The trek was long and winding, 13.5 kilometers from the national highway to be exact. The road was a rocky horror and the rain was starting to pour. The air was cold and inviting and the flora wild and varied. We hired a motorcycle for the butt-numbing long ascent and anticipated exhaustion. An hour later, after countless stops for photo breaks, we reached the twin lakes office and registration area adjacent to Lake Kabalin-an, where tree reflections intentionally distract you from the seemingly emerging creatures in the water. And with the imagination kicking in, the small body of water appears eerily reminiscent of Loch Ness where Nessie could devour the most unsuspecting stranger. Entrance fee is 10 pesos per person.
After 900 meters (which felt more like a mile) from Lake Kabalin-an, a big native hut restaurant became the prefect prelude to our twin lakes sight-seeing. You’d think capitalists would grab this opportunity to set up restos with sky-high prices on the menu. But not here in Brgy. Enrique Villanueva, Sibulan, Negros Oriental. Native chicken dishes for 50pesos, Ginataang Tilapia for 45 pesos, Paco salad for 25 pesos, what more can you ask for? With the perfect view of Lake Balinsasayaw, this restaurant by the local farmers’ association is a testament to the bountiful countryside life.
After a full lunch of vegetable salad and native chicken tinola which cost the group just 235pesos, we rented a boat for 250pesos to get us across Lake Balinsasayaw and lead us to Lake Danao. The water was serene and beautiful. And clichés of clichés, silent water does run deep. Balinsasayaw is 94m deep, our boatman told us. The mere mention of deep was enough to shake my insides. The addition of 94m made me instinctively grab the sides of the boat and double-check how I fastened my life vest. The silent cruise made me realize that as much as we love the fast-paced metropolis and its chaos, we actually are willing to give up a week in the city for a day in the quiet, simple countryside where time dilates and pressures are immaterial.
The boat docked by the stone stairway leading to a native hut overlooking Lake Danao to my left, and Balinsasayaw to my right. The twin lakes were simply beautiful. We paused for a moment and ceased to talk. What greeted us was a deafening silence that made us hear what our hearts long to speak. It was a cherished moment for never have I experienced such peace and contentment.