While it is no secret that the rainforest surrounding the Mount Mayon Volcano is where we source our premium Volcanic Pili Nuts, there is certainly so much to be said about this spectacularly beautiful region of the Philippines. Situated on the southeastern peninsula of an island called Luzon is where you’ll find Bicol, also known as Bicolandia by locals. Or as we like to call it, home of the volcanic pili nut. Bicol is comprised of six provinces: Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon, and of course, Albay, home of the majestic Mount Mayon. Bicol comprises six provinces. Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon are located on the Bicol Peninsula mainland, the southeastern end of Luzon. And Catanduanes and Masbate are located on offshore island provinces. This remote area is rich in culture, heritage, beauty, adventure, and intrigue.
A Truly Unique Setting
Part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Bicol region is flecked with a number of distinctive geological wonders. From hot springs to crater lakes, and of course, volcanoes, there is no shortage of scenery to marvel at. This chain of volcanoes in Bicol forms the Bicol Volcanic Arc, and is the result of the tectonic plates of the region moving under and on top of one another in a process known as subduction.
Of the impressive amount of volcanoes in Bicol, Mount Mayon is not only the tallest at 2,463 meters, but it is also widely considered the most beautiful. Rising high above the Albay Gulf in near perfect symmetry and shrouded in legend and folklore, it’s fair to say that Mount Mayon’s magnificence is unrivaled.
In addition to volcanoes and volcanic activity, Bicol offers enough stunning nature and scenery for even the most jaded of travelers. There you will find breathtaking rainforests, limestone cliffs and caverns, pristine white sand beaches, thriving coral reefs, and a seemingly infinite number of splash-worthy waterfalls.
Religion and Culture
Bicolanos are known throughout the Philippines as being conservative, yet kind, gentle, friendly, and incredibly hospitable. There is a great level of importance placed on family and family values, and it is not uncommon for the man of the household to be responsible for financially supporting the family.
Many religions are fairly well represented in Bicol, but the great majority of Bicolanos are devout Roman Catholics, which is also true for the Philippines as a whole. The Catholic Church was first established in Bicol way back in the 14th century, and Naga in Camarines Sur is home to one of the oldest dioceses in the Philippines, the Archdiocese of Caceres.
The prominence of the Catholic religion leads to many a celebration around Bicol. Fiestas, or feast days, are celebrated annually at many parishes honoring saints and even local patrons. There is also a week-long festival honoring the Virgin Mary, known as the “Patroness of Bicolandia.” This party is called the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Fiesta and is the largest of its kind in all of Asia.
Other celebrations like the Pinangat Festival which honors the patron saint, St. John the Baptist in Camalig, Albay are excellent settings to salute the people of Bicol, be entertained, engage in friendly competition, and of course feast on delicious Bicolano foods.
A Taste of Bicolano Cuisine
Pinangat is also the name of a traditional Bicolano meal. Enveloped in gabi leaves, cooked in coconut milk, Pinangat is a dish made of neat little packages of shrimps, a slice of salted fish, or pork with crushed pepper and red ginger.
Another, possibly even more famous, dish called gulay na lada, also known as Bicol Express outside of the region is not for the faint of heart. This beloved spicy dish is prepared with siling labuyo, small chili peppers native to Bicol, and coconut milk. Bicolanos are well known for having a taste for spicy foods.
Of course, it would be remiss of us to not mention the Pili Nuts! Due to the climate and high annual rainfall, Pili Nuts thrive in the volcanic soil of the Bicol region and Bicolanos have been enjoying these tasty, healthy nuts for many, many years. In Bicol, it’s common for Pili Nuts to be baked or fried and then covered in marzipan or garlic.
However, the local method for preparing and serving Pilis is much different to ours. It is our pre-sprouting and dehydration method that retains the healthy minerals and vitamins and unlocks the unique flavor profile and leave them buttery tasting. Our premium Mount Mayon Volcanic Pili Nuts are sustainably sourced with the local community in Bicol.