How did Sorsogon get its name? I don’t know where my Grandpa got this, but he shared quite an interesting story: “A foreigner was looking for a certain place. On his way, he spotted a local to whom he asked for directions. The local, not being able to speak English, said: ‘Sosogon an dalan’ (follow the path) repeatedly until only ‘sosogon’ was retained. Later on, it became Sorsogon.”
Quite a theory? I don’t think it’s uniquely from him, though. It made sense to us when we were kids, but we grew as Sorsogon did. There would always be new things— infrastructures, stores, franchises. Kids grew up, adults grew older. And in my eyes, Sorsogon grew fifteen years older. However, though it became quite crowded with the new, this town still carries its charm which you’ll only get to discover by coming to experience Sorsogon itself.
About Sorsogon City
Sorsogon City lies at the southernmost tip of Luzon and is one of the municipalities in the Bicol Region. It has a total of fourteen municipalities, with Sorsogon City as its capital city. It has a few municipalities under its sleeves that have also made a name through the years: Donsol for Butanding (whale shark), Bulusan for its Volcano National Park, Matnog for its Subic Beach, Gubat for its Surf Camp. In the Philippines, Bicol is mainly famous for two things: spicy food, and the perfect cone-shaped Mayon volcano. Though not as popular as these, Sorsogon’s strong point is its accessibility to popular destinations in Bicol. For example, it is only less than an hour away from the places I’ve mentioned earlier. Sorsogon City is also only an hour away from Legazpi City where the famous Mayon volcano resides.
Just like any small town in the Philippines, the main means of transportation in Sorsogon is tricycle with its average fare of P8.00. Depending on the distance and number of passengers, the tricycle driver might ask you to pay P10.00 to P30.00, that’s why it’s important to always ask how much it would cost so you know what to expect when you pay. Sorsogon has its main terminal at Cabid-an where your drop-off would be when you travel to Sorsogon via bus. Jeepney terminals passing by places 30-45 minutes away can be found in the city center.
Places To Go in Sorsogon
Visiting? Here is a list of go-tos when you travel to Sorsogon.
Sorsogon City Center
The city’s central district is known to Sorsogenos as ‘Centro’. Unlike what most think about small towns, there is much you can actually access in Sorsogon City. Ushering in new investors has increased buyers’ choices when it comes to grocery and leisure shopping. Because of its relatively stroll-able size (if there’s such a word), easy navigation, a line-up of supermarkets/malls and fast food chains, you’ll love strolling around Centro.
The Rompeolas (Sorsogon City Bay/Pier)
A lot of changes have been made at the Sorsogon Bay. For starters, it’s now called Rompeolas, in Spanish translated as “where the waves cavort”. For landmarks, the Rompeolas is only a few meters away from one of the most frequented Catholic church in Sorsogon (St. Peter and Paul Cathedral). When I was a kid, my family was fond of going to the pier during summer to eat street food and relax. There are more stalls, food choices, and activities now. If you’re a sucker for sunsets or sunrises, go and anticipate it there while enjoying the sea breeze sitting down or jogging. Did I mention the Rompeolas offers you a great view of Bulusan volcano?
Bulusan Volcano National Park
“Enchanted” and “majestic” are the words that come to mind when I think about Bulusan Volcano National Park. My first time going there was on a school trip in primary grade. Strings of Balete tree canopied the way which gave me the chills. In years, Bulusan Park changed a lot. The Park has become well-maintained, most notably with a kayaking activity to offer. Nature lovers should get ready to swoon over the location. Picture this: the calm water from the lake is enclosed in lavish shades of the green tropical rainforest.
Balay Buhay sa Uma Bee Farm
After all the rowing at Bulusan Park, you can relax at the peaceful Balay Buhay sa Uma. It’s hidden at the foothill of Mt. Bulusan—not so much advertised to the world. You’re sure to get captivated by this place: hearing only the sound of the rushing water flowing directly from the mountain, seeing clouds and mountains instead of buildings, plus a stingless bee farm to explore. You don’t need to stay overnight to take it all in, but if you have the time, budget, and willingness, by all means, don’t miss it!
Orok Cold Spring Resort, Casiguran
This one’s perfect to slap away the heat, alright. Orok’s water stream originates from the surrounding mountains of Casiguran where it is located. Orok Cold Spring Resort has now been made accessible by road which gives you all the more reason to go there. Just be early as it usually becomes easily crowded.
If you’re looking for some vitamin sea but don’t want to travel far, try Bacon. It’s a municipality in the province known for its beaches. There are a lot of resorts lined up in the area with cottages that go from 100.00 to 300.00 pesos. I recommend you head over directly to Paguriran Island which is famous for its lagoon and beautiful rock formations—come low tide you can even walk from the shore to the island! What’s more, it’s just a ride away from Bacon bay walk.
If you’re a history enthusiast, Barcelona Church is perfect for you. The church was built way back to the Spanish era and to date is referred to as one of the oldest, well-preserved churches in Bicol. We wouldn’t want to miss this architectural treasure and historical site, would we?
Sorsogon’s Must-try Delicacies
Your travel to Sorsogon won’t be complete without trying these delicacies!
Like Cebu’s Sinulog and Baguio’s Panagbenga, Sorsogon also offers the Pili Festival in June. When my family moved to Sorsogon, the Pili Festival was one of the things that welcomed us. It was in Sorsogon that I learned about ‘tiriladan sa dalan’, an event where people line up in the streets to break open the pili shell to get the pili nut inside. As with its name, the festival showcases Sorsogon’s Pili Tree, popularly known as “the Majestic Tree” because of its various commercial and industrial uses. If you’re planning to bring some home, you’re in luck as Sorsogon is abundant in Pili.
Sili ice cream
Your visit to Bicol won’t be complete without trying this interesting dessert. Colonial Grill, a restaurant right smack in the middle of Sorsogon, offers a taste of this famous sili ice cream. If you’re not too into high spicy levels, there is nothing to worry about as you actually get to decide how spicy you want it to be.
Bicol express is a popular dish whose main ingredients include pork, coconut milk, shrimp paste, and chili. You wouldn’t want to miss this spicy viand that’s sure to make you ask for “more rice, please”.
That’s about it. As a local who lived in Sorsogon for about fifteen years, I could tell that I haven’t been really too well-versed with everything this town has. However, I’ve long been a part of it to tell you that Sorsogon offers a lot. Travel to Sorsogon for its spots, food, and the people. And when in doubt, just remember ‘sosogon’.