Running around Lake Pinamaloy

The author on his solo run around Lake Pinamaloy.
The author on his solo run around Lake Pinamaloy.

BEING involved in a project in the southern part of Bukidnon and staying in the area for a few weeks, among my first concerns was to find a place to run, just like what other running addicts would do. The highway amid a rolling terrain with a scenic view is nice, but there’s just too much traffic, heavy trucks and large buses no less in this busy highway. I asked friends in the area, but most recommendations involved track ovals or some parks, which are too short a route for my liking. I don’t wanna be running a place 50 or more times, y’know.

Until someone said, “Lake Pinamaloy! You can run around the lake and enjoy the beautiful scenery.”

Pinamaloy what?! I’ve seen some of the more famous lakes in Mindanao – Lake Lanao and Lake Dapao in Lanao del Sur, Lake Mainit in Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Norte, Lake Buluan in Maguindanao, Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, Lake Venado and the smaller lakes at Mt. Apo. The artificial lakes in Baloi, Lanao del Norte and the one along the Pulangi River in Bukidnon don’t count, of course, being part of the impounding dams for the hydroelectric plants.

After more than a decade of driving around Mindanao for work and for leisure, I’ve never ever heard of Lake Pinamaloy. It’s in the municipality of Don Carlos, I was told, just 10 kilometers away. What?! I’ve driven past Don Carlos several times, done work in neighboring areas, even slept in a lodging house right in Don Carlos once, but I’ve never heard of this lake.

The dirt road around the lake, I was told, is 2.7 kilometers long. That’s a nice distance for me. Maybe I’d do eight laps or a little more, just to slowly stretch my distance after recently joining a 21k fun run, and part of my training for a full 42k marathon in August.

So one Sunday towards the end of June, I woke up at 5:00 in the morning and drove to Don Carlos, ready with my running shorts and shirt, three bottles of water, a bottle of Gatorade and some biscuits, because I’m sure to get hungry running 20 kilometers or more. I intended to run barefoot, but, as always, I had huarache running sandals in a sling bag hanging by my back.

Upon reaching the poblacion, I asked people along the highway where Pinamaloy is. One told me to just drive straight ahead. But after driving past the poblacion, I wondered why I’ve gone that far, when Google Earth told me it’s just beside the town center. Until one said, “You want to go to Barangay Pinamaloy or Lake Pinamaloy?”

Okay! So I drove back, and when I got back to the town center, I was told to just follow the paved road, maybe 300 meters inwards.

The 60-hectare lake, situated just beside the poblacion, is the source of potable water for the municipality of Don Carlos in southern Bukidnon. MindaNews photo by Bobby Timonera
The 60-hectare lake, situated just beside the poblacion, is the source of potable water for the municipality of Don Carlos in southern Bukidnon. MindaNews photo by Bobby Timonera

Whoa!!! Lake Pinamaloy right in front of me. It’s smallish compared to the lakes I’ve seen, only 60 hectares. It’s just a pond compared to Lake Lanao, even smaller than Lake Sebu. Its serene surface is like one giant mirror, reflecting the clouds with the sun trying to peep through as I got there just a little past sunrise.

But unlike most lakes I’ve seen, its water is immaculately clean. Well, it should be clean, and I suppose everybody in the community is helping make sure it stays that way. After all, it’s the town’s source of potable water.

I haven’t seen even just one small piece of trash floating. The only things I saw on the surface were beautiful water lilies, a small fishpen made of bamboo (hope they won’t build more!), and a few drums owned by the water district.

Surrounding the lake are trees, trees and more trees, such that most of the road is under a canopy of trees. Literally cool! Planted, I’m sure, as I see a lot of gmelina, some falcatta and young mahogany trees.

I saw a handful of people fishing using hook and line, even though I later saw a sign saying that fishing is prohibited. I’m no expert, but maybe if controlled, hook and line fishing should just be fine. What happens if the fish get too many in that small lake?

Time to run!

Had the circumferential road been paved, I would have run barefoot, as I usually do. I actually tried barefoot at first, because the mud looked really fun as I came in the morning after a rain. But before completing one lap, I wore my sandals. There were lots of crushed gravel and sharp limestone along the way that hurt my feet. Add to that a few broken Tanduay bottles in the middle of the road.

Glad I brought my trusty Lumix LX5 digicam, strapped to my running belt. The place is so beautiful that I had to stop every now and then to take pictures of the scenery, or set up the camera on a miniature tripod to take pictures of myself running. Thus, it became one of my slowest runs – 24 kilometers in almost 4 hours! When my fastest 21k was at 2:19. (That’s slow for many runners, I know, but I run to have fun and to keep fit, not to win races.)

Maybe Don Carlos folks don’t run that much. I met only one lady who walked a few laps, and before her a teenaged girl. But I liked the solitude. Still, I wished I had my running buddies with me. That would have been really fun.

I saw a couple looking for a picnic spot, a few young girls and a young family whiling the time away.

What else could be done to this lake?

Maybe plant more trees. Put up street lamps, and have a few people patrol the circumferential road, including at night. Maybe drinking alcohol should be banned for picnickers.

How about paving the road? I’m not sure, because that would mean more people coming in – for picnic, to walk, to run, to bike – and thus more trash. Unless of course the water district management, or the community, can vigilantly patrol the place.

How to get there? From Cagayan de Oro, just take the bus to Damulog, Kadingilan or Kibawe in Bukidnon, Tacurong in Sultan Kudarat or Koronadal City in South Cotabato, then tell the conductor to drop you at Don Carlos. You can also take those buses to Davao, disembark at Maramag, and take a Multicab or a van to Don Carlos. From Davao, take the Cagayan de Oro-bound bus and alight at Maramag. (Bobby Timonera / MindaNews)