fisherman and canoe, early morning at Lake Sebu

Lake Sebu: It’s More Than the Lake

Nina and I had taken far worst rides before but to get packed like sardines with fellow passengers while cradling a heavy backpack on your lap doesn’t help when you’re just recovering from a bout with lower back pain. To top it all the van we were riding wasn’t air-conditioned. But as we began to drive farther away from Koronadal, fields of verdant green began to sooth our eyes and take our minds off our cramped sitting arrangement. In less than an hour we were feeling the cool highland air as the van made its way to the outer fringes of Lake Sebu town. We did not really need air-conditioning on this ride after all, we thought.

fisherman on dug-out canoe, Lake Sebu
Fisherman on dug-out canoe, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato

Our trip to this picturesque highland town was certainly worth the hassle we went through – which is really not a lot considering our other previous off-the-beaten-path adventures. A far more serious concern for other people is Lake Sebu’s location – the province of South Cotabato in Mindanao, Philippines. Some friends and relatives were worried that breakaway Islamic rebels who had launched a series of bombings and attacks a few months before were operating in the area. Actually more serious was a recent encounter between the military and leftist rebels in nearby Saranggani province. Both groups, as it turned out however, were not to be found in South Cotabato. Lake Sebu is a peaceful location with an equally tranquil scenery.

Early morning at Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
Early morning at Lake Sebu, South Cotabato

At Lake Sebu there is nothing like waking up early and reclining at a lakeside hut to watch the morning sun’s rays reflect off the placid waters as blooming lotus flowers proudly show off their morning colors. Here and there white egrets would swoop gracefully over the waters and land among the bamboo poles marking the fish pens while the occasional Brahminy kite glided majestically overhead. Fisher folks were at work in their dugout canoes, deftly maneuvering their craft around the fish pens and lotus plants.

sunset at Lake Sebu
Sunset at Lake Sebu, Estares Lake Resort

The morning lakeside scenery at our resort was already enough to feast our eyes on but it was just the beginning. We would later tour around Lake Sebu, viewing it from different vantage points and noting its various moods throughout the day – at sunrise, mid-day, under blue skies and cloudy skies and at sunset. We were fortunate to experience all of these in just two days and one night.

cloudy morning at Lake Sebu; viewed from Estares Lake Resort
A cloudy sunrise shows one of the many moods of Lake Sebu
lotus flowers in morning bloom, Lake Sebu
Lotus flowers in morning bloom, Lake Sebu

But there is more to Lake Sebu town than Lake Sebu the lake. There are actually three lakes here: Lake Sebu and the smaller Lake Seloton and Lake Lahit. Our short stay at Lake Sebu town would not allow us to visit the two other lakes although we did have a good vantage view of Lake Lahit while traveling on the main road back to Koronadal. The town is also surrounded by pristine forests affording good trekking adventures, rice fields that offer stunning vistas and numerous gorgeous streams and waterfalls tucked away in lush woodlands. Lake Sebu is a photographer’s paradise, as I would discover on this trip.

view of rice fields on the road to T'daan Kini Falls
View of rice fields on the road to T’daan Kini Falls, Lake Sebu

Lake Sebu is also known for its native T’boli people and culture. We did not see a lot of them in their traditional colorful costumes but we did get to visit National Living Treasure Lang Dulay – the famed “dreamweaver” whose incomparable tinalak designs came to her in her dreams. This 90-plus-year old lady is still very active and had opened a tinalak weaving school to pass on her craft to younger T’boli weavers. We found Lang Dulay to be very approachable and humble – a common trait of truly great people.

T'Boli lady weaving tinalak cloth at Lang Dulay's school
T’Boli lady weaving tinalak cloth at Lang Dulay’s school

As we left for Koronadal and ultimately General Santos City, I got the feeling that the two days and one night Nina and I spent here was just a foretaste of what Lake Sebu has to offer. I could go on and on about other places to visit and things to do here but would rather wait until we get to visit this place again, God-willing.

dugout canoes on Lake Sebu's shores
Dugout canoes on Lake Sebu’s shores on a cloudy day
early morning view of Lake Sebu from Estares Lake Resort
Morning blues at Estares Lake Resort, Lake Sebu

To know more about Lake Sebu’s attractions, travel tips and how to get there, visit Lake Sebu: Beauty with Altitude.

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8 thoughts on “Lake Sebu: It’s More Than the Lake”

    1. Thanks Michael. We hope we can visit Lake Sebu again in the near future. Really a great place. Sadly, Lang Dulay passed away recently but it was an honor to have met and talked with here before she did.

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