AS A THRIVING commecial center at the very center of the region, Naga City is often fondly referred to as the heart of Bicol.
From a third-class city years ago, Naga eventually rose to become a first class city and model of good governance. This wouldn’t have been possible without the leadership of the late Sec. Jesse Robredo, who will long be remembered as a great leader of Naga.
Recently, GMA News TV travel program Weekend Getaway visited Naga City to discover the beauty of Bicol’s heart.
There are a number of ways to get to Naga. If you’re coming from Manila, you can take a PNR Bicol Express Train from Manila, or take a sleeper bus from Cubao. Travel time is around nine to 12 hours. If you prefer convenience over cost, you can take a 45-minute flight from Manila to Naga.
Hailed as a pilgrimage city, Naga is home to many old churches, visited by devotees from all over the Philippines. One celebrated church in Naga is the Metropolitan Cathedral, known as the mother of all cathedrals in Bicol. It was built in 1595 and is believed to be one of the oldest churches in the country. Its sheer size and beauty leave visitors in awe, making it the perfect place for prayer and contemplation.
The Metropolitan Cathedral is situated along Elias Angeles St. in Naga City and can be reached by tricycle from downtown.
The Peñafrancia Basilica Minore is located in the suburbs of Naga, making the city a center of Marian devotion in the region. Pilgrims from all over Philippines visit Naga on the third Saturday of September to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Penafrañcia, during which a colorful fluvial procession is also held.
Nature lovers can also visit the Naga City Ecology Park, a four-hectare park with an eco-walk maze and themed gardens like the Marian garden, Japanese garden, Palm garden, and Alphabet garden. To get to the park, go to the terminal near the Naga public market and take a jeepney headed to Pacol or Carolina. This will pass by the ecopark.
Haciendas de Naga
For tourists seeking a mix of nature and adventure, there’s the Haciendas de Naga Adventure Park, where visitors can try zip-lining, wall climbing, and target shooting at their firing range. Entrance fees range from P150 to P250.
While at Haciendas de Naga, you can also go camping the Pili Park where old pili trees are planted. To get to the park, rent a tricycle or take a jeepney to Carolina in Uptown Naga City.
To complete your adventure-filled weekend getaway, visit the Mt. Isarog National Park in Panicuason. Located 1,966 meters above sea level, Mt. Isarog is considered the second highest mountain in the Bicol region and home to a number of uniquely Pinoy flora an fauna.
One of the park’s major attractions is the Malabsay Falls where tourists can swim in the pleasantly cold water with a stunning view of Mt. Isarog in the background.
To reach this slice of paradise, take a jeepney going to Panicuason. When in Panicuason, you will trek for about half an hour to reach the entrance of the park.
For more beautiful destinations in the Philippines, tune in to “Weekend Getaway” every Friday at 10 PM on GMA News TV Ch. – Bicol Mail