My Son’s First Hiking Experience and Mayon Volcano’s Perfect Cone

Whenever I go home for a short vacation to our province, I always allocate time for family bonding. Walking on a rice field, romping in the sala, going to the market are only some of my ways to bond with my son and wife. The pictures have been like that for three years since my little boy was born. So, I thought it would be a great idea to give them a different kind of family bonding the next time around.

There’s no better time to realize that plan when we went home on the third week of August this year to commemorate my father-in-law’s death anniversary. We stayed there for five days from August 17 to 21 and it was on the last, rainy day of that short vacation that I decided to introduce my son to hiking. And the perfect place is the Lignon Hill Nature Park in Legazpi City, Albay. The byproduct was to take a peek at Mayon Volcano’s Perfect Cone. There’s an emphasis to my son because my wife was already once a hiker back in college until she suffered from that malady almost a couple of years ago, which made her refrain from doing strenuous physical activities. That’s the reason why I chose just a hill, whose summit is achievable by 2, 625 steps from the park’s entrance for Brad’s “initiation”, over a mountain.

Lignon Hill stands 156 meters (511 ft).

I already read that one of the best places that offer a decent view of Mayon Volcano’s perfect cone is the Lignon Hill Nature Park. I targeted this hill instead of a flat grassy plain since my main goal for this family bonding/nature tripping is to introduce my little boy to hiking. Furthermore, the elevation of the hill suggests a far more thrilling hike than the latter.

It was raining hard when we left the house for Legazpi City at seven o’clock in the morning on 21 August 2011 howbeit my faith with this plan remained intact. Before leaving, I prayed that may the weeping skies calm down by the time we’re at the destination. Believing in it firmly attracted the universe to conspire and grant my little prayer.

It took us two and a half hours from Naga City, Camarines Sur to Legazpi City, Albay. The mourning skies did stop from crying when we reached the city. I think that’s more than enough of what I’ve asked for. I was already at the brink of doing another supplication because the grey skies would affect the quality of photos I will be taking but I stopped. That’s when the spirit of resourcefulness showed up and told me that he will help at enhancing my photos.

I could see my son burning with eagerness to walk by the time we alighted from the bus. He must have digested the things I discussed with him on our way to this place. I tried hard to explain the things he should know and do before we boarded the bus. It made me convivial because that’s exactly what I wanted to happen.

Lignon Hill Nature Park is a prominent landform found behind the Legazpi Airport Tower in Legazpi City, Albay. This hill, like I said, gives a nice view of Mayon Volcano because the latter rises imperially behind the hill.

After a few meters of walking, the airport runway can already be seen.

The crest is attainable through a panoramic cemented road that winds up the hill offering a challenging 20-30 minute trek. No wonder this hill became a favorite exercise area for local fitness buffs most especially runners.

In fairness to my newest recruit, he only begged for a lift halfway up the summit. I think that’s remarkable for a two-year (and 9 months) old!

However, I was surprised that the carry-me-Papa moment, which I was expecting to keep on until we reach the summit, didn’t last for long because after only about four minutes, he told me he wanted to trek again.

He made it through the summit without asking for another lift. That put me on cloud nine because he exceeded my expectations. I think he needs to hit the mountain trails sooner I must say. Excellent job, son!

Here are some of the things that one could see at the summit excluding for the meantime the highlight, which is Mayon Volcano’s Perfect Cone:

The reason for making the view of Mayon Volcano’s Perfect Cone as this post’s highlight aside from the title is, I really struggled in capturing the volcano’s almost naked glory. Clouds were so cruel that day. We made it to the hilltop for only 25 minutes yet photographing the Perfect Cone took hours to fulfill.

That’s why I was constrained to say a little prayer at this point–again–for the mighty sun to disperse the clouds. After four grueling hours of waiting, the clouds remained uncooperative. I looked at my watch and learned that it’s only four thirty in the afternoon. Still, the virtue of patience was with me so while still waiting for the clouds to set the cone free, I thought of window shopping at the kaleidoscopic Souvenir Store standing at the summit’s center after having my lunch. The volcano’s cone is obviously more interesting and overpowering that the store turned less appealing despite its vibrancy.


To be honest, I really like burloloys (the Filipino term for stuff like the ones on the photo above) so it goes without saying I bought one for my ankle. One of the signature accessories of mountaineers in the country is an anklet; hence, it’s a must for my wandering feet to have one.

