Uhmm… yes there are lakes in Lake Sebu, in fact, there are several but it is not exactly what you think. There are no lakes within a lake. Not to add to the confusion but Lake Sebu is a lake and a municipality, which consists of three adjacent mountain lakes – Lake Sebu, Lake Seloton and Lake Lahit… all with its own charm so impressive. And Lake Sebu, the municipality, was named after its largest lake… aha!
Known for its vastness, measuring around 354 hectares, is the most famous among the three lakes.
Isla Grande, the largest island within the three lakes is likewise located here.
We hiked up to the top of the island for a good view of the lake and the only way to get there was through an owong –
a canoe that is used for fishing. A few meters from the jump off was a church,
which looked more like a shed (count your blessings folks!). Being a Sunday, families, mostly mothers and children, waited patiently for the pastor who was still in another church in another island. What an amazing servant of God, if you ask me.
We spent a little time there chatting the them. Not long after, the children gamely sang hymns to entertain us. Adorable.
Our T’boli hosts including this man who served as boatman and
entertainer accompanied us to the top of the island. He was making up stories (apparently a funny one), which he chants in his native language — yes language. The T’bolis speak a Malay-Polynesian language also called Tboli. A wonderful experience, I must say, of cultural immersion.
Supposedly the deepest among the three and it is also known as the sunrise lake for having the best-unblocked view of the sunrise.
Not quite as stunning as its big sister sans the sunrise, it still possesses its own loveliness. I am sorry that we never got to see its glorious sunrise.
Accessible only through the Sunrise Garden Lake Resort and although just a habal-habal ride away from our longhouse, we still didn’t made it up early enough to take that (cold) ride to the resort.
The smallest but not to be outshined by its two big sisters,
here we caught a fisherman fishing for tilapia just before sunset.
The lake at that time was quite spectacular, if I may say so myself.
These placid lakes are found in the middle of the Allah Valley Watershed Forest Reserve, which is used for fish (tilapia) farming,
duck raising and harvesting fresh water shrimps and snails. The watershed supplies important irrigations to the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and South Cotobato.
Ten years and perhaps even until a few years ago, the lakes had an abundance of lotus and lilies creating a picturesque setting – at least in my opinion.
Today, the lakes are clean with hardly any lotus plants in sight. I was told that lotuses are (sadly) nuisance aquatic plants that are not recommended for ponds used for fishing. And most of the people living in the nearby islands are engaged in fishing. Well, I’ll take health of the lake over aesthetics anytime.
The lakes, in fact, became so famous in the early 1980s for tilapia raising that gave rise to the mushrooming of fish cages. So much so that it would cover half of the lake, deteriorating its quality. Today, it is good to know that the Fisheries Code prevents this from happening as the fish cages is allowed to occupy, at the most, only 10% of the total lake area.
It is no wonder that Lake Sebu was named after its beauteous lake, given that the lakes are such an integral part of their lives.