Albay the province that is bounded by the province of Camarines Sur on the north and by the Province of Sorsogon on the south is known worldwide as the land of the world’s most perfect cone – the Mayon Volcano. A visitor’s stay in Albay would not be complete if the majestic beauty of Mayon Volcano is not seen. But as in most cases, the peak would be covered with clouds, very much in character with the coyness of the “daragang magayon” (beautiful maiden) it is likened to. The mystery and tantrums of this volcano however, has left a trail of countless deaths and destructions to property.
The 1814 eruption of Mt. Mayon was considered to be the worst. Some 1200 people fled to the sanctuary of the Cagsawa church hoping that they would be saved from the fury and onslaught of Mt. Mayon. All these people who sought refuge from the church died when the flowing hot lava engulfed the church. One can just imagine the horrifying and tragic cries of the people imploring for God’s mercy to save them from impending death.
The Cagsawa church was buried in the 1814 eruption. The Casagawa church may have been destroyed, but it was not buried during the 1814 eruption of Mayon Volcano.
The Cagsawa Ruins Park is one of the most visited tourist spots in the Bicol Region. It is a 15 minute jeepney (a public utility car) ride from Legazpi City. Legazpi City is one of the key cities in the Bicol Region. It is a 55 minute plane ride from Manila and about 9 hours road trip in an air-conditioned bus.
According to legend, Cagsawa comes from the word “Kag” which means owner and “sawa” which means phyton. Kagsawa could also mean excesses. The February 1, 1814 eruption was divine providence’s chastisement for the people’s greed and overindulgence. The 1814 tragedy was reenacted in 2006 when the heavy rains of typhoon Reming caused the boulders and ash deposits on the slopes of Mount Mayon to gush down the slopes and bury everything in its path…properties, houses and people.
The Cagsawa Ruins Park that was once considered a place of beauty and relaxation…a haven for local and foreign tourists now stands alone amid mud covered barren landscape. Presently, Cagsawa Ruins Park is nothing but an island amidst piles of sand, mud and giant boulders. In spite of it all, the belfry of Cagsawa Church still stands tall, untouched and undamaged by the fury of Mt. Mayon. The ruins that have been a part of the history of the people of Albay is still there, standing tall and reaching for the skies, echoing the beliefs, strength, hopes and ambitions of the people… and showing the world that no typhoon, eruption or mudflow can defeat the resiliency of the Bicolano people to stand up against all odds.