Worst Drive to Sorsogon

At 4am today, we arrived from a 22-hour drive from Manila. Not the longest trip (the longest was 24 hours 20 years ago when a river in Camarines Norte overflowed on the bridge), but definitely the worst!

It all started when we picked up of my father in Paranaque – traffic was building up in SLEX; upon checking Waze, heavy traffic could be seen in Bicutan, Alabang and Calamba interchanges. After picking up my dad, I decided to take the road less travelled – via Pililla-Cavinti-Luisana-Tayabas route. Everything went well until we were approx. 10km away from Gumaca. I think it took us an hour and a half to reach Gumaca, and nothing was different or any traffic incidents in Gumaca! I was confident I could still clear Andaya highway before sundown. Then we hit heavy traffic in Lopez – took us 2 hours to clear Lopez-Calauag area! I knew we will arrive at midnight.
I was still hopeful until we were 20km away from AH26 corner Andaya Highway in Sipocot – we were stuck for 3 hours! When we got through, I estimated 5km of traffic trail on the other end, mostly buses going up north.

Quezon National Park in Atimonan, Quezon. A favorite stop for road travellers.

And since it was almost midnight when we cleared Andaya highway, we were driving very slow because we had to stop from time to time to get a nap or have my dad drive while I take a nap.
I knew I will be taking the Daet route when I go back to Manila this week.

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Mt. Bulusan’s steam-driven explosion causes ash fall in 3 towns of Sorsogon

SORSOGON CITY — Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon unleashed some fury, spewing a dark gray ash column yesterday afternoon which blew over three municipalities of the province, regional disaster officials said.

Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Bicol Director Raffy Alejandro, who also heads the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), said the volcano exhibited a phreatic (steam-driven) explosion at 4:54 p.m.

The ash explosion lasted for four minutes, propelling a dark gray ash column up in the sky with a height of 1.5 kilometers from the crater of Mount Bulusan.

The ash drifted northeast and fell on part of the towns Casiguran, Barcelona, and Gubat, all in this province.

Raden Dimaano, head of the Sorsogon Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said that as of presstime early last night, they were still conducting an assessment of the areas affected by the ash fall.

Earlier in the day, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported steaming activity in the volcano and slight inflationary changes of the edifice from May to August this year.

These observations, including ground deformation as observed in the past weeks, has placed Mt. Bulusan in Alert Level 1 (abnormal).

The local government units and the public have been reminded that entry to the four-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) is strictly prohibited due to the possibility of sudden and hazardous steam-driven or phreatic eruptions.

These same conditions were reported recently in Mount Mayon, another active volcano in the Bicol region located in Legazpi City, Albay.

Like Mt. Bulusan, Mt. Mayon has been placed by Phivolcs in Alert Level 1.

Read more at http://www.mb.com.ph/mt-bulusans-steam-driven-explosion-causes-ash-fall-in-3-towns-of-sorsogon/#3RTEXGWdooeF0gyW.99

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Sorsogon to establish 30-hectare Pili Orchard in 2020

SORSOGON CITY, August 15 (PIA) – The province of Sorsogon through the Office of the Provincial Agriculture will establish a Pili Orchard by the year 2020 covering a 30 hectares of land under the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP).


PRDP is a community-based national government platform for a modern and climate-smart agriculture implemented through partnerships with Local Government Units (LGUs) and agri-fishery stakeholders.


In Sorsogon, Pili was identified as the top priority commodity among the three commodities namely pili, coconut and seaweeds that are potential for achieving the PRDP goal. Pili along with seaweeds were endorsed by the Provincial Development Council and was included in the Provincial Investment Plan (PIP).


Through the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO), a Priority Commodity Matrix was prepared with Pili topping the four criteria: sustainability, market potential, impact on the poor and number of growers/producers in the area.


Provincial Agriculture Office Farm Superintendent Steven Garcia in an interview at “Konsumidor, Aramon Mo” radio program hosted by DTI and PIA, said that the program is in line with realizing goals of improved food security, increased incomes, climate resiliency and enhanced policy environment and governance as set out in the Philippine Development Program 2011-2016. But the initial 5-year PRDP program which is supposed to end this year is extended until 2020.


