Why keep Lake Bensis a Secret

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En route to Lake Bensis/ Pingganon Lake (c) Dakilanglaagan

Our to Lake Bensis (fondly called as Pingganon Lake) started with curiosity. What’s in there? What’s on top of that mountain? What awaits for us on the other side? Had it not been for curiosity, many discoveries and explorations wouldn’t have come to fruition. And without curious minds who ask questions and defy odds, we would have to continue believing the truths that have been long deceiving us.

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Lake Bensis/ Pingganon Lake (c) Dakilanglaagan

Such curiousity about Lake Bensis started with a Facebook post: a mysterious lake located within the realms of Cebu City. But those who knew its location chose not to divulge further information as to how to get to such water form. They “don’t want” a lot of people to crowd over the place and “destroy” it. It remains a puzzle to me why a number of outdoor enthusiasts choose to deprive the new breed with their knowledge of the outdoors – that instead of educating, they resort to hating. In the first place, if the secrecy of the place is of topmost priority, photos of Lake Bensis shouldn’t have been made to circulate around social media.

Using Google Map, search engine, and the power of “asking”, we learned that Lake Bensis is located on one of the mountainous barangays near the city. Upon further inquiry, we learned that habal-habal drivers can bring guests to the said lake for a minimum fee of P500/head. Finding it way too much, the group decided to take the cheapest means of going there: hiking.

I was in Manila at that time when Epifanio and Sir Mark went to locate Lake Bensis. With their limited knowledge on its location and the help of some locals, they were able to successfully navigate their way to the lake. They even learned other hacks (and shortcuts) in reaching the place. After consistent pleading, they then agreed to guide us two weeks after.

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Morning aliens. (c) Dakilanglaagan

We agreed to meet at 4:30 in the morning and commence the hike by five. Together with us this time were Debby, Carlo, Jet, and our leads Epifanio and Sir Mark. It was really a sacrifice to wake up too early but given the open trails that we had to ascend, we have to start early or else, the sun would be too happy to grill us. From the infamous Spartan Trail, we resumed the hike to Bocaue Peak down to Barangay Bonbon then up to Sitio Bitlang.

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Hanging bridge to Bitlang (c) Dakianglaagan

It wasn’t my first time to hike Bitlang. But it was one of the trails I despised the most. It’s not totally difficult but Bitlang is… a “bit long”. I had to admit that I have been lazing around for weeks and had not been on any forms of exercise. So imagine me trying to drag myself while the others were just happily running their way up. Weak. I would have wanted to break down and take more time to blame all the unlimited seafood and samgyupsal that my workmates and I have been eating but… I don’t have much time. They’d really be leaving me behind. Alam n’yo naman kung gaano kahirap ang iwanan di ba? HAHA.

It really felt the end of Calvary when we reached Bitlang. According to our leads, we will just need to hike about four to five kilometers to be able to reach Lake Bensis. And the catch? It’s all downhill. Hallelujah! Mi paborito. HAHAHA.

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Alicia’s Panoramic Hills? Nah, just some mountainous barangay within the city (c) Dakilanglaagan

While we were on our way to the lake, Epifanio and Sir Mark happily recalled how they interacted with locals on their previous visit. The knowing smiles and acknowledgment of the vendors, basketball players, and household owners confirmed their claims. It was as if they were usual guests in the locale. But that’s not all. Going forth to such adventure didn’t only allow us to socialize with other people, we also saw how beautiful the other side of Cebu City is. Away from the busy streets, high-rise buildings, and occupied population are rich plantations and rolling hills akin to Alicia in Bohol. In addition to this, we’ve also met some renowned figures in the hiking and trailrunning community – people who can start hikes at one in the morning and finish strong the day after. Yes, they do exist. HAHA.

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Mandatory group pic in Lake Bensis/ Pingganon Lake (c) Jet

It was already sundown when we reached Lake Bensis – the perfect reward after an almost 12hour hike. Before reaching the place, we noticed jeepneys and habal-habals bringing guests to and fro the lake. I guess, it was blessing in disguise that we came a little later. Since most of the guests have departed already, we had the lake for ourselves. According to a former employee of Atlas, whom Epifanio and Sir Mark interviewed, the term Bensis came from the word “benches” – pertaining to the staircase-like surroundings of the lake. Like Biga Pit, Lake Bensis was a former dumpsite of Atlas Mining Corporation years ago. Nevertheless, according to our “soon-to-be-mining-engineer”, the water has been treated already and passed the required level of safety. The lake is currently managed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in partnership with Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

 Curious for the location? You wouldn’t have read this far if not, right? Well, I’m sharing this to you because by now I think you know already the reason why some outdoor enthusiasts would decline from giving information – they are afraid that you would be “destroying” the sanctity of the place by leaving your trash behind and polluting Lake Bensis. But I know that a gentle reminder won’t hurt. Keeping the place a secret (even if a lot knows already of its location) wouldn’t hinder curious minds (like us) to search for it. So, might as well help each other, right?

