I know a place…where there’s peace and quiet, beauty and repose
It’s hidden in the valley, beside the mountain spring
And beside the spring, I know that I can dream…
–excerpts from a Girl Scouts’ ditty
Somewhere along the slopes of Mt. Balungao , hidden among towering forest trees and an all-natural and wonderful panorama, is the Balungao Hot and Cold Spring Resort.
It’s not a so-hidden place as it lures tourists both from the province and other places the best of what Mother Nature can offer. Still, it’s a perfect hideaway from the daily rigors of life and the spring waters, with its sulfur content, is said to be medicinal which can cure some physical ailments.
Mt. Balungao is an extinct volcano (we hope) in Balungao town, visible from the Rosales town highway towards Manila . From afar, it makes for a mystical view as one wonders what secrets it veils with thick canopy of trees. Up close, a secret is revealed—a natural health spa of hot and cold springs.
The local government of Balungao (about 50 kms from Dagupan City ) has developed the place into a resort, constructing several pools according to the water temperature. One has hot water (about 40 degrees centigrade), one has warm water and the other is filled with cool water. The hot and warm pools are ideal for soaking in, as one would in a spa. Think Roman bath where Romans of yore soak and chat away the hours. But this one’s an open spa enclosed only by the forest trees.
Through modern plumping, water flows continuously into the pools and continuously flows out into a ravine. The water is salty (a niece said its tastes bitter) because of its high sulfuric content. So step into the pool, close your eyes, dream beautiful dreams, and let nature do its work.
There were two big pools, too, which, by their sizes and depths, are for swimming purposes. But they were empty during the visit of the Inquirer on a lazy Tuesday morning
A historical trivia has it that Apolinario Mabini, the sublime paralytic (whatever that means), was brought here in an effort to treat his paralysis. The hot springs may not have worked wonders on his physical ailment, but surely he must have enjoyed the beautiful surroundings which must have refreshed his mind and emotions.
The place is accessible from the Balungao town proper through a four-km barangay road. It is not a concrete road (except for short stretches), but paved enough for cars to traverse.
The resort has a gate which was closed, but not locked, during our visit. A signboard said there was an entrance fee of P20 for adults and P10 for children. But there was no one manning the gate so we opened it and went inside. There were shower and comfort but they were closed that day.
Concrete cooking stoves are available for those who want to cook food. Picnic tables and chairs are available, too. But a reminder for those who wants to visit the place: Bring lots of drinking water as we saw no source of potable water there.
The more adventurous may want to explore the mountain. Some of us followed the source of water, trying to locate the lake up the mountain. But after an hour of trekking, they gave up. There were no mountain guides to show them the way.
The wonders of this mountain where cold and hot water endlessly flows from its depths move us to sing that Girl Scout song which ends with the line “Now I know that God made this world for us.”