Cagsawa (Cagsaua): more ruins than I thought

casaveneracion.com cagsaua-bell-tower

All these years, I was under the impression that the bell tower was the only structure that remained of Cagsawa Church after the town was buried when Mayon Volcano erupted in February 1, 1814. That was what most textbooks said. That was what most people said. But even Wikipedia is wrong when it says that “only the bell tower of the town’s church remained above the new surface.”

casaveneracion.com Cagsaua ruins

Portions of walls remain. These walls were about 10 meters from the bell tower. It was midday when we reached Cagsawa and direct overhead sunlight doesn’t provide the best lighting for photography, hence, the deep shadows in the photo above.

casaveneracion.com Cagsaua ruins

I tried to minimize the shadows by firing the flash. Above, the same walls but with less shadows on the foreground. The built-in flash of the Canon EOS 40D wasn’t powerful enough to reach the more distant portions of the walls.

Are these the only walls remaining? Not quite.

casaveneracion.com Cagsaua ruins

These stone structures, according to the guides, were once part of the second floor dormitories of the seminary. I think we can safely assume that the hole in the wall is a window.

casaveneracion.com Cagsaua ruins

Above, what appear to be “stubs” are also part of the second floor seminary.

And the more interesting — or you could say hair-raising — bit of information: According to the locals, the visible portion of the tower and walls get shorter and shorter with each eruption of Mayon. As it spews lava and rocks the ground rises a bit higher each time.

casaveneracion.com Mayon Volcano

Mayon Volcano was covered in clouds throughout our Cagsawa visit. Taking photos was complicated by the presence of this viewing deck. I wanted to take a panoramic shot that included the volcanic rocks half buried in the ground. Some of these rocks are huge — huge enough for a person to lie on them with neither head nor feet touching the grass.

casaveneracion.com Mayon Volcano

I walked toward the direction of the volcano, passing the viewing deck to avoid including it in the camera frame, and this was the best photo I could manage. The crosses… Whose graves those crosses mark, I have no idea.

At any rate, I was able to take better photos of Mayon during the two previous days of our stay in Albay and from the airport too before we boarded the plane back to Manila.