Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lulled by Lake Sebu's Languor

Gloomy skies greeted me and my companions as our van made its final approach to the serene town of Lake Sebu, touted by its drumbeaters as the Summer Capital of Mindanao. The municipality, which is part of South Cotabato in the SOCCSKSARGEN Region, is also the homeland of the T'boli, one of Philippines’  indigenous tribes that’s well known for their distinctive clothing and elaborate ornaments.

Nestled at an altitude of about 300 meters (984 ft) above sea level, Lake Sebu is surrounded by rolling hills and verdant mountains and blessed with three placid lakes: Lahit (the smallest), Seloton (the deepest) and Sebu (the largest). Sebu in T’boli means "lake", thus, the town’s name literally means “lake-lake”.

Punta Isla Lake Resort

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As our vehicle negotiated through the winding road leading to Punta Isla Lake Resort, which became our home away from home for two days, we couldn’t help but marvel at the rustic charm of this lakeside town despite the dark clouds that shrouded much of it that time. The rain started to pour as we settled in one of lakeside cottages of the resort. 

Even so, the bad weather and languid spirit of the lake at that hour didn’t dampen our spirits. After all, we were safely tucked together, enjoying a sumptuous lunch consisting of the most delectable tilapia dishes the resort could offer. 

I’m no stranger to Lake Sebu, having visited it on three different occasions already. But each time I go there, there’s always something fascinating about the place that makes parting time a sad affair. Geez, there’s this inexplicable thing about this town that would make it difficult for you to say goodbye!

All my three trips there were quite short—four days being the longest—but I can say that those travels were all worth it. Of these trips, it was the second one that was most unforgettable to me for it really lulled me into a veritable sense of serenity and safety in Mother Nature’s loving arms.

I guess I’d attribute this to that rare chance (which I missed in the two other trips) to get around the town’s most famous lake courtesy of a free boat tour offered to us by the resort. That tour brought us around much of Lake Sebu and its mesmerizing sceneries.

What made the roughly 45-minute cruise fascinating and entertaining was our guide, a smart T’boli girl who rattled off interesting facts and figures about the lake and other interesting trivia about her town as we sailed through the languidly calm waters.

Along the way, our eyes feasted on the awesome sceneries which had me clicking my camera's shutter button at every scene that came into view: the lush mountains and hills, the late afternoon fog, the ubiquitous fish cages, not to mention the numerous islands dotting the lake.

Our guide told us that although there are 11 islands within the lake, only three are inhabited while others are privately-owned. The largest among these islands is named Isla Grande (which resembles a sleeping crocodile). “Many people living in these islands rely on fishing as their means of livelihood,” she said. 

Two decades ago, Lake Sebu became famous for tilapia raising, a thriving industry that keeps the town’s economy afloat, delighting tourists with the wide variety of dishes using tilapia which the locals have concocted.  

There are other exciting things that you can do aside from boating when you’re in this perfect hideaway. But it’s spending quality time with family and friends while sailing across the lake that I’m looking forward to doing  again and again. Now, I have one more place in mind that’s worth revisiting whenever I want to find some comfort and cool—Lake Sebu! :D