Monday, June 10, 2013

The Hidden Beauty of Lake Pandin

I’ve always raved about the beauty and wonders of my beloved Philippines and I have to admit that there are still a lot of really majestic places I’ve yet to discover in my country. Thankfully, there’s Mr. Google (or Miss?) who’s ever so reliable when it comes to exercising one’s researching prowess.
I’ve always loved places which is not yet very commercialized and only those with a heart to really get to know more about the Philippines could discover. And the latest revelation to me was San Pablo Laguna’s Lake Pandin. All thanks to my sister who was really the one who discovered the place and was very excited when she shared it with me and my cousins. We could feel her excitement and we even shared it with her when we Googled for Lake Pandin’s images. Right there and then, we planned for a one-of-a-kind summer experience with our cousins.
Lake Pandin is one of San Pablo’s seven lakes (the other 6 are Lakes Bunot, Cabilato, Yambo, Palakpakin, Muhikap and Sampaloc). It is just approximately 2 hours away from Manila, which is another happy factor since you don’t have to go that far to experience serenity that Lake Pandin could offer.
There’s actually a water rafting tour being organized by the wives of the fishermen in the area and is supported by the local officials. According to some blogs I’ve read about Lake Pandin, it was the fishermen who built the rafts to give their wives something to do and earn from. These rafts are now being used to take the tourists from one point of the lake to another.
How refreshing can it get to be welcomed by such a beautiful view as this?
Tourists need to contact Aling Siony (I supposed the leader of the fishermen wives’ club) and reserve with her a balsa or raft. Her mobile number is 0929.9789565. The fee is P180 per person. You can also opt to avail of their lunch package for an additional P180 per head. The lunch package includes grilled tilapia, ensaladang pako, small shrimps, rice wrapped in leaves, and fresh coconut juice. Their lunch package is highly recommended because they are really yummy, plus you won’t have to bother bringing bulky tupperwares for your baon.
Before you have a view of the pristine water of Lake Pandin, you will have to walk/trek the road going to the lake for around 10-15 minutes. Aling Siony’s apo met us by the parking lot where we got off from the tricycle ride coming from the town proper. He was also the one who guided us during the trek.
The bus and tricycle ride and the somehow long walk were all worth it once you get to Lake Pandin. You will be welcomed not only by the picturesque view of the place, but also with the spirit of “bayanihan” among the community dwellers. When we arrived at the place, we were welcomed by Aling Siony and we sincerely felt like we were their relatives visiting the place again after a long time. They were all smiling and assisting us as we made our way to the big balsa.
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our hearty lunch :D
our hearty lunch :D
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Two women rafters paddled our balsa going to the other point of the lake where we had lunch and had a quick but satisfying swim. Lake Pandin has an area of 20.5 hectares and a depth of 63 meters. It was quiet scary to jump into the water at first knowing its depth but since we were all wearing life vests, we plunged in anyway. Just a precaution to those who are not good swimmers, don’t try to swim farther from your balsa or dive hard since 63 meters (206 feet) is no joke.
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Lake Pandin Pandin has a twin lake known as Lake Yambo. The two are only separated by a narrow strip of land so you can opt to visit Lake Yambo as well after enjoying Lake Pandin. According to folktales (and wikipedia :D ), Pandin and Yambo lakes were named after two lovers. Pandin was cursed not to step on land or something bad will happen to her. Yambo is Pandin’s lover who did not know about the curse and had made her step on the land. The moment Pandin’s feet kissed the ground, a terrible noise was heard and a heavy downpour followed which converted the area into twin lakes separated from each other by a bare strip of land.
It was indeed a brand new experience for me and my cousins. It was the first time we went out on an adventure like that together and we really had awesome fun. In fact, we’re planning on completing all the 7 lakes of San Pablo in our next summer adventure. The only drawback of the place was that they don’t have a bathroom to clean up after swimming in the lake. They only have a changing room and if you wish to take a bath, you would have to ask the boys there to fetch water for you from the lake, too. So you will have to take a bath using the lake water as well. I, however, don’t see it as too much of a drawback since it even added a little spice to the experience.  It’s not everyday that you get to bathe with lake water :D
The whole Lake Pandin experience is something I would definitely look back to and smile about whenever I want to feel calm and relax. Seeing places like that in the Philippines makes me feel so thankful that I was born in this country which is so blessed with lots of natural resources. Plus, it’s great to know that Lake Pandin tour is not being run by big tour operators but of the humble and accommodating fishermen and their wives living by the lakeside.I just hope they would be able to maintain the serenity and untouched aura of the place.
Going to Lake Pandin:
If you’re going on a commute, just ride a bus bound to Lucena in LRT Buendia (fare is P127). Ask the conductor or the driver to drop you off at San Pablo Medical Hospital. From there, you can either ride a jeepney bound to Ilog near San Pablo Church and ask the driver to drop you off at Sto.Angel, Lake Pandin for only Php17, or ride a tricycle on a special trip for P150.

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