Last weekend was nice. An old friend, Nico, invited me up to his lake house with a Spanish couple I was yet to meet. I looked forward to this because his place is beautiful, so relaxing and a welcome relief from the traffic, heat and pollution of the Metro. I have many fond memories there, dating back to high school when I used to come up with his sister (who I was then closer to) and their entire family. I have yet to live down one particular incident when I , together with Nico's sister and another old friend, sank their dinghy. Yes, we sank it. And it sank with me in it! Granted it was a tiny, beat-up, single engine affair which I was driving for the first time, this did not make it any less funny for others.
I will never forget the sight of my 2 friends who were already on the dock watching wide-eyed and speechless as it sank. They had jumped out into the dock while I was still trying to tie the dinghy to it without any thought to the consequences of leaving me on the heavy end of the dinghy where the engine was. This caused the front of the dinghy to tip up and water to rapidly flow in from the back. I tried desperately to bail the water out, to no avail. I called out for them to help, and what does Cristina do? Jump into the water to save the suntan lotions and towels. Great. It happened quickly - the boat sank from underneath me, as the strong current pulled the boat farther out into the lake and under until there was nothing left but bubbles.
We were too frightened to face Nico's parents to tell them we lost the boat to the lake so we sat there in stunned silence until they came looking for us. To our immense relief, his dad laughed it off saying the dinghy was bound to croak sooner or later at the state it was in. They even hired divers to look for it but it was never found beneath the murky water. But I digress.
Lake Caliraya is a beautiful and vast man-made lake in Laguna, about a 2 hour drive south of Manila and not far from Pagsanjan Falls. It is located 1,200 meters above sea level and was built to harness hydro-electric power in the area. It has since become a haven for windsurfers because of the strong winds and calm water, and for people looking for some R n R close to nature.
Can you see the kite surfer in this picture? Cool huh! :-)
Antonio and Christina turned out to be funny and sweet honeymooners. Antonio was the weekend's self-appointed chef, as well. :-) We toured them around the lake on the speedboat. Nico swung by the NPA (New People's Army - a communist rebel group) village in the far and secluded coves, Surfkamp and Lagos del Sol resort, and just basically cruised around.
And for all you movie buffs, you will be interested to know that Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam war movie Apocalypse Now was filmed here in the 70's, among other places like Pagsanjan River and Hidden Valley Springs.
For dinner, we drove down the mountain into the town and dined in Gallery 83, a cafe and gallery owned by Ernest Santiago. Ernest, who apparently is an international designer famous for his Balinese and Thai inspired furniture and garden accessories. The food was good, we had the pako salad which consists of ferns, singkamas (jicama) and kesong puti (white cheese made from carabao or water buffalo milk). It was a very interesting and refreshing combination!
Ernest himself was sitting in the next table with his friends and turned out to be very friendly and quite the gracious host. He sent over 2 big plates of chocolate cake for us and gave us some grapes for dessert.
After chatting with him a bit, we asked if we could see his work and he led us into his gallery which formed part of his estate. There were beautiful pieces of furniture on display which were mostly made of molave, narra and other native materials.
But what was most impressive was his charming garden which he lovingly landscaped and decorated in Balinese style. I have vowed to come back some day while the sun is out to totally appreciate it.
The picture above is of one of the many huts in his garden. They are all roofed huts with no walls on the sides. That's Ernest on the left, with Nico and Christina.
Oohhh and even more amusing, Ernest Santiago is also, by the way, the man behind Coco Banana. You know, from the Hotdogs hit Annie Batungbakal? "....na taga-Frisco...pagsapit ng dilim, nasa Coco Banana...". Yep! He was THE Louie Cruz of the disco era! It was our Studio 54. This I found out from a newspaper clipping framed on the wall of his cafe. :-)