|birds eye view of Mt. Parker and Lake Holon - define lovely!!! (photo credit: Len Marcelo Jingco ChoosePhilippines)|
Mt. Melibingoy, also commonly known as Mt. Parker is a dormant stratovolcano located at the municipality of T'boli, South Cotabato. Towering for over 1,800 meters above sea level, it has been said to have only erupted thrice, the most recent one recorded September 1995, when the lake overflowed, taking with it lives of more than 50 people.
|Welcome to Lake Holon!|
While the background of its T'boli name, Mt. Melibingoy , means "to be seen everywhere" in the native tongue, and has also been long considered by T'boli locals as sacred, the origin of how it got its English name was actually quite tragic. Parker represents the demise of General Frank Parker, an American pilot who have died on a plane crash while surveying the surroundings of the mountain. Hearsay from locals was that the body was never found, attesting to how mystical the place is.
Even though we were already at Mt. Parker, we did not ambition to reach its peak, but only to see its majestic and not (yet) so famous lake , Lake Holon. Formerly named as Lake Maughan, this was the result of the devastating eruption of this volcano on January 4, 1641. It now brings pride to the province by being recognized as one of the cleanest body of water in the Philippines. The history of its name is said to come from a T'boli ancestor named Ma Ugan. It was officially named as Lake Holon last 2002. There is no recorded data yet as to how deep exactly Lake Holon is, same as with the Enchanted River of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur.
|panoramic view - sweet!|
The trek had been arduous and a painstaking task for me (literally), even though everyone kept telling me the trail was labeled for beginners. I could not imagine what advanced trails must be like. The three-hour upward hike has proven to be worth my time once I have seen this obstructed view of the lake. It pained me to look away from this, but it just motivated me more knowing I'm only few minutes away from getting a wide photographic scene of Lake Holon. Knees and ankles aching, I pushed myself to move forward.
|My first glance at Lake Holon|
Even though the trail down was slippery and proved to be more difficult, I was able to reach camp after thirty minutes. Heart thumping wildly, eyes filled with joy and grin so wide, I felt like I've gone bananas. Broad and majestic, yet so serene, its waters clean and still. I wanted to have this moment last for a lifetime. Yes, this could probably be a love at first sight.
|it must have been nice to try out this local wooden boat, but of course, I chickened out.|
I distanced myself to the group come nighttime. The crater lake shed a different shed of color and it seemed like I was in a different place again. It seemed like the perfect backdrop for a music video and thank goodness for my iPod to supplement the right music. The temperature dropped as low as 15 degrees, I slept shivering and my back crushing the cold damp grass, but I did not complain, that was probably one of the best sleep I have had for years.
We were told that Lake Holon has been a home to the enchanted creatures such as diwatas, locals even attribute its serenity and clean pristine state to their guidance and powers. There were stories of hikers actually hearing jubilant sounds at around 3am morning. I woke up different times of the night hoping to have a sighting of the mysterious "party" of the Encantadias, to no avail.
|blue hues of the lake, I am in heaven!|
I never thought there could exist such place in province rarely visited such as South Cotabato. This almost surreal beauty is now gaining some popularity, thanks to its striving tourism officers, friendly indigenous tribespeople and amazing panoramic landscapes.
The next morning, I woke up early to hopefully catch the sunrise view at the crater lake. Though the sky is still warning us of great rain, it was also that bitter sign of the need to leave and move forward to our next destination. And just like one's first heart break, it will probably take me some time to get over Lake Holon.
How to go to T'boli, South Cotabato
Take buses that head for Koronadal/Marbel. Yellow Bus Line offers Davao-Koronadal route that pass by General Santos, trip will take around 2-3 hours. From Marbel, there are vans that can take you to T'boli with "Direct T'boli" sign. Trip will take around 45 minutes to an hour.
How to reach Lake Holon/Mt.Melibingoy:
Tourists must register first at Municipal Tourism Office of T'boli to secure local guides. From there, you have to take a one-hour skylab ride to Barangay Salacafe (100 pesos per person), that would serve as the starting point of the trek to Mt.Melibingoy. You may also negotiate for porters before you proceed with the trek. It would take around three to four hours of hiking to Lake Holon.
Contact Persons (T'boli Tourism Officers)
Ronilo Magsael "Kuya Ronie" - 09056454662
Alexander Montallana "Kuya Alex" - 09354206981
|Day 0: T'boli Traveling to South Cotabato|
Day 1: T'boli Mt.Parker and T'boli Locals
Day 2: T'boli Lake Holon
Day 3: Lake Sebu Tour of the Lakes
Day 4: Lake Sebu More of the Lakes
What to do at Lake Sebu
Day 5: Gumasa - General Santos City Gumasa Beach
5 Day Trip Itinerary & Budget
More of Mindanao here