The twin lakes of San Pablo.

San Pablo is a place in the Philippines famous for its seven lakes. Locals and tourists alike that have once been there would always single out the twin lakes Pandin and Yambo whenever they share their adventures in San Pablo. Curiosity got the best of me, and went to the place itself to know if the stories were really true.

Lake Pandin is lake Yambo’s twin. The two bodies of water are only separated by a small piece of land, which is often trekked by tourists in order to visit the other lake.

San Pablo is only a couple of hours away from the bustling city of Manila- a good place to visit for those looking for a hasty weekend getaway. According to the facebook page of the twin lake, the entrance would be found near lake Pandin. To our dismay, the locals told us that the Pandin lake entrance was already blocked long ago due to land disputes. If you really wanted to see the lake, they told us that it can be accessed by crossing its twin, lake Yambo. So, my mother and I had to go to the city of Nagcarlan, search for the entrance of lake Yambo, cross the lake, trek the trail going to lake Pandin, then finally reach the lake. All the trouble of this trip made me think: the lake tour better be worth it.

After almost an hour of commuting, we finally reached the entrance to lake Yambo. The view of the lake was beautiful. Suddenly, all the troubles we got ourselves into became worth it. The weather also seemed to have calmed down  (it was raining a bit when we were commuting) and the sun slowly started to shine. I immediately reached for my camera and took numerous pictures of the lake while my mother registered our names for the day tour.

Lake Yambo is a 35-hectare lake. It provides livelihood to the locals as most of them cultivate fishes to be sold in wet markets or to tourists visiting the lake.

My mother and I waited for a while for our names to be called for the lake crossing. We boarded a raft made of bamboo. The raft can accomodate 14 people at most. Bangkeros (locals fetching the tourists to and from the lake) pulls a rope fastened at the lake entrance and to the small piece of land separating the lakes, enabling the raft to move forward.

Two guys from our group assisted the bangkeros in pulling the rope. The raft reached the other side of the lake in a couple of minutes!

As the raft moved accross the lake, we saw some fish pens. The bangkeros told us that tilapia and hipon (shrimp) are mostly cultivated in these pens. Our lunch even came straight from these pens. Nothing beats a freshly made meal in the province.

Cultivating fishes in these fish pens serve as one of the major livelihoods of the locals.

After a short trek along the small piece of land separating the two lakes, we finally managed to reach lake Pandin. Like its twin, lake Pandin also offered a beautiful environment. It may look like lake Pandin is larger than its twin. However, it is only 25 hectares wide- 10 hectares smaller than its twin. Locals say that the surrounding vegetation of lake Pandin made the lake look a lot larger compared to Yambo.

Greens surround the lake. Imagine that the lake is a soup inside a bowl. The edges of the bowl being trees and plants.

Of course, the lake tour would never be complete without swimming in its warm waters. Without much ado, my mother and I wore our lifevests, and helped ourselves with a fresh afternoon swim.

My mother enjoying the fresh waters of the lake.
Dive right in!
Flowing water into the lake = rare shower experience.
The rich vegetation across the lake is sure to calm both the mind and the soul.

Sadly, the lake tour ends as soon as the timer of your bangkeros hit 2-hours. Yes, whether you like it or not, all tourists are only allowed to stay in the lake for 2 hours at most. This method is adapted in order to facilitate the number of tourists entering the lake, and also to make sure that the lake do not become too crowded.

A view of lake Yambo taken at the highest point within the small strip of land separating the twin lakes.
A photo of lake Yambo, taken before leaving.

It was unfortunate that a number of tourists tend to cancel their trip to Pandin lake because of the outdated information regarding the entrance to the lake. We have already shared our concern to the locals and told them that it would be best if all the crucial information (such as the lake entrance) is updated in order to boost the number of tourists visiting the place. Otherwise, my experience here is a blast. I do hope that more people would come and appreciate the attractions San Pablo has to offee such as the beautiful twin lakes Pandin and Yambo. Happy traveling guys!

-Carlo, WHT

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