NAGA EXCURSIONS: Get To Know Naga’s Newest Brand of Tourism

“If not because of the international reality show Survivor series that were shot in Caramoan Islands, Naga won’t be given much attention by DTI nor be included in their road map for tourism campaign.” says John Bongat mayor of Naga in a press conference to promote their tourism.  And since tourism is one of the many engines for driving the economic progress, the local government of Naga does not want to just wait for outside help but did every effort to prove they have what it takes.

Truly as I listen to their presentation, Naga has a lot of reasons to be proud of in terms of heritagey, spirituality, culinary, natural wonders and  one person that is an epitome of good governance admired by many Filipinos.  Naga Excursions or Naga X, is Naga’s newest brand of tourism that offers a myriad of choices to meet all types of adventures to anyone visiting their place. Let me tell you the ways:


History 

Previously called as “Ciudad de Nueva Caceres”, Naga is the third Spanish royal city or third oldest Spanish city in the Philippines after Manila and Cebu. It has a number of edifices that is a remnant of Spanish rule and Japanese occupation.

Heritage and Pilgrimage


Photo credit to http://nagax.com/

Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia:  Because Naga is home to the 300+ year old devotion to Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia, it has been declared as the Pilgrim City of the Philippines by virtue of a Presidential Proclamation, the only city of its kind.  Millions of devotees flock to Naga to join the Feast of the Blessed Virgin of Peñafrancia – the solemn act of bringing back the image of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia to its home at the Basilica Minore aboard a colorful boat known as pagoda while the pilgrims line to the river holding candles and waving handkerchiefs.

Basilica Minore de Nuestra Señora Peñafrancia : It is where the original image of Virgin of Peñafrancia can be seen. Also its expansive stained-glass window depicting highlights of the feast’s fluvial procession at the church’s façade is said to be the largest in the country, even larger than the North Rose Window of the Notre Dame Cathedral in France.

Holy Rosary Minor Seminary: Declared as the National Historical Landmark, this is previously called “Casa de Clerigos” in 1785.

Porta Mariae: One of the only two triumphal arches in the Philippines, Porta Mariae was built in commemoration of the 300+ years of devotion to Our Lady of Peñafrancia.

Islands and Beaches

caramoan islands
Photo credit to http://nagax.com/
Caramoan Islands: Just two hours away from Metro Naga, this place is a perfect description of unspoiled beauty for a lot of tropical adventures. Caramoan is a favorite spot for international editions (Serbia, Israel, America, Sweden, France and India) of the reality TV show Survivor.

Camarines Sur Watersports Complex:  Same with the previous one I just mentioned, this one is so known that I think I don’t need to exert much effort to convince anyone to  see this 

Other islands: There are a lot of islands that are comparable to Caramoan just waiting to be discovered like the Sombrero and Tinalisayan islands etc.

Mountain hiking and Waterfall Hopping


Malabsay Falls naga
Photo credit to http://nagax.com/
Mount Isarog National Park: Is one of the largest ecoparks in the country and hiking here in this 2, 000 meter high mountain ranks third in Lonely Planet books’s “list of things to do in SE Luzon”. This is one of the oldest and most preserved natural forest parks in SE Asia with 4, 500+ different species of flora and fauna.

Malabsay Falls: Only 15 minutes away from the metro, this is a 40-foot high cascade of pristine cool waters from the slopes of Mount Isarog. From Malabsay, if you have the physical stamina you can hop to more than 40 waterfalls here.

More activities: ATV ride and biking at Mount Isarog and pili-nut picking and deshelling at Hacienda de Naga.

Cuisine
I am feeling hungry already by this now. Let me tell you the reasons: sili:  the small chili used as condiment or added to all sorts of Bicolano recipes usually cooked in gata (cream of grated coconut), pili: an indigenous tree nut or elemi which is the main ingredient to jams, candies, tarts and many local sweets sold as goods to bring home, bicol express:  mixture of pork and shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) sautéed in tomatoes, onions, garlic and lots of chili strips simmered in coconut cream, natong (laing): made of shredded gabi (taro) leaves filled with shredded bits of pork and shrimp, chili etc., kinalas: a noodle dish with fine strips of pork or beef and toasted siopao: the white bun stuffed with meat and boiled egg is oven-toasted for longer shelf life.

Good Governance
Jessie Robredo Museum is perhaps the only kind in the country that is built in memory of a local politician who is known for his good governance. This is yet to be constructed and a P52 million worth of government fund is already allotted for this.


Challenges
There are two challenges that Naga are dealing right now: the airport of Naga can only accept turbo-propelled aircrafts which can only handle fewer passengers. NAIA for the record does not give priority to this kind of in their runway so imagine the time convenience and the never ending comparison of Naga versus Legazpi’s tourism. Mayor John’s response to this is “tourism should not be always regarded as a competition instead take it as a collaborative effort of different places”.

So there you go, I hope I was able to push you to visit Naga as soon as possible. Please check these tours which yours truly will soon offer. I will make a separate blog post for the itinerary soon:
   
       1. Cultural Excursion: a tour that mainly focuses on Naga City’s heritage and culture
        2. Island Excursions – features Caramoan with island hopping activities, snorkeling, swimming       
            and others. The third and final leg includes a heritage tour.
        3. Spiritual Excursions (Pilgrimage) – tailored for pilgrims and devotees of the Virgin of    
        Peñafrancia, this package also includes visits to related heritage sites
       4. Naga Excursion Package — 3 days, two nights devoted to adventures (Haciendas and  
       Malabsay) at the Mt. Isarog National Park.

 Let me know if you are interested.

* Press conference happened May 30th at Barbara's Restaurant, Intramuros.

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