if you thought that it was only the villages of Pampanga that was hardly hit by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991. it's time that we look at the other side of the Tri-Cabusilan mountain range, a village submerged with only the cross tower of a church visible from the new formed lake.
along with two of my favorite Pinay travel bloggers Chyng and Ga-el, we hopped on a bus to Zambales early morning to explore a lake spawned out of eruption and continuous heavy rains. beside the San Marcelino market was the jeepney terminal for the barangay of Aglao, the lake's jump off point."we stayed, even when the earth was shaking hard" says one local who was on top of the jeepney with us describing his experience of the eruption which happened 20years back. as i was talking to him, i can't help but take shots of the expansive lahar channel which we were cruising beside for most of the first half of the trip.when the jeep started to ascend the mountain range, road was already partly paved but the zigzag made the jeepney move slower. one of the locals asked where we will be staying for the night, we wondered as we were planning to take the last jeepney back on the same day. unknowingly that no jeepneys will be returning back to San Marcelino on a Sunday afternoon.but with the view of the lake from there, we proceeded believing we will find a ride back with our fingers crossed. jeepney dropped us on a road that led us down to the lake. the place was under broad day light at about 12:00nn but the silence and the serenity of the place made me feel like it was 12:00midnight.after some time, we found a boat man who to bring us to the submerged village which was far East of our location. the lake was big that it can actually cover a large town. with almost nothing left out of the village except for the church cross tower, who would have known that below the lake's water are houses.
when we reached the cross, we had the boat docked on it and walk our way on the lowest remaining portion of the tower. there was almost nothing to see underwater even at daylight. the idea of exploring the lake from that point by snorkeling didn't sound like a good idea. the other side of the lake was a flat area with pine trees growing and an enclosed area for carabao's can be found. it gave us another perspective of the lake, which was also our last stop. that reminded us that we need to get back to the nearest village to check for the best option to bring us back to San Marcelino.it was already pass 2:00pm and we haven't had our lunch yet except for what was left of the chicharon that we've munched while on our way to Aglao. good enough that we met Ate Allen who has a mini store and agreed to cook rice, some canned meal and ready-to-cook noodles. we for the meantime, played Bingo along with the locals. playing to about 6 rounds with nine cards on each game didn't even made me win.
after that late lunch, Ate Allen suggested that we meet the town chief who might be able to help us get a ride back. walked our way uphill passing by houses built on tilted ground. at a covered court, we met the town chief who was welding on a Sunday. it was a surprise to see a town chief doing this kind of task. "it is better to do this as it is expensive to pay someone else to do it. it is was my previous job anyway" he says when i asked why he was doing it.
we were blessed enough that there was a contractor with a jeep, who agreed to bring us along through the help of the town chief, back to town on that afternoon. the original village of Aglao was not the submerged village but it was in the area down along the lahar channel which was completely covered and washed out according to the town chief.
but what surprised me the most was when we learned that this lake was simply known to be as "Ang Lawa" and it was only some foreigners who visited the site that gave the name Lake Mapanuepe. simply the reason why most of the locals seemed not to be familiar to Lake Mapanuepe but more on the lake with a cross. "it was a different experience to sail on a lake with a semi-clear vision of a submerged village. And never leave the without setting foot in the sunken church. you'll feel the creep and its mystery" Chyng shown on photo above.
Chyng's take on our trip to "Lake Mapanuepe - Sailed Through a Submerged Village"Ga-el's take on lake mapanuepe "Tale of the Lost Village"
thanks to Chyng and Ga-el (shown in photo above) for joining me on this trip. to the whole community of Aglao, Ate Allen and daughter Jam (for the hospitality) and the town chief sir Mario Tagapuen for assisting us on the transportation back. photo below was taken by Chyng.
this is eskapo's contribution to Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival this month on "Dark Tourism" as hosted by Ga-el of The Pinay Solo Backapacker.
how to get there:
option 1: take a bus bound for Iba Zambales (recommended: Victory Liner), tell the bus inspector to drop you off at San Marcelino market. (estimated time: 3hours)
option 2: take a bus bound for Olongapo (recommended: Victory Liner), then take another bus from the same terminal in Olangopa to Iba Zambales. tell the bus inspector to drop you off at San Marcelino market. (estimated time: 3hours)
from San Marcelino market, look for the jeepney going to Aglao. tell the jeepney driver to drop you at the jump-off point of the lake. (estimated time is 45minutes)
closest gateway: San Marcelino via Subic/Olongapo
mountain view: 4.5
lake view: 4.0
boat ride: 3.5
overall escape factor: 4.0
14^ 58" 52' N
120^ 17" 43' E