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Bicol on a bike

Bicol on a bike

Bernard Supetran

Drive around Bicolandia marks start of Motorcycle Tourism program of DOT, TPB

Anyone who has driven to Bicol would agree that the journey is as exciting as the destinations themselves with the mesmerizing sceneries, food stops, and everything in between. So when the Department of Tourism coined the branding “Exciting Bicol” for the region a few years back, they really meant it and is betting its bottom peso to this bold claim.

Small wonder that when the DOT and the Tourism Promotions Board unveiled its Motorcycle Tourism, the region would be the first to test this exciting program which aims to take this age-old mode of travel to the next level.

Adding excitement to the ride is presence of Jet Lee (in main photo), a charming Cebu-based lady rider who has gained huge following on social media because of her riding exploits across the archipelago and road safety advocacy.

Below are the major pit stops of the four-day event which rolled off mainland Bicol this week.

Camarines Sur. The largest and most populous in Bicol, this is the first province that people encounter upon crossing the regional provincial boundary. The road makes a right turn to the long and winding Rolando Andaya (formerly Quirino) Highway which bypasses the towns of Camarines Norte. The itinerary originally planned to swing by Naga City for a brief prayer at one of the churches, but was called off as they were running late. Dubbed the Heart of Bicol and “Pilgrimage City”, it is home to several Spanish-era churches, most notably the Shrine of the Our Lady of Peñafrancia, where the biggest and oldest Marian devotion in the Philippines takes root.

The group then headed to the CamSur Watersports Complex, regarded as one of the world’s best wakeboarding spots and cable parks which has hosted international competitions. Situated at the sprawling Provincial Capitol Complex in Pili, the mighty mountain of Isarog provided an imposing backdrop as the riders took a break and snapshots at the blue green wake lagoon.

Riders at Barcelona Church in Sorsogon.

Sorsogon. As the convoy from Manila was snaking their way to Bicol’s south, adrenaline junkies from the Visayas made their way northward via Matnog port from Northern Samar across the San Bernardino Strait.

The group motored their way to the roads of Sta. Magdalena en route to their pit stop at the newly-redeveloped Bulusan Lake National Park, the province’s top tourist icon. After the brief respite, they roared back passing through the attractions in Barcelona, Casiguran, and the capital Sorsogon City where they were traveled back in time at the newly-restored Museo Sorsogon and the spruced-up Provincial Capitol and Park.

And much like the recent GMA teleserye, the riders must have left their hearts in Sorsogon with its amazing sights and sounds.

DOT regional director Herbie Aguas leads riders around Albay

Albay. The groups were welcomed by DOT regional director Herbie Aguas at the Legazpi Boulevard, which blends the panoramic Albay Gulf, the outlying islands and a view of the perfect-coned Mayon Volcano.

After a picturesque ride, riders rendezvoused at the Highlands Park Legazpi, a hilltop nocturnal colony overlooking Legazpi City, for a welcome dinner hosted by the TPB.

Having recharged after a good night’s sleep, the participants sped off to Joroan Church and cooled off with DJC Halo Halo in Tiwi, feasted on Japanese delights at the Ishi Aya Restaurant and climbed the slopes of Mayon in Tabaco City, took Instagrammable shots at the Cagraray Amphitheater and Vista Maris Chapel in Bacacay, and experienced countryside life at Aguas Farm in Sto. Domingo.

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With an active local motorcycle community, Albay is a favorite motoring destination and takes pride in hosting the annual assembly of the National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs twice.

Riders at Abaca Festival in Catanduanes

Catanduanes. Situated east of Bicol mainland, this island province can be accessed via three-hour boat ride from Tabaco City in eastern Albay. With a contiguous road network of panoramic roads less-traveled roads hugging the Pacific Ocean, drive tourism is simply perfect for this place whether you are on a four or two-wheel vehicle.

There is never a dull and boring moment as the province is dotted with roadside eye candies—Luyang Cave in San Andres, Twin Rocks in Virac, the riverside Church of St. John the Baptist in Bato, Puraran surfing spot in Baras, and Hiyop Highlands in Pandan to name a few.

For added color to the road odyssey, the group passed by the street dancing competitions scattered across the towns as part of the Abaca Festival which showcases the province’s top product. Another bonus were the head-turning vintage models of Volkswagen cars owned by Gov. Joseph Cua which were spotted around the capital town of Virac.

With its natural wonders, warm hospitality, and delectable dishes, Catanduanes definitely lived up to its moniker as the “Happy Island” with the happy ending to this cool and epic ride around exciting Bicol.