For the past 2 and a half weeks, I’ve been living in the province with my relatives. One of the greatest things about living away in the city is that there are so many places to go to, most especially when my uncle decides to take us out. My uncle (the youngest of 6 brothers) is the most adventurous of all, and he has gotten lost so many times on his adventure trips, whether it be hiking or canoeing, mountain climbing, fishing, trekking or whatnot; not just in the Philippines but in some places around the world. So when my uncle offered to bring us to Lake Balinsasayao (one of Twin Lakes in Negros Oriental), all us cousins agreed to tag along. It was scheduled for Friday with just my uncle, but a previous adventure with my cousins that got them almost lost made my grandmother uncomfortable to have my uncle go alone with us and it was re-schedules to Sunday.
Come Sunday, we were all ready by 630am and ready to leave with the entire family. We had packed our lunches in the night before, had assigned traveling arrangements and other things. The ride to the main gate of the lake wasn’t that long. It took us about an hour to get from our house to the destination, and maybe a good 10minutes or less to get from the main gate to the lodge by the lake. The trip to the Twin Lakes (from Dumaguete) would probably have taken less had the roads not been under construction. I found out that the lodge by the lake (which I wasn’t able to go to since I spent the entire time at the lake, and after the lake, it was straight to the car and home) was actually designed by my uncle and (I think) was built by our family’s construction company.
My uncle had brought his 3 canoes with him, and camping equipment. We left the rest of the family (some uncles and aunts, and my younger cousins) at the lodge since the canoes couldn’t handle all our weight. Originally, my uncle had planned to camp at the campsite by the lake, but as we were canoeing to the location, we found ourselves slightly lost and drenched in the drizzling rain. It was cold, honestly, and the sun wasn’t shining through while the clouds covered much of the lake. We were going around looking for a place where we could camp, checking the soil to check if we could pitch the tent. As it turns out, the original campsite (from where my uncles had gone camping more than 15 years ago) had been covered with water. The water levels in the lake had increased, covering up to 50-100meters of the original campsite/lakeside. After going about the area, we finally found solid soil to pitch camp and disembarked from the canoes, or well at least for most of us. My uncle, his wife, my sister and my cousin had taken off their lifevests and plunged into the water while the rest of us went to land.
Actually, since I was expecting it to be hot, I was in shorts, so imagine the frustration when the rain was drizzling and the weather was cold. I didn’t go into the water because I knew that when I was done, I would have to face the cold air. My uncle told us to bring only one set of clothing wear to put in his water-proof bag so I didn’t bring a towel along with me. I was being logical so while my brother’s and uncle pitched the tent, and the rest were swimming, I was seated on the canoe trying not to feel cold. Literally. The rain wouldn’t stop, and finally those swimming decided to get out. With our tent set up, we rushed to change into dry clothes to avoid pneumonia. It didn’t help that the weather wouldn’t let up and we couldn’t go back to get our lunch since 2 canoes went back supposedly to get the rest of the family until the rain had gotten stronger. Luckily, my uncle had brought his camping equipment, including some canned goods, his own pan with mini-LPG and also other utensils. He had also brought extra clothes with him to lend to us in preparation for rainy weather, which is a very good thing.
With the food he had brought, my uncle was able to cook corn on the cob, pork and beans, sausages and sardines. We were safe under the tent, and luckily the rain had let up a little so going out was a bit safe. One thing that was quite annoying was the gusty wind. Our tent was set up and our bags were inside, when a really strong gust of wind came and blew over our tent. It headed for the water, our bags along with it. Luckily, our important things were in a water-proof bag, and we had already changed into dry clothes. As this was happening, a fisherman happened to pass by and saw our sorry state and even offered us some fish. The fish in his net were small, but he had caught some bigger fish and offered to give us some but we declined because it was his livelihood. It was very generous of him to offer us food though, seeing as were stranded. While we were stranded, my sister and cousin together with my uncle and his wife wanted to trek to the other lake (Lake Danao) where there was a waterfall, but a landslide had blocked the trek path and they were unable to go.
We were stranded on that side for a few hours before the rest of the family came with our Jollibee lunch and some other materials. My uncle had also brought along fishing materials, and the rest tried to go fishing to no avail. Me and my uncles tried too catch a little of the smaller fish. And when I mean small, I mean really small like smaller than your thumb-size small. My uncle said these fish eat dengue mosquito eggs so we decided to catch some to put in our pond to help eat the dengue mosquitoes’ eggs. The winds blew strong every once in a while so we had to sit on the tent to keep it from blowing over. At one istance, while me and my younger brother were eating our Jollibee chicken, a strong wind blew and my brother’s meal wasn’t secured well so it was good-bye chicken. Luckily, he had gone through most of this meal already and had caught the last remaining edible part of the chicken. Haha, lucky him. Around 4pm, we were all about ready to leave. My 5 year-old cousin was one of the first to be brought back to the lodge with my younger cousins, aunt and uncle. Since there were only 3 canoes, we had to pack up some things to be brought with the canoes. Fishing equipment and such were one of the first to go. Since the lake was pretty big, it would take a while before the canoes could come back for the next round of people.
When the 3 canoes had gone, it was just me, my uncle, his wife and my younger brother who were left on the other side of the lake. We began packing the food and utensils, the bags and other items that had been left behind. Unluckily what my uncle was wishing for came. The clouds and fog passed over the lake and heavy rain began. We all had to rush back into the tent, bringing in all the bags that had been left outside. It happened really quickly and caught us all unaware. The canoes didn’t look like they were anywhere near and my uncle was still a far distance off from our side. Me, my uncle, his wife and my brother were busying ourselves with our things and making sure they were safe from the rain, especially with the winds blowing hard. My uncle (who was rowing the canoe) couldn’t even come to us properly because the winds were blowing him astray. When he finally got to land, he decided not to have us travel yet for fear that the rain might pick up again.
While waiting, we were able to spot 3 wild eagles flying about the mountain. As my uncle later mentions, we were quite lucky seeing as one cannot always have the luxury of seeing eagles in the wild and not in a zoo or preserve. Also, one thing my uncle mentioned that got me into somewhat deep thought was toilets in the wild. Doing one’s business in the wild is really a different experience, especially when you have to do number 2, which is why my uncle mentioned that it’s a good thing to bring toilet paper, but how unlucky you’ll be if it’s wet so make sure to bring your toilet paper in a water-proof case. Which reminds me, my uncle mentioned that there was a spirit where he had gone to do his business which is why after he had told us so, we made sure to “ask for permission” from the spirits everytime we went to do our business.
After we had all packed and put the last of the things into the rest of the canoes (the 2 canoes had come back sometime after my uncle had arrived) we all left the island. Me uncle and his wife went ahead, while my other uncle and my brother and me were the very last to leave the other side of the lake. We arrived at the other side of the lack about 10-15minutes after and when we got into the car, it began to rain. Thankfully, our prayers had kept us from experiencing another bath in the rain, which would have made us sicker, especially with the colder weather.
Overall, it was a very interesting experience at Lake Balinsasayao. Too bad I didn’t have any of my own pictures, for fear that the camera would get soaked in the rain or fall into the water. My relatives brought their own cameras, and we were able to take a few photos, which I’ll have to search for later.
Pardon the very long entry. 🙂