Weekend wanders seem unstoppable over the past few months. Juggling between work and this unceasing travels is becoming strenuous and sometimes all I wanted is to stay at home and do nothing but put my feet up. I must admit, unending weekend getaways can sometimes make me wonder why wander at all times. I wanted to halt for a moment but when one weekend adventure was laid before me, I can’t simply say no. It was a kind of trip I prepared so hard – a kind of meander I would die if I missed. This is my journey to Lake Holon.
Found in the municipality of T’boli, South Cotabato, the majestic Lake Holon is the crater of Mt. Melibingoy, a dormant volcano towering at about 1,750 meters above sea level. It takes pride for being recognized as the Cleanest Inland Body of Water for 2 consecutive years (2003-2004). It is the source of five large rivers in the Region including the vast Allah River. There are two trails to get to Lake Holon. The more established is the Sitio Nabol trail and the harder one is the Sitio Kule. Since our outreach program for the T’bloli Community was at Sitio Kule, our journey to Lake Holon commenced there too. As our trek started, we were informed that what we were trekking through, the Sitio Kule Trail, is a hunter’s trail – a treacherous trail apt for adventure seekers like me.
Lake Holon is about four hour hike from Sitio Kule – that’s three hours ascend to reach the view deck overlooking the majestic lake and another one hour trek going down to reach the lakeshore. I must admit that it wasn’t an easy trek. In fact, it is more challenging compared to other mountain trekking I’ve made in some parts of the country. But the tougher it got, the more challenged I became to reach our goal. Thanks to the gods of the mountains, my physical preparation for this trek really worked.
The weather that day was cloudy. There were drizzles in between but it was generally a perfect weather to climb and marvel at this sacred place of the T’boli people. Along the way, we were sweetly greeted by the wild flora and lush vegetations that environed that whole place. In fact, it caused a little delay as we had to make stops and photograph these wild plants and flowers we cannot see in the concrete jungle. And for someone who truly admires everything that is wild and untouched, seeing them was a great joy. The wild orchids, pitcher plants, wild berries, gigantic ferns and more that we captivated us were among those that made the trek more satisfying.
As ascended further, the trail got rougher and the slopes were getting more challenging. This time I was beginning to catch my breath. I was panting and breathing so hard and so fast while my knees was shaking uncontrollably. Sharp grasses started to scratch my calf and it went on and on. And as we moved further, I was already carrying bleeding legs. Few steps more and we reached the view deck.
The view deck sits at the topmost point of the hill overlooking the majestic crater of Mt. Melibingoy. The view from the top is so superb that I forget about how I braved so hard to get there. It is so gorgeous and it possesses a striking appeal that all men will adore. It has a bewitching magic that can stop your world for a moment and has the power to ease all tired veins and exhausted body in just a snap. Lake Holon as viewed from the top is so grandiose that left me dumbfounded. Softly I muttered, “Wow! Wow! Wow!”
I almost glued myself from where I stood savoring the full top view of Lake Holon when suddenly an excruciating pain hit my legs. Just as I thought scratches were enough, this time I was stung by a bee. It was itching painfully I had to go back trail and eased it for a moment. But itching continued. Damn that bee, it ruined my instant romance with the Lake from the above.
And so from the view deck, another hour was spent hiking down to reach the bank of Lake Holon. I thought going up to reach view deck was already the hardest part of the trail, to my surprise, going down was worst. The one hour trek was the most challenging that I had to endure bruises and wounds when I slid for four times. I had to use my kung fu skills, tinikling expertise and tarzan-like ability to survive the steep and difficult trail. Yes, it was very difficult I reminded myself, “kay nganong ni-enter?”
One hour passed and there I was finally descending down to the bank, down to the lakeshore, down to our main destination, the mesmerizing Lake Holon. And when I finally got to the grounds, I dumped my things at one side and hurried to the lakeshore. There I stood and paused for a long moment staring at the mirror-like body of water murmuring whispers of adoration for such perfect work of nature. It was getting dark when we got there but even dusk cannot conceal the striking exquisiteness of the lake. And I said, “Lake Holon, here I am, an avid fan of yours long before I met you”. And suddenly I felt a cold wind caressing my face. Ah, the nature heard me.
As darkness devoured the tranquil surroundings, the coldness of the night began wrapping us. The lake was still as if it was in deep slumber. I waited for the moon to show up but seemed shy. I listened to sound of nature encircling us. I listened to the giggles of the mountains, the chirping of the wild crickets and the music of the forest. My ears cannot hear them but my heart can. Inside the tent lying so close to the cold earth, I thought of the comfort of my bed. But it was just a thought. I never wanted it for that night. For I was in the comfort of true home – in the comfort of Mother Nature. Lake Holon is Mother’s nature’s great creation. I was being cuddled. It was lullaby to sleep.
The chirping of birds woke me up in the freezing dawn. The cold morning mists kissed my cheeks waking my full senses. And when I finally got into it, it was the incredible view of Lake Holon that greeted my implausible morning. The dawning of the day slowly revealed the true and mystical beauty of the lake. My admiration for her grew deeper. As sunlight shone on her, her radiance was becoming spectacular. The greens enveloping her reflected on the water and I felt like I was in a reverie floating in those placid waters.
I grabbed from camera and started photographing every inch of her beauty. I prayed inside me that I can capture her true radiance because my naked eyes can. I prayed I can give justice to her incomparable gorgeousness because she truly is. She is lake placid; she is lake of the gods.
As the sun rose up, I felt the sharp ray of light hitting my face. But as I looked at the lake and saw the dazzling reflection of azure skies reflected on the waters, I thanked the heavens for giving us such clear weather that day to compliment the beauty of Lake Holon. Stunned, I sat on a rock gazing at the waters that seemed to embody the mystery of nature. And I sat and paused there wishing I could spend more time relishing every bit of her. She’s just absolutely adorable.
And when our time was up to say goodbye to Lake Holon, I took a deep breath and say my own prayer. I thanked God for giving the rare opportunity to be who I am – a wanderer and worshipper of His creations. But I thanked Him more for bringing me to this place and let me be clothed by the wonders of Lake Holon. So thus I pray, I pray harder that this masterpiece of nature will be preserved and nurtured. I prayed that when time comes that I come back there, she is still there at her most exquisite natural beauty waiting for me – untouched and unmolested – for me to worship her again because she’s worth all praises, all admiration. Lake Holon is worth it. Now I understand why Lake Holon along with Mount Melibingoy is a sacred place of the T’boli tribe.
Now I’m a captive of her beauty but I don’t have the intentions to be freed.
I shall see her again.
How To Get To Tboli:
From General Santos City, the Municipality of T’boli is just 1.5 hour away by private ride or barely 2 hours by public ride. If you are traveling from Davao City, it will take you around 3.5 hours to get to General Santos City. Buses and utility vans are available for those who will take the public transportation.
Travel Time and Transportation Fare:
Davao City to Gen.Santos City – est 3.5 hours – P270.00
Gen.Santos City to Koronadal City – est. 55 minutes – Php 97.00 by bus, P75 by van
Koronadal City to Tboli – est. 45 minutes – Php 70.00 by van
WRITER’S NOTE: I would life to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Friends of Holon and Melibingoy (FHM) and theMindanao Tourism Council (MinTC) for organizing this event and for inviting us to be part of it. Special thank you shout out goes to Louie Pacardo and Jonalier Perez.