The Legend of the Paoay Lake

Paoay Lake dilapidated viewing deck

Paoay Lake, also known as Lago de Nanguyudan or dakkel danum, is a mysterious horseshoe-shaped lake that has a tale of its own. The lake can be appreciated from the porch of the Malacañang of the North or from the lake’s dilapidated viewing deck. It has been declared as a national park on June 21, 1969. When we visited the lake at dusk, it gives off an ethereal beauty and serenity that it deserves a moment of silence.

Enchanting Lake Paoay
Paoay Lake was once a place called San Juan de Sagun, Ilocano’s version of Sodom and Gomorrah. Here’s the local legend that people seems to know by heart:

Long ago, in this once-dry land where Paoay Lake now stands there was a village whose people were kind, generous and God-fearing. Prosperity was evident in their beautiful houses, their expensive clothes and glittering jewelries.

As years passed, rivalry among the people set in, that they worked hard to acquire material things more than the others. God-worship was forgotten. Among them, Juan and his wife Maria, remained simple folks and never forgot to worship God. One night, in a dream, they were told that the village will be destroyed by a flood, if the people will not reform. They related their dream to their neighbors, but they only laughed at them.

One morning, the couple heard a voice saying, “Leave this place tonight. When you hear the roar of thunder, do not look back, lest you suffer the same fate as these sinners.” When dusk came, they left with their little belongings towards the hill. Then they heard the clap of thunder and felt the earth beneath them sway and tremble. The villagers were roused, but their cries died down as they were submerged under the rampaging water. The woman instinctively turned back to look at the village. She swooned and the husband tried to hold her. This tugging gave the name “Nangguyudan”. They turned into rocks which can still be seen today at Bantay Pugaro. Atop one rock grew a “bangar” tree which rises to the sky like an open umbrella.

As years went by at the place where the village sank, a beautiful lake emerged, and is now the famous Paoay Lake. Today, they said if one looks into the depths of the lake, one could see the shadows of the buildings and houses of the once prosperous village. Fishermen reported catching fishes adorned with jewels. It is believed that these were the early inhabitants of the ill-fated village.

Another version suggests that the lake was formed after a huge geological displacement struck Ilocos area in January 1641. There was a strong earthquake, followed by thunder and lightning which caused the earth to open up and swallowed down the place, then burst back into the sky, leaving a large body of water.
Some studies suggests that Paoay Lake was formed geologically as a result of formation of the earth’s crust during the Miocene Epoch 2 million years ago.

The story passed down from generations to generations adds to the charm of the lake. Locals embraced its mystical tale and is now one of the prominent features in the municipality of Paoay. Whatever the explanation is, when you happen to be in the area, take time to visit the lake and admire its beauty.

Source: the people of Paoay, Ilocos Norte,,


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