Disclaimer: All views expressed on this blog are my own based on my own experiences and do not represent of any entity with which I have been, are now or will be affiliated.

For Mama Beth, thanks for the memories and the best pili roll I have ever tasted. Trip to Vinzons will never be the same without you.

January 11, 2022
Batangas, Philippines

We received a phone call last January 03 that one of our close relatives died so I hurriedly went to Bicol. I was planning to visit my aunt in February but unfortunately, she could no longer carry on.

I used to think when I was young that I can live forever and when these unfortunate things happen, reality hits that life is indeed really short.

When I was a kid, my aunt, I call her Mama Beth, used to cook and feed us delicious Bicol foods whenever we visit her in Vinzons, Camarines Norte. I have always been in love with food in Bicol, thanks to her home cooked meal. Bicol is by far the best food – coconut cream to chilis, you can never really go wrong. All I have with her now are happy memories and recipes that I will carry until I grow old.

BICOL REGION

Bicol is in the southernmost end of Luzon which is composed with 6 provinces – Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon and Catanduanes.

It is also known for food that has coconut cream and chilis. They also have local delicacies comprised of pili nuts. These ingredients can be easily found in Bicol due to coconut trees, chilis and pili nuts in Bicol.

CAMARINES NORTE

One of the provinces in Bicol, where I grew up. I grew up in Labo, one of it’s municipalities and then transferred to Vinzons when I was in high school where Mama Beth lived. The majority of the population is mostly Roman Catholics, even my grandma’s house is just across the church.

Getting Around Camarines Norte

My aunt from Isabela fetched me in Batangas so we can go together in Vinzons 10 in the morning on January 04. You can also opt to travel via commute. Travel time from Batangas is 7-8 hours by land. Unfortunately, going to Vinzons is still via land. The only airport is situated in Albay which is still 6 hours away from Vinzons.

Restrictions

Camarines Norte is accepting leisure travelers provided that they follow the standard health protocol. Fully vaccination card and travel pass to be presented in the checkpoint. If you are not fully vaccinated, expect to get an antigen test in the checkpoint.

Expenses

My budget for the trip is Php 2,000 for 4 days and 3 nights. For transportation and accommodation, I did not pay anything haha. Please note that most restaurants/cafes only accept cash. There are ATMs in the are so better withdraw near your place before you head over to any cafes or restaurants.

Accommodation

We stayed at Paolo’s Guesthouse for Php1,000/night. It is a hostel located in Vinzons which has 7 spacious rooms. It was well lit, I liked my double size bed and the CR is clean and has water heater. I loved my stay at Paolo’s.

Language

The dialect is Bicolano but Tagalog is widely spoken here. Everyone can understand basic English too.

Climate

Tropical, it was hot during the day but gets colder at night. The temperature ranges from 27-30 degree Celsius.

FLAVORS OF CAMARINES NORTE

I love Bicol food and delicacies. It is a perfect combination of flavors of chilis and coconut cream. The best home cooked meals will always be in Bicol! Coconut is one of the major crops in Bicol so it is prominent in all the ingredients in the region.

  1. Langka (jackfruit with coconut and chilis) – for vegans, you can opt to try this one out too excluding the shrimp of course. This is a perfect meat substitute if you want to be vegan, it’s yum!
  2. Laing (dried taro leaves) with chilis and coconut
  3. Sinantol (shredded cotton fruit) with coconut milk
  4. Dinugan (pig’s blood) with coconut milk
  5. Empanda – Spanish delicacy, Bicol style (baked or turnover with meat fillings)
  6. Ginumis (sherbet) – shaved ice mango flavor
  7. Puto, Filipino steamed rice cake which is made from slightly fermented rice dough.
  8. Angko – Famous delicacy in Vinzons which is made of glutinous rice, coconut oil, peanut butter filling. The bottom is lined with banana leaves, so yum!

Photos from right Angko, Sinantol, Empanada, Ginumis, Dinuguan, Puto, Laing, Langka

I just realized that vegans would love Bicol food due to the fact that Bicol’s vegetables can be a meat replacement, it is very delicious.

Although it’s of a different circumstance, it was still good to see my cousins after 2 years. Plus, I really love Bicol’s food the most in the Philippines. No other regions can beat this. I will go back here again to go places and eat more food.

I also realized that whenever I travel, I get really sick – it’s either traveler’s diarrhea or traveler’s fever. I am not quite sure if this was because of the duration of my travel, food or the people I talk to so I have to better be careful next time.

Love,
Maria, sometimes Niskie