Cagsawa Ruins: Beyond Its Magnificence Lies a Tragic History Every Traveler Must Know

cagsawa ruins bicol facade

Many tourists are amazed at how beautiful Cagsawa Ruins is but for it to look that way, the church, the little town and over a thousand people had to go through a tragic condition. 

In this blog, we will slice the details piece by piece so we can all understand why Cagsawa Ruins is more than just a tourist attraction.

*Cover photo source: Wikimedia Commons 

About Cagsawa Ruins

One of the most historical places in Albay is Cagsawa Ruins as it is a result of the most violent eruption of Mayon Volcano in recorded history. Thousands of people were killed in the disaster, including those who sought refuge in this stone church during the eruption that were engulfed by the fast-flowing volcanic matter. This belfry is all that remains of the town during that 1814 eruption. Now, it is among the most famous Daraga Albay tourist spots that never fails to amaze its visitors.

What’s inside this blog?

History of Cagsawa Ruins

cagsawa ruins bicol

Photo credits to Paolo Paraiso via Flickr

Unlike other tourist attractions, Cagsawa Ruins Park was born out of a tragedy hundreds of years ago. The History of Cagsawa Ruins started way back in 1724 when it was built by Franciscan friars. But on February 1, 1814, Mayon Volcano blasted its most devastating eruption to date. It buried Cagsawa town along with over 1,200 people including those who sought refuge at the Cagsawa Church. Mayon erupted with “plinian, pyroclastic flows” and “volcanic lightning and lahar” according to Phivolcs. So the only thing that’s left from the Cagsawa Church is its iconic belltower. The ruins are now joined by a wooden cross that was placed where the Cagsawa Church altar used to be.

Now, it is one of the most popular attractions not just in Bicol but across the Philippines. 

If you want to see the Cagsawa Church old picture, check out the photo by University Of Wisconsin-milwaukee Libraries | Pendleton, Robert Larimore.


Cagsawa Ruins description

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Cagsawa was derived from the word “Kag” which means owner and “sawa” for python. It could also mean too much or excesses. The Cagsawa church was built after 1724 by the Franciscan friars and was administered by Fray Francisco Blanco in the small town of Cagsawa.


Cagsawa Ruins location

This historical landmark can be found in the town of Daraga in Albay, Bicol. Check out this Cagsawa Ruins tagalog map. 


How to get there

If you want to witness the stunning remains of the Cagsawa Church, here are some ways to reach Cagsawa Ruins Park.

By bus
The common and cheapest way to reach Bicol is by bus. From Manila or Cubao, ride a bus going to Legazpi. From the terminal in Legazpi, you can charter a van going to Cagsawa Ruins Park. This is perfect for those traveling on a budget. Travel time by bus is around 10-12 hours.

By plane
If you don’t have a lot of time to spare on the road, you can also take a plane ride going to Bico but it is more expensive. From Manila, there are regular flights to Legazpi City and it only takes 1 hour and 10 minutes.


Cagsawa Ruins Activities

atv riding cagsawa ruins bicol

Now that you know the history and Cagsawa Ruins description, it’s time to enjoy the activities to try in the park. 

  1. ATV Riding – This is the most exhilarating way to explore the foothills of Mayon, ruins, rice fields, rivers, and mud trails filled with thousands of volcanic rocks. Drive an ATV to the Lava Wall of Mayon Volcano. This ultimate adventure rush takes you through gullies, rivers, and fallen rock.
  2. Hiking – If you’re feeling extra adventurous, go for a quick hike at Mayon.
  3. Visit the Cagsawa National Museum – This is the best way to learn more about the Cagsawa Church History in tagalog as they share the stories and some Cagsawa Church old pictures.

Tourist spots nearby

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  1. Ligñon Hill Nature Park – This tourist spot is popular for families and groups who love adventure. Ligñon Hill Nature Park is located on top of a steep hill so getting there is quite a challenge already. And when you get there, you’ll be rewarded with fresh air and a 360-degree view of the fields below. You can also try their famous 320-meter long zip line, and a hanging bridge.
  2. Albay Park and Wildlife – If you’re looking for Albay tourist attractions perfect for the kids, go to Albay Park and Wildlife. This is Albay’s only zoo, and home to more than 400 birds, mammals, and reptiles. 
  3. Sumlang Lake – Here you can ride a bamboo raft with exquisite abaca furniture as you stroll on the 9-hectare swamp while enjoying a stunning view of the Mayon Volcano.
  4. Daraga Church – Among the most notable and must-visit churches in the Philippines is Daraga Church. Also known as Church of Nuestra Señora de la Porteria, this Daraga Albay tourist spot has witnessed numerous historic events like the 1814 Mayon eruption and World War II. Add this 18th-century baroque church in your itinerary for a memorable trip.

For more Albay tourist spots, read this blog: 15 Most Beautiful Albay Tourist Spots Every Traveler Must Visit


Where to stay in Albay

Mayon View Garden Apartelle

Address: Narra Drive, Pagasa Rawis, Bicol
Amenities: 24h Front Desk, Parking, Meeting Room (Extra Cost), Common Kitchen, Baggage Storage, Shared Lounge / TV Area, Laundry (Extra Cost), Dry Cleaning (Extra Cost), Designated Smoking Area, 24h Security, Air Conditioning, Hot Shower

Price from PHP 1,400 per night

Book now

Casablanca Suites

Address: Narra Drive, Pagasa Rawis, Bicol
Amenities: Free Wifi, Air Conditioning, Hot Shower, 24h Front Desk, Parking, Meeting Room (Extra Cost), Hotel Restaurant, Hotel Bar, Ironing Facilities, Concierge, Tour Desk, Baggage Storage, Shared Lounge / TV Area, Laundry (Extra Cost), Dry Cleaning (Extra Cost), Designated Smoking Area, 24h Security, Airport Shuttle, SPA (Massage, Manicure/Pedicure)

Price from PHP 2,800 per night

Book now


Frequently Asked Questions About Cagsawa Ruins

Q: Where is Cagsawa Ruins located? 
A: Cagsawa Ruins is located in the town of Daraga in Albay, Bicol.

Q: How to go to Cagsawa Ruins?
A: The common and cheapest way to reach Bicol is by bus. From Manila or Cubao, ride a bus going to Legazpi. From the terminal in Legazpi, you can charter a van going to Cagsawa Ruins Park. This is perfect for those traveling on a budget. Travel time by bus is around 10-12 hours.

Q: What is Cagsawa Ruins in tagalog?
A: There’s not really a written document about what Cagsawa Ruins tagalog is. But according to folklore, Cagsawa was derived from the word “Kagsawa-kag” meaning owner and “sawa” meaning python. 

Q: Is Albay open for tourism?
A: As of writing, the province of Albay is temporarily closing its borders for leisure travelers due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the country. Only essential travel is allowed.

Source: Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara

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