Monday, April 9, 2007

viaje del sol: tour of lake pandin

once there was a childless couple who prayed to the gods to grant them a child. after twenty years filled with prayers, a fairy appeared to them to tell them that their prayers will be answered, but they must make sure that their child should never set foot on earth.

thus, their daughter, pandin, was born, and she became quite a beautiful young lady. for some reason, even though this woman has never set foot outside her home, an ardent young man with the name yambo became her suitor.

one day, yambo asked pandin to spend time with him outside. pandin refused, for her parents told her never to set foot on the earth. but the stupid yambo took the ball of yarn or thread that she was using for her knitting (or was it needlepoint?), and threw it outside. pandin's anger at yambo's shenanigans caused her to forget her curse. the minute her feet made contact with the soil, the earth opened and turned her and yambo into seemingly identical lakes, separated only by a thin strip of land.

and today, those two lakes are probably the most picturesque of san pablo's seven lakes. howie severino pronounces pandin as "the cleanest and the least disturbed," and i would have to agree with him.

pandin lake was our first stop for our viaje del sol tour. we had made prior arrangements to tour the lake and have lunch there as well. it takes about an hour and a half to two hours to reach pandin from manila. once you're in san pablo, ask around for directions to sto. angel.

we got a little bit lost trying to find the clearing where we were to meet our guide. it was when we reached lake calibato that we found out we had gone too far. we drove back and finally caught a sign that pointed the way to pandin and yambo lake. several townsfolk seemed to sense our "lostness," and walked up to the car. apparently, our guide had been waiting for us, and they knew all about the four manilenos touring the lake. they pointed us to the right clearing.

so there we finally met jewel, our guide, who works in manila, but was on vacation for the holidays. he helps his family out with the lake tours while he's home. he led us to a 10- to 15-minute hike to the lake. when we reached the shore, jewel's family happily ushered us onto the raft that would take us across the lake.

and after a few minutes, our raft was off. the wind was against us that day, so about four to five rowers had to join us. while our raft made our way to the other side of the lake, a lady was already cooking our fresh tilapia using coconuts. never have i been so happy to sniff smoke.

the entire ride was so serene, with us just floating over the green water of pandin. our guides parked our raft by a wall of the lake, and that's where we had lunch. we were served rice wrapped in banana leaves, ginataang hipon, fresh tilapia, chicken adobo, and fresh buko as drinks. we couldn't resist eating with our hands. it seemed the best thing to do, and it made the experience even better.

we lingered at the spot for about fifteen to twenty more minutes, enjoying the sights, marveling at the lush greenery that surrounded the lake. being oligotrophic, lake pandin is home to quite a number of plants and fish.

the locals rowed us back to shore after we finished talking about a myriad of topics. it was such a nice start to a great weekend. it was such a shame that we didn't get to climb over the wall to see lake yambo. that just means we have a reason to go back.

click here to see more photos of our lake pandin adventure.
read more about the legends of san pablo's seven lakes.

contact information:
contact person: mandy marino
mobile: 0917-5016694
rates: P180 per person for the lake tour, P100-P150 per person for food.
prior reservations are required for this tour.
mandy can also arrange tours for sampaloc lake.

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