Albay Churches Tour: Tiwi, Tabaco, and Santo Domingo Church en route to Bulusan

My plan was to do a commuting tour of three towns/cities dotting the western coast of Albay (Tiwi, Tabaco City, and Santo Domingo) before going on the long ride from Legazpi City to Bulusan, Sorsogon. I dropped off infront of the Tiwi Church after an amazing jeepney ride along the PARTIDO coastal highway. I first knew of Tiwi, Albay because of its famous hot springs, a regular item on our Philippine geography class waaaay back in elementary school.


Tiwi Church (San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish)

Tiwi Church

I only had time to visit the old church in Tiwi unfortunately because I had other plans that day. At first glance,  I wasn’t awed by a sense of grandeur but by the subtle charm of its dark facade. I was strangely drawn to the Tiwi Church’s dark-colored bricks. I’m not sure if the dark shade was really the stone brick’s natural color or because it was just darkened by time.


Facade of Tiwi Church (San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish)


Tiwi Municipal Hall


Tiwi Coron Festival Signage. Coron is the local term for “earthen pot.” The Coron Festival in Tiwi showcases the creativity of homegrown talents in crafting native products out of baked clay.

Tabaco Church

Before arriving in Tabaco city, I imagined it to be sort of a “Tobacco dreamland” … of course I was wrong, the name of the city only sounds like it. My first stop was the Tabaco Church. I was surprised to see such a wide facade. The overall shape of the main church structure looked fat and stout, which was offset by a tall belfry … haha, please forgive my simplistic take on church architecture.

The design was probably intended to make the church withstand earthquakes with the exquisite tall belfry doubling as a watchtower. I also liked the spacious plaza in front of the church … very Spanish-colonial.


Tabaco Church Facade (Parish of San Juan Bautista)


Tabaco Municipal Hall

The streets Tabaco City of were surprisingly busy… quite impressive for a 4th class city. They even have a few malls, banks, and many fast food restaurants. Tabaco City has an international seaport, the only one in Bicol region.


They even have their own Tabaco City Mall


I like these gothic arches :)

It felt like forever since I last visited civilization so I decided to binge at Jollibee. I’m not exactly sure how it came about, but fastfood has become my comfort food whenever traveling :D

Santo Domingo Mayon View

At 2:00PM I rode a bus headed to Legazpi City. Along the highway section at the town of Santo Domingo, I spotted an interesting ruined structure just before reaching a steel bridge. It seemed to be the ruins of a muscovado sugar factory. I thought it was a really nice subject to put with the massive Mayon Volcano in the background … but the westerly (afternoon) sunlight wasn’t working with me. It was too harsh to take photos during the mid afternoon. Great spot for a photo shoot nonetheless!

Santo Domingo Church

Just before the bridge was an intersection going to the town center of Santo Domingo. Figured I had time left so I took a short tricycle ride to the Santo Domingo Church.


Santo Domingo Church (Parish of St. Dominic de Guzman)


Santo Domingo Municipal Hall


Market stalls infront of Santo Domingo Municipal Hall. The design of the building is also reminiscent of the municipal hall. Looked really nice together.

A visit to the eastern coast of Albay province was really worthwhile. Even if I were just staying at Legazpi City, it would be a great side-trip. There are still a lot of interesting spots to explore in this area. One of these days, I’d love to visit the islands off the coast of Bacacay, the town between Tabaco City and Santo Domingo. Like Caramoan, Bacacay is also one of the popular beach destinations in Bicol Region.

Legazpi City to Bulusan, Sorsogon

I took a jeep from Santo Domingo to Legazpi City (15 minutes; P60 fare). All provincial public transport make a last stop at the Legazpi Grand Central Terminal.

I still needed to get to Bulusan town in Sorsogon that day. When I asked the drivers of the (L300) vans headed to Sorsogon City, they told me I might not be able to catch the last trip to Bulusan when I arrive in Sorsogon City. I was in trouble since I wanted to visit Lake Bulusan early morning the next day.

Coincidentally, one of the van drivers I was talking to happened to live in Bulusan. He offered me “good price” to drive me straight to Bulusan (even though the price for chartering the van still put a dent in my pocket). The van ride took one and a half hours going to Sorsogon City, where we dropped off the other passengers, and another hour and a half to get to Bulusan town.


Quick photo of Barcelona Church (St. Joseph Parish) along the way from Sorsogon City to Bulusan. I had the van all to myself, which made the stopover possible.

If only I hadn’t made too many stops in Albay or too long for each stop, I could have avoided paying a hefty P500 for the van ride to Bulusan. Lesson learned, I shouldn’t force going too far for a side trip next time so I won’t get myself in these costly situations. I just hope the visit to Lake Bulusan was worth it!

Eastern Albay Commute and Legazpi to Bulusan Tips

  • Tiwi to Tabaco City (15 minutes)
  • Tabaco City to Santo Domingo intersection (15 minutes) – P15 fare
  • Tricycle to Santo Domingo Town Proper (5 minutes)
  • Santo Domingo to Legazpi City jeep (15 minutes) – P60 fare
  • Legazpi City to Sorsogon City (1 hour and a half)
  • Sorsogon City to Bulusan (1 hour and a half) – P500 chartered van (incl. pick-up/drop off of other passengers from Legazpi to Sorsogon City)