As part two of the two-day seminar dubbed “Greening the Blue Summit,” the Provincial Government of Albay, through the Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office, particularly the Albay Blue Lane Econautical Tourism office, participants, ranging from local tourism officers and representatives of local travel agencies, trooped to Manito, Albay for a one day tour to experience the different eco-tourism destinations that the area has to offer.
An endeavor aimed at not only the promotion of ecotourism, particularly nautical based destinations, the program also aims to promote the preservation and protection of these Albay natural wonders, a venture that Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda has long supported and advocates furiously.
The day tour started early, where approximately forty participants flocked early in the morning in front of the Provincial Capitol Annex in Legazpi City for the 45 minute ride to the fifth class municipality of Manito, located on the southeastern tip of Albay, adjoining the southeastern limit of Legazpi City. A bit of tidbit, Manito is named as such because when settlers arrived they noticed the place was abundant with clinging vine locally known as “Nito,” a plant belonging to the rattan family and used as raw material for basket weaving. The prefix “Ma” is a colloquial word for “many” which literally translates the name Manito to “a lot of nito.”
The smooth and winding ride to Manito through a picturesque snaking road was relaxing and an appetizing hors d’oeuvre for the day to come, especially for tourists from bustling cities who have long forgotten what a relaxing ride with a view means. Our first stop was at the Municipal Hall of Manito, a small yet pristine looking edifice.
Unfortunately, Mayor Cesar Daep was not there to personally meet the group as he was on an important meeting with the other mayors from the province, but the municipal tourism officer was there to greet the group, who was headed by Blue Lane Project Chairman Romeo “Nong” Dawal Jr.
Also joining the tour to show their support for the project were Board Member Ramon Alsua from the Third District of Albay, Chairman of the Committee of Agriculture and Fisheries, as well as Board Member Ralph Andes from the Second District of Albay who is the Chairman on the Committee of Appropriations.
From the town hall, the flock of eager sightseers was directed to the first tourist destination, a sprawling mangrove riddled with “Nipa” plants. Fun fact, Manito boasts of the biggest mangrove area in the whole of Albay, and there you can find the tastiest and juiciest crabs that you can sink your teeth into. The reason? These crabs are not cultured and are caught in their natural habitat. The locals use these crabs to cook a delicacy that the area boasts of, “Ginataang Alimango sa Sotanghon.”
Although the clouds have started to gather and some drizzling was experienced, the tour pushed through with their visit to a mind-boggling and mysterious spot, a beach where a patch of sea water boils! Called the Parong Geyser or Boiling Sea Water, the name is derived from the fact that the steam spewed from under the beach emits a sulfuric smell, and the term “smell” is translated locally as “parong.” Only a short jaunt from the Mangrove area, the Parong Geyser is literally on the beach! Meaning, anyone can walk to it as the water, especially at low tide, is only ankle deep. You don’t have to step on the boiling hot water as there are small sand bars to trek on. Be warned though, the water is hot enough to boil eggs! That day though, with rain water soothing the temperatures, the eggs we boiled couldn’t get enough temperature to thoroughly cook to a hard boiled state.
Not getting enough of the heat, apparently. The group moved on to an even hotter destination, literally! A more famous relative of Parong Geyser, we headed to Nag-aso Boiling lake, for Albayanos, “aso” means smoke or steam, so you can imagine how hot water needs be to afford evaporation. In fact, local guides give caution to tourists to be extra careful when walking the banks of the lake, a slip into the waters can, and will, cause serious burns!
An amazing sight to behold, the three hectare lake is a curtain of haze that speaks in volumes of the temperature that can reach as much as a hundred degrees Celsius, enough to boil an egg in 10 minutes. Located in the boundary of Barangay Balabagon and Hulugan, the Nag-aso Boiling Lake is nestled between a ridge and the Albay Gulf, a stone’s throw away from a develop road where cars can easily park their cars.
For those looking for a body of water where one can submerge themselves without the fear of getting scalded, then our next destination is the perfect choice for you. The nearest white beach in Albay in proximity to Legazpi City, Muladbucad Beach, also known as the “Spring Water by the Bay”, is one of a handful of white beaches in Albay that is accessible by land.
Not for the faint of heart, a trip to Muladbucad White Beach starts off with a steep winding road that can be slippery when wet. But after taking some slow and sure footed steps, you will be rewarded with a pristine white beach front that is devoid of all the trappings of modern civilization, an added bonus for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Here you can enjoy a quiet swim or relaxing beachside snooze, or you can use the small bay as a start off point for a day of snorkeling or scuba diving. The beach is located at Hologan, Manito, Albay.
Despite protestations from members of the tour group, we had to pack up as we still had two more stops in our itinerary, first of which is a resettlement site in Baranggay Buyo where the famous locally made “Walis Tambo” is made. Another fun fact, have you ever seen the walis tambo with the “Baguio” tag strewn with colorful plastic strips on the handle, well apparently, these sweeping brooms were not made in Baguio City but here in Manito, Albay! Locals utilize the abundant growth of a type of grass in the area known as “talahib” to produce these brooms for business, and have been doing so for a long time now. The brooms were made inside their homes and are shipped to local retailers in nearby municipalities or cities and in other cases, sold wholesale to other retailers.
The ride back to Legazpi City gets a stop over as we go down our vans for a refreshing visit to a local favorite spot, a favorite that is of local drinkers, and at that very moment, a lone woman washing clothes. From boiling heat to freezing cold, we headed to Mulacbugac falls, a watering hole where four small waterfalls pipes out from a small cliff which people say could chill a drink in a matter of minutes if said bottle is lightly buried in the sand beneath the flowing river. Some of us gamely dipped their feet and walked on the small stones dotting the river while others, seemingly tired from the whole day adventure in nature, just simply wanted to go home.
All in all, despite rains in the early part of the day, it was a wondrous experience for everybody in that tour to visit a place that even people from nearby localities have failed to visit before. It was an eye-opener learning that we here in Albay have so much more to offer than just Mayon Volcano and it is so near to us! That is why the Provincial Government of Albay is encouraging everyone not to be a stranger to their own Province. (PGA-PIO) November 21, 2014