Lake Mapanuepe is one of the lesser known places you can visit in Zambales mostly because it’s a pretty difficult commute or drive. I’m not saying this to discourage you from visiting the place. Quite the opposite. We were willing to suffer going the distance because Lake Mapanuepe is worth it and if you’re the happy camper kind of person, then Lake Mapanuepe just might be the place for you.
The story is that the lake hadn’t existed before the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo back in 1991. After the volcanic catastrophe, what they called then as the Mapanuepe Valley was dammed putting a huge blockage on the major water exists thus drowning the settlements of Aglao and Bajaoen (pronouned as Buhawin by the locals). Thus, the Mapanuepe Lake was born.
Now if you’re thinking ‘There is no way I’m going to a creepy lake,’ worry not. Locals have reported zero casualties during the formation of the lake. The water rose at a slow enough pace to let the settlers evacuate before the valley became a full-pledged lake. Nevertheless, the mere idea of a sunken town gives an eerie foreboding to a trip down the lake. Look at the photos, though, and see how much you’ll miss if you don’t go.
The lake is cradled within hills and mountain forms, all of which could easily resemble a collection of popular mountains in Cavite and Batangas. The view is spectacular with mountain tops playing hide and seek behind the clouds. Slopes roll from left to right and flash their majesty despite the rain. When dark clouds loom over the lake, the water is so deadly still that it could mirror the skies above it and so clear that you could watch whichever life forms existed in it. When the sun is out, the water spashes against the shore and sparkles against the light. Pine trees litter the clearing on the other side of the lake.
We rented a boat from one of the locals to take a look at other spots around there. One particularly charming spot (or ominous, if you will) is the steeple of the church that was once the local parish. You can ask the boatman to let you go closer so that you can climb up but the steeple has in time accumulated mold that has made the steep climb a difficult one.
Another nice part is this sort of grazing ground that can be seen from the jump-off point (if you don’t mind the dried and/or fresh animal poop). It’s littered with pine trees and the wind whistles when it comes around.
HOW TO GET THERE
– The best way is to drive.
– If you have enough participants, you can hire a van to take you. A van with the driver might cost you around 7-8k.
– You can take a bus to Iba and ask the driver to drop you off at the public market of San Marcelino. It will cost you up to 400 and take three hours. You can also take a bus to Olongapo from Manila then another one heading to Iba. Once you get to San Marcelino, take a jeepney going to Aglao and ask to be dropped off at the jump-off point going to the lake (I was told this would cost you around 250). This part will take about an hour.
1300 – van rental per person (7800 divided by 6 people)
300 – per person for food, water, alcohol, and miscellaneous needs
budget per person = 1600 – 2000
*All information posted are applicable as of April 2013.