“PRDP’s full implementation in the province actually started in 2015 and so far, a value chain analysis and I-plan component of pili commodity have been prepared, and what we want to achieve is an enormous production of the raw material to sustain the pili industry,” Garcia said.


The PRDP’s thrust to develop a more market-oriented and climate resilient agriculture and fishery sector in the targeted program areas is being implemented through four program components namely: Investments for AFMP Planning at the Local and National Levels (I-PLAN), Intensified Building-Up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development (I-BUILD), Investments for Rural Enterprises and Agri-Fishery Productivity (I-REAP), and Support to Program Implementation (I-SUPPORT).


Garcia disclosed that although Sorsogon has been a popular source of a loftier variety of pili, the province cannot mention an established pili orchard. “What we have here are patchy areas where pili trees are planted, and the only way to address this is to establish a pili orchard in the province of Sorsogon, at least 30 hectares by the year 2020” he added.


To realize the target, Garcia called on land owners in Sorsogon to lend their one-hectare land and partner with the provincial government for pili planting and growing. “The provincial government will provide for the fencing, grafted pili seedlings, farm implements, technology and other technical assistance that the land owner would need as counterpart. The trees will be geo-tagged and will closely be monitored by the personnel of the agriculture office for two years using a state-of-the art monitoring system,” he said.


Sorsogon Pili products can be found overseas. The one on the picture is displayed in Macau.

The land owner, on the other hand, will be responsible for the fencing works and maintenance of the orchard for two years. He must also be willing to enter into a MOA, indicating further that in the future they would allow researchers to have an access to the orchard to conduct study, and likewise, allow agriculture personnel to monitor and evaluate the status of the orchard.


“The pili tree and its harvest will solely belong to the land owner,” Garcia added.


A budget of P500,000.00 is allocated this year to vie for potential sites to establish two orchards, one each from the 1st and 2nd district of the province. “Next year, another P1-M will be earmarked for the establishment of another four orchards, equally divided to two districts of Sorsogon,” Garcia also said. (MAL/BAR-PIA5/Sorsogon)

– See more at: this link

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‘Carina’ strands 3,000 passengers in Bicol ports

Bicol region via Wikipedia

LEGAZPI CITY—The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Region 5 has noted some 3,145 passengers stranded in various ports in Bicol due to inclement weather brought by Tropical Depression “Carina.”

As of 5 p.m. Saturday, OCD 5 reported 2,314 passengers were stranded in Sorsogon while 678 were stranded in Albay. Camarines Sur has 37 while Catanduanes has 21 passengers stranded in its ports.

In Masbate, 95 were stranded in its ports as all flights going in and out of the province were cancelled by authorities.

The OCD 5 also said 234 rolling cargoes and 45 sea vessels were stranded in Bicol ports.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/801185/carina-strands-3000-passengers-in-bicol-ports#ixzz4Ft8G4GBe

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Mario Guariña (Sorsogon Governor – 1910 to 1912 and 1913 to 1916)

Picture of Governo Mario Guarina. Image is via Facts About Sorsogon, Sorsogon Provincial Library.

Picture of Governo Mario Guarina. Image is via Facts About Sorsogon, Sorsogon Provincial Library.

Mario Guarina was born in Casiguran. He was a senator for the Bicol region and worked hard during his term of the development of the fiber industry, especially for Sorsogon.

Source: p479 Philippines: A History of the Bikol Region, Jaime T. Malanyaon, AMS Press, 1991

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Jose P. Zurbito (Sorsogon Governor – 1917 to 1919)

Governor Jose Zurbito, who hailed from Masbate. Image via Facts About Sorsogon, Sorsogon Provincial Library.

Governor Jose Zurbito, who hailed from Masbate. Image via Facts About Sorsogon, Sorsogon

Among the Bikol Politicians, Jose Zurbito stands as one whose records could be considereed very outstanding. He was twice elected as Member of the Philippine Assembly: 1909-1912, and 1913-1916 of Sorsogon; 1916-1918, then Governor of Masbate; in 1919-1924, he became the Asst. Director of the Philippine Library and Museum. On his retirement from the government service he engaged in agriculture-farming and livestock which by his example people of both Sorsogon and Masbate learned the hard and successful ways of living in a region frequently ravaged by typhoons.

