Valencia City surrendered to a heavy downpour after we got a kilo of uncooked rice from a small convenience store, . Thanks to a fellow traveler, Ching, who volunteered to join us on our overnight visit in Lake Apo. Bringing her car spared us from another possible misfortune with the rain. Road to the lake, after the paved national highway, is bumpy and dirty and the rain made it more difficult for us.
On that afternoon, we initially planned to find hotels to stay in Bukidnon to experience the laid-back vibe of the province. But Shugah remembered a friend who owns a farmhouse located in the banks of Lake Apo. The owner was coincidentally in the compound that day and eagerly invited us for a visit. We went back to Maramag Market to buy some stuff for the overnight stay and headed straight to Lake Apo.
We arrived at the place around four in the afternoon while rain continued lambasting the entire area. The log cabin overlooks at the serene lake with a well-maintained lush lawn visible on the foreground. We were welcomed by our host, Dr. Almer Alfonso, Sr., that time was having an afternoon snack on fried banana and “marang”.
When the group knew that I haven’t tried the fruit similar to durian, they promptly dared me and provided a fork to easily take the sweet and aromatic flesh of the fruit. The fried banana was also delightful, with the doctor confirming that fruits are freshly sourced from his backyards. Indeed, you can see numerous fruit-bearing trees planted just few meters away.
Drizzles continued and made us not to marvel on a magnificent sunset, a usual daily event of the homeowners. The fried banana was so irresistible that we continued nibbling on it while lounging at the patio. Stories over coffee continued with Doc Alfonso, who served as city councilor for Valencia for few terms, narrated how he spearheaded the clean-up of the lake. The activity was recognized when Lake Apo was nominated and received numerous awards as cleanest in-land body of water in Mindanao.
One of the goals of the owner every time he’s in his place is to detach from the outside world. A relaxing stay needs no network signals for your phone and basically move you away from social media powered by the internet. When the whole Sitio Lawa conceded to dusk, our host started to lit all lamps that intimately illumined the area.
When dinner time came, Shugah and I volunteered to cook for our food, chicken and pork adobo. The traditional way of cooking made me miss my family back in Pangasinan who also relies on wood-cooking in preparing food. After we suffered from the unbearable smoke from the burned woods, we magically converted the meat into a flavorful meal packed with spices. That’s how we described our chicken-pork adobo that later on critiqued by our friends, needs improvement as per them.
With the assistance of the helpers, we set up our dinner table on the porch overlooking the view of the lake. The lamps added a dear ambience on the dinner table where we enjoyed food over interesting stories on travels and on Doc Alfonso’s experience in physically cleaning Lake Apo. My love affair with “marang” didn’t stop when a large chunk of the fruit served in front of us.
The night totally hovered the entire surrounding yet it was still young for us to hit the sack. It wasn’t a camping night but intended to stay late. With these, we brought some sausages to grill as well as Grahams and marshmallows for a S’mores party. The host asked his helpers to create a bonfire few meters from the porch. It’s for our mini-party but also as a heater to fight the cold breeze around the lake.
The stillness of the water reflected the moon rays reversing the views of the hillside. The view was kind of creepy yet stunning as for us who’re not from Bukidnon, that experience is not usual. We called it a night when we consumed a lot of sweets and nibbled on some chips and corn bits.
All of us stayed in a single room with two bunk beds. The night was really cold and snugging on our thin sheets didn’t help us combat the chilling evening. Thanks for some jackets and bandanas.
The mesmerizing view of the lake again stunned us with its magnificence on daylight that was amplified by the green vast lawn between the water and the rest house. We gathered on the bonfire from the other night and enjoyed instant coffee. We also shared some laughs on how we managed to arrive in Lake Apo the other day.
Time to enjoy the lake. I wasn’t able to swim but I was able to kayak and see the lilies upfront. Using my Huawei P9, I did some macro shots on the lilies. My only worry that time is that the phone could die the moment I stumble and fall from the kayak. Fortunately, I was able to sustain my balance by carefully maneuvering the narrow boat. The girls enjoyed their moment taking funny and “emo” shots on a small wooden house with a short platform that extends to the lake.
It was a wonderful weekend for everyone and we already notified Doc Alfonso for our departure. The accommodating host didn’t let us go until we ride the Jet ski. We were ready to leave but he insisted of trying and riding the Jet ski first. It was bad for us not to comply as he accommodated us even on a short-notice. What we did was to just enjoy the smooth ride on the water vehicle, that as per him, provides oxygen for the living things dwelling in the lake.
The Lake Apo experience was a short one and we would gladly spend another day if we had more time. But we needed to get back to Cagayan De Oro City for our flight back to Cebu the following day. Bukidnon’s Lake Apo is not just a testament of Mother nature’s impeccable beauty but also a proof of how the people in the area care for the environment.