Just a few weeks ago, sunflowers around Mount Mayon in Bicol made rounds on social media — almost everybody loved them. Now, here come “purple Bulusan Lake flowers”. Found in the same Luzon region as the famed volcano, these vibrant blooms were captured by Sorsogon native Glenn Belarmino, and instantly caught the eyes of Filipinos online.
According to the 32-year-old agriculturist and photographer, who spotted the flowers conveniently from his home in Barangay San Roque, Sorsogon, the flowers come from Banaba trees that line the nearly one-kilometre road leading to Bulusan Lake. They are usually seen during this time of the year when the Banaba flowers are in bloom.
Purple Road to Bulusan Lake.Blooming Banaba trees…. Lagerstroemia speciosafollow ⤵️⤵️⤵️⤵️instagram.com/glennb__
“Actually common na talaga ito sa akin. Nakikita ito every year from mid-July to the whole month of August kasi ‘yun ang season ng full bloom ng mga Banaba trees,” Glenn told TripZilla. “May pa-confetti pero totoong bulaklak talaga habang naglalakad ka sa tree tunnel papuntang Bulusan Lake.
[Actually, this is a common sighting for me. The flowers are seen from mid-July to the whole month of August because this is the season of blooming for Banaba trees. They may seem like confetti, but they’re simply fallen flowers that you’d see along a tree tunnel going to Bulusan Lake.]
Unsurprisingly, social media users were quick to express their admiration for the purple Bulusan Lake flowers. “Very inspiring, sana ay maraming gumaya at magtanim ng Banaba,” commented one user. [Very inspiring, I hope more people follow and plant Banaba trees.] Some expressed their local pride, comparing it to floral attractions in other countries. “Kung may Sakura flowers sa Japan, may Banaba flowers sa Bulusan Lake,” another user said. [If Japan has Sakura flowers, Bulusan Lake has Banaba flowers.]
Also called Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia speciosa), Banaba trees are found throughout South and Southeast Asia, particularly India, Malaysia, and the Philippines. They can grow as high as 30 metres and are sometimes locally used for its medical benefits, according to Haribon Foundation. But for nature lovers like Glenn, their bright purple flowers are enough reason to admire these gorgeous flowering trees.
How you can witness the purple Bulusan Lake flowers
At the moment, Bulusan Lake is closed to tourists and other visitors due to the nationwide lockdown. It’s also undergoing major developments led by Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero. However, the road leading to it, where the Banaba trees are located, remain open to the locals.
When travel restrictions relax, one can witness the purple Bulusan Lake flowers by first heading to Sorsogon City. Bus companies from Metro Manila offer regular direct journeys (approximately 12 hours) to Sorsogon’s provincial capital. One can also fly into Legazpi City then take a commuter van or bus going to the same city.
Once in Sorsogon City, Glenn recommends two travel options. The first is by riding a jeepney bound for the town of Gubat, from where you can a second jeepney to the town of Bulusan. From the Bulusan town centre, Bulusan Lake is a mere 15-minute drive via tricycle. The other is by taking an Irosin-bound jeepney from Sorsogon City. From the Irosin town centre, you can take a 20 to 30-minute tricycle ride to Bulusan Lake.
Aside from these purple Bulusan Lake flowers, one can also enjoy other natural attractions in the vicinity, from homegrown plants and wildlife to views of the distant Bulusan beaches. As always, Glenn reminds future visitors to be respectful of the area. “Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints. And at this time, always observe social distancing and wear a face mask.”
The quotes above have been edited for grammar, clarity, and flow. All images courtesy of Glenn Belarmino.