Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mindanao Roundup (South Cotabato): Placid and Picturesque Lake Sebu

The wisp of the cold breeze did not escape me the moment the non-airconditioned van trailed the well-paved and uphill road dotted with nipa houses, corn plantation and  forested hills. I was enjoying the green scenery outside my window, and as soon as the sight of the lake came to view, my excitement started to swell. I instantly knew we have finally reached our destination -- the dreamy town of Lake Sebu.

The verdant mountains mirrored in the calm waters of Lake Sebu

We were dropped off at the poblacion where a number of habal-habal drivers wait for passengers. In that early Friday morning of August, it seemed like Anchi and I were the only tourists amidst the busy mass of people going about with their daily grind-- children in their school uniform, brimming commuters and some busy vendors.

As we were taking the roads from the town proper to Punta Isla Lake Resort, we passed by some stands selling tilapia, a common agricultural product from the lake. There are also a number of guesthouses and resorts near the lake and most serve food, mainly fried fish.

Breakfast Menu: T'boli Coffee,  Egg Omelet, Chicharon Tilapia 

I was not surprised when the food served to us for brunch was Punta Isla's specialty, chicharon tilapia. They also serve other tilapia delicacies - pinaputok na tilapia, tilapia rebusado, kinilaw na tilapia, tilapora, nilasing na tilapia, tilapia foyong and daing na tilapia. It was a breakfast al fresco as we sipped a cup of warm T'boli coffee while enjoying the crisp and cold air, the view of the lake, and the sound of a traditional T'boli music playing in the background. I must add that Punta Isla's beautiful gardens-- with colorful flowers in full bloom-- and their helpful staff add to the relaxing ambiance of the resort.

Known as the "Summer Capital of Southern Philippines," Lake Sebu is fast becoming a staple in the list of must-visit places in Mindanao. I feel its strong semblance to its counterpart in Northern Luzon, the town of Sagada in Mountain Province. Both places offer action-filled adventures (breathtaking waterfalls), quiet and relaxing close-to-nature feel (lakes), and the fascinating cultural encounter with a local tribe (T'boli in Lake Sebu and Igorot in Sagada.)

T'boli is one of the most visually fascinating tribes in the Philippines, famous for their colorful clothing and  intricate bead work designs

Lake Sebu is home to three lakes: Lake Lahit (24 Hectars), Lake Seloton (48 Hectars) and Lake Sebu (380 Hectars).These lakes are picture-perfect especially when engulfed in the morning mists with lilies carpeting the calm water, and T'boli houses and lush mountains in the background. We were told that the local government only allows floating pens and boat tours for tourists in the wider lake, leaving the other two barely touched.

As I sat watching the morning slowly glide in Lake Sebu, I realize how peaceful the place is compared to the media-hyped war and conflict in some areas Mindanao. And while it's true that there are some very volatile areas in this region, there is as much beauty that remains, waiting to be explored, to be seen.

Because I liked this place so much, I decided to do separate blog posts for my encounter with Lang Dulay, a renowned national living treasure, T’nalak or Tibolo cloth weaver and my Seven Falls ziplining experience. Stay tuned...

How to get there:

From General Santos City, get on a Yellow Bus Liner bus going to Koronadal City (Marbel), travel time takes about 45 mins to 1 hour.

From Koronadal City, take the Yellow Bus Liner bus going to Surallah, 45 minutes travel time.

From Surallah Integrated Bus Terminal, take a van going straight to Lake Sebu. Travel time: 30 minutes.

Alternately, there's a van plying directly from Koronadal City to Lake Sebu.

Once in Lake Sebu, you may hire a habal-habal going to your desired destination, P10 per passenger. The rate for day tours, including Seven Falls and a visit to Lang Dulay's weaving school, costs P300.

Once you get off at Surallah, you'll see these interesting landmarks near the Municipal Hall. The larger than life-size statues depict the lives of the tri-people of Mindanao (Lumads, Christians and Muslims)


  1. I really love the summer capital of south. Hihintayin ko yung blog mo about kay Lang Dulay, the dreamweaver.

  2. A very quiet and cold place. But, full of stories and fun activities. I love their chicharon tilapia.

    1. Remember the al fresco breakfast? Cool noh? Sarap ng food, sarap ng simoy ng hangin. :D

  3. Interesting place. Makadalaw nga minsan. :)

    1. You hafta visit Lake Sebu soon bek. Make you you stay overnight, at least. :)

    2. Yup, I'll play hide and seek with the fogs. haha

  4. I have many college schoolmates in this area. Hope to visit Lake Sebu when I'll have a chance of going back to Mindanao. Wonderful photos here! :)

    1. Thanks Eph! I'd really recommend visiting Lake Sebu, make sure to visit Lang Dulay and try the Seven Falls zipline. You'll love it. Safe travels! :)


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