Coming from a refreshing visit from Sumlang Lake in Camalig, we now set out to Ligñon Hill Nature Park in Legazpi City, another top tourist destination in my hometown in Albay. Standing at 156-meter high, the Ligñon Hill offers a 360-degree view of the entire city, the Albay Gulf to the east and the majestic Mayon Volcano to the northwest. Aside from the view, what you will enjoy here are the spectacular sunrise, the sunset and various activities that will give fun and excitement to all the members of the family.
At my age (yes, I’m 43!), a certified mom and definitely not a mountaineer, I was a bit hesitant joining the Mt. Pinatubo challenge headed by my office mate Phil. But I’ve been waiting for this adventure for quite some time and I’m not getting any younger. With the encouragement of these two sporty girls, Joyce and Janice, I whisked off all the negative thoughts in my mind, took a one-week regular body work-out and braved this exciting getaway with my colleagues.
Mayon Skyline View Deck formerly known as Mayon Resthouse nestled halfway of Mayon Volcano. This is one of the prime tourist attractions in Albay. A must-visit place because of the cool breeze, the breath-taking view and the wonderful experience of getting up close to Mayon Volcano, the world’s most perfectly-formed volcano.
I was told by my former office mate Art Decena, a fellow Bicolano about their wonderful adventure in Vera Falls in my hometown in Malinao, Albay. They traversed across terrains, hills, forest trails in three hours coming from main highway. They clung through vines and stepped into slippery walkway in going down the main falls. He described Vera Falls a “hidden paradise”, a sanctuary of nature’s finest gift. From then on, I’ve been dreaming in getting there, to experience that amazing trek and see how stunning the waterfalls really are.
This summer, I was thrilled much when my cousin Poy and his wife Mercy who were living in Barangay Quinastillohan (near the turn off point in going to Vera Falls) told me that the waterfalls could now be accessed through single motorbike. But the bad news, no one from my buddies wanted to go far now. Our trip to Sorsogon and other scenic spots in Albay for three days had drained their energies. Instead, our last day was spent in visiting our relatives in our neighboring barangay.
We indulged ourselves with kamustahan, eating our favorite Bicol meryenda “pinakro” (saba boiled in coconut milk with sugar) and a refreshing swim in a cold natural spring. Mama mentioned about my urge to visit Vera Falls to my aunties, Tiya Glo and Tiya Nor who were also in a summer getaway just like us. When they said they wanted to go, we immediately planned for our sojourn activity. After few minutes of discussion, Gil generously transported the three of us to Poy’s house and enjoined my cousin who wasn’t been there yet to go with us. Gil went back when we reached the turn off point in Barangay Cumon.
There were boys sitting in single motorbikes beside the road. Knowing where we will go, they offered a ride to the waterfalls for a fixed price of P70, one-way only. Poy haggled it to P50 but the boys declined in unison. We didn’t mind the monetary figure since we are after an exciting adventure. We agreed to pay for it, and so the four of us boarded in four separate motorbikes.
The ride was smooth and amazing as we passed beside a breathtaking view of a long and bluish river. I was so overwhelmed watching its color and the gentle waves flowing swiftly. Our ride was temporarily cut as we were asked to step down from the motorbike. The concrete bridge was destroyed by a rampaging flow of heavy rain recently. What was left was a stiff, narrow road to where motorbike and bicycle are the only vehicles could pass on it. We walked for few minutes until we reached the main road and there we went again for our trip.
Few more minutes and we were in a roller coaster ride where I was so thrilled of our ups and downs. It was so wonderful seeing the lush vegetation, Mt. Malinao in a distance, the majestic but elusive Mayon Volcano, the clear blue skies, the locals and vast plots of rice-fields. The cool wind that gently brushed my face was so invigorating. For a nature lover like me, this place was a heaven and I just can’t sustain my happiness as of that moment. What thrilled me the most was the last portion of the ride where I gripped the driver’s shoulder tightly as he drove the highest hill in getting to the parking area.
Our joy ride was twenty minutes only. Vera Falls was in Barangay Bulang, the third baryo from main highway. Mercy did mention about the helipad which was actually the cemented parking area. Quite amusing that this forested area had a helipad. I’ve learned from the boys that a certain priest, Father Vera introduced this place to the people, hence the name of the falls. From helipad, a virgin forest was now being invaded by the four of us.
I was so excited seeing the trail downhill. Art’s adventure in this main spot flashed into my mind as I imagined how they clung to the vines like Tarzan in getting down to the waterfalls. Indeed, it was a great adventure. There’s no hard trek now for a concrete stair with safety hand rails was built for easy access to the waterfalls.