It was already six o’clock when I noticed the clouds vanishing from Mayon Volcano’s cone–almost but not quite. I had to take advantage as it was already impossible, considering the time and weather, to get a nicer view of the volcano’s perfect cone than the ones on the photo below.

Mayon Volcano, also known as Mount Mayon, is an active volcano in the province of Albay, on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Renowned as the “perfect cone” because of its almost symmetric conical shape, Mayon forms the northern boundary of Legazpi City, the largest city in terms of population in the Bicol Region. The mountain is a national park and a protected landscape in the country proclaimed as as Mayon Volcano Natural Park in the year 2000 (wikipedia).

Mayon Volcano is the main landmark of Albay Province, Philippines, rising 2,462 metres (8,077 ft) from the shores of the Gulf of Albay about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) away. The volcano is geographically shared by the cities and municipalities of Legazpi City, Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Ligao City, Tabaco City, Malilipot, and Santo Domingo (clockwise from Legazpi) which divide the cone like slices of a pie when viewed from above(wikipedia).

Mayon is a classic stratovolcano type of volcano capped by a small central summit crater. The cone is considered to be the world’s most perfectly-formed volcano for its symmetry, which was formed through layers of pyroclastic and lava flows from past eruptions and erosion. The upper slopes of the basaltic-andesitic volcano are steep averaging 35-40 degrees. Like other volcanoes located around Pacific Ocean, Mayon is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is located on the eastern side of Luzon, near the Philippine Trench which is the convergent boundary where the Philippine Sea Plate is driven under the Philippine Mobile Belt. When a continental plate or belt of continental fragments meets an oceanic plate, the lighter continental material overrides the oceanic plate, forcing it down into the Earth’s mantle. Magma may be forced through weaknesses in the continental crust caused by the collision of the tectonic plates. One such exit point is Mayon (wikipedia).

I admit I wasn’t satisfied with my pictures because the most fundamental aspect of photography–which is the right amount of light– was no-show that day. Then again, there’s no reason to feel disappointed because I am undoubtedly blessed with this opportunity alone to see one of the country’s most stunning landmarks. Not everybody can set foot on the summit of Lignon Hill where I, my son, and wife savored these breathtaking views. Moreover, the exhilarating joy the three of us shared out of this family bonding.

For more information about the Majestic Mayon and Lignon Hill Nature Park (how to get to these places, where to stay, maps, stories, other activities, etc.), please click this website: wowlegazpi.com.

Trivia: Mayon Volcano was once nominated for the New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2008.

PS: GE X5 & i-Phone 2G

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35 thoughts on “My Son’s First Hiking Experience and Mayon Volcano’s Perfect Cone

  1. Wow, the detail of your trip made me feel I was there. I was excited for that perfect Mayon shot before you post this article, (considering you had informed me of this trip), but the content is the epitome. (The clouds made that Mayon shot imposing though.)

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  2. Wow! You made me miss Bicol, bro.I am planning to go home this Dec. and that’s the time I can freshen up myself with some nature things like what you did. I’m going to witness that perfect cone volcano and I’m so excited with it.I bet you really have a good time with your family. Cheers…

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    • I had, certainly! I am looking forward to what you’re gonna cook out of that trip, Bro. Cheers (in advance to that story)! Regards to the family.

      p.s.

      I remember the first time we met here. Your story about Mayon made me feel envious … Talking about things in common, huh …

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  3. Bro, that is one unforgettable memorable trip with your family. Thanks for sharing them with us. I felt that I was there myself at every step of your adventure. I never been to this place. I only see them on pictures but this is the first that someone recounted them for me like I was part of that amazing discovery. Must be a breathtaking experience to see the majestic volcano, to be close to the clouds and actually looking through God’s unbelievable creation. It was nice to see your family in them. The best part of this trip is that you created a priceless bond with your wife and son. In the end, it’s all about our family and our love for them. Once again, thanks for sharing an inspiring story. God bless….

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    • When I was savoring this, like you said, majestic view of the volcano, I was actually thinking like Titans must have molded this thing. The cone’s shape is unbelievable I tell you. There’s an exquisite form of happiness when I share the view of what they call “nature at its best” (e.g. Mayon Volcano) with my son and wife, most especially when I see them enjoy much as I do. I’m glad I saw them manifest joy that very day! Mission accomplished … Thanks, Bro, for the BIG words — as always! Regards to the family.

