Because at Bigg’s Diner, there is a “Happy Ending”

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There’s a dining spot at Bigg’s Diner in Albay that I consider a favorite. That four-seater table sits next to a wall where two posters hang overhead. The one on the right always brightens my mood.

It says, “I just want to make beautiful things even if nobody cares.”

The Visit

The table was occupied when we went there. So we grabbed the table nearest to us, which was facing the food counter. Once settled, something caught my attention. Oh, cakes!

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From top: premium cakes, carrot cakes and psychochoco

One, two, three…I tried counting what seemed to be chocolate-flavored desserts from where I was seated. We learned later that those were the newest offerings of Bigg’s.

But first, lunch with these bestsellers.

And some catching up with Ms. Iris, the marketing head in Legazpi, and whom I first met at one of Bigg’s events for bloggers in Naga.

“Will appetizers be coming soon too,” I asked?

“That’s likely…” she answered and excitedly went on by telling us that it will soon have a branch in Manila. Not only one but two!

Happy Ending”

Next came Bigg’s “Happy Ending” coffee-dessert combos, which were selections of nespresso coffee and premium cakes.

Take your pick: berries cheesecake, apple crumble and cappuccino cheesecake and pair with brewed coffee, cappuccino, decaf, cafe latte or americano.

Our catching up felt like a get together over coffee and decadent cakes as we talk about work, marketing, travel and the now open Bigg’s Diner at Ayala Malls Legazpi.

[Above photo: Bloggers Lunch at Ayala Malls Legazpi. Photo via Flored Medina.]

And some pics with the staff before we parted.

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psychochoco

Happy ending, indeed!

Photo credits to Laurie Gucilatar.

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Around Albay through Visita Iglesia

Catholic rituals like Visita Iglesia are observed during Holy Week to reflect on the Passion of Christ. This part of Jesus’s life is filled with examples and teachings for its church members to emulate and practice.

In Albay, there are several old churches that can be your host for this activity. Here are some suggestions from the province’s first and second districts.

Joroan Church/Our Lady of Salvation

Joroan Church

 

Tiwi Church/St. Lawrence the Martyr

tiwi church

Malinao Church/St. Joachim and St. Anne

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Tabaco Church/St. John the Baptist

tabaco church

 

Malilipot Church/Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

MALILIPOT CHURCH (2)

Bacacay Church/St. Rose of Lima

Malilipot Church

Albay Cathedral/St. Gregory the Great

Albay Cathedral

Daraga Church/Our Lady of the Gate

daraga church

 

 

 

 

 

Adventure and Luxury at Misibis Bay

 

Finding a top-notch resort like Misibis Bay in Albay is only fitting for the province’s rapidly developing economy. With an international airport currently underway, infrastructure and businesses surely have to keep up with the pace.

This luxury resort in Cagraray Island in Bacacay is themed with modern buildings and choice villas with expansive glass windows and pools set across the wide property. Going around is easy with golf carts ferrying around the resort.

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A 3-day and 2-night-stay at the resort comes with complimentary activities, such as  non-motorized water sports and city tour. For the more adventurous guests, activities like ATV ride to the hilltop, jet skiing, Hobie cat sailing, and basic diving can be arranged. The resort made these possible with enough water equipment and a breakwater in place.

The resort has several romantic settings which according to Ira, the resort’s assistant guest relations manager, have been used as venues for proposals and weddings. There is Sula Channel for sunset cruising or 5 Views for a mini cocktails setup with Mayon Volcano as an alluring background. There is also the amphitheater with a view of the overlooking islands and the resort’s church nearby.

Options like private lunch on a secluded island or at the beach entail a VIP treatment. Fresh grilled seafood, wine, vegetable salad and baked desserts are prepared by a designated cook. These can be spiced up with spicy Bicol dishes made delectable with coconut milk.

At the end of the day, guests have luxurious rooms to recharge, complete with entertainment and dining sets, a mini-bar and adjacent pool, if not a private pool.

Vitamin C+ (8)

For a good one-hour drive from Legazpi, guests can find Misibis Bay an ideal retreat  choice – close to nature, away from the crowds yet a world-class service and facilities are within reach.

These and the contagious comforting familiarity that exists from one staff to another extend to guests the welcoming warmth that Bicolanos won’t hesitate to show to a tourist.

Accentuate your home with punchy vintage inspired pieces. Bringing an old world flair to a modern building can take a bland flat from boring to WOW.

New Attractions: Chocolate Hills of Albay

A new tourist destination in Camalig, Albay is getting attention for its span of hills that look like the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. Although the hills are not as rounded and symmetrical as those in Bohol, both share a strikingly similar appearance.

To get there:

From Legazpi City, ride a jeepney bound for Camalig town proper. Once in the town proper, look for a tricycle to take you to Quitinday Green Hills and Nature Park. You’ll have to rent it for 500 pesos as it will wait for you and take you back to the city proper. This rate should cover visits to Sumlang Lake and back to town proper. Habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) can be an option for solo travelers.

