By: Ramon (Ser Montaineer), Decathlon Wild Discovery Leader
On my recent outdoor trip, I had an opportunity to try out some of my merchandise
from the Decathlon Wild Discovery Department. These are the Solognac
8×42 500 series Binoculars and Binoculars Harness. It is a privilege given to us by the
company, to use our product outside the store for testing purposes. I haven’t tried
bringing this kind of instrument in my several years of doing outdoor activities.
However, I am aware about the enjoyment it brings, as I enjoyed using binoculars when I
participated in a guided birding trip at UP Diliman last month, where I learned the
basic binoculars adjustment and ways of responsible bird watching. That’s why I felt
this first product testing as a great opportunity, gave additional excitement knowing I
would do it for Lake viewing at the Lake City of San Pablo, Laguna, which I quickly
planned with my PNU-colleagues Heide Banday and Erl Lim for my 35th Birthday.
On October 14, 2017 around 08:00 in the morning at the very familiar Jollibee branch
in San Pablo, I found myself speaking with tricycle driver, Pablo Lauigan,
arranging trike service in order to visit the available eco-tourists Lake in the vicinity.
Though the ride was a bit pricey at seven hundred pesos, I grabbed his offer considering that we’re still
affected by the bad weather made by typhoon Odette and to look for other driver
might be time consuming.
Our trike ride started at 08:30 AM and we arrived at our first target, in Lake
Sampaloc. Unfortunately, it was very gloomy and rainy that time, I am unable to use
the binoculars during the time we are in Sampaloc. However, I found the place nice
for tree walk and birding activity. I saw some birds – mostly Eurasian tree sparrow and
Shrikes – and some common Philippine Native Trees like Narra (pterocarpus indicus)
Talisay (terminalia catappa) and Acacia confusa. Interestingly, the 4 KM road
encompassing the biggest Lake of San Pablo is a good spot for running and
walking, as one of my companion – Erl – had tried surveying it before. Then, by the
time we started to prepare to leave Sampaloc, the rain had slowly stopped. So I took this
moment to prepare the harness and binocs for our next viewing.
Continuing on to the next lake, we had reached Lake Mohicap at around 9:45 AM.
After paying the registration fee of ten pesos, we directly proceed to the marker for photo
opt and descended the one hundred five steps downstream. Upon reaching the lake’s shore, the caretaker warmly welcomed us and gave some information about the place.
Thereafter, we started to indulge the surroundings. The place looks refreshing,
showcases greeneries and impressive view of notable landscape known as Imoc
Hill. On the other hand, by the time I started using the Solognac Binoculars there, I
enjoyed seeing the vegetation literally magnified, even the occasional raindrops, as if
I’m close to the features I am looking at. I can also easily adjust the binoculars to
clearly see every object I am spotting. While the Solognac Binoculars Harness is
elastic, it is still very manageable to use\with the binocs. It allowed me to roam
freely, enables me to descend the shore, go up and down and go over the bamboo
raft to get spotting position without requiring my hands to hold the optics. The
harness securely compressed and hanged it on my chest. Furthermore, through
using the Solognac Binoculars I was luckily spotted one of the bird species in the lake, the Barn Swallow (hirundo rustica) locally known as Layang layang, flying above us, chirping, playing and landed several times near to our standpoint.
It was past 10:00 AM when we left Lake Mohicap, aiming to visit the other lake next
to it, the Lake Palakpakin. Short trike ride after, the driver dropped us at one small
bridge. At this point, Mang Pablo told us that bridge is the only way to see the Lake
Palakpakin. Since, there is no other access to get closer we only took short
sightseeing then headed to Lake Pandin. Even though we are notified by the
caretaker in Mohicap that Pandin is close to visitors due to right of way issue.
On the way to Lake Pandin, our venture commence at one community. One young
boy – I nicknamed Utoy – approached us and offered to tour us, gave guarantee that there is a newly opened trail to reach Pandin. But I respectfully refused, hoping I could still track the landmark I’ve passed through when I visited the place as side trip
of my Mt. Mabilog climb way back 2011. However, many changes took place in
the past six years. In fact, I got confused during the trek, but thankfully Utoy still
followed us when I did the back trail. At that point, I accepted his offer to guide us. Our trek
resumed at the ranch that is temporarily opened for Pandin visitors. This place is
surprisingly beautiful; gave us way to see some cows roaming at the green grassy
slopes, glimpse the views of Mt. Banahaw-Cristobal complex as well as Mt.
Malarayat range. Though slightly rainy, muddy and slippery, we managed the trek to
Lake Pandin within 20 minutes. Longer than the usual trekking time from the old trail,
yet definitely more scenic.
At the Lake Pandin, we’ve been closer to the lake through our rented bamboo raft.
The bankeros; brought us to the opposite shore then we ate the food they served
such as; grilled tilapia, okoy na hipon and fern ensalada. There, we are treated to
witnessed the emerald green water section of the lake, we saw many small fishes like the Filipino
ayungin, we joyfully tried the man-made swing, took photos, and beheld the refreshing air and the beautiful surroundings. I also had fun to spot the things
behind us using the Solognac Binoculars. I saw butterflies mostly white and
yellow, birds like Grey Heron (ardea cinerea) and group of White Herons (ardea
alba) flock over the lake. There is also one interesting bird which we couldn’y identify. This is
different from the mentioned birds as its bearing short tail and white feathers with
black spots. Yet showing capabilities same as the other migratory birds, that is
impressively flying, wading and eat fishes.
Visiting Pandin is our main plan and we were glad to make it despite of weather
disturbance. Though we were not able to conquer the other Lakes (Yambo, Bunot and
Calibato), Pandin experience rewarded us an exciting finale. Bringing all the good
vibes and learnings from the lake viewing we had, we decided to leave the place
at 3pm, and safely headed back to Manila.
Overall, bringing binoculars in my outdoor trip gave additional weight on my
backpack. It cannot record the moment and scenery we had at the Lake we’ve
visited unlike the camera. Yet it has no charging requirement and I enjoyed using it
to the fullest. Moreover, it gives considerable importance to me in seeing features
from outdoor beyond the reach of my normal sight. I will surely not hesitate to use
the Solognac Binoculars again and explore its diverse function in enjoying the great
outdoors. Looking forward to my next adventure with this one.