The city of San Pablo in Laguna is well-known for its seven lakes located in proximity of one another. Yes, you read that right! Seven! What better place than to go lake-tripping around than here in this bustling city in the south! This time, I tagged along the group of wifee May and her running buddies – Lance, Marlon, and Ritche.
See, the four of them have just recently formed their group, DARE Travel – Discover Adventure, Recreation, and Excitement! They formed this outdoor adventure group to share to others their passion for both travel and the outdoors. Suffice to say that this trip was some sort of an ocular inspection of a future adventure their group is cooking up. Want more information? You could visit their Facebook page here.
Anyway, we met each other at Makati last Sunday, October 4 at around 3 a.m, and the group started its journey to San Pablo City by 3:30 a.m. As Lance was the one who generously offered to bring our transportation, the rest of us was fast asleep throughout the entire journey, to cram up some much needed energy for the long day ahead of us.
We arrived at San Pablo City two hours after, and first in our itinerary was breakfast. Most of the establishments were still closed that time, save for our friendly McDonald’s San Pablo branch! We had breakfast here, and some last reminders and preparations before we check out our first of the seven lakes.
Sampaloc Lake is the largest of the seven, and is most visited, mainly because it is the most accessible one. It is just a few minutes away from the city center that one could actually just take a leisure stroll to get there. Or run. A loooot of joggers and runners do their training here in the Baywalk-ish Sampaloc Lake Park.
If ever you get hungry or thirsty, several food stalls are also available around the park selling food and drinks.
In my opinion, Sampaloc Lake is quite okay, although the pristine beauty of it has now diminished as it has been commercialized all around it.
The next lake we went to was the direct adjacent to Sampaloc Lake, which is Bunot Lake. Take note: adjacent does not necessarily mean a few minutes walking distance away; we actually had to travel around six kilometers (or more? I can’t remember!) to reach the second lake in our itinerary.
According to the locals, Bunot Lake is so aptly named because of the numerous coconut trees towering the perimeter of the lake, whose coconut husks are formed into bunot. Pretty easy to figure out, huh?
We passed by Cusina de Sabang 602 while trekking back to the car. It was still closed when we passed by it (it opens around 10 am and we were at Bunot Lake by around 8:30 am). I think it is supposed to be some sort of casual lakeside dining, based from its poster hung at its entrance. We
trespassed entered the still-closed gate, hoping to inquire about the place from anyone, hopefully, already awake that time.
Anyway, you could find more information about Cusina de Sabang 602 in their Facebook Page here. After Bunot Lake, the group travelled now to Kalibato Lake.
Kalibato Lake was the farthest among the seven lakes that we have visited. It is actually located on the border of San Pablo City and the next town (which I forgot the name, and too lazy to Google up!). We had to travel some ascends along the road as, in my opinion, this lake has the highest elevation among the seven. We parked along the road near a store which serves as the landmark to the trail going to Kalibato Lake, and from there, we started our 10-minute trek going down.
Ahhhhh!! Nature! How I miss you so much! 🙂 It was April since I last climbed mountains, and my whole being is longing for the outdoors again! To get to the lake itself, one has to do some bit of trekking up and down!
As compared to Sampaloc Lake, Kalibato Lake presents itself as the more serene and tranquil type. There is no sign of commercialization here, and, indeed, life is still teeming in its waters due to the numerous fishpens found here.
Since the trail is out-and-back, we had to trek the same way going up to get back to our car. And since the sky looked gloomy as it was when we started our adventure, it finally started to drizzle at this point. It was then a rainy ride going back to our fourth destination.
Mohikap Lake was the most difficult one to reach for us as we had a hard time figuring out where the trail leading to it was. Despite having Google Maps, it did not show us the trail from the road going to the lake itself.
After several attempts of navigating through the streets of San Pablo, we ended up in this private compound where a chapel of the Twin Hearts of Jesus (I hope I remembered the congregation’s name correctly) was found. Brother Om (sorry, I don’t have a picture of him!) was congenial enough to assist us in our adventure. At the back of their chapel was an old stairwell going down to the Mohikap Lake itself. The chapel was located in private grounds, and he gave us just enough time to have a quick view of the lake.
