St. Pio of Pietrelcina Chapel (Albay, PH)

One of the many things I am fascinated about are churches and chapels. These houses of worship most of the time have stories to tell and would boast off architectural designs that are unique and really a sight to behold.

In downtown Legazpi City, Albay Province, a mall along the shores of the Legazpi Port is a unique mall called Embarcadero de Legazpi. One of my favorite spot to visit there is the mall’s chapel called St. Pio of Pietrelcina Chapel.

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Pio of Pietrelcina (more commonly known as Padre Pio— was a priest, friar, stigmatist, and mystic who is now venerated as a saint of the Roman Catholic church. He was born Francesco Forgione and was given the name of Pius when he joined the Order Friaras Minor of Capuchin. He became famous for bearing the stigmata for most of his life. He was then both  beatified and canonized by Pope John Paul II.

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The chapel is pretty small but its splendid design and strategic location is something I am really raving about. The chapel is shaped like a ship and it is made up of glasses facing the port area, hence the view of the sea adds up to that feeling of serenity. This is definitely one place of worship I personally like and would love to visit whenever I am in the Bicolandia.

Location:Ground Floor of Embarcadero de Legazpi Mall, Legazpi Port Area, Legazpi City Albay 4500

Vera Falls (Albay, PH)

Vera Falls is a refreshingly stunning cascade located in the municipality of Malinao, Albay. This 25-meter beauty have mini waterfalls coming out of the rocks at the side of the main falls. It’s very cold catch basin is about 2 meters deep and is really clear and clean. I commend the people who manage this waterfalls because it is well maintained.

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Being tucked within the outskirts of Albay, one will feel a sense of veiled utopia after an easy downhill sauntering (which obviously needs a pretty strenuous trek back). Nonetheless, I love Vera Falls’ charm. It was our last stop for our Bicol trip and we had to cut-short our stay. I wish to get back to this waterfalls the next time I am in Albay.

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Please note that there is a parking area (with a beautiful view of Mount Mayon) near the entrance going to Vera Falls. It is a good thing that no entrance fee is collected. However, there was a person asking for donation for the area’s maintenance. The trek from the parking area to the falls is just around 10 minutes via concrete stairs. A few cottages were constructed near the falls and a small store can be found just before the entrance to the waterfalls.

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How to Get to Vera Falls:

From Manila, the fastest way would be an airplane ride to Legazpi City in Albay. Then, from Legaspi City, one may either ride a jeepney, van, or bus plying the Legaspi City-Tabaco City route. The travel time is about 30 to 45 minutes. Once in Tabaco city, go to the plaza near City Hall where one will find motorcycles or habal habal bound for Vera Falls. The travel time from Tabaco City Hall to the falls is about 20 to 30 minutes through some unpaved terrain. Alternatively, one can ride a tricycle bound for Barangay Soa and then from Barangay Soa, ride a motorcycle to Vera Falls. The tricycle terminal for tricycles bound for Barangay Soa is near the Tabaco church.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust.

Let’s Eat: 1st Colonial Grill (Albay, PH)

“Forget art. Put your trust in ice cream.” – Charles Baxter, The Feast of Love 

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Exquisite Ice Cream Flavors of 1st Colonial Grill Top: Tablea (Chocolate), Malunggay (Horse-Radish Tree), Tinutong na Bigas (Rice Crispies), Salabat (Ginger Powder). Bottom: Pili (Pili/Canarium Nuts), Sili (Chili Pepper), Pipino (Cucumber), Taro (coco yam)

If you happen to be in Albay Province in the Bicol Region, besides the stunning scenery of Mayon Volcano, having a taste of Bicolano cuisine is a must.

One play known for their delectable and unique offerings is the 1st Colonial Grill. It is one of the favorite restaurants in Albay that no one should miss. They serve famed Bicolano favorites like laing, Bicol Express and pinangat.

Pasta Bicolana and Sisig Pasta. Both literally flaming spicy!
Pasta Bicolana and Sisig Pasta. Both literally flaming spicy!

1st Colonial Grill has gained recognition for its unique desserts, especially its Sili (chili) ice cream. Other than these, their five-spice grilled chicken and coco chopsuey are also bestsellers.

Tuna Sisig - Kadingga (Bicol's Bopis & my personal favorite) - Vegetable Rolls - Pinangat.
Tuna Sisig – Kadingga (Bicol’s Bopis & my personal favorite) – Vegetable Rolls – Pinangat.

We didn’t get to try everything but we sure did sample a lot. I will allow the photos do the talking, and hopefully will entice you to try them out soon when you find yourself making your way to Albay.

Food is absolutely best shared with friends!
Food is absolutely best shared with friends!