One of the core experiences of travelling is the sensation of realizing the gap between expectations and realities. The expectations are set by postcards, elementary-school geography lessons, and travel blogs; and these are tested against the realities that the traveller uncovers upon first-hand experience, upon physically occupying the spaces that define the ‘destination’. This sensation may be positive or negative, depending on how well or how poorly the reality matches with the expectation.
Before my first visit to Legazpi City in Albay province, it was in my mind only a collage of images: of Mayon Volcano, of natural hazards and disaster risk management, the governance of Joey Salceda, and the trademark commodities: síli, píli, and abaca. But when I saw its many faces for myself, it left me a convincing impression that this eastern city is perhaps among the most beautiful in the archipelago.