Thursday, February 07, 2013

Negros Oriental: Lake Balanan, Dauin Church & Bacong Church, road trip south of Dumaguete

Late last year, I got to fly twice to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. The first trip was a familiarization tour with Dumaguete and Cebu Pacific. The group got to experience Dumaguete and areas nearby. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and it was raining every now and then. So our trip to Apo Island did not push through due to rough seas. We instead drove south all the way to Lake Balanan in Siaton, the southernmost municipality of Negros Island, and passed by heritage churches on the way back to Dumaguete.

As we neared the lake, we were met by a road blocked by a river that overflowed. Some of the locals were saying that there was no other way to the lake. And it was a bummer if we didn't get to see it. But just as we were about to leave, someone pointed to us a trail to the lake. So we walked for a few minutes and finally made it to Lake Balanan.

Lake Balanan is actually a success story. It used to be full of informal settlers. And like in most informal communities, it was riddled with garbage. The local government organized the informal settlers, gave them a community away from the lake, and set-up a cooperative for them to manage the tourism facilities around the lake. It was a win-win-win solution since Lake Balanan looks very clean now, you don't see any informal settlers by the lake, the former informal settlers now have a place to stay plus they have livelihood from tourism.

We had lunch at one of the function halls built by the lake. Among the dishes we had was the Negros Oriental version of halang-halang which to me tasted like chicken tinola with pepper and gata (coconut milk).

From Sioton, we motored back to Dumaguete. We stopped along the National Highway at Barangay Maluay, Zamboanguita to try out the town's famous torta. Note that torta has striking differences depending on where you are. In the Visayas, it's usually bread. And various places have different recipes. In Zamboanguita, torta looks like dinner rolls, but sweeter, denser and more filling.

In Dauin, we stopped by the centuries-old Dauin Church. The exterior is well-preserved and has character but the inside seemed to be renovated. We also stopped by the Bacong Church which is a National Cultural Treasure. Dumaguete
We were hosted by Dumaguete during our stay in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. You could actually get a decent room for Php388++ a night if on sale. Airport transfers are also available for Php98 per person. You can book your stay via the website.

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