Touring Bicol

I am a master potter!

The gang (Jenn, Greg, Rose, Hannah, and Adrian) and I toured the greater Bicol region. And I found my true calling! First, we traveled to Camalig to see a “possible” traditional Filipino Catholic wedding. I say possible because, it seemed highly likely that someone would be getting married that Saturday “because there are a lot of weddings in the area”. What we saw was part of a funeral. We didn’t stay for too long out of respect, but what we saw was pretty interesting (turns out both Greg and I were over-dressed).  The church had bones interned in the walls from at least 1905. This was not part of the funeral, just describing what I saw. They bought the coffin in to the front of the church and then began to sing. It was beautiful and similar to most other funerals I’ve been to.

We all choose to remember the dead in similar ways, don’t we?

Then, we collected Hannah and went touring in old Camalig to see homes from the Spanish Colonial era. It must say it’s quite moving to be standing in front of a building that  has housed the same family for over 400 years. The history and lives that the building has witnessed is humbling. I think we spend too much time in the US focusing on the new because it’s bright and shiny, that we don’t take the time to appreciate the old simply because it might be a bit worn or out-dated. I’m not saying that everything that is old is good but I do think there’s a tendency to try to do away with the old in general without considering its historical or aesthetic merits.

After we wandered the around Old Camalig, we piled back into the van and headed for Tiwi and the ceramic works. They use locally-sourced clay from a nearby hill, which they purify using water from a nearby spring. After letting it dry and compress for several days into large pancakes, they use their clay to make vases, bricks, and other pottery goods. More importantly, I discovered my calling by becoming a master potter! I sat at the potting wheel and molded a lump of clay into an elegant and delicate vase! Sure, it was under the guidance of one of the master craftsmen at the ceramic works. But, that just goes to show you the level of skill these people have!

Each town in Bicol (and, I’m getting a sense that this is throughout the Philippines) is known for something: Tobaco is known for knives and metal work, Tiwi is known for pottery and ceramics, other towns are known for sausages or rice goods, etc. Each community has a specialty. It’s a reminder of an older time in the West. The more I experience this region, the  more I fall in love with it, and the more I don’t want to leave! And, of course, I became a master potter!

After we left Tiwi, it was time to eat halo halo from the place that made the original halo halo! It was the BEST halo halo I’ve ever had in my life! Ube ice, jellies, sweet corn, cheese, fruit, and ice cream! All great flavors that go great together! Seriously! You MUST try this! So, after our snack, we drove off to Legazpi to tour the boardwalk.  I had a lot of fun trying to identify algae species. I didn’t find too many in the area, but i found some sargassum ^_^.I

After, we went to Ishaya Restaurant! It’s a Japanese-Philippines fusion restaurant set up kind of like a traditional Japanese tea room! It was so much fun! the food (and sushi) was phenomenal! We had ferns, sushi, and fusion Filipino food. It was GREAT!

After lunch, we went to the Skyline Hotel on Mayon volcano to look out over Legazpi. So much just romping around the old building near to the cloud line! It was the first time I wasn’t ROASTING since I first came here ^_^.  At the top, they were selling intricate bonsai. I was tempted to buy one, but then I realized I wouldn’t be able to take it home. T_T, so I left it there.

We ended the day at the Oriental Hotel for a relaxing drink and view over Legazpi. It was soothing, and a much needed break to just sit and relax and enjoy the moment. Something I’ve noticed here is that “a snack” here is not a snack in the States. It’s something akin to a light lunch. Hospitality and generosity is very important here. Every meeting has food, or a gift, or some other welcoming gesture. It’s very similar to Hawaii. I need to remember these things more, and will try to do so.

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