Thursday, April 02, 2015

Worth Discovering: Pandin Lake in San Pablo City, Laguna, Philippines

The Philippines is filled with a lot of hidden gems when it comes to beautiful destinations. Sometime last year, my husband and I toured San Pablo City, Laguna in one day to visit all of its seven lakes for an article I was writing for Experience Travel and Living magazine.

it's more fun at Pandin lake the second time around!
Among the seven bodies of water, it was Pandin Lake that made the most impression on us because there are a lot of enjoyable stuff one can do there. At the time, since we were working, we didn't get to enjoy everything the place has to offer but planned to go back soon with the family.

bird on the fish pens
Three days ago, my sister texted me if I'd like to go with her to San Pablo to meet up with our first cousin who's in town from the U.S. and who's about to leave again in a few days. She wanted to go to Pandin Lake to have lunch. I thought it would be a great idea to tag two of my boys along since they don't have classes anymore.

almost there!
And so the "biglaang lakad" pushed through the next day. The night before, I called Ms. Tina Tolentino, the president of Pandin's Bangkeras Association to reserve lunch. This is necessary because they usually can't accommodate food requests from walk in guests. I am glad to have known this from my previous visit.

lunch in the middle of the lake
We arrived at the parking area past 12NN and it took us about 10-15 minutes' walk (we had to wait for our mom to catch up) to get to the lake. My niece and my sons energetically walked in front of us and soon reached the elevated area where you'll get the first glimpse of the lake. 

Pandin Lake food -- yum!
The locals there are very friendly. They led us to a "balsa" (a flat boat made of bamboo trunks) where we were served a simple but hearty lunch of inihaw na tilapia, ginataang maliliit na hipon, and ensaladang pako. After several minutes of picture-taking, we ate lunch while two bankeras pulled the balsa, using guide ropes, towards the balete tree on the other side of the lake.  

They "parked" the balsa and the kids excitedly took turns swinging on the U-shaped "baging". Too bad we weren't able to take a video of them swinging then launching themselves on the water because another group of tourists arrived and whose balsa had to be parked next to ours. Still, the kids and I enjoyed the cool waters of the lake. I had no fears of any untoward incidents as we were all required to wear life vests.

cousins having fun
Before our two hours is up (yes, there's a time limit for staying; I guess to give way to others), I requested our bankeras to take us to the pathway leading up to Yambo Lake. We climbed the steep trail and was rewarded with another breathtaking view that's just on the other side of the hill. 

path going up to Yambo Lake
We went back to the Pandin side and were brought to shore again where we ate our pre-ordered halo-halo. We stayed on our balsa for about half an hour more before packing up to make the long walk back to the van. Overall, it is a very nice experience that was made more special because we were there with family. 

overlooking Yambo Lake
I'd love to go back again before summer ends when hubby and our eldest son are available so they can also enjoy all that Pandin Lake has to offer. This is definitely one place adventurous souls have to visit at least once in their lives. 

me and my niece
How to get there: San Pablo City is around an hour and a half's drive from Alabang. Once you see the huge cathedral, take the road on its left side (if facing the church) going towards the towns of Rizal, Nagcarlan, and Liliw. In about 10-15 minutes, you'll see a big sign (with a politician's face) on the left welcoming visitors to Pandin Lake. Park on the vacant lot and ask the locals for directions. There are kids there who offer themselves as guides. 

photo taken by my hubby last September
Fees: P360 per person for reserved lunch with balsa ride, P50 parking fee, P5 to use the bathroom (no piped running water though so don't expect to find a shower area).

Contact person: Ms. Tina Tolentino - 0907.9952983         

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