Zurbito was born in Masbate, Masbate on February 15, 1884 to Gaspar Zurbito and Josefa Cervantes. He was a lawyer and an agriculturist and belonged to the Nationalista Party.

Source:  p471, Philippines: A History of the Bikol Region, Jaime T. Malanyaon, AMS Press, 1991

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Why Sorsogon is today’s cool option



At least once in your life, as a Filipino, you should experience the sight of landing at Legazpi airport, Albay, and see the perfect cone that is Mayon volcano. It is a majestic picture—one you’ve seen so often in textbooks, postcards and other tourist stuff, but it’s quite different when you’re descending on it and it’s ascending before you.

That sight greeted us last Holy Week as we went for the second time to Siama Hotel in Sorsogon. Siama is a one-hour drive away from Legazpi airport.

So beautifully designed, with classy accommodations, good food, Siama makes a good base when you’re in Sorsogon. From there, you can see the sights of this very verdant destination and enjoy its beaches.

You’ve been to Bohol, Cebu, and your kids shoo you away from Boracay (especially if it’s “Laboracay”), so that makes Sorsogon a very attractive option for the rest of summer. It’s relatively unexplored and unexploited.

Thanks to our good friend, leading architect and designer (Movement 8 fame) Milo Naval, we first ventured out to Sorsogon about two years ago to see the boutique hotel Naval had conceptualized, designed and furnished, and which he and his lean and pretty wife Kat have been running.

Modern tropical

With less than 30 rooms, Siama has a modern tropical feel which has been lauded in features/shoots here in Lifestyle, Cocoon design magazine and other local and foreign glossies. Naval, after all, has won acclaim for his modern Filipino furniture and interior designs that have brought pride to the country in various showcases, from international exhibitions abroad to the Apec receptions last November.

At Siama, native materials such as rattan and abaca, and native wood, are cast in contemporary lines, creating a symmetry that is very clean and elegant—be it as rattan sliding doors or ottomans covered in solihiya pattern or in the butaka that greets the guests entering the lobby.

The lobby that also has the social and dining area has an open-plan design, like a tropical home should be—hardly no wall between the outdoor and the indoor. But just brace for the typhoon. And Sorsogon has its share of battering typhoons.

Home cooking

Although there’s an a la carte menu, the guests welcome the buffet at the lobby/dining room or in the social hall, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dishes are home-cooked, typical of the coconut-rich food of the region, yet they have been tweaked a little to suit a city slicker’s palate, from the escabeche pampano to different native vegetables (sigarilyas, kangkong, to name a few) cooked in coconut milk to the popular lechon kawali and inasal chicken. Even the desserts are sumptuous but healthy, like sweetened kamote.

One can just chill in the boutique hotel, in the pool, or in a vast divan in the garden.

Or, from Siama, guests can venture out to Donsol, more than an hour’s drive away, for the world-famous “butanding,” or enjoy the beaches.

We went for lunch on Pagol beach, with a side tour to Banao Port on the way to the beach. Siama set up an ihaw-ihaw seafood/chicken/liempo lunch on the beach. One can swim and paddle-board. It’s only a 30-minute scenic drive away from the hotel.

Sorsogon has a lure to the young and fitness junkies. It’s a  surfing destination. Siama has a tour package to Gubat, a surfer’s paradise, where the community members—and they are young and many—can teach you how to surf.

Among them is 12-year-old surfing champion Vea Estrellado (Philippine Wahine Classic 2014, first runner-up of  Majestic Surfing Cup 2014, second-runner-up Aurora Surfing Challenge 2015, among other surfing events in the country).

There are old churches to tour, which we did last Holy Week: the Annunciation church and San Roque parish in Bacon, and the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Sorsogon City.

Easily, Sorsogon can be the next hot destination, and this summer is your chance to enjoy Sorsogon before the crowds come.

Follow the author on Instagram  @ThelmaSiosonSanJuan

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