Three boats and dusk at Lake Sebu
It is one thing seeing Lake Sebu from afar, but it’s another thing exploring the actual lake itself. For Php 350 at Punta Isla Lake Resort, you could hire a motor boat good for 8-10 persons in addition to your personal tour guide and boat man. Their tour guides are native T’bolis and are accredited by the DOT (Department of Tourism), so you get loads of information as well as stunning views of the lake during the boat ride. And I can say is that I truly appreciated the lake more while cruising along its expanse.
The floating restaurant at the lake
Situated at approximately 1000m (3000feet) above sea level, the municipality of Lake Sebu is considered as the “Summer Capital of Southern Mindanao.” I can attest to this as the air here is very cool especially at nights where air conditioning is no longer needed. In fact there was a short brownout one night while we were sleeping but it didn’t matter since it was very cool anyways. Unlike its northern counterpart of Baguio, the air here is still fresh and most of the structures are still the native huts and houses. And due to this elevation, most of the time the sky can become gray and cloudy, and at times we heard the place is covered with fog with a limited visibility of a couple of feet or more.
A boatman passing by the Tilapia Farm
Even when we were there, there were some rains and drizzles, but I think we were really fortunate or the weather was on our side, because it rains during our breaks but when we were about to start our tour, the sun would come out. Like during our boat tour, it was after our lunch when the rain abated, then we took the tour. As I noticed, after the rain, colors of nature are more vibrant and the green is a lot greener. We had the pleasure of the company of 4 DPP (Digital Photographer Philippines) forum members whom we met that day at the resort. They came all the way from Davao’s Kidapawan festival and decided to do a little side trip here.
Lake Sebu is surrounded by forested mountains
Soon we found our boat pulling off from the docks. Our direction was counter clockwise of the whole lake going right passing by the floating restaurant. Soon we were passing by numerous Tilapia Farms and making rounds of the islands. Our guide, Che, began her introductions in English and pointed some facts about the whole municipality. Che is a pretty 15 years old T’Boli, fully garbed in T’boli attire of T’nalak and brass wares and is one of the younger guides there. Despite some bickering and teasing from the DPP members, she managed to handle them well and maintain her composure.
The lake has 3 islands/inlets which are inhabited
Che informed us that there are 3 lakes in the municipality of Lake Sebu, Lake Sebu being the largest measuring 354 hectares, Lake Seloton measuring 48 hectares but being the deepest and Lake Lahit with an area of 24 hectares. In Lake Sebu, there are 3 islands which are inhabited, the largest of them is called Isla Grande. Most of their livelihood is from fishing, particularly Tilapia which is very abundant here.
Scenic lake houses at the island of Isla Grande
Cruising along Lake Sebu made me appreciate the place more as I really saw how majestic it is. Imagine a large lake like this high up the mountains. Somehow I think this also a large crater similar to Taal. It’s like being in a bowl and you are surrounded by a stunning vista of mountainscapes often covered with clouds.
Children of the lake
The lake houses stands out clearly from the greenery of the islands and the reflecting lake, making them really picturesque. We saw some families living there, along with their pets as well. For tourist like us though there is a curfew hours for going around the lake. We are not allowed to roam the lake from 6pm to 5am.
More green and sweeping vistas on our way back
There is a local myth on how the Lake came to be. A time ago, a local princess had a dream of coming to the mountain lands of Sebu. The princess saw a big leaf. When she opened it up a frog leaped out along with a gush of water which flooded the land and became the lake. From the heavens she threw here pythons to the earth which formed the islands at the lake. And in order for the princess to pass by the lake, her brother parted the islands. The name Sebu actually came from the loyal servant of the princess who fell and died on this lake during his service.
More scenic lake houses on other islands
Lake Sebu is truly one of God’s creative wonders. Literally a large food bowl given to the locals in the area since the lake is abundant of fish and never dries up no matter what.
The red roofed structure is their tourism center. Also a nice vantage point in viewing the whole Lake Sebu
The tour around the lake took less than an hour, but it was an educational coupled with breath taking sceneries. Really makes you appreciate the beauty of Lake Sebu itself.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.