My quest to explore the many hidden natural wonders of Mindanao led me to discover more and more fascinating destinations here in our own Davao Region. The itch for more adventures and new experiences fronted me to see more of what this region has to offer.
One weekend, I traveled along with my friends up in the verdant mountainside of Maco in the Province of Compostela Valley to visit the most prized destination of the town – the picturesque Lake Leonard.
Not known to many, one of the 22 active volcanoes in the Philippines as identified by Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) is located in Maco. Named Mt. Leonard Kniazeff, this volcano has a 200-hectare caldera lake that lies still on the basin of a lush valley of Maco and flanked by the highlands of the nearby towns of Mawab and Maragusan. This lake is called Lake Leonard.
Hidden in the lush valleys of Barangay New Leyte, I thought getting to Lake Leonard is not easy. I was wrong when I realized getting there was as easy as just going somewhere else. From Tagum City, we took a passenger jeep bound to Massara, one of the neighboring barangays of New Leyte, passing through the town of Mawab. Surprisingly, it is more accessible when passing through the town of Mawab compared to its proper town of Maco. There are actually buses and jeepneys that regularly travel to New Leyte from Tagum City on scheduled trip. Sadly we missed it, thus, we took the Massara trip instead and dropped off at Barangay Mainit. From there, we hired habal habal that brought us to New Leyte and straight to Lake Leonard.
The butt numbing bumpy ride from Tagum City to Lake Leonard is approximately two hours. It didn’t bore me though as I enjoyed seeing the green countryside along the way. That is one thing I always love about discovering new places – the journey always makes me excited.
It was the serene view of Lake Leonard that welcomed us as we got there. The waters were at rest so still that the verdant foliage on the sides beautifully reflected on the mirror lake. Water lilies and lotus abound the waters. Fish cages and tilapia pens abound on the side. There were locals fishing in the middle of the lake using their bamboo raft.
I noticed that Lake Leonard is much loved by locals. It is their favorite place to relax and unwind. There were picnic goers when we arrived there enjoying the serene feel of the lake. Some kids enjoyed grilling their fresh catch on the side. There were groups of families too relishing their weekend picnic by lake. Such a quaintest picture.
I learned that before it got the name Lake Leonard, it was then called as Crocodile Lake. Folklore has it that the lake was used to be inhabited by crocodiles sowing fears and worries among the tribal communities living in the area. In the later years, the caldera lake was named Lake Leonard in honor of Leonard Kniazeff, a mining prospector who became the first general superintendent of Samico when the company opened its Masara mining operations in the area in 1930’s. It was also believed that mining activity in the area annihilated all reptile species in the lake. Today, the 200-hectare lake is a tilapia fishing ground.
The clear water of the lake seemed very inviting. I was tempted to jump, take a plunge and swim at it but the thought of those vicious crocodiles probably thriving in it scared me. And so I contended myself worshipping its tranquil beauty instead. That’s the best thing I could do aside of course from capturing every inch of her scenic beauty.
Kent Ramirez Duque
Nicole Kelzie Elizar
Sarah Jane Elizar
Mary Ann Arellano