocks and sand from the eruption of Mayon Volcano, 1 February 1814. The town authorities decided to transfer the town site to Daraga in a council meeting at Ligao, 6 July 1814.
Throughout the rest of the 19th century, the structures of the abandoned town slowly succumbed to the outgrowth of vegetation until the 1930s when it was cleared and developed into local tourist spot. In the succeeding years, the weakened church facade was toppled, leaving the bell tower to stand freely by 1960s
The bell tower with the Mayon Volcano in the backdrop has since become an iconic image of of the Bicol region. Presently at sitio of Barangay Busay, the ruined town is now a major destination in the Philippines.
I couldn’t agree more on what the marker says about Cagsawa Ruins. We always see the tower beside Mayon Volcano in travel posters. I even thought when I was young that the ruins is part of the volcano and that if I’m standing beside the ruins then I’m also stepping on the volcano. But I discovered that it’s not the way I thought. In fact, Cagsawa Ruins is still far from the foot of Mayon. But my point is the idea that Cagsawa Ruins is almost as famous as Mayon Volcano. They just perfectly go together and I’m glad I had the chance to see one of the famous tourist spots in the Philippines through my naked eye.
On our way in, the statue of Jesus Christ, Lord of Divine Mercy, welcomed us. Even here at the entrance, the two main attraction of this tourist spot, plus this image, can already be seen. Unfortunately, the mountain is hiding behind the clouds when we visited Cagsawa Ruins Park. Noontime wasn’t really the best time to drop by because aside from the blazing heat of the sun directly from above, it’s also the time when the clouds block the perfect cone. So I suggest people to come here five or six in the morning or five or six in the afternoon because that’s the hour when I caught the whole Mayon, well not in this park, but in Embarcadero de Legazpi.
As I roamed around the area, I realized some stuff. If you are looking for adventures, this is not the place you should visit. If you are just in a tour and your time is limited, maybe a quick stay will do although I found out that the tourist spot is not mainly for that purpose. Yet if you want to just stay, enjoy the beauty of nature, feel the wind and relax or you want to learn about history of Albay, then Cagsawa Ruins Park is definitely the venue for you. Why do I say this? It’s because there are only three attractions in this place – the Mayon Volcano, the Cagsawa bell tower itself and the statue of Jesus Christ. These blocks that I guess, were also part of Cagsawa Church, were only an addition.
It’s a good thing that photographers were all over the place. They’re not just simple photographers for they put optical illusions in their shots. Just look at my photos with this tower. I’m as big as it! See?
If there’s a Leaning Tower of Pisa, then there’s also a Leaning Ane on the Tower of Cagsawa. What? Oh forget my joke!
Oops! I guess my hand missed the roof of the belfry. However, I still find this awesome.
I must say that these photographers were the ones that brought fun to our journey in Cagsawa Ruins Park. We didn’t just enjoy playing with the camera, we also have amusing remembrance to take home.
Speaking of remembrance, there is a long line of souvenir shops inside and outside the park. They sell native products of Albay like furniture, fans, bags, slippers and baskets that are made from abaca. They also sell key chains and shirts with prints relative to the province. They offer their specialties like chili peppers, pili nuts, Philippine biscuits and Philippine candies. Of course, canteen shouldn’t be missing. I had my own shake since it was really hot when we got there.
And here are the souvenirs I bought in Cagsawa Ruins. I’m amazed on how this display was sculpted in great detail. It’s like I have my own mini three-dimensional Mayon with Cagsawa Tower on my hand. I’ll keep this on my room. On the other hand, I’ll surprise my friend with this two chili pepper key chain and tell him to spice his food with this. Kidding aside, we know that Bicol, the region where Cagsawa was stationed, is a home of chili peppers that’s why they style their key chain in this way.
As I waited for my companions to finish strolling and buying souvenirs, I stayed here for a moment, letting questions form in my mind. Is the government of Albay open for restoration of the Cagsawa Church? Does the idea of rebuilding the church, or maybe a replica of it, came to their mind? Of course, it should be as sturdy as this old belfry. If not, do they have plans of improving the place like adding amenities? They can place more holy images so it can also be a site for pilgrims. After all, it’s a former church.
Although I was thinking of restorations, improvements and such, I’m happy about the current Cagsawa Ruins. It’s part of the world heritage! Who wouldn’t be happy of that news? And now, I’m happier that I experienced being in this famous landmark. I’ll certainly come back. Wait for me, Cagsawa Ruins!