Bicol in Five Days: Homeschooling Outdoors

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mayon Volcano, Albay

I thought June would be the perfect time to go on a trip to Bicol (or anywhere in the country for that matter) since the peak season for local and foreign tourists ended in May. And I was right. There were a lot of empty seats on the plane when we flew to Legazpi City (or was it because I got us the six a.m. flight?) I did not want to waste any time and had wanted to embark on an early morning journey as soon as we got to Albay. 

My son and I did a lot of research weeks before our flight, but since Bicol is a huge region divided into four provinces plus two other island provinces, it was a demanding task just to try to decide which places in Bicolandia to visit. 

Much has been written about Bicol and all the beautiful places dispersed in all of its six provinces, so we made other travellers’ experiences and a few articles on the historical places in Region 5 a significant part of our planning. 

Did our trip plans roll out well? Pretty much. I’m geographically challenged, but I am overjoyed to say that travelling alone with our 12-year-old son yanked the independent traveller out of me. 

Educational Trip

The trip was part of a series of educational trips that we’ve planned for the year. We’re a homeschooling family and one of the advantages of homeschooling is not being tied up to a schoolyear calendar that makes students suffer from studenthood. So when everyone’s boarding the school vans, homeschooling families like us could be on our way to places where we learn from experience and not from pictures from the books. 

I have a vivid memory of how Mayon Volcano looked like in our Social Studies book in grade school. I remember it so well I can still smell the ink from the 200-page or so book printed in newsprint. What we aim to do in our homeschooling years is to not only look at books but try to go to the places they talk about as well. 

Travelling Across Bicol

We traversed the provinces of Albay, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur. We’re saving Catanduanes, Sorsogon and Masbate for future trips.


The Bicol region has myriad places for all kinds of travellers. For those who like undemanding uphill climbs, there are beautiful places in Albay with magnificent views of Mayon and the cityscape such as Lignon and Kawa-Kawa Hills. For a historical caving tour, Hoyop-Hoyopan Cave in Cotmon, Camalig is an enlightening experience for people of all ages. The Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga is probably the most-visited place in Albay, judging from the number of people with photos online going overboard with jump shots between the bell tower and Mayon. 

Cagsawa Ruins, Legazpi, Albay
A view from Kawa-kawa Nature Park, Guinobatan, Albay
Lignon Hill, Legazpi, Albay

Hoyop-hoyopan Cave
Albay is also the home of the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Porteria located in Daraga. It is a picturesque church on top of the hill with Mayon Volcano for a view.

Church in Daraga

Camarines Sur

Naga, an independent component city in the Bicol region, is roughly 94 kilometers from Legazpi City. Degustation is Naga’s twin word and taking a nice, long walk along Magsaysay Avenue should help set your gastronomic adventure. One thing Naga is known for is the Camsur Watersports Complex (just say CWC so people will know what you mean), but we skipped this one (for now) since my son decided that he wanted to take surfing lessons in Bagasbas, Daet.

Naga City
A city walk tour in Naga City is enriching and is also the best way to reach architectural beauties such as the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, Penafrancia Basilica Minore, and the Archdiocese of Caceres.

Camarines Norte

Bagasbas Beach in Daet is one of Bicol’s havens for beginner-surfers. Waves roll in from the Pacific Ocean and the horizon behind it offers an awe-inspiring view to the two-kilometer stretch of the rustic beach. The boulevard is lined with no-frills restaurants and mini-hotels. 

Bagasbas Beach, Daet, Camarines Norte

Daet is the provincial capital of Camarines Norte where the very first monument for Jose Rizal was built. It is a quiet town that transforms into a colorful, lively place during the Pinyasan Festival held in the month of June. The sweetest pineapples in the Philippines, they say, come from Daet, thus the festival is named after the fruit. 

Very first monument for Rizal in Daet, Camarines Norte
I should not forget to mention that in 1919 Daet became an independent province on March 3, incidentally the same day as my birthday. 

More about Bicol in my next posts. Thank you for coming over and feel free to share this article! For other homeschooling related stories, click here.

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