Discovering a new place and getting mesmerized by it is not a new thing when you talk about destinations in the Philippines. Surely, when you visit a place in the country for the first time, you will always get amazed and fall in love with it, what with the long list of stunning beaches, islands, mountains, and historical sites it has to offer.
But leaving it, with the promise to come back, is another. You know you will see the same place again, but it will be something different. Every comeback has a diverse story to tell.
My current visit to Camarines Norte proves just that. The last time I went there was two years ago. It was the time I braved big waves and the sunny skies and prickling heat for that paradise-like island of Maculabo, situated in the Calaguas Group of Islands. It was also the time I discovered a beautiful town called Mercedes, where I learned about its seven islands, each boasting its own beauty. The visit was all about the seas and the pristine beaches.
But the recent one was different. And as usual, it left me amazed and longing for more.
A 30-minute drive from capital town of Daet is Labo, the largest town in the province, which was once dubbed as a sleeping giant. Labo may be a town deprived of the seas, but it still has a lot to offer when we talk about adventures on land.
One of it is Tan-Awang Bato—a large rock seated strategically in one side of Mt. Bagacay in Brgy. Fundado. It is a perfect view deck and a place to just breathe in the fresh air from the mountains.
Trekking to Tan-Awang Bato takes an hour, depending on your pace. Its jump off point is Brgy. Fundado and you will also pass by rice fields and copra plantations. As you go into trail you will see a couple of nipa huts and friendly locals tending to their crops.
About 45 minutes into the trek you begin to see boulders mounted, serving as if they are large marks on the trail. You will come to think how on earth these boulders are sprawled all over a mountain, as if some giant went berserk and throw these pieces out of wrath. We may not know how these came about but these boulders made Mt. Bagacay more beautiful and enchanting.
These big rocks form small passages and a sanctuary for hundreds of bats. While you see boulders as you trek, you will also stumble upon Manambuwaya Cave is said to be historical one as this was where General Lukban hide during the Japanese occupation. Tourists can go down a slippery pathway leading to the cave’s entrance. From here you can now hear the water cascading from Turay-og Falls.
After this, you continue trekking up to Tan-Awang Bato, which is just about 15-minutes away. From the viewpoint, you will see the whole town of Labo, along with its neighbouring towns. Rice fields, Labo’s Busig-on River, and the luscious greenery brought by tall, coconut trees can also be seen from a distance.
After almost an hour of rest and taking selfie, it’s time to go down and have a side trip to Turay-og Falls. Turay-og Falls has clear, cool waters just right for a quick dip after the tiring trek. It has a small river, which waters cascade down the foot of the mountain, up to the streams in the community. Going down can be a little challenge as you will pass by boulders again, but this time, much smaller than those you see along the way up.
What makes this trip one-of-a-kind is the fact that you can actually discover and see different spectacular sites on a half day, which gives you more time to explore more of the town as the day go by.
This trip was a special one as I get to see the other side of Camarines Norte, far from the islands and stunning beaches. And as expected, it never failed me.