For those who fly to Manila from Mindanao and Visayas provinces at midday, try to have a seat beside the window on the right side of the airplane. Why? So you’ll have the chance to make out below the Seven Lakes of San Pablo. I have seen this lake system many times from above the sky. I’m always excited since I can pinpoint where Laguna is by these bodies of water. Even if you have not been to Laguna you will know when you are hovering over the province because of these remarkable 7 lakes. Sampaloc Lake is the largest while Lake Pandin is the smallest one. The Pitong Lawa makes San Pablo City unique in the Philippines. Lately, travelers and weekend adventure seekers have ‘discovered’ the tranquility and beauty of these natural wonders especially the Pandin Lake.
Last December me, my sister Kenneth and my boyfriend Titus flew to Manila for a quick Christmas get-away planning to go to Baler, Aurora or Nagsasa, Capones Cove in Zambalez as they are relatively near Manila. Unfortunately, that time it was almost always raining so all adventure plans have to be abandoned. It was already 2nd to the last day of our mini-vacation when my sister exclaims that she has about enough of Manila, its traffic, the malls teeming with people and the many street pools of dirty flood waters and she wants out. Lol. So we packed our bags, left the Metro and travelled to Liliw and had an awesome food trip. (Another story coming up! heheh )
Liliw is real cold on December mornings and we woke up to rain drops dancing on the roof. It makes you just want to stay cocoon and wrapped in your warm blankets and laze the day away. But staying put is out of the question for us as we were bent on squeezing the last hours and minutes of our vacation – we did not plan on a staycation after all. Yep, at the ungodly hours of 5am in Liliw, we were already trying to get up and start our last day of our ‘get-away’ on the right foot.
Laguna Half-Day Trip Itinerary
The day’s plan and itinerary was Liliw – Pandin Lake – Sampaloc Lake – Breakfast – Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery – Nagcarlan Stone Church – Liliw – Airport. We failed to follow our day trip IT because we choose not to push through visiting the town of Nagcarlan after we had our breakfast in Jollibee San Pablo because our flight back to Cebu was just hours away and we were already running out of time . Yep at talagang isiniksik pa ang lamyerda!
How to go to Lake Pandin?
So anyway, Liliw to Lake Pandin was a breezy ride. Took just about 30 minutes and viola! we were there by the road with this signage to the lake.
Lawa ng Pandin Marker by the Road
The sign faces you if you are coming from San Pablo on the left side of the road. If you are commuting, find the San Pablo Church, near it on the leftish side is where the Liliw jeepney terminal is located. Ask a local if you get lost. It’s fun to get lost
Commute Option #1: Ride one of those Liliw bound jeepneys and inform the driver that you will get off in Lake Pandin or watch out for the road marker above. Fare is only P17.
Commute Option #2: Ride one of those “Ilog” jeepneys near the Liliw Terminal, same fare, gets filled up faster but more rare.
Commute Option #3: Pakyaw a tricycle anywhere in San Pablo and pay around P100 to P150 per tricycle.
Once you arrived at that road marker above, from the main road it’s going to be a simple uphill climb for about 15 minutes following a countryside dirt road. I say simple since I always compare treks to what we experienced in climbing Sagada’s Mt Ampacao’s Peak, and that trek was by joves the hardest one I’ve done lol.
The lake used to be not high on the tourist radar, more like a local secret or hidden pristine place, until it’s inclusion as one of the stops of the Viaje del Sol tourism program and from then, awareness spread among the media and the public in general. Today, a trip to the lake has become popular and preferred because of its nearness to Metro Manila.
*Viaje del Sol is a tourism roadmap put up by local businesses of Laguna and Quezon Province that list the hot spots, prime tourist places, off the beaten path adventure sites of these two provinces including places to sample great foods.
Since none of us has been there before we have to ask for direction, good thing there were children already heading to school that early and one said “to keep left when you see junctions”. It was not so hard locating the lake since there are also province-sponsored tarpaulins with directions on key areas.
*If you are bringing a car or with a tour group, you can just park your vehicle on the vacant lot at the entrance.
Paglalakad Papuntang Pandin
Syempre the not to be missed pictorials lol
The locals who were coming down as we were hiking up were very cordial and they greeted us and asked if we are headed to the Lake. I think the locals have already appreciated the livelihood that Lake Pandin gives them and as such knows to value potential customers. In fact there were posters cautioning horse owners to pick up after their horse’s waste so it won’t litter the road and will not dismay the tourists.
