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Homecoming After 10 months, it’s sweet to be back home. We only spent four days in my birthtown Cam Sur but as with most places outside of chaotic Manila, the days seemed longer which gave us enough time to slack off and have our well-deserved break.

So yeah, Cam Sur (Didn’t I just say that with a hint of class hehe). Before, it was just “Camarines Sur”, pretty much a so-so when you talk about tourism value — you can almost say a far cry from Legazpi/Albay, another one of the 6 Bicol provinces which had its Mt. Mayon to brag about. Naga City, the former capital of Cam Sur before it became a chartered city is the more popular one, known for its Penafrancia Festival in September.

Recently though Cam Sur has fast become a crowd favourite — thanks to the great tandem of the pristine white sand beaches of the Caramoan peninsula and the best wakeboard cable park of the world, CWC plus many more hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. It was labeled by Lonely Planet as “Luzon’s best kept secret”. Sadly I never got to meet Caramoan in person hehe. I can only drool at the photos. =(

Anyways just a short bit, the province derived its name from “camaronchones” or “camarines”, a Spanish word for “kamalig” referring to small nipa huts by the natives. It’s on the south easternmost tip of Luzon, about 377 km southeast of Manila, roughly 8 hours by bus and 30-40 minutes by plane (take option 2 unless you have all the time in the world and would much rather endure a bumpy-zigzagged-painful 8 hours on the road). We flew via Cebu Pacific and we were in Naga Airport (called Naga even if it is actually in Pili, Cam Sur) before I even had the chance to snooze.

The airport frankly didn’t look like one. Kind of what you expect when you’re outside the capital. It’s a bit of a shame though, for a place that has so much potential in the tourism department.

This wasn’t meant to be like our typical trips with itineraries and all the running and commutes (we had a blast driving “Boylet” again, we missed him so!) so I guess I’ll just give you some of the places we visited/revisited in Cam Sur and Naga City which you ought to see as well.

CWC – Cam Sur Water Sports Complex
No doubt this put Cam Sur in the map, and earned for itself the distinction as the most visited tourist destination in the Philippines for the first semester of 2009 outshining Boracay and other prominent tourist spots in the Philippines. Camsur Watersports Complex or commonly referred to as CWC is truly a dreamland for hydrophiliacs and water sports enthusiasts with its world class 6-point cable ski system that’s continuously drawing riders and tourists from all over the globe. It’s even played host to several world wakeboard championships.

It’s a vast complex (6 hectares) with guest rooms/villas, clubhouse, resto, spa, pool, cabanas, game room, skateboard park, bike park etc.. Heaps! You can never be bored! It was a perfect sunny day when we came, and the clouds were just glorious!

It’s our second visit as a couple to this famed wakeboard capital (though I’ve been here when I was still single and did some pathetic kneeboarding hehe). This was me about 4 years ago, before I got this healthy hehe.

As with our first visit we ended up taking photos instead of getting humiliated err wet. Boooo. We were intimidated by the queue of people who skied like PROs..

…as well as those who have been trying for like a hundred times and still ended face-flat in the water instead of getting the groove.

I have to commend this little kid for his invincible resolve to learn the sport. I can’t count the number of failed attempts but he still kept on going!

It was amazing to simply watch the PROs do thrilling stunts. We spent a good deal of time trying to capture the action and as usual, people-watch

The pool was very much enticing at the height of the summer heat. That’s PHP 150 for you. Mt. Isarog as the backdrop is just stunning! I adored the cabanas, a perfect chill-out place but it cost P1,200 (60 dollars) which is consumable. Works for big groups where you can each chip in for the fee but for a couple like us it wasn’t such a smart idea.

Hence our favorite self-portraits!

We made plans to go back the next day to give wakeboarding a try but we never made it back hehe.

Hot Springs
For nature lovers, try the Mini Hydro Hot Springs at Brgy. Panicuason, just at the foot of the beautiful Mt. Isarog, which is said to be the last rainforest mountain in South Luzon. It’s about 30-45 mins drive from the city, quite an off the beaten track destination but nevertheless worth it. The descent to the resort gave me quite a scare. The resort itself isn’t flashy– it looks like a big work in progress but the hotsprings are the main attraction. There are several pools with varying temperatures according to your taste. We tried the one with 39 degrees Celsius and Jep almost let out a scream. Hmmm…Why did I suddenly think about hard-boiled eggs? hehe. The 32 degree ones were just right. Soothing, therapeutic, a great way to free yourself of all the unwanted stress!

The wonderful greens that serve as the backdrop is a big bonus!

As well as the stream that completed all-natural beauty of this place

The trip would never be complete without taking our photos…

Naga Cathedral
I’ve been to this church my whole life (this is just right across my school) but I can’t stop being awed by its beauty. According to history this church dates back to 1595, though the construction of its Spanish-Romanesque design commenced in 1808. This where the region’s Patroness, Our Lady of Penafrancia is brought from its shrine via a procession called “Traslacion”. Next to it is the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary which has been inscribed by the National Historical Institute as a National Historical Landmark for its historical significance as well as its ancient charm.

Bigg’s Diner
My favorite food chain in Naga! You gotta love the 50’s inspired theme, the decors, the general “diner” ambiance, and of course the food. A real gastronomic treat for a very decent price and the variety is impressive. We ordered my favorites! BBQ, chicken, spaghetti and cordon bleu! Baby Zachi was delighted!

Nightlife
Naga City is very much alive at night with its stretch of bars, restos, bistros, grills, coffeshops, etc., especially along the Magsaysay strip which is dubbed as the “Malate” of Bicol. Try my favorite Beanbag (local coffeeshop) that sells very good coffee for very low prices. Jep and I went to Kopi Roti in Cereza (the newest lifestyle center in the city) just because he was craving for the soft-boiled eggs.

I can’t wait to have another homecoming. See you in October!

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