The City of Seven Lakes

Huwag maging dayuhan sa sariling bayan, my mom always say. Do not be a stranger to your own land.

Each and everyone of us in our family is guilty of this.

We have been to different countries, some of us have resided abroad for a long time, and yet we haven’t explored the Philippines. What the hell, we haven’t explored even our own province yet. It’s quite embarrassing, I know. I have lived in this city for twenty-three years, and I’m not even very familiar with it.

I live in the city of seven lakes. Yes, you read it right. Seven lakes located in one tiny city. We have Sampaloc Lake (Sampaloc is the Tagalog word for Tamarind), Bunot Lake (Bunot is the Tagalog word for dried coconut husk), Calibato/Kalibato Lake, Palakpakin Lake, Mohicap/Muhikap Lake, and the twin lakes Yambo/Yambu and Pandin.

Back when I was in high school, we had a field trip going around these lakes. My family and relatives, however, have never been to these lakes other than Sampaloc Lake, which is located in the heart of the city.

Today, we have decided to visit Pandin Lake because my aunt saw in the news that the residents have come up with a source of livelihood by building rafts with nipa huts on them where tourists are served lunch while the locals do the paddling. It is almost similar to the River Cruise in Loboc River, Bohol. The only difference is that the ones in Loboc cater to a larger group, and there are also singers aboard the vessel. With the raft in Pandin, it’s just our group and the three ladies who did the paddling.

Most of the residents’ source of income is fishing, just like the residents near Sampaloc Lake. What I like about Pandin though is that there aren’t many residents living beside the lake, so they have maintained the cleanliness of the water.

They served us grilled Tilapia wherein they used dried coconut husks instead of coal for cooking. They also served tiny shrimps that my aunt and my mom refer to as Hipong Palakpakin (or something like that), as well as Ensaladang Paco/Pako (Fern Salad). Unfortunately, I don’t eat seafood and I’m also forbidden to eat one because of my still existing allergies. I tried the ensalada though, despite the fact that I don’t eat vegetables. Surprisingly, I liked it. It consists of ferns, salted egg, onions, tomatoes, and calamansi+sugar for the dressing. We had bananas for dessert, and freshly cut buko (coconut) for refreshment. Very Filipino indeed.

When we reached the farthest side of the lake, we did a little trekking to get to the other side of the mountain. It was tiring, but I’m glad I did it because I haven’t seen Lake Yambo yet.

My aunt and the rest of the family during the start of trekking :)

The air on top of the mountain was very fresh. It was quite windy but we didn’t complain because it felt so good. The view of the lake was also wonderful. As far as I remember, Yambo is much bigger than Pandin.

After the tour, we were asked for comments and suggestions. Here’s what I wrote: Food is great but the roads need to be developed. The road leading to the lake was a bit far, muddy when rained on, and full of trees. It was such a struggle to slither our way in, considering that we had a big vehicle. We learned that they do not receive any support or funding from the government, which is unfortunate because this could be a potential source of income to the residents and it would also help bring in more tourists.

All in all though, I had a good time. To be surrounded by nature at its finest is very humbling and relaxing at the same time.


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