Growing a Three-Day Moustache at Lake Apo | Bukidnon

Time freezes in this serene setting dominated by green grass in front of a circular lake surrounded by heaps of towering trees. We were only here for a couple of hours, but it seemed like enough time to clear my mind of big city worries. Prior to our visit, I had only heard and read about Lake Apo. I expect it to be larger so that you don't have to hear the exuberant yells of children on the other end. In reality, it was much smaller and much more charming. I could hear the kids playing from the other side, where a few nipa huts dot the lake's edges. These are the kinds of tiny houses I fantasize about having as my retirement home. I thought to myself, "I could retire here." A small wooden cabin and the peaceful atmosphere of the location would serve me well.

The scenic Lake Apo

I separated myself from the rest of the group and sat on a small jetty near a tree house. I enjoyed the gentle breeze while gazing at the reflection of the trees and sky in Lake Apo's glassy waters. I had only recently left a traditional job that guaranteed me a bi-monthly salary but denied me the freedom to do whatever I wanted. That moment of uncertainty that lies ahead is what prevents me from looking ahead. The picturesque scenery of Lake Apo stares back at me, slowly unlocking my mind and heralding answers I desperately needed.

Marky Ramone Go

To say I had a sort of epiphany would be an understatement. I realized right away that I'd never see places like this if I was more concerned with occupying that office room with a city view of Makati traffic. Not that I don't enjoy moving cars and city scenes; it's just that time is often wasted chasing something while neglecting to live. You must strike a balance between the two. While deep in thought, I suddenly realized that I'd taken this contemplation thing too far, so I stretched my legs and lied down facing the sky. This isn't the place to be concerned about life's big decisions, I tell myself, because tomorrow will present itself in its finest form.

Marky Ramone Go

But the general sense of calm returned me to consciousness. This is the scene that came to mind when my boss informed me that the company was letting me go. The journey of five and a half years has come to an end. I spent the next few weeks racking my brain, trying to decide whether I should go out and look for another office job or just live the life I'd always wanted to have. Simplified, but with numerous opportunities to see not just to more of my own country, but also other nations. There will be no guarantee of a twice-month salary, relying instead on an online freelancing gig that fluctuates like the weather, raining one time to dry and humid the next.

Mindanao Travel Guide

Earlier, on the way to Lake Apo, as I sat on the edge of the habal-habal with the driver in front, Ferdz next to him, and Alex in the middle, we passed by a long stretch of rough road sandwiched between corn and sugarcane plantations. Thousands of tiny flowers held up by each sugarcane tassel stretched from beyond to a misty distance, and as the golden rays of nearby fields returned to my eyes, each picture provided a pleasing scenery. This is the kind of visual feast that makes me grateful for the time I now have to stop and appreciate the finer details of the world.

Levy Amosin

I recall sitting on the jetty, running my fingers over my mouth, and feeling my mustache almost scrape the skin of my hand. Either it sprouted a three-day growth rate in a matter of minutes, or I just learned to cut the crap with the normalcy of shaving, dressing up, and going to work. This was during a leg of the #TravelMindanao campaign to promote tourism in the region, and I had only recently joined the group in the Bukidnon region. At the moment, I believe I was finally certain of what I wanted to do with my time on earth. I decided to steer my future toward the life I had always desired.

Shugah Pauline Gonzales with Ferdz Decena

My silent sit-down at Lake Apo was not a life-changing experience by any means. If there was one, it was part of a week-long excursion that allowed me to prioritize what I really wanted out of life. I've sat in a cubicle for so long that my feet deserve a vibrant and diverse days of exploring new places.

The scenic Lake Apo

We decided to leave Lake Apo when it was nearly dark. We then went to Shugah's house to say hello to her parents. We decided to return to our hotel a little later and found ourselves standing on the side of the road when no buses were running the route. I didn't care if we arrived at midnight without a ride; all I cared about was that we were having fun. We decided to just hitch a ride on the next passing vehicle. I never taken into account becoming stranded in the middle of a dark road. I felt as if I had abandoned the baggage of excess uncertainty in the deep and still waters of Lake Apo.

Shugah Pauline Gonzales

We flagged it down with our hitchhiking thumbs, and the driver immediately pulled over and motioned us to climb into the back of the truck. Passing by a pitch black highway illuminated by the bright moon, I hear my friends' laughter in the dark, the wind hissing behind my ears, as if whispering to me "worry no more," and I thanked my boss right there for finally letting me go and freeing me from the cuffs of my office desk. Even if this is only a brief period in my life (ultimately I might find my way back to the corporate world). I'd always look forward to the day when I could express my gratitude to good karma for bestowing such a blessing in disguise.

                 In Memory of Shugah Pauline Gonzales (she joined our creator on December 3, 2018. Blonde-haired girl on the right)

Shugah Pauline Gonzales with the rest of Travel Mindanao team