Paved part of the road up (about a third of the way)
Finally we arrived in Lake Pandin!
Caution and Rules from the Samahang Mangingisda ng Lawa ng Pandin (SMLP)
Welcome to Pandin Lake!
Surrounded by lush greeneries and mountains coupled by the still water of the lake, Pandin becomes a perfect place to just think about things and reflect. The stillness that greeted us that early morning was broken only by the birds chirping and the occasional sound from the men and women who are starting their day. Err I forgot to mentioned the monkey that seem jovial that there are visitors to the place and keeps running back and forth on his railings.
Lake Pandin on a Tranquil Morning
Bamboo Raft Fixtures on Pandin
Pandin Lake: Houses by the Lake Side
How much you’ll pay to explore Lake Pandin ?
The standard rate of P360 Pandin Lake package includes lunch, the oarswomen services, the life vest, and a max of 3 hours rafting on the lake during busy days like holidays and weekends. You can stay longer if there are no or fewer tourists.
If you choose to do away with the lunch which is optional, rate is only P180 per pax for the bamboo raft ride.
The Lawa Bamboo Raft
Picture picture na naman
Lake Pandin lunch menu consist of Ensaladang Paco, Inihaw na Tilapia, Ginataang Hipon, Binalot na Kanin, and for desert, Buko and Saging na Hinog. Please contact Ate Siony at 09299789565 days ahead if you are availing of the lunch package since the ladies of Lake Pandin will prepare your lunch. This way what greets you as you step into your raft is the sight of steaming hot foods waiting to be devoured. Your now set to sail away!
What makes visiting Pandin different and special?
Pandin used to be just one of the 7 Lakes of San Pablo, not really popular apart from the fact that it is the smallest of the lakes. There is a small community by the lakeside which is present up to this day. But this area has been transformed to become one of the top tourist destinations in Laguna’s western part.
The ladies of Pandin are the ones who steers your bamboo raft to the other side while their men tend to the fields to farm or to the bigger lakes to fish. They may look weak but they can definitely give the guys a run for their money. They are very able and skillful as they paddle across the lake and as they pull against the rope on the trip back. Oh gawd, please don’t ask these ladies to paddle again on your way back, there is a specially set-up rope so the way back is faster and easier for these hardworking oarswomen.
Usually there will be 2 ladies assigned to a single raft. The community is organized and they have preset queue of oarswomen for the day. On a good day, they earned around P300 to P500 each, more during the summer months when tourists come in droves.
Keeping tourism alive in the lake is a community effort and they are very zealous in guarding the lake’s beauty. When prompted if they are cleaning the area, one of the women exclaims “Ay mam, lagi po kaming naglilinis dito. Ayaw po namin ng madumi kasi lalayo ang turista.”
Lake Pandin and the Hyper-Active Monkey
To go to Lake Pandin is not just to ride a bamboo raft. There is also a designated area where you can take a dip and swim in the lake, that part is reachable only by riding the raft. Or get your fill of natural mineral water source from the mountain itself, this tiny ‘falls’ is near the grotto or altar constructed by the locals on the other side of the lake.
As an added attraction, you can also climb on the hill you see on the adjacent side if you want to have a bird’s eye view of Lake Yambo, the twin lake of Pandin. There is a legend to these two lakes which you can read on Field Trip Boy’s Pandin Lake, Stories and Legend. Rain or shine the oarswomen will take you to a trip across and around Lake Pandin.
Astig! Notice the very slim bamboo raft! Kaya niyo yan?
We were travelling on a shoestring budget and it was already our last day with funds severely depleted from the bazaar hunts of the previous days so it was easy for us to say no to the bamboo rafting (we were also pressed for time ahem excuses hehehe). Anyway, my point is you can visit Lake Pandin without shelling a single centavo as the lake is open to the public, you can spread a mat and have a picnic by the lakeside. You can board the raft to take pics like we did for free, just request one of the ladies and they’ll be okay with it.
But then again riding the raft and getting to the grotto on the far side of the lake, climbing to see Yambo, and having lunch while you cruise are the things that completes your Lake Pandin experience so if you have the funds, ride the bamboo raft and have that lunch package. You will go back from your trip enrich with new experiences and probably arm with lots of pics. More importantly, you help sustained the livelihood of the community who relies on the bounty given by the lake.
If you are somewhere south of Luzon or near Manila, a day trip or a weekend getaway to San Pablo to see its many lakes or to head directly to Lake Pandin will only mean a few hours travel. Pack light and have more adventures this 2012!