The landscape of Camarines Sur is dominated by two well-known mountains- Mt. Isarog, a dormant volcano that is enriched bt the lush rainforest of Mt. Isarog National Park where the Consocep Resort possess several waterfalls and Mt. Iriga, an extinct volcano with deeply forested slope. Nearby is Lake Buhi, home of Sinarapan, the worlds smallest freshwater fish. Elevated in a plateau some 350-feet above sea level, the lake is surroinded by hills and forests, making it not only an important body of water but a picturesque one too.
Camarines Sur is a province of the Philippines located in the Bicol Region in Luzon. Its capital is Pili and the province borders Camarines Norte and Quezon to the north, and Albay to the south. To the east lies the island province of Catanduanes across Maqueda Channel.
Camarines Sur is the largest among the six provinces in the Bicol Region both in terms of population and land area. Its territory encompasses two cities: Naga City, the lone chartered city, is the province’s and the region’s commercial, educational, financial, and cultural center, while Iriga City, a component city, is the center of the Rinconada area. Lake Buhi is where the smallest commercially-harvested fish can be found, the Sinarapan (Mistichthys luzonensis).
The climate in Camarines Sur, like most of the rest of the country, is very tropical. It is dry from March to May and wet the rest of the year Annual average rainfall is 2,565 millimeters. Camarines Sur has an average temperature of 27.0 °C and a relative humidity of 25.8%.
PLACES OF INTEREST IN CAM SUR
Matukad Island is one of the small islands found in Caramoan, Camarines Sur. This island is pristine or unspoiled by commercialism, I call this my haven or paradise I’ve been to many beaches even In Boracay all I can say is that Caramoan is way much better. Matukad Island has powder like fine white sands, school of fishes swimming are abundant in the area. Matukad Island also has a hidden lake inside the rock formations in the island. The island was the major setting of Koh-Lanta, the French version of the reality show Survivor has captured the attention of countless potential tourists and has been listed among the best destinations in the world by Top Resa 2008 Paris, the biggest travel and trade show and tourism forum in France.
Presently, this is the site of Bicol’s magnificent Emerald Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes. In olden times, the hill was once the habitat of the Asuang (witch), the reason why the hill is referred to as the “orno” or “oven”. As the result of the angelization of the area the hill became the site for staging “Pagtanggal”, the Iriga folk version of the re-enactment of the Passion of Christ, hence, the name “Calvario Hill”. The first “ermita” or mission chapel of Iriga during Spanish times was erected here as evidenced by religious artifacts unearthened in the site. Opposite the Ermita the Casino Espanol was erected, a favorite converging are for Spanish rulers. When the Americans came at the turn of the century, this was converted into a base for its cavalry forces. During the Japanese occupation, a Japanese garrison was established on the hilltop, utilized as watchtower against guerillas. Many Filipinos met martyrdom in this area.
The cave got rich guano reserve. It is also rumored that General Yamashita hide his treasure inside the cave. No need to look any further – the cave is treasure in itself! Manipis Cave is located at Brgy Pandanan, Caramoan, Camarines Sur.
A 10-kilometer long island in Caramoan and about 3 kilometers at its widest point. The island has long stretches of uniquely white fine sand. Barangay Gota has been known as a gold-mining community even before the war. At present only small-scale operation is in existence. At sitio Nipa, a spring 300 meters from the shore provides fresh water source not available elsewhere. A 40-hectare mangrove swamp near Barangay Oring offers a habitat for a marine wildlife.
The lagoon is accessible by swimming underneath the rocks on the beach side. Coral gardens are vast and colorful.
Like a deformed cathedral the cave interior is illuminated by natural windows millions of bats flying in circles petrified hill of guano.
Our Lady of Peñafrancia Church
The original home of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the patroness of Bicolandia. The Church’s hand-painted ceilings and fine architecture has been preserved for the appreciation of the devotees and visitor
An international pilgrim tourist spot with towering 35-foot statue of the Queen of the Family. The park gives visitors a breathtaking panoramic view of the provinces of Camarines Sur and Albay. Bamboo and anahaw cottages are built around the shrine, well-maintain landscaped for accommodation. The site is essential for religious, tourism and economic concerns.
Mt. Isarog, Naga City, Camarines Sur
This 40-foot high scenic wonder is located on the slope of Mt. Isarog in Barangay Panicuason, Naga City . The Malabsay Falls Ecology Park features swimming areas beneath the waterfalls, concrete winding stairs, foot bridges and pathways, cottages and related facilities for use by swimmers and visitors, and a plant nursery and campaign ground.
Lake Buhi, an important natural and economic resource in the area, was formed with the eruption of Mt. Asog, a prominent yet now dormant volcano. The major economic activities in Buhi are agriculture and fishing, both of which depend greatly on the lake’s resources. It provides almost 4-5 metric tons of fish a day. One important fish in the lake is Sinarapan (Mistichthys luzonensis). This tasty local delicacy is a source of pride for Buhi and the whole country as well. Sinarapan has been recorded in the Guiness World Record as the world’s smallest commercial fish. It measures only around 2.1-2.4mm long or smaller than a ten centavo coin. The name Sinarapan came from the word “sarap” which refers to the fine net used for catching this fish.
Things to Do & Try in Camarines Sur
1. Wakeboard at CamSur Watersports Complex.**
2. Try the Bicolano Pizza.*
3. Munch on a bag of candied Pili Nuts.*
4. Island Hop in the Caramoan Peninsula.**
5. Feel the Bicolano religiosity at the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Shrine. **
6. Get lost in the maze at the Naga Ecology Park.*
7. Soak in the hot-springs on Mount Isarog.*
8. Feel the island vibe at Pasacao, Camarines Sur’s answer to Brazil’s Copacabana.**
9. Marvel at the numerous stalagmites and stalactites in Kalupnitan and Adiangan Caves.
*- Highly Recommended
**- Recommended by Locals
Where & What to Eat
There are not many of decent eating places in Caramoan. For travelers, there are probably two obvious choices – Lutong Bahay which makes uninspired mainstream Filipino dishes or the Kamalig which has a better ambience, pricier and fortunately has better menu choices. Bicol Express (pork in coconut milk and chilies) and Laing (taro leaves in coconut milk and chilies) are passable and their own version of fish soup (Tanguige Kusido) was quite interesting. The menu says that there is a maximum of 2-3 beers per person. Of course no one really follows that rule.
Caramoan town by itself is a very sleepy town with not much going day or night save for some karaoke joints. While stopping over at Bikal, we heard a guy screaming his guts out over a karaoke song. Horrible. Other than that, quiet dinners or just lazing by the beach with a drink in Gota is the best way to celebrate a night in Caramoan.