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Allow people to explore life beyond the horizon that they exist in. Let them see the disasters waiting if they won’t help in keeping the integrity of creation. Inspire them to maintain the beauty that nature unfolds in them – the way it did the first time you marvel the wonders of creation (c) Dakilanglaagan

HOW TO GET TO LAKE BENSIS/ PINGGANON LAKE:

  • ROUTE 1: From Tabunok Flyover, hire a habal-habal that would directly bring you to Loay, Toledo. Fare is P80. But if you feel a little generous, you give additional to the driver given the difficulty of the road going to the Lake Bensis/ Pingganon Lake.
  • ROUTE 2: For a more challenging route, you may go along with other hikers who hike from Banawa to Pamutan down to Bonbon up to Bitlang then straight to Lake Bensis/ Pingganon Lake.
  • ROUTE 3: The most expensive route in terms of transportation fee would be from JY Square, Lahug. As shared by other visitors, fare rates for habal-habal back and forth is at P500/head.

They say the future belongs to the curious – the ones who are not afraid to try, explore, and question. But I guess, the greatest feat of curiosity is having to share whatever is learned from the experience. Allow people to explore life beyond the horizon that they exist in. Let them see the disasters waiting if they won’t help in keeping the integrity of creation. Inspire them to maintain the beauty that nature unfolds in them – the way it did the first time you marvel the wonders of creation. And realize that the fight for the preservation of the environment is not all yours to take, but for all human beings – for the generations to follow.

FRIENDLY REMINDER: Please do always practice the Leave No Trace Principles upon visiting the area. You may also volunteer to pickup some trash found in Lake Bensis/ Pingganon Lake than point accusing fingers to each other. Let’s take part in the preservation our Mother Earth. 


35 thoughts on “Why keep Lake Bensis a Secret

  1. “…they are afraid that you would be “destroying” the sanctity of the place…” why do I feel like the YOU refers to me? Bakit parang kasalanan ko? (Guilty lang?) Hahah

    Anyway, wonderful words as always, besh! Idol kaayo! But dili nako kaya ang diehike agi sa Bitlang.

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    1. “Sad-an” baya pirmi ang bloggers kung musikat ang lugar. 🙄🙄🙄 As if giapil natos atong post nga “throw your trash here!” 🙄🙄🙄
      Ubay2 nasad baya kog nakuyog ug hike, and mostly sa first-timers, they’d really fall in love which would then lead to them emphasizing more for the environment.
      Kaya ni nimo uy. Ikaw pa. Dal-a Eliot. Diehiking doggie 😂😂😂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Bitlang trail was my nightmare last pamutan fest 😀 And most of hikers who knows the place don’t want to share the trail not unless you join with them like the hidden unlimited waterfalls duol rapud dri na lake. And they said na mahal jud dw dri but one of the best capmsite dw ❤ 🙂

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  3. For me, it is true we shouldn’t keep it a secret. We should share the beauty of nature to everybody. Then we have the responsibility to take care of it. What is pristine should remain pristine. My advocacy is different since I promote no geo-tagging. Different strokes for different folks. Social media for me is a tool to promote a lot of things. One of them is environmentalism and bloggers have done a lot of good regarding this. Nevertheless, everyone of us and that includes myself when we post some photo or certain locations publicly. What happens is that we (you, me and everybody else) becomes responsible for whatever we posted.
    ps. just my 2 cents worth of unbiased opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Girl! You are so gracious with this. Love your approach on inspiring others to care for nature. I admit that I’m still conflicted about this. I still find merit in trying to preserve a location by not putting it out on social media – although guilty baya ko on both ends (keeping a place secret and oversharing. Lol.)

        Pero you’re right in opening this topic up for discussion kay daghan kaayo ta amazing places –beaches, lakes etc Basin makakita pa ta ug more solutions to preserve them because of the awareness. Nacurious pud ko sa point ni Alitzur. Thanks for bringing up geo-tagging which I did not think about before and now with a quick Google search I realize that it’s an issue! One suggestion was that instead of tagging specifics, consider tagging the region and like you said encouraging environmentalist principles. Wow, that makes me think twice when tagging locations. I guess it’s a balance we’re all responsible for.

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  4. Libog sad bitaw nga if di ganahan mahibaw-an asa ang lugar niya e post on social media. I understand why though. Maong ganahan ko aning idea nimo Ma’am na Share & Remind for naturesakes keeping.. Labley.

    Pwede kaha e MTB Downhill ang trail? Hhhmmm. Curious lang 😅

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  5. Hike over commuting to reach the place is such a great adventure. Protecting the place ang top priority sa mu adto, lisud kaayo na mu abot sa point nga mabati na ang lake. I guess every visitor should always think about CLAYGO, 😀

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  6. Nice photographs. My question kung mosakay ug jeepney or habal habal naa pa ba gihapon hikonon ug pila kaha pa ka kilometers ang lakaron from drop off points. I like to go to that place but I’m not a hiker. Puede magbaktas basta dili ra kayo layo ang baktason makaya ra.

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