When I first heard mom say that her friend was inviting us to spend a weekend at her vacation house in San Pablo, Laguna, my heart leapt. It has been in my travel plans to visit Lake Pandin in San Pablo and I knew that I can convince the family to add the lake tour into our itinerary should this trip push through.
The minute the Laguna trip was confirmed and mom’s friend gave a go signal for us to visit her place, I contacted Aling Siony, the wife of Mang Tano, President of the Samahang Mangingisda ng Lawa ng Pandin (SMLP). I was able to get her contact number from one of the blogs I am following. She responded to my message quickly and after a few exchanges, I was able to secure the date and number of people for our Lake Tour. Cost of lake Tour is PhP 180 per person. You can also ask them to cook and prepare food for you at another PhP 180 per person. However, since we will be bringing food with us to the trip, I informed Aling Siony that we will have our own food. She said this was perfectly okay.
May 6, 2012– the day of our Lake Tour, I texted Aling Siony that we were on our way and she replied that she will just meet us in the parking lot of Lake Pandin. We actually missed the sign twice as it was just a week after a storm came upon Laguna and their big Lake Pandin sign got knocked down. When we finally reached the place, Aling Siony was waiting for us. She assigned another person to accompany us to the lake as she will be escorting another group. We left our jeepney in the parking lot and followed our guide to a 10-15 trek to the lake.
When we reached the lake, we hopped onto one of the balsas (bamboo raft) and was asked to wait. We took some photos while waiting and started bringing out our food and placing them on the table that came with the raft. The raft had a roof so we were protected from the sun’s rays.
We were all given life jackets to wear for safety as two women started moving the raft. They will be our oarswomen (?) for the Lake Tour.
The lake was breathtaking. There are actually 7 of these lakes in San Pablo, Laguna but only a few are safe for swimming- Lake Pandin and Sampaloc Lake are the only ones open for tours. Surrounding the lake are coconut tress and greenery. It was picturesque.
The women paddled for some time until we reached the end of the lake. They stopped near a grotto and informed us that the water coming out of the wall is clean and safe for drinking. I am not sure if anyone tried to drink but I did not.
Part of the three-hour tour was to give us time to swim in the if we wanted to. This was also time for our oarswomen to rest. They tied the balsa to make sure it would not drift as we happily swam in the waters nearby. The water was very deep (you would not see the bottom) and I did not know how to swim so the life jackets came in handy. They also informed us that it is strictly prohibited to join a lake tour without wearing one even if you do not plan to swim. This is very good to hear as it shows how they value safety of the people taking the tours.
We took our time swimming while our oarswomen sat and told us some stories about the lake. They also told us about the different TV programs who have been there to cover the Lake Pandin story, Going Bulilit and Rated K being some of the shows that featured them recently.
During the time we were swimming, Mang Tano the SMLP President came in a boat and started talking to our oarswomen. He asked if we would like to ride the boat and go around the lake. Of course, we said yes! Germil and I took our turn first and since Germil is pretty confident that he can manage paddling the boat, we did not ask Mang Tano to go with us anymore. My younger sister and her boyfriend came next.
When we were done paddling, the oarswomen prepared buko juice from us. I did not know that this came with the tour so we were all pleasantly surprised. They informed us that all the money they get from the tours is equally divided to all the members of SMPL and it is currently their main source of income.
Shortly after swimming, we had our lunch on the raft. This is definitely one of the experiences I will forever cherish. The calmness of the lake, the fresh buko juice and the happy conversations was perfect for this weekend getaway with my family. We were asked if we would like to see the neighboring lake, Lake Yambo and again we said yes. Mang Tano took the raft to a nearby area and parked it there. We had to climb up to get to the area where we can view Lake Yambo. We cannot go down to lake though as it is not safe.
We only took about 10 minutes to climb up and see the other lake then we came back down again to our raft. We took some pictures (my favorite part) as we are going back to the shore.
After the picture-taking, it was time to go back as it was almost noon. We cleaned the trash we left when we ate lunch and threw everything in the trash can provided. Germil helped in paddling to make the work easier for our oarswomen. It was also something he wanted to experience as part of the Lake Tour. When we got to the shore, we gave the payment to one of the SMLP ladies and left a very good feedback on their log book. Ate asked the ladies if she can use a comfort room as she wanted to change clothes before the short hike. I decided to change somewhere else so we proceeded to go back to the parking lot.
Visiting Lake Pandin is one of the best travels I have ever had. Most people know me as a total beach lover because I would always equate the beach to chill and relaxation time. After experiencing Lake Pandin, I now know I have an alternative–a calm and beautiful lake.
Here is some useful information about Lake Pandin:
Lake Pandin– Bgy San Lorenzo/Sto. Angel, San Pablo, Laguna, Philippines
- Aling Siony-contact person (simply text her a week or so if you will visit the lake and inform her of the number of people and whether you wish to have food prepared for you or not)
- Contact number is +63929-978-9565
- Lake Tour is PhP 180 per person
- Optional lunch is another PhP 180 per person
- You are allowed to bring your own food 🙂
How to go to lake Pandin via Public Transportation:
Take any bus that goes to San Pablo, Laguna or Lucena in Cubao or Taft Avenue-Buendia. There are many bus lines plying that route. Get off at the cathedral. On the left side facing that church, take a jeepney that goes to Nagcarlan/Liliw. Pandin Lake is on the way, and you will not even get to the towns past San Pablo itself. It is about 15-20 minutes from San Pablo proper, to your left. You can also get off at San Pablo Medical and take a special trip via tricycle to Lake Pandin.
Until the next trip,