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  4. I’m reading your blog before work on a Monday morning here in the UK, your descriptions and photographs of the National Park have given this virtual traveler a really good feeling about the day ahead.

    Thank you for sharing!

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    • Ivan, salamat ng marami sa pagdalaw! I’m glad a fellow Filipino Travel Blogger, whom I admire, dropped by here to leave a “trace” :-) I instantly became a fan of your blog the first time I browsed over it. Keep the travel spirit in you burning. Cheers to more stories and travels …

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  5. This was one beautiful post Sony! I immensely enjoyed every minute of it. That volcano is an awesome sight to behold. Interestingly enough, it almost looks as though there is steam coming out of it. I realize that it’s only the clouds! No doubt, that is a very good thing I must say. By the way, I love the family photos. Thanks so much for sharing. “Nature and family” sounds like the perfect day to me! That must have been an awesome experience for you and your family. The breathtaking views are priceless; the precious memories are forever. :)

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  6. Wow, what a great experience and Mayon Volcano still has its near perfect cone.. I have never been there nor nearby.

    …then I see the wandering foot just before the Mayon Volcano, haha… You must have enjoyed this trip with your son and wife. Kudos to your son for climbing that hill, must be tiring I suppose.

    Thanks for sharing my friend… :)

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  7. Absolutely stunning photos – I like the way you take the reader on your journey along the way. You have a beautiful family as well! Wonderful family bonding time, there’s nothing better in the world.

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  8. Pingback: Sunday Post: Colorful | Stories of My Wandering Feet (& Mind)

  9. Wonderful photos. You guys are definitely in better shape than I am. I remember that hill and it punished me all the way to the summit. Looking at the mountain the first thing I noticed was the scorched and blackened path the previous lava flows have left behind on the mountain side, and then I saw the clusters of houses at the very foot of the mountain. I wonder what it is like to live next to a restless giant.

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  10. Hi Sony,

    Great post!
    Excellently written account of your family bonding tryst at Lignon Hill; and a great tribute to Mayon volcano, our pride. I am delighted to know that you’re a Bicolano (Camarines Sur). I am from Legazpi City and I agree, Lignon Hill is not to be missed if you want the best view and photos of Mayon. My friends and I jog along that stretch of road up the hill. It’s an exhilarating experience, really. Next time you visit, try the Zip Line too. Many local and foreign tourists come here anytime.

    Your photos are very fascinating and I am sure your readers will look forward to visiting the site.
    Thanks for the wonderful story. Mabuhay! Yes, proudly Pinoy!

    Uragon talaga kita Manoy!!! ;)

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  11. Very nice post, I like the shape of the legs of your fellow hiker. It is also remarkable that after those grueling hours of hiking and waiting, I did not read that your protege made any complaint. Kudos to your little one. Sight of volcanoes are really fascinating, Way back in college I thought I like to live at Tagaytay so I can always see the breath taking view of Taal Lake and the volcano. But then after everyone felt the effect of Mount Pinatubo’s eruption. I kinda change my mind. It’s nice to see those giants once in a while but not to live near them. Indeed you captured the beautiful pic of Mayon volcano, one of the magnificent arsenal of nature.

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  12. hi Sony, your son is amazing! i have gone up the hill in a van and i saw how inclined some portions of the trek up was … and your adorable son, with his sure but small footsteps made the summit … what one mighty feat for a 2/yo! please give him a hug for me, if you don’t mind. us parents have to continually give our kids gracious encouragement and support every so often! and you’re such a good dad yourself for writing about his first “hill” trek … and of course, i saw in the photos how your wife was proud of your baby as well. great post!

    btw, thank you for putting my share of how the great MAYON has captured my heart, too! i have seen it twice and every time, it has never failed to tug at my heart! maraming salamat po :) — APRIL

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  13. Thank you for hopping in and leaving such a warm comment. You’ve been quite a traveller, my God… I am pretty much fascinated wit the Mayon Volcano for sure and visiting Philippines is also on the cards – not very soon though. I will definitely note down the places you’ve suggested. Look forward to reading more:)

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