Seven lakes we have dared to travel!

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.

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From L to R: Marlon, Ritche, May, and Lance

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

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From L to R: Marlon, Ritche, May, and Lance

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.

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From L to R: Marlon, Ritche, May, and Lance
Families taking their early Sunday walk in the Baywalk-ish Sampaloc Lake Park
Families taking their early Sunday walk in the Baywalk-ish Sampaloc Lake Park
Families taking their early Sunday walk in the Baywalk-ish Sampaloc Lake Park
Families taking their early Sunday walk in the Baywalk-ish Sampaloc Lake Park
Photo op with wifee May!
Photo op with wifee May!
So many cycles!!
So many cycles!!

If ever you get hungry or thirsty, several food stalls are also available around the park selling food and drinks.

Buko juice, anyone?
Buko juice, anyone?
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From L to R: Marlon, Ritche, May, and Lance
There's a map of the seven lakes inside the seal of the Rotary Club of San Pablo City
There’s a map of the seven lakes inside the seal of the Rotary Club of San Pablo City

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.

BUNOT LAKE

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.

En route to Bunot Lake
En route to Bunot Lake
A short (five minutes?) trek from the road towards Bunot Lake itself is needed as the trails towards the lake are impassable by vehicles
A short (five minutes?) trek from the road towards Bunot Lake itself is needed as the trails towards the lake are impassable by vehicles

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?

Wifee May beside Lake Bunot
Wifee May beside Lake Bunot
Kitty cat!!
Kitty cat!!
Doggie Dog!
Doggie Dog!
Coconut trees all around Lake Bunot, whose fruits are turned into husks, or bunot
Coconut trees all around Bunot Lake, whose fruits are turned into husks, or bunot

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.

Welcome to Cusina de Sabang 602
Welcome to Cusina de Sabang 602
The group dilly-dallying around Cusina de Sabang 602 grounds
The group dilly-dallying around Cusina de Sabang 602 grounds
Several nipa huts which serve could be found in the area.
Several nipa huts which serve could be found in the area.
Sleeping cat!!
Sleeping cat!!
This humongous (I don't know what it's called) welcomes all visitors of the Cusina de Sabang to the dining grounds
This humongous (I don’t know what it’s called) welcomes all visitors of the Cusina de Sabang 602 to the dining grounds

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

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.

Selfie muna!!!
Selfie muna!!!
Goats all over the trail! Good thing there weren't any of their poop present (yet)!
Goats all over the trail! Good thing there weren’t any of their poop present (yet)!
Selfie with the goatiee!!
Selfie with the goatiee!!
And how adorable these kids (as in kid, the baby goat!) are!
And how adorable these kids (as in kid, the baby goat!) are!

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!

WIfee May posing from below
WIfee May posing from below
The gang trekking down the trail going to Mohikap
The gang trekking down the trail going to Kalibato Lake
Log-jumping, anyone?
Log-jumping, anyone?
Selfie muna!
Selfie muna!
Almost there!
Almost there!
Cool clean waters of streams along the trails to Mohikap Lake
Cool clean waters of streams along the trails to Kalibato Lake

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.

Sitting on one of the bamboo rafts lying all over the lakeshore
Sitting on one of the bamboo rafts lying all over the lakeshore

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Picture with wifee!!
Picture with wifee!!
Wildlife along the lakeshore!! :)
Wildlife along the lakeshore!! 🙂
Cool, calm waters of Kalibato Lake
Cool, calm waters of Kalibato Lake

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

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.

The cute kitty who was following anyone who it thinks is its mom
The cute kitty who was following anyone who it thinks is its mom
The group going down the stairwell to Mohikap Lake
The group going down the stairwell to Mohikap Lake
The group going down the stairwell to Mohikap Lake
The group going down the stairwell to Mohikap Lake
Welcome to Mohikap Lake!
Welcome to Mohikap Lake!
Wet and wild drizzling morning
Wet and wild drizzling morning
Wet and wild drizzling morning
Wet and wild drizzling morning
Raindrops
Raindrops
The group still all smiles despite the drizzling morning
The group still all smiles despite the drizzling morning

After a few more words of thanks to Brother Om and we were off to our fifth lake.

PALAKPAKIN 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.

The group taking a view of Palakpakin Lake
The group taking a view of Palakpakin Lake
Selfie with wifee!
Selfie with wifee!

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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.

Trails going to Pandin Lake now all muddy due to the rains
Trails going to Pandin Lake now all muddy due to the rains
Um.. okay!
Um.. okay!
Finally, we've reached Pandin Lake
Finally, we’ve reached Pandin Lake
Covered rafts such as these to take you to the lake to have fun
Covered rafts such as these to take you to the lake to have fun
Several gumamela plants all around the perimeter of the lake
Several gumamela plants all around the perimeter of the lake

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.

All aboard!
All aboard!
Steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves, inihaw na tilapia, pako salad, and hipong Palakpakin for lunch!
Steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves, inihaw na tilapia, pako salad, and hipong Palakpakin for lunch!

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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!

Group picture before dipping in Pandin Lake
Group picture before dipping in Pandin Lake
Weeee!!! A well-deserved dip in Pandin Lake after a tiring day! Photo courtesy of May
Weeee!!! A well-deserved dip in Pandin Lake after a tiring day!
Photo courtesy of May
The grotto found at Pandin Lake Photo courtesy of May
The grotto found at Pandin Lake
Photo courtesy of May

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

Lake Yambo behind the group
Lake Yambo behind the group
Marlon the Rower
Marlon the Rower
Ritche sitting on a low-lying vine at Pandin Lake
Ritche sitting on a low-lying vine at Pandin Lake
Goofing around with the oars
Goofing around with the oars
We are... the Power Rangers!!!
We are… the Power Rangers!!!

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.

So this is Si Christina! (Photo grabbed from http://www.biyahenglaguna.com/adventures/food-trip-adventure/si-christina-gateau-sans-rival)
So this is Si Christina!
(Photo grabbed from http://www.biyahenglaguna.com/adventures/food-trip-adventure/si-christina-gateau-sans-rival)

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.

THIS is what I had! Sans Rival!! (Photo grabbed from http://www.foodspotting.com/places/298252-si-christina-san-pablo-city/best)
THIS is what I had! Sans Rival!!
(Photo grabbed from http://www.foodspotting.com/places/298252-si-christina-san-pablo-city/best)
Wifee May and Ritche both had two slices of these... They must be THAT good! (Photo grabbed from http://www.foodspotting.com/places/298252-si-christina-san-pablo-city/best)
Wifee May and Ritche both had two slices of these… They must be THAT good!
(Photo grabbed from http://www.foodspotting.com/places/298252-si-christina-san-pablo-city/best)

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!)

St. Paul the First Hermit Cathedral (Photo grabbed from http://www.panoramio.com/photo/69623774)
St. Paul the First Hermit Cathedral
(Photo grabbed from http://www.panoramio.com/photo/69623774)
The interior of the cathedral (Photo grabbed from http://visitpinas.com/laguna-loop-historical-tour-and-visita-iglesia/inside-cathedral-of-st-paul-first-hermit-san-pablo-city-laguna/)
The interior of the cathedral
(Photo grabbed from http://visitpinas.com/laguna-loop-historical-tour-and-visita-iglesia/inside-cathedral-of-st-paul-first-hermit-san-pablo-city-laguna/)

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!

 


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