When I was a little kid, my mom used to call me “Magayon”. And at an early age, I knew what the word meant but it never occurred to me the real beauty that goes with it. Magayon is a Bicolano word which means beautiful. It is where the name Mayon, the famous perfect cone-shaped volcano, is derived from. And why am I writing about this? Because finally, after many years of hearing the word, I was able to witness the majestic meaning that lies behind it. There I was in the province of Albay standing in front of the “beautiful lady” (daragang magayon) as the legends refer to it. But before I proceed to the experiences that almost took my breath away, let me first share with you the legend of Mayon Volcano that not so many of us know. Just like any other landforms, there were many legends that attempt to portray how this pristine but destructive beauty came to existence.
Here is the legend of Mayon Volcano which I like the most — the Bicolano version of Romeo and Juliet as told by Laura Agpay:
Because of her beauty and influence, warriors, princes and datus from different parts of the country desired to have her as their wife. But Magayon fell in love with a warrior named Handiong, a prince who came from a tribe that was, unfortunately, the rival of Magayon’s tribe. The two suffered so much from their respective family’s attempts to separate them that they finally decided to flee. Unfortunately their families found out and fought a bloody tribal war. This caused the young couple so much pain they decided together to commit suicide.
The tribes buried the lovers separately. Months passed when Magayon’s tribe saw a volcano growing in the place where Magayon was buried. They named it after Daragang Magayon — “Bulkang Magayon” describing its perfect shape like their beautiful Daraga.
There it goes. And the very first time I laid my eyes on this amazing land form I felt like I forgot to breathe. The magnificent scenery I used to see in post cards and Sibika at Kultura books was right in front of me standing like a princess being hailed by many admirers.
Here are some photos as I tried to capture every minute of admiration to what is considered to be the world’s most perfectly formed volcano.
I visited the province of Bicol last April 2011 with my relatives. We took the first flight with Cebu Pacific. It was a 45-minute flight and as we were approaching the airport, a glimpse of the volcano filled the whole plane with excitement. When we finally landed, we took as many shots as we could until the security had to tell us and the other tourists to leave the runway. Haha! (Tip: If you plan to visit the province it’s better to take the first flight because as some locals would say, sa umaga lang makikita nang lubusan si Mayon.)
We took a van going to Cagsawa Ruins and there we enjoyed the great view of Mayon Volcano, like a beautiful damsel staring at us.
The tourist guides were expert on taking jump shots and other camera tricks….
Whoaaaah! What’s happening to the world?!
On the right is the Cagsawa Ruins — the remnants of the 18th century Franciscan Church. It was destroyed by the eruption of the volcano where thousands of people were buried alive and only the belfry remains. Behind its exquisite beauty is a destructive lady!
These huge rocks came from the volcano. Some of them are bigger than houses.
Look! This is exactly how I see it in post cards and books!