Security tightened in Zambales lake as thieves target tourists

Security tightened in Zambales lake as thieves target tourists

Tourists pitch tents around Mapanuepe Lake in San Marcelino, Zambales

HOLIDAY GETAWAY Tourists pitch tents around Mapanuepe Lake in San Marcelino, Zambales, in this photo taken on Feb. 9. At least 1,508 campers and tourists visited the area that day, a Chinese New Year holiday, making it the highest record of arrivals there. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAN MARCELINO PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE

SAN ANTONIO, ZAMBALES, Philippines — Police officers will be deployed to Mapanuepe Lake in nearby San Marcelino town after some tourists complained of losing their personal belongings to thieves, the local government said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Mayor Elmer Soria said he had ordered the local police to investigate the incident, saying this was already “alarming,” considering that the freshwater lake has been the town’s top tourist destination in the last two years.


READ: Tourism’s road to recovery


Tourists often refer to Mapanuepe Lake as the “New Zealand of Zambales” since its surroundings are likened to the vast pastures and lush greenery in New Zealand.

The lake is nestled among hills and pine trees in the remote villages of Aglao, Buhawen and Pili, covering a 500-hectare private property.

According to Soria, police officers will help secure the area despite it being not government-owned.

He said he had also sought a dialogue with the local police, barangay officials, and property management to address the growing security concern and avoid a similar incident.

The pristine surroundings and a refreshingdip in Mapanuepe Lake have been attracting visitors to this spot in Zambales.

SELLING POINT The pristine surroundings and a refreshing dip in Mapanuepe Lake have been attracting visitors to this spot in Zambales. The freshwater lake in San Marcelino town, shown in this 2022 photo, was formed after Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991. JOAN MERIS/CONTRIBUTOR

Sold at market

In a report, Maj. Marvin Domacena, San Marcelino police chief, said a group of tourists lost a camera (valued at P150,000) and a wristwatch (worth P500,000) to thieves while camping by the lake.

Domacena said the culprit managed to sneak into the victims’ tent around 1:30 a.m. while the group was gathering nearby.


“The following day, we identified the suspect when we found the stolen items being sold at very low prices at the public market in the nearby town of Castillejos,” he said.

But Domacena said the suspect had yet to be arrested as police officers were still trying to determine his whereabouts.

This was the first known theft report in the area since the lake became popular right after mobility restrictions were eased amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022, though some believed similar unreported incidents existed.

“We are reminding campers and tourists to take extra precautions and secure their personal belongings to avoid this incident [from] happening again,” Soria said.


The municipal tourism office data showed that 7,138 tourists visited the lake during Holy Week from March 27 to March 31.

On Feb. 9 alone, a Chinese New Year holiday, at least 1,508 tourists visited the lake. It was the highest number of tourists ever recorded in the area in a single day.

The freshwater lake was formed following the major eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Pinatubo’s eruption caused lahar to block the flow of the Mapanuepe River, which led to the flooding of the Mapanuepe Valley and nearby communities. In a section of the lake, the church steeple is the only visible part of a structure from the old community.

TAGS: Mapanuepe Lake, Tourists, Zambales

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.