For a moment, I sat on the concrete bench, gazed at the blue sky and clouds mirrored at the still lake. It was a tranquil space in the midst of greens. Jamboree Lake was unknown to me until a fellow outdoor enthusiast and biker, Cha, posted her visit here on social media. I got curious of this lake found within the city of Muntinlupa. Much more when I learned it was the smallest natural lake in the country. With the pandemic prohibiting our movement, it was a challenge to find a patch of nature to explore and enjoy in the stifling concrete landscape of the city. So this was a good starting point for adventure.
I hate cycling in the city. Aside from our poor infrastructure for biking in the streets, the road conditions are generally poor and more so the discipline of our motorist to cyclist. While I enjoy the activity when I travel in the provinces I don’t do much biking when in the metro. Things have drastically changed when the pandemic hit. Suddenly there were no public transport. And being the only Allowed Person Outside the Residence (APOR), I was forced to run my errands on foot. Sometimes walking kilometers to find what’s needed at home.
One good thing out of this? Local government units (LGU) realized they need to support people who have shifted to using bikes. Some LGUs have setup pop-up bike lanes, establishments have added bike racks and some companies even subsidized their employees to help them purchase their own bikes. Suddenly the cycling culture boomed.
The Dahon Route
Early June 2020, still at the height of the pandemic, I decided to get myself a bike again. The roads were much friendlier at this time so it was a nice welcome to be back into city cycling. Though the price for bikes have also skyrocketed because of the demand. It was hard to find the ones I liked.
I wanted to get a folding bike this time for several reasons:
- Saves storage space at home
- In the future if we’re able to travel again, I plan on to bring this for bike touring trips. Folding bikes were easiest to bring.
It was quite a long search and finally settled on the last unit of a Pure Silver Dahon Route available at Raptor then. There was a good discount for the price. Dahon is also a reputable brand known worldwide for folding bikes. Also, there are rooms for upgrades in the future for parts. It was one happy purchase and the start or rekindling my enjoyment to biking.
Folding Bike Touring
My rides were mostly for running errands at first. But when places started opening up and ease on restrictions, I began riding further distances. Slowly going out of Pasig City boundaries to Makati, Taguig, Marikina, Antipolo and Quezon City. Finding patches of nature. Sometime catching up with friends ready meet with other people. I love the freedom a bike offers. Knowing that you can go places as long as you have the energy and strength to pedal. And living alongside the COVID-19, cycling is one of the safest modes of transportation with the least chance of catching the virus.
I enjoy riding my bike that I have started documenting some of my rides at YouTube and routes in Strava. And for this one, my ride to Jamboree Lake in Muntinlupa
Bike Route to Muntinlupa
My starting point for my ride is in Pasig. Riding to Lower Bicutan, Taguig with a brief stop to enjoy the morning scene there. Then entering the long stretch of A. Bunye street, stretching all the way to Muntilupa passing by Sucat and Alabang. After passing Alabang, entering the National Road through Bautista St then turning a right to E. Rodriguez all the way to Muntinlupa Bilibid Prison Reserve.
Laguna Lake View at C6 Bike Lane
The sun was already above the horizon when I arrived. I was hoping to shoot the sunrise but taking the unfamiliar Pateros route took a while. Still the early morning scenery was soothing. Heavy growth water hyacinth paints a floating landscape of greens. Canoes glides through the placid waters. Fishermen busy about on their catch and tending nets. I saw some common birds like Brown Shrikes, Yellow-vented Bulbuls and Egrets busy with their hunts as well.
The C6 Bike Lane, also called the Laguna Lake Highway is a 5.8km protected lane along C6 connecting Taytay, Rizal and Lower Bicutan Taguig. It is a 3-meter wide lane and a 1.5 meter pedestrian sidewalk. It’s a commendable project but construction and improvements are still ongoing. Like the connecting bridges over streams which forces some cyclist to ride counter-flow. When it rains, some trail can create deep puddles and muddy sections. I don’t see enough security in the area in the length. I’ve heard some bike stealing occurrences here. I do like the idea that they plan to extend this up to 30km spanning the nearby cities around Laguna lake.
Bike Through Taguig to Muntinlupa
I then entered A. Bunye Street from C6. A rather narrow two-lane road. Just enough space for bikes and people on the side. It’s a pretty good ride since it is on the inner road. Vehicle speed is slower. The only problem I had where the road constructions in Sucat area before entering Alabang. Some lanes converted to one-way hence vehicles have to wait turns.
Going to Bautista towards the National Road, lane becomes wider of course and it’s quite easy to navigate my way over SLEX to enter the Muntinlupa Bilibid Prison Reserve.
Just a short ride from the entrance, I already saw the signage for Jamboree Lake together with a smaller signage declaring it as the “Smallest Natural Lake in the Philippines.” The tadpole-shaped lake has an area of 1.5 hectare. Area is quite tranquil with plenty of trees surrounding the area. The makeshift bridge over the lake is already submerged. There’s a statue of a lady in the middle, a replacement to what was originally a statue of liberty way back in 1940s.
I went down near the lake where there are concrete benches to sit on. It’s just amazing to know that’s just 1.8km away from the country’s largest lake, Laguna lake, is the country’s smallest lake in the urban landscape of Muntinlupa.
The New Bilibid Prison Reserve is quite a large area. Southwest of the lake is a vast hilly area they call the Sunken Garden. Grassy with several dirt trails I’m sure Mountain Bikers would enjoy. It is quite easy to navigate. The highest point of the reserve is the Mission Hill. A ruin of a Japanese watch station where canons can still be found there. Unfortunately, the dilapidated structure is filled with vandalism already. At the back of the hill are trails leading to the lake. If I had more time it would be exciting to explore the area.
I thoroughly enjoyed the ride going to Jamboree Lake. Maybe because it marks my attempt to start venturing further to longer rides outside of the metro. The road conditions weren’t ideal in Sucat area at the time but I’m sure once the roadwork had been done it’s easier to manage passing through the area. It’s a nice small oasis in the city especially in this now pandemic driven life.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.