You Jump, I Jump, at Lake Pandin, San Pablo Laguna

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

laguna lakes

September 28, 2014

Lake Pandin is one of the Seven Crater Lakes of San Pablo City in the Province of Laguna. It is located in the baranggay of San Lorenzo and is said to be the most pristine of the seven lakes. It is, interestingly, a result of volcanic eruptions, but a much more romanticized version of its origins can be read here. Of course, it involves lovers. 

Our Lake Pandin adventure was already in place in the early days of August. Now, I don't usually put that much credibility to a planned trip, especially one that is so advanced. But when Dennis, French Fries, Julius, and I make plans, they always always push through. We are, after all, the Furious Four,

The weather last Sunday, the day of our Lake Pandin adventure, was reminiscent of the golden days of summer. Perfect for a travel adventure! Although, the original plan was to camp overnight, circumstances made us change the plan to a day tour. 

The adventure started when we met up at the bus terminal of Jam Liner in Buendia/Gil Puyat. It was around 5:45AM. After buying a take-away breakfast from nearby fast food chains, we boarded a bus bounded to Lucena. At 6:30AM, we were already on our way.

We alighted at SM San Pablo. The travel time was more or less two hours. From here, we took a jeepney to the San Pablo Cathedral and headed off to a 7/11. Beside this convenience store was a jeepney terminal. Here, we took another jeepney with a signboard "Ilog", and alighted at what is called the "Pandin Parking."

We were greeted by Christian, a 15-year-old boy who was to be our guide to the five-minute trek to the lake.

We walked on dirt roads flanked by shrubs and coconut trees. From time to time, we pass by grazing livestock. We also shared the road with horses.

Later on, the still waters of the lake welcomed us.
Photo courtesy of French Fries
Our contact, a petite and polite middle-aged woman named Aling Siony, directed us to the bamboo raft which will be our ride across the lake. We paid Php360.00 per person for a tour of the lake. This rate is inclusive of a seafood lunch.

While Aling Siony and another woman named Ate Sima made preparations for our voyage, Aling Melda asked if we wanted some halo-halo. Julius immediately said yes. 
(c) French Fries
Moments later, the bamboo raft started moving. We were all excited!
Aling Siony using a rope to pull the raft from one part of the lake to another
The water was so calm, so still. It was also so nice that we were the first ones to arrive. We got to appreciate the view even more. Speaking of views:

The lake was surrounded by walls of green, sunlight making the water glint like emeralds. The sapphire of the sky made me spread my arms, soaking up the early noon light. Magnificent. 

Seeing how peaceful the water is, a strong urge to jump suddenly took hold of me. The knowledge that the water's depth measured 180 feet at its deepest didn't even make me flinch. I knew how to swim, plus we had life jackets. But I didn't jump. Not yet. I joined the rest of the Furious Four in the nipa hut and marveled at the scenery. Lake Pandin is enchanting.

The water was also free from trash, although there were these tiny green globs floating in the water. 
Liya to the locals, these tiny floating dots could be an algae called Gleotrichia.
I did some research and it's possible that these are a kind of algae called Gleotrichia echinulata, or simply Gleotrichia. They usually appear in mid-summer, but can persist for longer periods in some lakes. Its presence is not necessary indicative of poor water quality since it is common in lakes that have good water clarity. Aling Siony claims that these were what freshwater fishes eat. 

In any event, we found ourselves on the other side of the lake, on what Ate Sima calls their "little grotto". Religious images were perched on the nooks of the rock facade. Water was also falling from this grotto, and Aling Siony shared that this serves as their water supply. 

It was also here that we decided to go for a little swim. They told me that if I jump, they'll jump too. So I did. Then they did. 

It was strange to be swimming in water where you cannot feel the bottom. It's a little scary too. I kept imagining eyes watching us from the depths. Not just once, I screamed, "Release the Kraken!" It felt appropriate.

