There is something majestic about the first-class city of Legazpi in Albay.
It’s quite easy to understand why: named after the legendary Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, its icons are draped in mythology.
Legazpi’s most popular attraction, the Mayon Volcano is a sacred image, not only of the city but of Albay, renowned for its perfect cone. It was named after the legendary princess-heroine Daragang Magayon, who, legend said, fell in love with Pangaronon.
The volcano is said to be the burial site of the two lovers. Some say Mayon Volcano shows herself—as in its symmetrical conical shape—to those with pure heart.
Aside from its legendary peak, Legazpi is a treasure trove of wonders, which its new tagline “There is More to Legazpi” aims to capture.
The city celebrates Ibalong Festival, Bicol region’s biggest non-religious festivity. The joyous affair is filled with cultural, entertainment, and sporting events, and highlighted by a parade where participating contingents recreate the chapters of the mythology through a street theater presentation.
Now in its 28th year, this year’s celebration was a modern recreation of mid 19th-century fragments of 60-stanza epic poem penned by Spanish friar Bernardino de Melendreras about the precolonial era of the region which was then known as Ibalong.
Written in the mold of ancient mythologies, the epic tells of superhuman heroes—Baltog, Handyong, and Bantong—who rid the land of fearsome beasts and helped it attain its golden era. The epic has an open-ended conclusion as if to allow the readers to draw their own scenarios of heroism in contemporary circumstances.
Ibalong has inspired countless stage plays and productions, the most prominent of which was a dance musical by Tanghalang Pilipino at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2013.
The city is also the site of the summertime Magayon Festival of Albay Province. The festival relives the legend of Mayon Volcano.
These legends and other historical events are immortalized at the newly opened Museo de Legazpi, one of the country’s most modern local government-run museums.
Legazpi is more than its legends and historical events. Dubbed the “City of Fun and Adventure,” it is Bicol’s regional center, aerial gateway and tourism hub, and home to a wide array of cozy boutique hotels, homegrown restaurants serving delectable local cuisine, as well as lifestyle malls.
Must-do recreational activities which have gained global fame is the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride along the Mayon Lava Wall and the Ligñon Hill zipline with the volcano in the background.
The city is also positioning itself as a scuba diving spot with its newly discovered coral reef gardens in Albay Gulf, and a golf getaway with the Par 72, 18-hole Trent Jones-designed Mayon Golf Course.
The city takes pride in Legazpi Boulevard, one of the longest bay roads outside Metro Manila, a tourism and recreational zone with the Dapdap Waterfront Park which will have an esplanade, amphitheater, beach volleyball court, elderly fitness yard, children’s playground, and skateboard court.
Legazpi is also becoming a favorite for national and international conferences and events because of its convention facilities and urban amenities. Recognizing the potential of the MICE sector, the city government itself has built its own convention center to supplement the city-run Ibalong Centrum for Recreation and the hotel-based conference halls.
This market accounts for the bulk of the city’s 1.2 million annual foreign and domestic tourists. In recognition of its role as an emerging MICE hub, the city will host World Food Expo in 2020, the first time the annual event will be held outside Manila.
Beefing up the city’s room inventory is the newly opened 83-room The Oriental Hotel Albay.
Because of the unique blend of the mountains and the sea, it is also a preferred venue for adventure sports events such as the Xterra Off-Road Triathlon Race, Air 21 Le Tour de Filipinas, LBC’s Ronda Pilipinas, the Mt. Mayon Triathlon, the 80-km Mayon 360 Albay Ultramarathon, and dragonboat tournaments, among others.
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