EDITORIAL: Bicol as summer paradise
LOVERS of the sun, sand, sea and beaches need not go far to spend best their summer. All those slices of paradise are right here in Bicol, as they are in many other places in the country of 7,000 islands. The Philippines not so long ago used to be regarded as a less-discovered alternative to Southeast Asian hotspots like Bali in Indonesia and many parts in southern Thailand. Now, everyone wants to be in El Nido and Boracay --- or in Calaguas, in Matnog, and in Caramoan. Bicol itself is a paradise in summer, so there’s no need to go farther and spend more when you can have them for a penny or dime. Yes, folks, summer getaways are right here in our doorstep. They are so numerous they make it tricky to pick one; so you want to find more and you’ll not be disappointed. As one news wire said, there are places whose beauty never gets old (recall the limestone islands in Caramoan, or the coastline of Albay Gulf where stands the coned silhouette of Mt. Mayon) while there are those whose beauty is yet to be discovered or explored, like the pinkish Subic beach in Matnog, Sorsogon, the coral reefs in Siruma and Lamit Bay in the northern side of Camarines Sur. For sampler, due to lack of space, let us pick a few favorite spots that one can kiss and touch without having to book a flight or check into a more expensive hotel. Better yet, one can bring along as many friends or the whole members of the family for a complete package. These places are best described by travel bugs themselves who wanted to get back to discover more. Freckling the waters off the coast of Vinzons, Camarines Norte, the Calaguas group of islands hides pretty little secrets which are being discovered by more and more beach chasers. The Mahabang Buhangin in Tinaga Island, the biggest in the group, for instance, is the most frequented camping and swimming sites by tourists. Here in Camarines Sur, Caramoan’s beauty is unparalleled. Since the reality show ‘Survivor’ which has been filming there for several years already, the islands have captivated the eyes of foreign visitors. There are many unspoiled beaches more that one can comb as part of the long trip island hopping tour. Of the kilometers of shorelines he have seen, a certain blogger named Owen is convinced that Subic Beach is his top pick. Fringing an edge of Calintaan Island in Matnog, Sorsogon, Subic Beach looks like an ordinary beach at first glance. To one’s wonder, the beach glistens pink because of fine corals that have been almost pulverized into grains by waves and time and washed ashore to get blended with the white sands. And there are more interesting places as one begins to travel around because the Bicol peninsula and its two island provinces are made up of deep coastal bays and a lengthy coastline, perhaps the longest among other regions in the country when our beaches are joined together in a straight line. Our region stretches from its borderline with Tagkawayan in Quezon province southeast towards Samar island. It is surrounded by different bodies of water – the Lamon Bay to its north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, Samar Sea in the southeast, and the Ragay Gulf and Sibuyan Sea in the southwest. And here’s more as bonus or as alternative route for trekkers and lovers of the green and nature’s landscape: nestled beyond these beaches are the region’s terrain ranges that vary from slightly undulating to rolling and hilly to mountainous. The highest peaks include the mountain of Labo in Camarines Norte; Mt. Isarog in Camarines Sur; Mt. Malinao in Albay; Mt. Bintacan in Sorsogon; Mt. Simbajan in Masbate; and Mt. Boctot in Catanduanes. In addition to these peaks, Bicol is also home to two active volcanoes, namely the world-renowned Mayon in Albay and Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon. Strangely, they don’t usually erupt in summer! Every Bicolano summer lover is enjoined to be a traveler in his own place and be amazed and feel proud that we have such a wonderful place.