Like a true Filipina lass, Daragang Magayon ("beautiful lady") peeks from her glowing cloud cover at sunset to give us a glimpse of what tourists from all over come to Albay for. The locals said that if you are lucky and she favors you, she'll show you all of her perfect cone allure.
There's an interesting folklore as to how Mt. Mayon came to be (legend of Daragang Magayon), and Mt. Mayon's perfect conical shape reflect that heroine's beauty.
Mt Mayon is an active volcano (beautiful and dangerous!) and at the time we were there, she was showing pre-eruption signs and communities from around her base were evacuated outside the 6-km danger zone. Activities that involve getting really close to the volcano were suspended, but it does not really matter if you are just after getting postcard shots of Mayon, for she is ubiquitous around the province of Albay.
Getting off the plane at Legazpi airport will give you an idea how ubiquitous she is. Airport security personnel have gotten used to tourists taking selfies right after de-planing.
Here are a couple of locations outside of the tourist radar where you may get beautiful shots of Mayon.
Cagsawa RuinsOkay, I have to admit Cagsawa Ruins is as touristy as it can get, and don't let the photo below fool you for its not as remote as it looks. All around you from this vantage point are souvenir shops and tourists taking all imaginable silly trick shots [my wife and friends included]
Cagsawa bell tower
However there are "secret" spots beyond the tourist area, past the little hut in the photo below and across the rice fields.
Its a place of raw beauty, of clear streams with cool water rushing through. Only few of the tourists venture out there (some probably just out of curiosity when they see tripod carrying folks disappear beyond the ricefields), no one to photobomb your shots, except maybe your fellow photographers.
The landscape also changes (and "reconfigures" itself) depending on the season and the volume of water coming down from the base of the mountain. Streams may dry up or bloat into full blown rivers.
beyond the ruins at sunset
Getting to Cagsawa Ruins: Take a tricycle from Legazpi City, travel time is less than 30 minutes. You can hire the whole cab for 200 pesos one way. You can also take the jeepney heading for Camalig, Guinobatan or Polangui and ask the driver to drop you off at the junction leading to the ruins.
This man made lake is probably the best vantage point for shooting Mayon, and is definitely a favorite among photographers. The best time to shoot here is at sunrise. This is way off the tourist radar.
There are nearby fields you can shoot from as well. Just make sure you ask permission if you see the farmers for these are private lands.
Getting to Gabawan Lake: Gabawan is located in the nearby town of Daraga. If you are staying in Legazpi, its best rent a taxi to take you to Gabawan considering that the best time to go there is before dawn breaks. If you are staying in Daraga, you can just rent a tricycle. The problem however is finding the best spot to shoot from if you don't have anyone with you who has been there before. For van/car rentals, contact +63-9189657873 (look for Raymond)
Legazpi Boulevard (Sea Wall Park)
This 1.6km stretch starting from Embarcadero is a favorite among the locals especially in the morning and in the afternoon. People go there to jog and bike, or simply take a leisurely stroll. There are also makeshift fish markets selling fresh catch, especially in the morning.
If you go further past the big "Legazpi" sign until to reach the point where the road turns right heading to the hills, there is a small pathway that leads you down to the rocky beach. From there you get unobstructed views of Mayon during sunrise and sunset.
Getting to the end of the boulevard: Walk from Embarcadero! Its the best way to keep the pounds off after stuffing yourself with delicious Bicol food.