They grow here a substantial number of varieties of plants. I proceeded to Bacon, whose soil is almost the same. Its mountains, which II crossed to Bacon, whose soil is almost the same. Its mountains, which crossed over, have rare and precious plants and innumerable monkeys. The rains had made the Bacon-Albay road impassable, obliging me to go by sea.
On the night of the 28th we successfully crossed over, being guard against the attacks of Moros, who constantly infest these coasts. At daybreak the sentinels or lookouts spotted us and sounded the alarm. In a few minutes the beach was covered with armed men, who did not withdraw until we were recognized. The inhabitants raise rice, some pepper and a little cacao but, as in Sorsogon, the general occupation is the extraction and preparation of abaca, which they weave into fabrics that are not despicable when blended with silk or cotton.
My first effort was to survey Albay’s volcano from a hillock of this name. The mountain rises in a pyramidal shape to a considerable height though not proportionate to its base whose circumference is more than 16 leagues. A luxuriant forest pushes upward from the foothill till midway of its altitude. The rest [of the volcano] up to the summit is entirely bare with a mantle of thick dark sand and some gypsum rocks. In various places, large clefts and gullies fashioned by lava are seen. Over the peak a column of smoke is constantly observed and at night, not a few times, fire.
To me the crater seemed 50 varas in diameter, and I noticed it was more chipped at the north and south than in the other directions. The smoke, when pure, is whitish in color similar to that from a limekiln; drab, if it is mixed with ashes; and very dark, [if blended] with fire.
Frequently it spews large quantities of lava that inundate the neighboring fields, destroying everything in its path.It shrivels trees that it covers with sand and ashes. These eruptions are always so intensely bright that one can read a paper in the darkest night. When there is much ejecta, it overflows and rises over the crater for some time until it flows headlong into clefts, forming more or less large rivers of fire which can be seen from Nueva Caceres. In spite of these dangers, every part of the volcano’s foothills is settled, on the one hand because the many rivers that flow out from it irrigate and fertilize the nearby plains, on the other, because the salts with which they are saturated are beneficial, and the matter that it discharges gives the atmosphere a desirable salubrity. The long and arduous extraction of abaca and the almost continuous Moro raids divert the natives from other much more useful cultivations, which managed with intelligence and industry, would make this beautiful land produce all the benefits it is capable of.
Having ended my successful botanical excursions, I left this pueblo for Guinobatan. Guinobatan seemed to me quite worthy of consideration. It is surrounded everywhere by brambly undergrowth and high mountains. Its territory is pleasant and perfectly irrigated by excellent waters. They assured me that plantations of pepper and white mulberry trees here had prospered a few years ago. At present only some plants of the two species exist, which probably will meet the same fate as the rest.
I proceeded to Ligao, a fairly good town, where rice is successfully grown, and from there to Oas. The land of this pueblo is very fertile and its inhabitants are considered hardworking and devoted to agriculture and weaving of guinaras. I visited the famous Balogo mountain in its environs but I found nothing that indicated tome the existence of a volcano as it was presumed. The exuberant growth of the many trees enclosing its foothills makes it impenetrable in many parts, and the variety of precious plants that grow in its shadow suffices to compensate the most covetous botanist for his exhaustion in reconnoitering it.