After a few more words of thanks to Brother Om and we were off to our fifth lake.
One will actually pass by Palakpakin Lake in order to reach Mohikap Lake, but the group decide to just go back to Palakpakin Lake later on. Palakpakin Lake is not that difficult to find, although we were not able to find any trail going to the lakeshore. So what we just did was park our car somewhere along the road and have some photo ops of Palakpakin Lake. After a few minutes, we were off to the twin lakes, the last two of the day’s itinerary.
PANDIN AND YAMBO LAKES
They always say to “save the best for last”. And indeed, these twin lakes, which are just separated by a thin strip of land, was the best for the seven lakes as these are the ones which you could go swim in.
After parking our car, the group started to trek again, going to Pandin Lake. Take note that this is actually one of the “Sunday family destinations”; we had several families doing the same trek as we were to get to Pandin Lake as the lake offers raft-type accommodations where the family could dine lunch in.
Since we were there, the group decided to experience the full Pandin/Yambao Lake adventure by renting out a raft with lunch. For just Php 360 per person, one could enjoy the raft complete with lunch consisting of rice wrapped in banana leaves, pako salad, inihaw na tilapia, hipong Palakpakin, and bottled water. You could actually bring your own food with you and just pay the raft rental fee for Php 180, but we would like to have a taste of the authentic experience.
Our guide brought our raft to the other end of Pandin Lake where a small grotto and a water source was located. There we finished our sumptuous lunch (which I honesty felt was
a bit overpriced; since we were five in group, we paid for the group lunch worth Php 180/person x 5 persons = Php 900!!! Tubong lugaw talaga!!). After lunch, what else to do than to dip in the cool waters of the lake!
A thin stretch of land which requires a three-minute trek just separates Pandin and Yambo Lakes. Yambo Lake is actually un-swimmable or un-dippable from its entry point from Pandin Lake as you would be greeted by a steep ravine leading to it. On the other hand, there exists some sort of a resort at the other side of the lake. One has to go around to the adjacent town of Nagcarlan to be able to reach this resort; suffice to say that Yambo Lake is also reachable
SI CHRISTINA AND MASS AT ST. PAUL THE FIRST HERMIT CATHEDRAL
Finally, we are done!!! That, indeed, was one tiring day! 🙂
The group went back to San Pablo City proper. We decided to catch the 4 pm mass before travelling back to Manila, but as it was still around two hours shy of the mass schedule, we went to Si Christina, one of the well-known cafes in the city.
Si Christina Gateau Sans Rival (or more popularly, and simply, Si Christina) gives one the homey feel of your down-to-earth cafe without the hype and ambiance of the more commercialized coffee shops we have here in Metro Manila. Apologies as my camera batteries already died at this point, and I was already conserving my smartphone’s power for the trip back home. Lance, Marlon, Ritche, and I ordered their American Coffee while May had tea. We had nachos as our common food, but we also had individual orders. I had cashew sans rival (next time, I’ll try their pistachio sans rival!). Aside from the dessert food, Si Christina also offers hotter foods, such as sandwiches, burgers, pasta, and pizza.
We stayed at Si Christina for more than an hour since the rain was already pouring heavily around that time. For more information, you could visit their Facebook page here.
The rain mellowed a little before 4 pm, giing us a chance to brave it and walk it to reach the nearby cathedral of St. Paul the First Hermit, or simply, San Pablo Cathedral. (again, sorry, no original pictures here!)
The cathedral was big! There was a lot of people hearing mass that time since it was a Sunday, yet I think there were still enough space for a bit more to squeeze into!
And that’s that! One more adventure down, a lifetime of adventures to go! Weeeee!! 🙂
DARE Travel’s maiden adventure is Mt. Pinatubo Escapade. Please visit their FB Event Page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1499420373709544/ if interested!