As I look at the Google map of Camarines Sur, I see another road connecting our province to Albay. This is the Tiwi-Sangay Road.It is of more recent vintage. What is exciting about this road is its close proximity to the sea, specifically Lagonoy Gulf. Plus, it is still sparsely inhabited. Many bikers go thru it but rarely runners. In short, virgin territory for running.
My long weekend this July 12-15 afforded me the opportunity to do a recon of the Tiwi-Sangay Road. Early morning of Friday the 13th, I set out from our house on the Nissan Patrol using the National Road for the town of Sangay in the 3rd Congressional District of Cam Sur, more popularly known as Partido, 50 kilometers away from Iriga City. I have to thank my aunt, Ma. Helen, for providing me a driver who was familiar with the place we were going to.
Arriving at Sangay, I was astounded by the rustic beauty of the Church of St. Andrew. Pretty obvious given the many pictures I took of it and so is the case with the Church of San Lorenzo in Tiwi.
The church in Sangay is not the only one worthy of many pictures. Along the whole length of the Tiwi-Sangay Road, we had to stop more than a dozen times to take pictures of Atulayan Island, the coastal road, the fishing villages......Here are a sample.
What did I learn from this recon drive?
1. The distance of the Tiwi-Sangay Road, from the Sangay Church to the Tiwi Church, based on the Patrol’s odometer is 41 kilometers. The Cam Sur side of the road accounts for 25 kms. There were almost no sari-sari stores visible on the side of the road.
2. The terrain of the road, particularly the Cam Sur side is mostly hilly. I counted at least 7x that we went uphill. And more than a couple of the uphill climbs were steeper than Sablayon Road in Mayon or the one in Sta. Maria on the side of Mt. Iriga. I saw a couple of weekend mountain bikers having difficulty going up the uphill. One even had to resort to walking/pushing his bike. One thing about hilly running terrain is that if there is an uphill, there is surely to follow a downhill portion. Recommended tactic is to power walk the steep uphill portions and to canter the downhill portions.
3. There are a handful of areas with visible signs of landslide. Nay, more accurate term is rock slide. The presence of landslide/rockslide – prone portions on the Tiwi-Sangay Road would mean no running for us in this road during days with heavy rains. Likewise, we need to remind the driver of the support vehicle not to stop in this portions either to wait for us on those interval stops or to take pictures of us.
4. The Tiwi-Sangay Road is a zigzag road as it follows the hilly face of the topography. I am reminded of the long road connecting the municipality of Labo with the town of Sta. Elena in Camarines Norte. But unlike the Labo road which had induced many vomiting episodes for me in my younger years, the Tiwi-Sangay Road is a very refreshing ride for me for the simple fact that it is beside the sea. This road is a ride thru the blue sea on one side and mountainous green flora on another. Where in the Luzon do you have this? The road connecting Ilocos Sur to Ilocos Norte, as well as the national road along Lamon Bay in Quezon province, comes to mind. But unlike the Tiwi-Sangay Road, these Ilocos and Quezon roads experience a relatively higher number of vehicles passing thru. For our road trek from Sangay town proper to the provincial boundary 25 kms away, we encountered less than ten four-wheel vehicles.
That is why I am gung ho to do a run from the Church of St. Andrew in Sangay to the Church of San Lorenzo in Tiwi. Another “Running is Free” experience. No registration. No fees. The question is when?
I would have wanted to do the Tiwi-Sangay Road running adventure the following day, (July 14) but fate wasn’t smiling on me. It got literally cancelled at the last hour, given a more important priority.
Perhaps someday in the near future. Perhaps a handful of my fellow 83nean runners, and even fellow Bicolano runners, will be able to join me.
Patience, my dear Bicolano Penguin.