It was past noon when we arrived at Kawakawa Hill. The sun was shining bright, but a sudden drizzle in the area made us forego the arduous uphill climb to the 236-meter high hill. We missed the opportunity to see the much talked-about spectacular panoramic view from the top. We also failed to see for ourselves the supposedly peculiar shape of a "kawa" (cauldron) naturally molded in the upper portion, afterwhich the hill was named.
At the ground level, we saw many tourists having souvenir pictures at the First Station Of The Cross. Similar to Kamay Ni Hesus Shrine in Lucban, Quezon, there are life-size Stations Of The Cross strategically located at various points of the hill, making the uphill climb of pilgrims and tourists a spiritual journey of sorts. Providing shade and fresh air are the lush vegetation in the surroundings; providing rest to those who want to take a break are nipa huts after flights of stairs.
If you are a photo hobbyist, you can spend some time in Ligao River for a photo shoot. There are many interesting subjects you can focus on.
Kuyang's seem to be popular among locals because when we asked what and where is the best restaurant, they all pointed us to this restaurant. It has native-inspired decor, airy dining hall, good customer service and delicious food at reasonable price.
Favorite Dish: We liked their pork sinigang, spicy tuna, sweet & sour fish (lapulapu). The sinigang was different from what we are used to because it only had eggplants, radish and lots of tomatoes, but the tart-sour soup was delicious and the pork was tender. The spicy tuna was just right (not too hot), with a tasty blend of garlic, chili, leeks and butter sauce. The sweet & sour sauce was also just right for our taste, with a generous topping of julliene carrots, bell pepper, ginger and onions over the crispy fried lapulapu (grouper).
At the ground level of the Kawakawa Hill is the Carmelite nuns' Fund Raising Kiosk. You can see at the left direction of the life-size nun statue beside the kiosk, the Divine Mercy Monastery of the Carmelite Nuns of the Holy Trinity. As requested by the congregation from the Diocese of Legaspi, the Divine Mercy Shrine is being constructed. Every purchase you make from the kiosk contributes to such project.
What to buy: I bought hand-woven pouch bags and some votive candles. There are other merchandise like native (abaca) bags, local handicrafts, decors, t-shirts, etc.
What to pay: pouch bags= P35/pc
While hubby went for a photo shoot at Ligao River, I got curious about the people (including children) going to the far end of the river. I thought they were going for a picnic or fishing. It pained me to realize that they were panning gravel from the river. Due to poverty and lack of other source of livelihood, locals go to the river to pan gravel using native baskets, then collect stones until they accumulate enough to sell to the big trucks hauling sand and gravel from the river. Imagine how difficult it must be, panning the gravel under the burning sun, "breaking" their spine to accumulate mounds of panned stones, only to sell at a measly amount per cubic meter.
At the foot of the Kawakawa Hill is a place for offering candles. There are different colors for different personal prayer intentions, like violet for penance, green for personal petitions, pink for good health and/or prayer intentions for other people, red for love, blue for the souls of departed loved ones, peach for long life and yellow for peace. There is also a special prayer before lighting the candles.
Can you guess what color of candle I lit? I lit all colors:-)
According to a friend who had the chance to go uphill when they went there, climbing the steep stairs to the top of Kawakawa could be unbearably painful to the legs and thighs, as well as challengingly tiring for the older people and the physically impaired. There are talks that the incumbent ruling Governor has plans of installing cable cars in the near future for the use of elders and physically handicapped. However, local elections is already nearing but I didn't see signs of work done on the cable car project. I hope whoever becomes the new Governor will push through with the plan.
The aftermath of Mt. Mayon's wrath left the Ligao River heavily silted with lahar and blocked by volcanic rocks. The local government had taken steps to rehabilitate the river by desilting it, using backhoe to move volcanic debris to the riverbanks. Riverwater soon resumed its flow, and residents moved on with their lives, panning gravel from the river, washing clothes with riverwater, and leaving their carabao (their faithful farm animal) to drink and freshen up at the river.
While waiting for hubby to finish his photography, I sat on a big boulder by the riverbank near a carabao. I though it would be refreshing to imitate the carabao, so I approached the river to soak my feet. The water was surprisingly cool despite the burning sun. The carabao looked at me and for a moment, I froze with fear that it might come near me. Unexpectedly, the carabao left the river and went to the riverbank. It stared at me like I was an unwelcome intruder, so I decided to leave and go back to sit on a boulder, and soonafter, the carabao went back to the river. It looked at me again, nodded its head, and I imagined it to thank me for leaving his space^_^