Although they are not Bicol residents, a lot of travelers actually spend so much time in the region that they become “adopted” Bicolanos themselves. Armind Sony is one of these travelers – a road warrior in Bicol who knows Bicol than perhaps even most locals. An Area Sales Manager for Cemex, she flies to Legazpi once a month and to Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes every six weeks. She stays over a week each time. While work occupies most of her schedule, she is often left with some free time to explore the area. Here, Armind shares some of her favorite out-of-the-way haunts:
1. Masbate’s ukay-ukay market. Never snob the lowly flea market. Armind stumbled on, and haggled to get, a genuine Burbery shoulder bag at the Aroroy market. “Can you believe I got it for just P75?” she says proudly.
2. Tinapa and bagoong rice. The Colonial Grill at Legazpi City is a must-eat whenever she’s in town. “They serve yummy Bicol-fusion dishes but I keep coming back for their tinapa and bagoong rice.”
3. Howdy Café. While waiting for your ferry at the Masbate Pier, Armind suggests taking a coffee break at the Howdy Café. “They have the best Arabica coffee and their corned beef pan de sal goes great with it.”
4. Joggers’/Lovers’ Lane. If you want to break a sweat while in Legazpi City, or looking for the perfect date place, Armind suggests going to Liñgon Hill beside the Legazpi Airport. “By 5 PM, they close the roads there for the joggers and it is all lighted up. You get a great view of the Albay Gulf from up the hill too.” An added trivia: Philvocs’ monitoring station is also up there.
5. Crabby pasalubong. Whenever you’re in Masbate, don’t forget to get your claws, er, hands, on the crabs. “You can get huge, export quality crabs in the market for P200-500 per kilo,” says Armind. You can request your hotel kitchen to cook them for you or buy a Styrofoam box and pack them off for pasalubong back home.
6. It’s a breeze. Armind always craves for the fresh seafoods in Catanduanes. “Try the Sea Breeze Restaurant near the Port. They have the best crabs, camaron rebosado and calamares in the area.”
7. The best pancit. “Boklan is my all-time favorite noodle house in Bicol. Nobody beats their misua guisado.”
8. Pangat with a twist. Tired of the usual pinangat? Armind suggests going to Small Talk Café in Albay to try their Pangat Pasta.
9. Pato-tim. A new version of the pata-tim using duck instead of pork pata, is another of Armind’s must-eats in Albay. “I found this in Tago-Tago Restaurant in Brgy., San Roque.”
10. In a pickle. For a unique pasalubong, how about getting jars of pickled and sweetened gherkins at the Redemptorist Monastery in Albay? Trademarked “Red Nun Gerkins”, the nuns also make jams from their own fruit harvest. Depending on the season, you can buy santol, avocado and mango jams.