After almost half an hour of cannonballing and swimming, two bamboo rafts of lake tourists were heading our way. Julius was like, "Hinahamon ko kayo sa isang duelo." ("I challenge you to a duel.") This then morphed into different variations such as: Hinahamon ko kayo sa isang Pokemon Battle, and my favorite: Hinahamon ko kayo sa isang Dance Battle. Hahaha. Julius is a weirdo. I think regular readers of Celineism (if they ever did exist) would know this by now. And that is why we are all friends.

After laughing our heads off, we decided it was time for lunch. It was 11AM when we went back to the raft to devour the feast that Aling Siony prepared for us. It was a seafood fiesta!
Rice wrapped in banana leaf
No Filipino meal is complete without the staple rice. The banana leaf added a more rustic feel to the common dish.
Grilled Tilapia
Freshwater tilapia is one of my favorite fish. But this wasn't the star of our meal, in my opinion.
Ginataang hipon
Good heavens, I love this dish. I may be deathly allergic to this and I may have sprouted some welts from eating some of this delicious delicacy, but it was so worth it. A must-try!
Ensaladang Pako
Known as Fiddlehead Fern Salad in English, this dish was a crowd favorite. Perfect blend of sour and sweet. It tasted really fresh. Yummy!

I forgot to mention that we also purchased two llaneras of leche flan and an ube from Ate Melda, the one who offered us the halo-halo. These desserts only cost us Php100.00. And they were delicious. So delicious, they were gone when I remembered I should have taken pictures. Oh, well.

And also, our lunch was supposed to include fresh buko juice, but unfortunately, Typhoon Glenda rendered the coconut trees unyielding. Aling Siony estimated it will take two years before the trees bear fruit again. 

So after our meal, we rested for a bit. Then we went to a short inclined trail to see a glimpse of Pandin's twin lake, Yambu.

On the top of the trail, we were met by Kuya Ato, a baranggay tanod.

And of course, the equally breathtaking view of Yambu Lake.

Mt. Mabilog and Lake Yambu as seen from Lake Pandin
He told us that we can access Yambu from Nagcarlan, and a traverse from the nearby mountain of Mt. Mabilog was possible. He also shared how they promote Lake Pandin through partnership with popular foodscapes in San Pablo such as the Suki Restaurant. He beamed with pride as he told us how he and the other residents preserve the beauty of Pandin. Similar to what Aling Siony had shared, Kuya Ato said that they clean the lake every week. I was inspired by the communal pride and concern of the Pandin residents. He also told us how Typhoon Glenda finally put an end to the cocolisap outbreak in San Pablo. Although the typhoon also caused significant damage to the coconut, the trees were already suffering from the pests to begin with. This knowledge evoked ambivalent reactions in the farmer in me.

After sharing some stories with Kuya Ato, we descended back to the raft and went on our way back to the shore. We had another stop over near a banyan tree, where we tried to swing from its baging.

By 1PM, we were docking at the lakeside. We were asked to log our Lake Pandin experience and I did the honor. I basically wrote a synopsis of what was to become this entry. Hehe.

I truly enjoyed this day. It was so much fun. Lake Pandin is beautiful, and the warmth and kindness of its inhabitants added to its charm. 

How to Get There
From Angono, head out to Tikling and take a van to Ayala. Get off at Buendia. From here, ride a bus with an "Ayala Leveriza" signage. Alight at the Jam Liner terminal. The bus will drop you off near Gil Puyat LRT station, so you have to walk back to the terminal. It's near a Jollibee and a KFC. Alternatively, one can take the LRT and alight at Gil Puyat station.

Ride a bus bound for Lucena and get off at SM San Pablo. Once here, take a jeepney to the San Pablo Cathedral, or "Simbahan", and walk to the nearby 7/11 where there is a jeepney terminal. Here, take another jeepney with an "Ilog" signage, and get off at "Pandin Parking". Or tell the driver you're going to Pandin and to please drop you off to the place. Of course, you can just hire a tricycle from SM San Pablo to take you directly to Pandin Parking, but this will cost you Php100 per person.

