During my series of visits to the picturesque Menzi Farms in Barangay Damilag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon in the Philippines, my close friends Charlie Sagrado and Farm Manager Lumel Nunag kept on telling me about their trip to the relatively unknown crater lake dubbed Lake Apo in the City of Valencia of the same province. Enticed by their description of the place as almost paradise, I told my wife that we should find time to visit the spot together with rest of the family. Truly, my announcement to go on a family vacation to a crater lake was greeted with cheers by my children for the obvious reason that, being used to island life, they were excited to see tourist attractions found in the hinterlands.
Upon instruction of the tour operator, our vehicle stopped beside the Jollibbee Food Chain in Valencia City, Bukidnon where a motorcycle-riding guide greeted us. Candidly, the 11-kilometer bumpy and uphill ride through a winding graveled road was not that comfortable but the travel inconveniences failed to dampen our indomitable spirit to see for ourselves the beauty of the place. But, as we were on our final approach to the spot located at Sitio Lake Apo under the jurisdiction of Barangay Guninoyoran, our excitement had turned to frustration as we saw from a distance a body of water having no significant beauty. In fact, call it coincidence, it so happened that the vehicle’s stereo was playing Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier and in unison we sang:
Buffalo soldier, dreadlock rasta. . . Said he was a buffalo soldier win the war for America . . .
But, as the song went on its refrain:
Dreadie, woy yoy yoy, woy yoy yoy yoy, woy yoy yoy yoy, Yoy yoy yoy yoy yoy
The ingenuity of our kids popped up spontaneously by replacing the lyrics, coupled with matching blending, with:
Way Ayo, Way Ayo, Way Ayo, Yoy yoy yoy yoy yoy
Which in our island literally means: Not worth it, Not worth it, Not Worth it, Yoy yoy yoy yoy yoy
Until we stopped in front of a barn…
I could really sense the frustration on the faces of my children as their buttocks seemed to be too heavy to lift themselves out of their seats. But the positive thinker in me had prevailed as I ran towards the lake shore to see what’s in store ahead of us. And, lo and behold, I was stunned to see the alluring beauty of its azure waters and the deafening serenity of the place. Subsequently, I waived my hands for my companions to come and hurriedly climbed aboard the bamboo raft.
My children must have been stricken by the magical spell of the crater lake as their once gloomy faces had suddenly turned energetic and they competed with each on whom to board the raft first.
|And the kayaking frenzy began . . .
Pedal boat riding at crater Lake Apo is also exciting. . .
And canoe riding too . . .
The ambiance of the barn located a few meters from the crater lake, having simple but elegant home facilities and lighted by solar lamps, had evoked a unique atmosphere that made us feel comfortable. Hence, amid the cold temperature and the sound of the chirping crickets, which to some is an annoyance but for me is music, the family have had experienced a sound sleep.
As we took the early morning stroll, my senses were greeted by the astounding serenity of the 17-hectare crater lake and its vicinity that enhanced some more our sense of spirituality. . .
As I slogged further, these sights had rejuvenated my soul . . .
Crater Lake Apo- Final Thoughts
I have been to various tourist attractions in my local and foreign travels and admittedly, a hard-to-explain feeling of excitement and satisfaction engulfs my psyche in each and every sightseeing trip. Nevertheless, it was a different story for my visit to the crater Lake Apo for a number of reasons:
For one, the admiration that I felt for the beauty and serenity of the place, which I had just taken for granted at the start, was simply unfathomable.
Secondly, the gladness that I saw painted on the faces of each and every member of the family was truly fulfilling.
Thirdly, the excitement that sent the kids on a boating craze was really satisfying.
Finally, the bond that was created between and among us family members was really life-changing as it strengthened our resolve to stay close with each other while we are still very much around rather than crying our hearts out when a family member is gone.
Truly, my crater Lake Apo visit ranked as among the best sightseeing trips that I have had undergone in my whole life and I encourage you to dig the underlying reasons deeper by visiting the tourist attraction nestled deep in the hinterlands of Bukidnon at the bosom of Mindanao Island, Philippines yourself.