We crossed a small wooden bridge and presto, we were at the base of the falls. All of us were in awe admiring how nature revealed its magnificent masterpiece. Vera Falls was truly stunning. The next minute, we were so busy taking pictures of what we found “paradise.”
I tapped my feet into the cold and clean water and quivered a little.hahaha! It was safe to swim because it was shallow. There were no big rocks and stones in the catch basin so it’s not surprising that there were lots of boys jumping from the peak. Few walks to the left, I saw two thin bamboos which according to the bathers, flowed the safest water to drink.
There were thirteen small waterfalls coming from lime stones covered by moss and ferns. An overwhelming feeling surrounded me seeing nature dominated the whole place. It sets the mood of everything. You can feel its nurturing spirit as it will penetrate you, through the gushing sounds of water, through the humming of birds, through the mountain air.
There were few tents pinched on big rocks and group of teens busy cooking their food using fire woods. There is no restroom here so it’s best to bring big towels in changing clothes. There is no entrance fee, no store and no electricity. Everything is of basic facility. It is advised to register with the Barangay Captain if a certain group is planning to stay overnight.
I was thankful to Art for introducing this wonder to me. His adventure seven years ago was so memorable for he had tasted the “true paradise”, for everything was basically unspoiled. Malinao was truly blessed with two wonderful waterfalls. And I was so grateful that I had been there both.
Next time or maybe next year, I will go back with the whole family. I’m sure everyone will enjoy. I am hoping that the local government will build another concrete bridge so Vera Falls could be accessed by four-wheel vehicles again.
HOT TO GET THERE? Vera Falls is located approximately 40 km from Legazpi City. If you have your car, from Legazpi City, take the route going to Tabaco City via Sabloyon Road. From Barangay Quinastillohan turn right to Barangay Cumon. You will pass Barangay Soa and will end at Barangay Bulang.
Mayon Skyline (former Mayon Rest House) was our last stop today coming from an overnight stay in Gubat, Sorsogon down to Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga, Albay. I was overwhelmed to see my family especially Noel and Pol, both “first-timers” enjoying every minute of our vacation in our hometown in Albay and in our neighboring region.
From Daraga, it took us almost one hour reaching the turn off point in Crossing Buang in Tabaco City. Then another twenty minutes going up the Skyline passing scenic view of lush vegetation. This is my fourth visit here and I could say, this is the most exciting moment. Why? I felt so elated seeing unobstructed view of Mayon Volcano in full glory. As soon as we hopped out from our van, I hastily took my cam.
And I was so lucky that I had a good photo, captured in clarity!
It was cool, oh I miss this cool atmosphere here which is somewhat similar to Tagaytay. We went down the terraced park where the view deck was located. We stayed in one gazebo and enjoyed watching a breath taking view of all things verdant and lush. To the right were the Pacific Ocean, the surrounding towns and San Miguel Island. To our left were the towering and unobstructed Mt. Malinao and Mt. Masaraga. There was a children’s playground in the middle of the park.
We discovered there was another concrete stairs in going up to the parking area. We sat on steps for a wacky shot. As we went up, I was amazed to see a stunning view of the park… in the silhouette of summer.
Look at this.
We ate snack in the cafeteria (biscuits and soft drinks). There was a souvenir shop inside and I was so happy when I saw a small Mayon Volcano display item made of volcanic sand in a cheaper price of P100 only compared to P250 in Cagsawa Ruins. When I lifted it up, this one was lighter, hence the price.
After a short break, we headed to Mayon Planetarium. We passed by an old, abandoned building, Mayon Skyline Hotel. From afar, the blue-domed shaped planetarium was so enticing to look at. We were excited to see what’s inside it. It was already 5 pm but still, it was opened for the visitors. There was no cashier to pay for the entrance fee (P10/head) so we assumed it was already free by that time.
There were lots of visitors scattered in front of photo souvenirs of volcanoes, stars, nebula and even satellites. We were one of them, busy reading articles about the volcanoes. Later we went inside a video room where we watched the legend of Mayon Volcano and some interesting facts about the province of Albay. When the show ended, we went back to the parking area and was refreshed even more by the cool breeze.
As of that moment, thin clouds were now covering the peak of Mayon Volcano. It was getting dark and we were already chilling.
We went to Tabaco City and had an eat-all-you-can dinner in LCC Foudcourt for an affordable price of P129 only. Bottomless ice tea was P29 only. There were four viands and two desserts in the long table. It was cheap but nice dinner.
We had an inexpensive family getaway in the Skyline and everyone had fun.
Tomorrow is a continuation of our Albay tour.
Good night my beloved hometown!