Once in Pandin Parking, you will have to trek to get to the actual lake.

To get back to the bus stop, trek back to the hi-way. Ride a jeepney back to "Simbahan". Take a tricycle to the bus stop. The bus stop is in another entirely different 7/11. Get on a bus bound for Buendia/Taft. Once in Buendia, walk back to the Jam Liner terminal and ride a bus to 'Cubao Ibabaw'. Get off at Farmer's and walk to the jeepney terminal where there are jeepneys bound for Angono, Binangonan, Taytay, Antipolo, and Crame.

0545 - Meet-up at Jam Line Terminal
0630 - Departure from terminal to San Pablo
0830 - Arrival at SM San Pablo; depart to Cathedral
0840 - Arrival at San Pablo Cathedral, 7/11; depart to Pandin Parking
0900 - Arrival at Pandin Parking; start trek
0905 - Arrival at Lake Pandin; prepare for lake rafting
0915 - Start Lake Tour
0930 - Grotto; swim
1100 - Lunch
1135 - Trek to Lake Yambu
1210 - Back to raft
1215 - Banyan Tree
1220 - Start raft back to shore
1300 - Mainland; clean-up
1315 - Trek back to hi-way
1330 - Cathedral
1345 - Departure to Buendia
1545 - Arrival at Buendia
1700 - Arrival at Farmer's Cubao
1830 - Home

Jeepney fare, Angono to Tikling - Php10.00/pax
Van fare, Tikling to Buendia - Php45.00/pax
Bus fare, Buendia to Gil Puyat (ordinary) - Php8.00/pax
Bus fare, to SM San Pablo (Jam Liner) - Php127.00/pax
Jeepney fare, SM San Pablo to Simbahan - Php8.00/pax
Jeepney fare, 7/11 Jeep Terminal to Pandin Parking - Php8.00/pax
Lake Tour, rafting plus lunch - Php360.00/pax
Halo-halo - Php25.00/pax
2 llaneras Leche Flan and 1 Ube - Php100.00
Tips - Php40.00
Pasalubong - Php100.00
Jeepney fare, Pandin Parking to Simbahan - Php8.00/pax
Tricycle fare, to Bus Stop - Php15.00/pax
Bus fare, to Buendia - Php127.00/pax
Bus fare, to Cubao - Php35.00/pax
Jeepney fare, Cubao to Angono - Php33.00/pax

Total: Php725.00
Budget: Php1000/pax

Special Concerns and Reminders
  • Make sure to inform Aling Siony 2-3 days before your trip so she can prepare your lunch. You may contact her at +639299789565.
L-R: Me, Ate Sima, Aling Siony, French Fries
  • There are now decent restrooms. Taking a bath is possible if you are willing to collect water from the makeshift pipes nearby.

  • When swimming, always wear the provided life jacket. Better be safe than sorry.
  • I forgot to ask if there is electricity. :)
  • Camping is possible, although Aling Siony warned against coming later than 7PM.
  • Practice the Leave No Trace policy.
  • Don't expect comfortable amenities. This is nature and not some fancy hotel. (Other tourists were complaining about the water in the restrooms)
  • Be respectful of the residents. Avoid harsh and tactless statements. (I heard some from other tourists.)

Cheers to the next adventure!

Unmarked photos are courtesy of Frances Karina Nobles

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  2. Cool entry. Its been a while since I saw that place. Akala ko nun hindi pwede maligo dyan, or wala lang kami dala mapalit nun. I am drooling over the halo-halo. Haha! ~Blog hopping, Kat

  3. Hi, Katherine. You should have went for a swim! Ang saya! May Kraken. Hehehe. The halo-halo was gone in a matter of seconds! Yum! Thanks for dropping by. :)