Short Info About Lake Sebu
The ancestral domain of the T’bolis and some Ugos, Lake Sebu, is has been declared a prime tourism destination not only in Mindanao but in the whole Philippines as well. Its located in a municipality named after the lake itself- Lake Sebu in the province of South Cotabato, less than 2 hours drive from the General Santos City.
For me, Lake Sebu is still an off-the-tourist-radar but things are quickly changing because infrastructure wise, it has lots of resorts and inns to choose from. I’m sure that tourists will flock this site 2-3 years from now. Either you are a nomad with a backpack or a tourist with 2-3 luggages you will surely enjoy the experience.
On safety? Yep its practically safe. The people of Mindanao are welcoming and warm to visitors. You just have to have an open mind and accept the as they are.
Here are 7 Exciting Adventures you can try when visiting Lake Sebu:
1. Learn T’boli Culture on a Lake Cruise
Traditionally, T’bolis cruise the lake using the owong, a wooden canoe made from the native lawaan tree. With the maximum of 3 people, its impossible for big tourists group to use this so they made a big boat where tourists can still enjoy the mooring breaking the dew while listening to tribal musics being performed by the locals. Here you can enjoy a cup of coffee and a tilapia breakfast while sight-seeing Lake Sebu and the mountains around it. Mountain Eco-Resort offers a on board cultural performances, they do a lamingon or welcome chant, dance the T’melek/Temelek (Courtship dance) and sing the Semgewit (song when someone is expressing his/her feelings) to the tune of Tinonggong (local gong made of carabao skin and native tree trunk).
2. Wait for the Iconic Lotus Flower to Bloom
You should be up before the breaking of the sun as the lotus flowers is in full bloom during those magic hours. The lotus flower is iconic to Lake Sebu and can be found in photos taken 20 years ago. If this doesn’t excite you, then maybe some birds like egrets, herons, kingfishers and kites would make the tour more exciting. That is if you have a 300mm zoom lens.
3. Learn How T’nalak Weaving is Made
A visit to the National Living Treasure awardee, Be Lang Dulay, is definitely a must when in Lake Sebu. Her handicraft is like the stone carvings you see on the walls of Angkor Wat only depicted on a weaving called T’nalak, a cloth waved using abaca fiber. On a T’nalak cloth one would easily see the patterns that surrounds a life of each T’boli tribe. These weavings are unique to each other since they are weave according to the dreams of the master weaver. In one you would see a pineapple pattern then an eagle’s feather on the other. I bought myself a cloth that has a Kalagan tribe’s design and purchased another with a black butterfly’s wings design.
A T’nalak cloth is not that cheap, you can buy the original at Php700-1200/meter depending on the design and who made it. I wrote a separate article about T’nalak weaving which is a must read, you can check it here: “I Support Localism”
4. Check out the 7 Hikongs or Waterfalls (and Memorize their names)
The Seven Waterfalls of Lake Sebu can be trekked and be viewed if you have lots of time. But if you are in a hurry, then the beast way to see most of it would be to do #7. Anyway, if you would like to know their names, then here’s the list of the 7 falls:
1 Hikong Ali (Passage Falls)
2 Hikong Bente (Immeasurable, because its the tallest of them all)
3 Hikong B’lebed (Coil or Zigzag Falls)
4 Hikong Lowig (Booth)
5 Hikong K’ Fo-i (Wild Flower, as they saw lots of wild flowers there before)
6 Hikong Ukol (Short falls, of course, the shortest of them all)
7 Hikong Tonok (Soil)
5. Look for a Native Beaded Accessory or become a T’boli Royalty.
At the end of the Zipline ride (Falls #5 or near the parking area), you would see lots of souvenirs for sale. If you are into shopping local handicrafts, this would also get you high. If not, you might want to try wearing the costumes of T’boli royalties complete with accessories and a bolo. This is more “unusual” compared to the Igorot costumes at Mines View Park in Baguio City.
6. Tilapia Food Trip, Anyone?
Since Lake Sebu’s economy revolves around Tilapia and Tilapia, you would get to be overloaded with lots of recipes of this imported fish specie. At first they grill it for you, then a steamed Tilapia would be perfect for a rainy weather. Next would either be a crispy fry or a pinaputok one. Some even make it kinilaw but I like it sweet and sour. For vegans, sorry but they really love Tilapia.
Sorry, I ate them all before I thought of taking photos. 🙁 #LameExcuse
7. Get High! Ride the Zipline
It’s at the end not because its the climax of everything but because this is the least important thing you can experience in Lake Sebu. Yep, I’m no fan of zipline but for some who gets high after a hundreds of meters of flying fast on a line, then why not add another list jump-off from your list of ziplines checked. They said its the highest in all Asia and the waterfalls below would really turn your world (for some seconds upside-down). Go ahead and ride that zipline. Better if you have your buddy with you.
Php250 on weekdays (2 rides- 740m ride falls #1 to falls #5)
Php300 on weekends/holidays/fiestas (2 rides- 740m ride falls #1 to falls #5)
You can get your photos on the zipline at PHp100 (soft copy) or Php50/print.
>> So when are you going to visit Lake Sebu?
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This tour was organized by AVLDA (Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance) with Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development (LGSP-LED), South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat LGUs. Thank you #AllahValleyTour2013 Organizers.