Haunting Tale of Cagsawa Ruins | Albay

In Norse Mythology, there is a God named Heimdall, who sits at the edge of heaven and guards Asgard, which was among the "Nine Worlds" in Norse cosmology. The Cagsawa Ruins, with its bell tower sticking out from the ground where it once mightily stood, unbreakable, strong and invisible, is at the edge of an invisible boundary of a world inhabited by the majestic Mayon Volcano. 

Audrey Trinidad

Battered and bruised by the violent Mayon Volcano eruption of February 1, 1814, a morning that started when the town folks were busy preparing for "Candle Day Mass". Before the candles could be lighted inside the church, a huge fireball erupting from the mouth of Mayon, fired up scorching boulders up in the air. The eruption took the lives of more than 12 hundred people, many of whom made the fatal mistake of running for shelter inside the church. Once inside, they pinned their hopes on their unshakable faith and the church's massive stone foundation, hoping it would shield them from death. However, massive pyroclastic flows (lahar) flowed like waves from the ocean, burying the old town of Cagsawa. The aftermath was so horrendous, historians could only shake their head imagining the sight that befell on this once scenic and quaint town.

taken in the early 1900's with the facade still visible
We arrived at Cagsawa Ruins from Daraga Church at around 8:00 AM, together with a somber sky frowning on us. A thick blanket of clouds covered Mayon Volcano perfectly, to the point one will not suspect its even there. It was like a hand of God moved it elsewhere and only the sole bell tower of Cagsawa exist. At first, a sigh of rejection reigned over me as I've always wanted to see Mayon up close, as I've gotten tired of seeing it only on postcards and on history and geography textbooks. 

photo taken in 1928 shows Cagsawa being eaten by the forest
I told myself that I didn't sat on a bus for 8 hours coming from Manila to Naga and then another 2 hours going to Legazpi only to miss it by chance with no one to blame but the gloominess of the sky. But then, we met a young boy who moonlights as a tour guide slash photographer. He walked us through the ruins of Cagsawa. Although its story has been told to me years before and already was stored in my mind's knowledge vault. The way he recited its history to us, brings forth a new found appreciation of why I was there.

Cat Trivino

As the young boy was saying "the ground you're stepping on is actually the upper half of the church, and underneath at the bottom of the original church is where the people died in the aftermath of the eruption...." It then became clear to me that, even though I missed seeing Mayon Volcano, being at its foot, at the mere presence of its mythical vanguard–the Cagsawa ruins–made the whole trip worthwhile. 

Carmel Co

The surrounding of Cagsawa dishes an eerie setting, especially with the cloudy weather. It can spook you instantly. I'm pretty sure if you bring a person with unique supernatural abilities here, they might hear or feel paranormal energies from the past. Such as the cries of those who were trapped inside Cagsawa echoing while the lava flow rapidly.

Kara Santos

We took pictures of the bell tower and the ruins at every angle, while other visitors took theirs in an array of trick positions showing them in poses depicting hammering down on the tower, or carrying a giant rock. On a clear day, you can include both the Mayon Volcano and Cagsawa Ruins in your background (just like the photo below taken from my later trip to Cagsawa)

Monnette Santillan

Large portions of rocks from past eruptions are embedded on the ground, forever rooted within the soil, which was covered with a soft growth spurts of grass. A wooden cross is erected at the back end of Cagsawa facing Mayon Volcano. 

Livs Yao

The mystery, the enigma and the history of Cagsawa brings a loud ovation to the senses. It is mythical in its own and transgresses from beyond. The scenic surrounding hides a dark and shadowy past, that proves that the Earth and its inhabitants has this love and hate relationship. Like a guardian of the invisible bridge between us and the Mayon Volcano. Cagsawa Ruins, just like its mythological version of Heimdall, stands guard to the finite world of Mayon's "Asgard".

Bam Raguindin and Marky Ramone Go

The Cagsawa is now reduced to a ruin of what stood imposingly but has remained as a reminder of how brutal forces of nature could be. The horrors of its past remains unimaginable to everyone who had set foot on this place. As the cold wind blows against my face, a parade of peaceful energy fill my surrounding. I wonder if it was the calm before the eruption, I hope not. I wish and for everyone's sake including what remains of the Cagsawa, Mayon Volcano would not erupt with volatile and fiery rage like it did that day back in 1814.


This is my entry to the October 2011 edition of the Pinoy Travel Bloggers' Blog Carnival. The theme for this month is "Tales from the Dark Side of Travel" (which features sites, attractions and exhibitions which have real or recreated death, suffering or seemingly macabre as a main theme) hosted by Gael Hilotin of The Pinay Solo Backpacker.