My mind has been in the state of turmoil on the thought that why humans, we humans has the hunger for adventure and the urge to be in trendy places? I can’t really figure out why most of us seem to always be in the pursuit of what is “in” that we often forget to appreciate what’s really in our backyard and often overlook the underlying beauty of the things in front of us.
Well, it is human nature I guess that most if not all, often go with what is in trend. Humans usually chase fame no matter what it takes, go to popular places no matter how overrated it is, stay in a five star hotels, eat in luxury restaurants, etc. For what? Maybe for social media posts or what not… I don’t really know the answer. Maybe, I’m not human after all. LOL. Of course, they have their reasons and we should respect that. But one thing is for sure, it’s none of our business. “Walang basagan ng trip ika nga”.
But there are few that would rather choose the off-beaten path. Strive to be on the opposite side of what is usual and does not always go with the flow. Always try to do things differently. Do things in a crazy way. And guess what? I am one of these few. We only live once, right? So, we might as well have the craziest, out of this world, fun-filled roller coaster and adventure driven life. It’s not a crime to be different and weird after all. So let us live our lives the way we wanted and be happy with it.
The off-beaten Road to Malubog Lake:
It was a gloomy weekday afternoon in the office that I got an invitation to visit the western city of Cebu Province, the City of Toledo. The plan is to explore the hidden treasures that this copper capital of Cebu has to offer. I barely know the places in the suggested itinerary except for the Biga Pit that is making rounds in the social networking sites because of its exquisite panorama of the turquoise-teal waters forming an enchanting lake amidst the monotonous rocks from copper mining.
I got other adventure invites at that time too. But I don’t know, maybe because of my personality and a strong preference of opting to be in less crowded places than those with tourist-frequented places, I responded the invitation with a YES. It’s not that I am anti-social, but I do love visiting the less known places or are yet to be explored. Maybe it’s because of the thought that less known places are usually still in their almost pristine form.
Toledo City humbly offers these pristine gems that are mostly not known to tourists yet. It proudly offers the Malubog Lake, Malubog Falls, the mining tunnel, the Biga Pit, and not to mention its mesmerizing Sta Ana Maze Garden and astounding hills/mountains that offers a breathtaking vista too.
The Pursuit to Malubog Lake and Malubog Falls
Every place has its backstory. Every truth has a tale. And every tale can never be the truth but merely a legend. Malubog Lake in Toledo is not an exemption. It has been long believed that paranormal happenings took place within the vicinity of the lake. It has been said that there are unexplained disappearances of people in the lake. Some believed that there is a mythical creature “mantalaga” living in the deepest part of the lake. “Mantalaga or mantaga” is a mythical creature commonly transliterated in folklores as a creature with resemblance to giant octopus but lived in bodies of freshwaters like lakes, rivers, waterfalls, lagoons and the likes.
It has been told that the creature will show its rage to those people who doesn’t pay respect to the place. And to avoid its wrath, we must not provoke it in any way like producing boisterous and loud noise, or superfluous puns about the place. But in all honesty, there is no such thing as a true tale nor an authenticated legend, for the truth has many faces, it really depends mainly on how we perceive things with our own will and thoughts and that are properly documented.
All these tales made us more curios and interested to visit this uncanny place as they say. So we took the early bus to Toledo City. The ride was a bit bumpy. Lacking some sleep the night before, most of us felt bleary. But that didn’t stop or lessen our excitement as we drew nearer to our destination. Our jubilant souls hurdles out of delight like a carefree child that is going to get a new toy. A couple of hours later, we arrived at the junction going to Malubog Lake in Barangay General Climaco.
We took another ride going to Barangay General Climaco by hired motorcycle (habal2x). The road is a bit rough and not concretely paved. We jaunt to the wet, desolate roads that rested in silence as the bright sky smiles over it. The water in the road portholes shimmered by the glow of the bright, yellow rays of the sun. The small, green trees on the roadside swayed as the strong breeze hit them. The cool monsoon air carried a sweet moist scent like a candy shop kept inside a refrigerator. I personally felt goosebumps all over as the wind chills down my spine.
