Mapanuepe Lake: The Loch Ness Lake in Zambales

Lake Mapanuepe Loch Ness Lake Zambales
A Lake in Brgy Aglao and Brgy Buhawen San Marcelino, Zambales

Myriad stories of supernaturalism spread about this lake in Zambales. 'Mermaid' is said to be lurking in its waters as well as 'Kapre' on a tree close to the lake's shore. Deaths due to drowning were claimed to have been done by the mythical creatures. But these stories didn't prevent us from visiting Mapananepe Lake.

Mapanuepe Lake

Lake Mapanuepe was formed in 1991 as an aftermath of the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. Lahar flows blocked the two major rivers of Mapanuepe Valley (Maranella River and Mapanuepe River) connecting Sto. Tomas River to the west. Villages submerged in flood water. The church of Bojaoen was also submerged except its steeple protruding out of the water until this day.

Mapanuepe Lake Church
Bojaoen Church slowly submerged in freshwater

Hamlets submerged were parts of Barangay Buhawen and Barangay Aglao. Rising waters led the constructions of new barangay halls on higher grounds, south of Mapanuepe Lake.

The Road to Lake Mapanuepe's Sunken Church

The thrill began after negotiating our tricycle fee to Barangay Buhawen. While traveling, Mt. Bagang suddenly popped up when we reached the dike at Sto. Tomas River and the famous Mt. Pimmayong of Sta. Fe to the north. The road has seen a lot of improvement since the year 2016 when construction started. We stopped on a spot overlooking a portion of  Mt. Cawag

Mapanuepe Lake Day Tour
A misty morning 
We reached Barangay Buhawen after an hour of enjoyable riding. It is advisable to look for the Barangay Captain or, in his absence, a Barangay Kagawad for registration. Hanging pictures of Mapanuepe Valley were displayed at the Barangay Hall including Dizon Mines. Mapanuepe visit is for free.

Things To Do in Lake Mapanuepe

  • Banca Ride - We were charged Php 300 pesos for an hour ride circling the Bojaoen Sunken Church and visiting the Mapanuepe Lake View Deck in Barangay Aglao. Note that Mapanuepe View Deck or Floating Restaurant is located in Barangay Aglao while the Sunken Church is located in Barangay Buhawen's part of the lake.
Lake Mapanuepe View Deck
Ric at the View Deck
Lake Mapanuepe Sunken Church
The Sunken Church of Bojaoen
  • Swimming - We managed to swim beside the church's steeple just for 'awhile' due to reports of water contamination
Lake Mapanuepe Swimming
Swim at your own risk.
  • Sports Fishing - Bring your own fishing rod if you want to do this activity. Our boatman boasts big catches at the lake. Take note that the lake might be contaminated with chemicals from Dizon Mines.
  • Camping - There are nice spots to pitch your tent. You can bring your own or rent at thenBuhawen Barangay Hall.
  • Sightseeing - Take a stroll in Barangay Buhawen and Aglao. Barangay Aglao was chosen once as the cleanest Barangay in San Marcelino, Zambales. Additionally,  bikers and motorcycle riders love to visit Mapanuepe Lake.
Lake Mapanuepe View
Overlooking Mapanuepe Lake
Buhawen San Marcelino Zambales
Senior Citizen's Park at Barangay Buhawen welcomes us.
Mapanuepe Lake Sunken Church of Bojaoen
Bojaoen Church Steeple
Placid Mapanuepe Lake
The placid Mapanuepe Lake
Animals at Mapanuepe Lake
A carabao enjoying the day

How To Get to Lake Mapanuepe

San Marcelino, Zambales is approximately four and a half travel by bus and another forty-five minutes tricycle from Marcelino town to Barangay Aglao or Buhawen. Victory Liner buses ply to Zambales and they have several terminals in Manila. 

You can also take Saulog Transit bound to Olongapo City then take a Victory Liner bound for Iba or Sta. Cruz, Zambales. Another option when already in Olongapo City, you can take a mini-bus bound for Iba or Sta. Cruz or a blue jeepney with a yellow top bound for San Marcelino, Zambales.

San Marcelino Town to Brgy Buhawen Jeepney Schedule

Brgy Aglao and Buhawen's main public transport service is a jeep. Daily trips to town are 3AM and 4AM. The trips going back to the barangay are 10AM and 12PM. If you opt to camp at Mapanuepe Lake overnight, this is the best option to lessen your expenses.

Our Contact Persons:

We had a hard time looking for a spot where there's a cellphone signal at Mapanuepe until someone told us the best spot. We found nails hammered on a tree with a transparent plastic for hanging phones.

Lake Mapanuepe Cellphone Signal
Cellphone signal is intermittent in Mapanuepe.

  • Kagawad Jo (Brgy Buhawen) - 09321602273
  • Rj Luna (Tricycle Driver) - 09481424391

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