Twin Lakes, Sibulan, Negros Oriental

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Balinsasayaw is a 70+ hectare lake with the 30-hectare Danao as its twin. It is a beautiful placid site, soothing tired muscles caused by the bumpy ride up the mountains in Janay Janay, San Jose, Negros Oriental. The San Jose mountain road  bends over to the town of Sibulan.

Twin Lakes is under the authority of the DENR, thru the Protected Areas Management Board or PAMB. They operate a restaurant at Twin Lakes. The person who guided me at Twin Lakes is a guy named Venie who works for a PO (people’s org).

Gazebos around the restaurant/viewing deck

There are no hotels at Twin Lakes, although camping may be arranged on the restaurant grounds. Venie pointed me to a spot where they will allow a tent to be pitched. I asked whether the toilets at the restaurant will be open for the campers and he said Yes.

Venie (left) will take care of you at Twin Lakes

Restaurant at Twin Lakes

Visitors pay an entrance fee of P10, with an official receipt of the Republic of the Philippines issued as you pay. And then you go 9 kms further up.

At that spot where entrance fees are collected, some locals were picnicking. Bathers were wading on the lake (a third lake? ) with some visitors actually paddling canoes from a distance.

What can one do at Twin Lakes, other than marvel at the magnificence of the lakes? Kayaking and trekking are the two top activities. In fact, one needs to ride a banca or a kayak to get to the observation deck between the twin lakes. Otherwise, the visitor will see only Balinsasayaw.

Venie will allow you to pitch a tent on the restaurant grounds, only at night

Contact Venie at09222260281 and he can even arrange for food to be cooked for your contingent.

Happy trekking!

Forest Camp, Valencia, Negros Oriental


The road in Valencia, just past Talay in Dumaguete is lined with tall eucalyptus trees with violet, orange, and white bougainvillas clinging to the trees.  I can’t help but notice beautiful homes on the road. Middle-class ones, and several really big and beautiful homes with gardens.

This mountain resort is about 20 minutes by motorbike from Dumaguete. Immediately outside the resort are two huge swimming pools with spring water, each with nearly a thousand bathers, at P10 entrance per person. After all, it was a Sunday in summer.

Upon entering Forest Camp, visitors are charged P80 per pax. An admonition to keep the place clean, the trekkers’ code, is prominent at the gate.

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints . . .

Forest Camp is a popular picnic destination. Most of the daytime guests are families who go straight to rented tables and picnic huts, big picnic baskets and drinks in tow.  And then everyone takes to the series of small swimming pools and to the stream.

spring water pool

I have never ever seen a resort with notices all over saying “Drinking Alcoholic Beverages Strictly Prohibited”. What a pleasant surprise. Indeed, a place for wholesome family picnics. I had to ask the resort staff if they prohibit smoking, too. No, they don’t. In fact, they said  some visitors discreetly bring in alcoholic drinks, and the staff  just look the other way. But because of the official prohibition, guests who bring in drinks surreptitiously have to drink in moderation and, as a result, the place is generally free from trouble caused by drunkards.  Or maybe the drunk aren’t able to negotiate the camp’s hanging bridge.

Visitors who don’t bring picnic baskets can buy food and drinks in the restaurant. I loved their “buco halo”, halo halo on buco at only P60.

halo halo on buco

You can also fish for your lunch in the tilapia pond near the restaurant, pay for your catch and have the pla pla steamed or grilled by the staff.

Accommodations are also available, sans airconditioning. The forest keeps the rooms naturally cool. The Rambutan and Durian cottages are rented out at P1,000 per day , with P200 additional charges for each person in excess of two occupants. The Bahay Kubo, the Champaca, and the Narra go for P2,500 per day, accommodating as many as 10 persons in the cottage.

Rambutan cottage :P1,000 per day for 2 pax

Picnic huts like Tree House, Kamalig Lanzones, and Kamalig Mangosteen are rented out for P300 per day. Campers can also sleep in tents, at P200 per head, with tents, beddings, and mats provided by the camp.

Guided treks to the Casaroro Falls and to Lake Nailig are available, at P800 per guide, with 1 guide for a maximum of 5 guests.

Forest Camp facilities can be booked via phone (035)4234017 or mobile 09172711806

Around Dumaguete : Sibulan and Banilad


The best way to move around Dumaguete is by habal habal. Or by tricycle,  or by foot.  I hired a habal habal and went to the two ends of Dumaguete : Sibulan and Banilad.

The habal habal driver that the hotel staff recommended to me is actually a barangay tanod of Bagacay, Dumaguete, named Julito Viscayno.

Bgy Tanod Julito Vizcayno, habal habal driver and his old, reliable Yamaha

He is a man who looks like an aging boxer, weather beaten. He says it is not easy to do habal habal the whole day and be a civilian police watching over his barangay at night. He earns P2,000 a month as a tanod, but surely his sturdy Yamaha that can sit six ( yes six !)  passengers is his better source of income. Just for the day, the habal habal hire was P1,000.

Sta Monica Beach Resort

Sta Monica, resort within Dumaguete

I first went to this place about 5 years ago, and now that I am blogging, decided to visit once again. It is the best resort accommodation in Dumaguete City and a good alternative to city accommodations.

view from the restaurant

The place does feel like a resort. The restaurant, the cottages, the pool and the function rooms all have a view of the sea. The beach is clean even if the sand is black. There is also a spa within the resort.

Nice pool

Sta Monica

All rooms are air conditioned, starting at P1,325 for single, and P1,590 for double occupancy. A de luxe double is P1,835, a thousand pesos cheaper than my hotel accommodation at La Residencia in the city.

One of the cottages, beside the spa

de luxe room

Sta Monica can be reached by phone (035)2250704, 2257802 email

Robinson’s Mall

Malling after touring the region, and to escape from the heat

If I did not do a habal habal ride, I wouldn’t have known that Robinson’s Mall is already in Dumaguete. Easily THE shopping destination in Dumaguete. You can go to Robinson’s by hiring a tricycle. Tricycles are on queue at the mall so you don’t have to hire one and pay to make the driver wait for you.

The Cathedral Belltower

Light a candle below this belltower

Easily one of the most recognizable structures in Dumaguete. Old, but probably still the most photographed. Do go inside the church, and light a candle for your special intentions, right there at the belltower area.

Silliman University

Silliman, taken from the Boulevard

The university is like a magnet attracting hordes of students around the region. Is it the pleasant campus? Is it the high quality of education? Or is it the bohemian lifestyle of Dumaguetenos?


Sibulan is a town 7 kms away from Dumaguete City. I went to Sibulan to go to Twin Lakes which I will also blog about. The road past the town center is lovely, with Spanish-style lampposts on the sea wall.

lovely lampposts of Sibulan

Had lunch by a roadside eatery that overlooks the island of Cebu. Lunch was “tinolang isda” and rice for me and the habal habal driver, all for P90. I only wished though that the soup on my tinola was hot.

Carinderia overlooking the island of Cebu

From Janay Janay in San Jose, one gets a good, panoramic view of Cebu. At one point, one can see both Cebu and Siquijor. What a lovely thought – – – standing on a hill near Dumaguete, viewing Siquijor and Cebu. Three lovely islands.

Cebu from atop janay Janay

There are a hundred reasons why visitors go back to Dumaguete. It is the Boulevard. The balut and squid balls and tempura by the bay. It could be the bars. Or the nearby beaches and mountain resorts. Whatever. Dumaguete is just plain beautiful.