Above a faded horizon from afar, amidst the bushes in the sidelines, the beautiful rays of the sun pierced through it as it frantically changed colors, a color spectra seemingly mesmerizing rather like a disco light. The scenery of community we passed by shows how vibrant life in a place away from the bustling and chaotic city. The vista gratified my soul driving it inside in an ecstatic potion induced world of euphoria. The view simply depicts life in its simplest form.
My stomach growled and I squirmed in my seat to try to silence the rumbling. I glanced at the clock; there were only few more minutes before we will arrive at our destination. Then I’m slowly losing my attention to the vista around as my head was preoccupied; my eyes glazed over as I imagined a sumptuous breakfast ahead. I was salivating at the thought of it. Only few more minutes as the driver said. I watched the clock again but the slower it seemed to go. My stomach rumbled again. Finally, I heard the driver saying we’ve arrived and stopped few meters away from the barangay hall.
Yay, we arrived at Barangay General Climaco where our friendly and pretty host patiently waited for us – Miss Beth Dacuma of the Teacher Traveller PH.
The Almost Hushed Trek at Malubog Lake
We had a quick self-introduction with Miss Beth. Then, we had our breakfast in the nearby eatery. We also bought packed lunch and snacks for the day. We had a quick orientation from our host. She told the tale about the paranormal happenings and unexplained disappearances and deaths near the lake. I am not a 100% believer of any tale but we need to respect that. And I must agree to her 100% that we need to respect the place. We are the visitors and we need to respect whatever the beliefs and cultures in the places that we are visiting. After all, tale or truth, there’s no harm on being cautious. This is not only applicable to Malubog Lake but to every place that we are going to visit. Let us be responsible.
We say our prayers before we commenced our trek. We went straight to the Lake as our first destination of the day. Malubog Lake is just few meters away from the Barangay Hall. We walk down. Careful, mindful and seemed like everyone has fever or something. Everyone was silent on the trail. No loud talks, etc.
The trail experience seemed to bring me to a harmonious resting place. Alongside the tortuous trail, gardeners grew trees and shrubs along the path. Trees with numerous branches. They had oval-shaped tree clowns and summer turned some of the leaves into the color of dusk. While looking at the branches, I noticed a leaf falls in front of me like a flying butterfly. It died. No matter how hard it struggled, it still couldn’t escape the inevitable, just like human.
The Promising Malubog Lake
Glancing at the sky, the sun has already risen. Continued with the trek. Few steps and the magnificent Malubog Lake came into sight. Not a single word was spitted from our mouth, but we both wore smiles like the new moon. Miss Beth then told us to do our stuffs. We took photos of the place. Enjoying the once man-made Lake that looks like naturally formed now. Malubog lake is fascinating. The air is fresh and overwhelming with cool gushes of wind blowing past, provoking the trees around to dance.
It was a lovely day and perfect for picnic at Malubog Lake. The grass on the side of the lake was soft and green, reserved for those who wanted to lie down or sit. A sweet aroma of fresh air overflowed nearby like a shining light, but was hidden by the untrimmed bushes and wildly growing trees. Hesitating to proceed anywhere, further, I took a few minutes to treasure the moment of silence and peace like the defunct floating restaurant floating silently in the lake. Cherishing everything in life no matter how simple it could be should probably the recipe of happiness, shouldn’t it?
Despite the hesitation to leave Malubog Lake sooner but time ticked so fast and we need to keep moving. We need to move to another destination of the day. But each step we took was like an imprint in my heart, a fossil that would always remain the same and special inside me forever. A day that I would probably remember for a long time.
The boat going to other side of the lake left already so we opted to trek to the other side though it will take some time. We are trekkers anyway. As we trekked towards the other side, the scenery along the trail is simply at its best. From river crossing, vegetable plantations, the water buffalo on the grassland, the nipa huts, the lush bushes around, the ecstatic children playing their simple toys, etc. These scenarios are irresistible to not be captured on lenses. And these simply depicts a simple life, a life that could barely be seen in the city. A life that I have been forgetting for a while. A life of no complications and all which made me contemplate on few things.
