Bicolandia or Bicol is one of the Philippines’ 17 regions. It encompasses the Bicol Peninsula, which is at the southeastern end of Luzon Island and a few more neighboring islands. The region has six of the Philippines’ 81 provinces. They are Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Masbate, Sorsogon and Catanduanes. The largest urban settlements in the region are Legazpi City, Naga City and Sorsogon City. They are also the hub of the region’s economic activity. To give you an idea of the nature of the area, the peninsula is best known for its imposing mountains and volcanoes. The people of Bicol are extremely loving and hospitable.
Not much is known about Bicol’s prehistory. It appears that the earliest civilization dates to the late Neolithic period. At the time of Spanish conquest, the region was known as Ibalon and appeared to be apolitical with chieftains that only intervened in periods of war. The Spanish arrived in the 16th Century and quickly sent missionaries to convert the region’s inhabitants to Catholicism. For many years, the area’s main industry focused around its plentiful hardwood forests. These were used to build Manila Galleons in the expansive regional ship yard.
Bicol is a volcanic region sitting on the Pacific Ring of Fire. This results not only in perfectly conical volcanos but also in the region’s hot springs and crater lakes. In fact, Bicol is home to the most active volcano in the Philippines, called Mayon Volcano. Today the economy of Bicol is mainly agricultural. It’s main crops consist of coffee, jackfruit, coconuts and bananas. Bicol is furthermore a beautiful yet blissfully uncrowded region of the Philippines, making it the perfect choice for your next dive vacation.
Bicol offers everything you would expect in a tropical vacation. You can relax your days away on painfully white sand beaches or camp overnight on the same beaches listening to the rolling waves. Hiking opportunities are plentiful on the area’s many dormant volcanoes. Island-hopping and deep-sea fishing trips abound. History enthusiasts might enjoy visiting one of the many colonial-era churches including St. Peter the Apostle Parish of Vinzons and St. John the Baptist Parish of Paracale. Surfing is big business in both Calaguas and Catanduanes as well as other areas along the Pacific coast. Spelunking is also possible in the caves around Catanduanes if you are an explorer at heart. Finally, for those who enjoy a little shopping, don’t miss watching abaca carpets being made in local markets and purchasing the wares available at the region’s handicraft centers.
To reach Bicol, you must begin your journey in Manila. From there, you can arrive to Legazpi or Naga by domestic flight. It is also possible to take a bus from Pasay to Daet or from Manila to Sorsogon. There are additional bus routes from Metro Manila to Legazpi or Naga.
Once you are in the region, you will need to rely on three-wheelers, taxis, jeepney or minibuses to travel from point A to point B.