Bicol Playlist: A Musical

Camalig / Daraga / Legazpi City, Albay and Gubat / Barcelona, Sorsogon, the Philippines

November 21 – 25, 2015

What was it about Bicol that unleashed my inner balladeer, so much so that I would break into song mid-tour? The voice kept under my breath quite suddenly broke out so exuberantly, and without shame. I captured some of those off-the-cuff (and off-my-rocker) musical moments on video for Instagram posterity.

Mayon Volcano @ Quituinan Hill, Camalig, Albay

So here was my playlist in Bicol. In my own vibrato (or perhaps just shaky) voice.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Way up high…on Quituinan Hill in the town of Camalig. Hostess with the mostest Frances pulled strings to get my squad and me a late-aftie visit at the privately-owned hill, still in the early stages of tourism development. The bumpy ride uphill led to an undulating meadow made more rustic and romantic by a few grazing horses. With that postcard-perfect background, my squad was agog to see ourselves in selfies, groufies, and jump shots.

The summit revealed a majestic panorama of Mayon. What a wow-worthy, in-ya-face view! Up close and seemingly within reach, the volcano’s perfect cone was wrinkled with furrows etched by lava flows throughout the millennia. Still, the outline was smooth and even. This monster was graceful.

And shy. She partially hid behind rolling clouds that had descended on our hill and sprinkled us with raindrops. Like lemon drops high above the chimney tops, if you will. As we sprinted toward a lone cottage, a band of bright colors spilling out of the cloud cover stopped us in our tracks.

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue indeed. Such visual poetry compelled a response in musical verse.

Rainbow’s End @ Quituinan Hill, Camalig, Albay


Ocean Deep

With the exception of Baler up north and Siargao down south, the eastern seaboard of the Philippines had never burned up the map. I felt lonely in my excitement in getting my toes kissed by the Pacific. The crashing tide could have swirled halfway round the globe from the Americas beyond the blue horizon.

By the time we stretched out our legs from the long van ride and buried our feet at Rizal Beach in Gubat, Sorsogon, I was so afraid to show my feelings. I broke away to a remote spot to belt out my song to the wind. No one heard it save for an army of mole crabs that quickly burrowed into the sand in waves. Or was it the sound waves of my vocal gymnastics?

Our road trip traced the Pacific coastline to the next town, Barcelona. A seafront promenade, newly paved and landscaped, merited a stop for photo ops. The azure of sky and sea brought out the bright flowers and gray ruins of a Spanish fort at Barcelona Ruins Park.

Barcelona Ruins Park @ Barcelona, Sorsogon

From This Moment

As said in Tagalog, Pagkahaba-haba man ng prusisyon, sa simbahan din ang hantung. That summed up our road trip as we ended up at Daraga Church, where Frances was married some 15 or so years before. I took a stab at being a wedding singer then, serenading the newlyweds with a song at the reception. From this moment, life has begun.

At this moment,  I sang the chorus to the elaborately carved images on the church’s facade overlooking Mayon. The church and the volcano went together like love and marriage. Right beside you is where I belong. From this moment on. 

My squad thought I was mad. “Baby boy, you’re singing again?!”

The church’s strategic location atop a hill and a flight of dramatic steps, where townspeople could keep an eye for any volcanic activity, rendered it the most picturesque in the country. It was a photo-op I could not resist, this time with our van driver.

TTT with Van Driver @ Daraga Church

On the Wings of Love

Up and above the clouds, the only way to fly. I whispered the song as I pressed my face on the plane window to ogle Mayon’s elusive summit, finally peeking through her veil of clouds that had mostly hidden her face throughout this exhilarating trip.

The rainbow at the foot of the volcano, the vast ocean, the postcard-pretty church, the sight of Mayon among the clouds – all touched my soul, the language of which was music.

Fly Me to Mayon

My final song lent itself as the most appropriate finale. It was the theme song of a nightly soap that Mom and I loved. Only the two of us together flying high. I was flying back to our life together.

But not for long. Within a month, I would be the only one. Mom would fly higher to the heavens on angel wings.

Me and Mom



17 thoughts on “Bicol Playlist: A Musical

Add yours

  1. Oh, AJ just love reading your travel blogs. I just showed Bryan the video of the Pacific Ocean, loved your voice that place was were I nearly drown when I was 5 years old. Brought back memories and years ago it was covered with sea weeds, etc…keep traveling my friend👏✈️

    1. Oh dear, you almost took Ocean Deep literally! Thank God you lived to tell about it. Thanks for watching my music videos. Hope I didn’t make Bryan’s ears bleed. 🙂

  2. The Mayon hid herself. What a bitch. But in all fairness, it was rainbow high. I recently missed taking a photo of a rainbow cast upon a light house in Subic’s moon beach.

    1. I should’ve sung Bitch I’m Mayon then, hahahaha! Roll out that blog soon. I can sense its bitchiness before you even write a single word. 🙂

  3. You should sing with that voice of yours whenever the spirit moves you. Your journey was beautiful, in both pictures and song.
    With the loss of both parents and my son, the song “Somewhere Out There” moves me to sing, but I need to make sure no one has to put up with my voice. (haha) Take good care of your lovely mother.

    1. Aw c’mon give it a chance, GP. Singing to an audience is cathartic. Sorry for your loss. I’m an orphan too. Lost Dad 5 years ago and Mom last December, a month after this trip. 😦

      We usually have a mental image of a child when we hear “orphan,” but an orphan is an orphan regardless the age. I do feel like a lost child now.

    1. Ok, will keep a mental note of that. 🙂 The road trip from Albay to Sorsogon wasn’t that long. Not much of a pain, really. And the roads were newly-paved.

      1. Oh THAT gon hurt! 🙂 But doable. One time I traveled from Manila to Tacloban by car. Took 2 days. Pain in the bum, yeah, but fun. Won’t do it ever again tho, haha!

      2. That was a breeze. You can see Samar from Sorsogon. And of course there’s San Juanico Bridge from Samar to Leyte. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience it’s worth the numb bum. 🙂

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