Across the middle of Bicolandia is Camarines Sur. Only 9 hours either by train or bus and an hour flight by plane, landing at Pili Airport.
The province is dominated by rich and fertile rice lands. Historically, it is the seat of the Roman Catholic religion during the Spanish period. Today, it remains the pilgrimage center made prominent by the Peñafrancia Festival held every September of the year in honor of the region’s patroness, Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
The focus of the celebration is at Naga City, a throbbing commercial center, called the heart of Bicol where the most of the major Catholic churches were erected. The image of Virgin Mary is housed at Basilica Minore, a palatial structure replicating the Gothic architecture.
Thousands of devotees, pilgrims and visitors flock to this cathedral and along the river edges to witness Our Lady’s fluvial procession, the highlight of the festival, carried on a well decorated flotilla.
Camarines Sur is famous for the world’s smallest edible fish, locally known as tabios (scientific name Mistichttys) abundantly found in the serene waters of the scenic Lake Buhi. The other lake, Bato, is noted for its tilapia (scientific name Tilapia Nituka) production. Iriga City is known for the famous Tinagba festival – a harvest offering held every February 11.
HOW TO GET THERE
Naga City in Camarines Sur is accessible from Manila via the scenic Pan-Philippine Highway. Air-conditioned coaches plying the Manila to Naga route leave the Araneta Center at 30 minutes intervals starting at about 4 p.m. thru 9:30 p.m. daily. For tourists coming from the Ermita Center, another set of air-conditioned buses, can take you through the same route to Naga. For the weary business traveler, arrive in tip-top shape, sleep thru the whole length of the ten-hour trip and for the starving passenger dine in style, your choices are enormous – a piping hot porridge, the delectable Filipino chicken “adobo,” or the more cosmopolitan sandwiches. Which way you want it, the buses stop at designated restaurants that serve these kinds of food.
Naga City can also be reached by plane through the Pili airport. Philippine airlines and Asian Spirit for traveler eager to reach Camarines Sur faster.