(Okay, this post is overdue by a day. – Marocharim)
The third day of the Silliman National Writers Workshop was held at Lake Balanan, which was a pleasant surprise. I think of it as a “back to nature” kind of thing. I’m not a nature lover, but this place has become one of my favorite places.
Considering I’m afraid of large, wide, open bodies of water. Heck, I shiver at the thought of creeks and swimming pools. While the beauty of the lake did not turn me into a nature lover, I think that even city boys have a soft spot for the clear, the verdant, and the lush.
For people like me who are used to city lights, nature can be the least appealing because it’s absent. The most I get to jungles and wilderness these days are artificial gardens at malls, but Lake Balanan was a welcome change from the artificial oases of the urban jungle.
The ride to Lake Balanan takes about two hours from Dumaguete City by van. There’s not much you can talk about on drives along the highway, except for coconut groves and drying corn seeds on the sidewalk. Farming and agriculture doesn’t appeal to me as much as, say, people leaving office buildings, but Lake Balanan absolutely blew me away… in more ways than one.
Because I’m a blogger who happens to be perpetually angry with a lot of stuff, the wards of Lake Balanan gave me a warning beforehand that I’m not allowed to do five of my favorite things: littering, vandalism, smoking, drinking alcohol, and gambling. I would usually say this is oppression, but you don’t argue with a big red “No.”
The only thing that prevented me from doing anything particularly stupid were the stories of the van driver, who had a rather telling and interesting story of a drunken student who drowned there for pissing off Mother Nature a couple of years ago. Apparently, the drunk took a swim in the lake, drowned, and the body surfaced after five days. Not wanting to risk anything remotely related to the wrath of whatever Gods may be, I decided to just sulk and wander off to the workshop venue without a smoke, without a drink, and without the urge to tattoo tree trunks hardway. Don’t get me wrong, I like the place, but I learned a thing or two about “persona.”
Anyway I’ll be spoiling this quick entry if I keep on accentuating my pictures with text that fit along the height of the photo, so I’ll just be posting some shots along with some quick descriptions:
A couple of girls at the foot of Lake Balanan. Cute, but I make some jokes at the expense of the makers of Pagoda Cold Wave Lotion.
The tiny creek supplies an aquifer. Or it may be supplied by an aquifer. Hell, I don’t know how aquifers work. A “No Pissing” rule may come in handy.
The workshop venue. The Governor of Negros Oriental then came over, and reminded us not to smoke on the cottage lest the cogon burn. The fire can spread to the trees and to everything in the jungle, and practically have the makings of awesome.
Banyan trees on the way to Lake Balanan. One can wax poetically (if there is such a phrase) about banyan being the veins of the Earth… but I won’t pull that kind of a stretch.
Another view of Lake Balanan. Calm, peaceful, serene, conducive to writing. I got chills just standing on top of a rock and looking over at open water, but the shot was worth the shivers.
A treehouse. Perfect for drinking. Although the “No” sign means “no,” so you might as well do other things in here to have fun. Lake-watching can get a bit too idyllic.
Obligatory group picture post of some fellows and panelist. From left: Ynna, Arkaye, myself, Philip, Maoui, Aleck, Prof. J. Neil Garcia, Bea, and Mo.
I would post the picture where two of us were taking a much-needed piss along the shoulder of the highway, but that deserves a post of its own. Meanwhile, I’ll finish writing my “Thank You” letters, and then I’ll think about writing some of the best food this little city by the shore has to offer.