In less than 20 minutes, you’ll reach the foot of the park where registration and brief orientation are held.

Main Features

  • 4 peaks – There are four peaks open to tourists. Its gentle slopes allow for an easy and short hike to the top.
  • Hilltop view deck – In this park, you have the peak of the hills as your view deck.
  • Uniquely Bicol – It becomes easy to distinguish from Chocolate Hills with Mayon Volcano receding in the background.

 

 

For sample itinerary, please visit this link.

For other sites to see in Camalig and its neighbor cities like Sorsogon, you can check my article in Rappler.

If you are looking for an offline guide to Albay, complete with maps, daily itinerary and budget, look for my guidebook in the app store via Favoroute. It is called Postcards of Mt. Mayon in Bicol.

Photos courtesy of my travel buddies.

Benefits of wandering on foot

Every day last May, my cousin from Manila would wake up early, leave our home in Tiwi, Albay, and not return until noon. This routine went on for about two weeks. What he exactly did during those hours I didn’t know, until he showed me pictures of my hometown.

Some looked familiar to me, while others — the most scenic ones — were landscapes and seascapes I had never seen before. Then it dawned on me that my cousin had been exploring every nook of my hometown by foot.

While I could not tell detailed stories of his daily sojourn, I can share insights I learned from his travels on the benefits of wandering.

 Please read the full story here

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Albay, Kurangon Islet, and the stunning Mt. Mayon

If you were born and raised in Albay, one of the sights you wouldn’t miss seeing at least once a day is the mountain Bicolanos call beautiful, the Mt. Mayon. Indeed, why would Albayanos fail to see it when Mayon Volcano is 8,000 ft. tall, towering upwards from the sea to a pointed smoldering peak?

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a view of Mt. Mayon from the open field in front of our house in Tiwi, Albay

Its near-perfect cone has made it one of the dominant sights in Bicol. No wonder people want to visit Albay just to see Mayon Volcano up close and personal.

But if you have already enjoyed its classic postcard view at Cagsawa Ruins, caught a glimpse of Mayon in its full splendor when you climbed up Lignon hill, or trekked the lava trail and the Mayon Skyline and you still want something more, you may consider visiting a beautiful mini-coral island that offers a rather subdue and yet still stunning view of Mayon.

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We waited for the sky to clear to see Mt. Mayon’s classic postcard-view at Cagsawa Ruins.
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My first time to see Mayon Volcano in its full splendor. The views at the top of Lignon Hill make the trek worth it.

The islet that is called Kurangon is located in Tiwi, a municipality of Albay which is about 35-minute drive from Legaspi City. Tiwi is known for its geothermal power plant and of course, DJC’s sweet and creamy halo-halo.

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When seen from the coastlines of Malinao and Tiwi, anyone can easily dismiss it as just an ordinary and lonely piece of islet. This kind of observation is quite expected because that is actually the kind of thought one would have when they’d see it from afar for the first time— no trees, no rock formations, no sign of any living organism thriving in the islet.

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Yes, Kurangon looks like a boring place. But don’t be fooled because it has something special to offer.

But don’t be fooled because Kurangon islet is not as boring as it seems. In fact, it is declared by Tiwi Municipality as a sanctuary. Kurangon is a habitat for different marine species, including fishes and corals.

Recreational swimmers obviously cannot explore this side of Kurangon. But they can always find delight at the sight of the pristine waters set against a backdrop of the three most famous mountains of Albay, of a child breaking into genuine laughter as he plays with the subtle waves, and of friends sharing special memories like exchanging gifts in this special place.

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Meet Mt. Malinao. Like Mayon Volcano, it is also a popular mountain in Albay.

Yes, you can choose to bring the Holiday spirit in Kurangon and not just laze on this isolated island especially when you find yourself and your friends spending the first week of December on this islet. After all, Filipinos celebrate the Christmas holidays at least one month long.

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bringing the holiday spirit in Kurangon 😀

This islet being a sanctuary explains why anyone who wants to visit it needs to ask permission from the municipality’s BFAR Office first. The Office Administrator will ask visitors about their purpose of visiting the islet, and then ask them to log in at the record book. It would be a good option to bring a letter indicating the purpose and the request for permission.

It is best to visit Kurangon on a clear sunny day, because it is during these days when Mayon and two other amazing mountains that complete Albay’s Magayon Trio that are fully visible.

Like national parks, marine sanctuaries prohibit fishing and other activities that will endanger both the marine life and their habitat. So please don’t leave your trash on the islet. Neither should you allow the bangkero to bury the thrash in the sand especially if they are non-biodegradable.

When in Tiwi, don’t miss visiting the pottery at Putsan. Putsan is rich in red clay which is used in making pots, small souvenirs like key chains and ceramics painted with warm and vibrant colors. Tiwi ceramics are delicately shaped, while some are chunky and bold with soft bellying curves.

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You can even try making one and giving it the shape you desire. This activity would sound exciting for the naturally curious and for anyone who has the inclination to give forms out of raw materials like clay.

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thanks Cath and Ely for the wonderful pictures =)