The greatest step toward a life of simplicity is learning to let go. Letting go of the things that make our life complicated. Life is really simple, it is us that insist on making it complicated. It is ourselves that hold on to something that made our life complicated. We often forget that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Essentially, we are free to choose how to simplify our lives. Some things we must consider include developing a work-life balance, embracing the good life, living mindfully, savoring the moment, spending quality time, and slowing down. Whatever we choose, the decisions ought to result in improving our well-being and peace of mind.
We will live a life of peace and not chaos, a life of essentials and not complication. We will slow down and stop living the frazzled life, a lifestyle of stress. We’ll live mindfully, in the present moment, and not ruminate with worry of the future or regrets of the past. We will live a balanced life— have time for work, love, family, leisure pursuits, fitness, and spirituality and not on petty things that will ruin our mood almost every waking day of our life.
We will have freedom from those conditions, commitments, responsibilities, and let go of people who prevent us from living the good life. We’ll have the freedom to live as we desire—authentically. No masks, pretentions, wrong perceptions and or grudges.
Passing through the off-beaten path, the refreshing colors of the crops enthused our eyes. Circling around the other side of Malubog Lake is quite a trek but the team was slowly gaining back the momentum eventually. Started joking again and started to have more fun. We then reach to the Malubog falls. The view is appealing to the eyes due to it’s oddly different color. By just looking at it, you would be tempted to take a dip. But the water in the waterfall seems not clean. The color is turquoise-teal, a bit close to aqua. And yes, do not bath in this waterfall, it might not be safe at all.
The color simply suggest that it contained copper compound residue or copper sulfate. But it’s not really copper sulfate that’s making the color into turquoise-teal but the presence of copper ions absorbing the bluey or green light and reflects back to our very own eyes. We took few snaps of the place and headed to the next stop – the tunnel and Hinulawan River.
Unfortunately, the tunnel was restricted to tourists at that time due to recent incident. The guards from the mining company told us that they are only allowing residents to pass through and even warned us to not go to Biga Pit. We understood that it is a private property but Manong guard could have spoken to us in a professional way. He was a bit rude by the way.
We proceeded immediately to Tagaytay Hills to have an overlooking view of the lake instead. We rode the outrigger boat back to other side of the lake for P10 each to save time, then trekked up to Tagaytay Hills, passing through communities in the area. Above us was the beautiful, high noon blue sky with fluffy, white clouds. Exhaustion and the fiery heat of the sun didn’t stop us to go uphill. The view of the lake slowly revealed right before our eyes as we gained altitude.
Few more minutes and we’re at the top of the hill. The vista below is like an energy bank reloading our almost depleted energy reserves. The water was calm and beautiful in every aspect. Malubog Lake seems mystical and have a spellbinding foliage shielding around. Out to the arms of Malubog lake, we can’t help but stared and admired in every manner to cherish and remember it like a picture that never change.
The Sweet Goodbye
Enjoying the vista below that Malubog Lake revealed, we almost forgot that our bellies need to be stuffed. So we took shelter on the nearby Mango trees and ate our lunch. The heat of the sun is still scorching so we decided to have a quick werewolf game. We got to know a bit with each one of us and was able to socialize. At around 2 in the afternoon, we decided to proceed. We bid our last goodbye to the magnificent view of the lake.
We can’t thank our host enough for a wonderful day, we can’t thank enough of Malubog Lake’s breathtaking beauty. A beauty that seems too alluring and quite interesting to let go. But as much as we wanted to stay, we really need to go. We must go. It’s a bit heart-pinching but we must leave. Goodbye. You will always be in our hearts and may our paths cross again soon.
Heading back to the city of Toledo, we couldn’t miss the top-loading experience so we did it anyway. It was a fun ride though the skies were slowly turning into gray warning us that heavy rain is coming. We arrived at Toledo City few minutes before 4PM. Unfortunately, we crashed out our last destination of the day – the Sta Ana Maze Garden as it will close at 4PM. So we decided to go home early instead. And the rest is history.
Have you been to Malubog Lake and Malubog Falls? How was your experience?
Refer to Wandering Feet PH’s travel guide here.