A Day Trip in Lake Sebu

Entrance to Lake Sebu

First of all, for those who don’t know Lake Sebu is not located or associated with Cebu, though they may sound alike but rather located in the highlands of South Cotabato, Allah Valley, home to the T’boli tribes of Mindanao. The town has 3 lakes namely (1) Lake Lahit, the smallest one, (2) Lake Seloton, the deepest one with a lakebed measured to be 200 ft deep and lastly, (3) Lake Sebu, the largest among the 3 from which the town got its name. Lake Sebu has an area of 354 hectares (870 acres), with an elevation of approximately 1,000 meters (3,300 ft). With it cool climate ranging from 20°c-25°c, misty mountains, vibrant forest and raging waterfalls, Lake Sebu, an emerging eco-tourism adventure destination has been dubbed as “The Summer Capital of Southern Mindanao”. It also boasts its rich biodiversity and other indigenous community and cultures being the melting pot of Manobos, Ubos and Tirurays. Aside from being good excellent producers of pineapple, and other vegetables, Lake Sebu also takes pride of their flourishing Tilapia Industry which provides livelihood and steady income for the locals residing on its banks

How to Get There

By Bus

Route 1: CDO → Valencia City → Kabacan → Tacurong → Maguindanao → Marbel (Koronadal City)
RTMI CDO-GenSan Trip : 5 trips daily with first trip departing CDO @ 10:00PM then every 2 hrs.
Travel Time: 7 hrs. & 39 min.       |              Fare: Php 705.00/pax

Route 2: CDO → Davao → GenSan | Stop over Davao Eco-land
Travel Time: 11 hrs. & 51 min.
RTMI     CDO → Davao (7 hrs. and 20 mins)           Fare: Php 480.00
YBL      Davao → GenSan (3 hrs. & 36 min.)          Fare: Php 254.00

By Plane

Book a flight to General Santos City

Final Route to Lake Sebu
GenSan → Koronadal City → Surallah → Lake Sebu
YBL       GenSan → Koronadal City (1 hr. & 29 min.)           | Fare: Php 95.00 (A/C bus)
YBL       Koronadal City → Surallah  (30 min.)                        | Fare: Php 28.00
Jeep/Van             Surallah → Lake Sebu (45 min.)                                  | Fare: Php 36.50
Habal-habal        Surallah → Lake Sebu (30 min.)                                  | Fare: Php 100.00

Me and my cousin Ellen took Route 1 as we find it more convenient to have a direct trip rather than with stopovers. Most people are quite scared with this route as it would pass by to a then “hotspot area”. Maybe I just don’t care at all because I was so sleepy to even mind it but our trip was quite peaceful so I guess there’s nothing to worry about it. We took the first trip at 10:00PM and arrived in Marbel early in the in the morning where my aunt picked us up. As I’ve mentioned in my previous article, we’re on board a private vehicle but we still drop by a quick visit to Surallah

Click Here to learn more about Surallah

Things We Did vs Things You Should Do

Things We Did:

7 Falls Zipline of Lake Sebu

Second stop for our day trip after Surallah is the Lake Sebu Eco-park developed by the Local Government of Cotabato located in Brgy. Seloton. Entrance is only Php 20.00. This place is also known for zip lines above the 7 waterfalls with its rich biodiversity inhabit by certain species of monkeys, tarsiers and other animals freely roaming in the area. Its famous attractions are the 740-meter and 420-meter long zipline overlooking the 7 majestic waterfalls that last for around 60 sec. If Dahilayan is known for being the longest zipline in Asia, Lake Sebu also famed for the highest zipline in Asia measuring over 600 ft. above the ground

Even before we stepped into the site, we were already in for a splashy treat. Hikong Alu, the first of the seven waterfalls, that measures at around 35 ft. high, cascades by the trail. It is not as tall as the others, but it is the widest. It flows gracefully across the park and under a bridge.

We hopped in to the platform, and the staff strapped us tight and safe. I shared the ride with Ellen and after our pictures were taken, we were released into the air, whipping through the cold Lake Sebu wind. The falls is quite high that its splashes cause the area to be a bit misty that you can get a little wet.

 

For approximately 60 second ride, you can have a quick bird’s eye view of the 7 waterfalls that might take quite a while for you to see if you were trekking, thus saving you time and energy. One interesting fact is that they were given T’boli names. As mention earlier, the first one was named Hikong Alu (passage falls) and the rest as follows in order, Hikong Bente (immeasurable falls), Hikong B’Lebel (zigzag falls), Hikong Lowig (booth falls), Hikong K’Fo-I (wild flower falls), Hikong Ukol (short falls) and lastly, Hikong Tonok (soil falls). The water comes from the outflows of Lake Sebu that goes to Lonon River and then to Lake Seloton before going to Waterfalls – One to Seven and finally to Allah River.

The zip lines were built way back in July 2009. They had their soft launch in September 2009 before opening in public in October of the same year. Rate is Php300.00/pax on weekends and holidays, Php250.00/pax on weekdays.

Punta Isla Lake Resort

Located just 600 meters away from the town of Lake Sebu is Punta Isla Lake Resort. Definitely a must-visit whenever you’re in Lake Sebu. It was almost lunch time when we finish our zipline adventure at the 7 falls Eco-park, just the perfect timing to visit Punta Isla Lake Resort and fill our hungry stomach with their famed and sumptuous Tilapia dishes every one’s been talking about.

 

For a day tour, an entrance fee of Php 30.00/pax is collected. Inside is a souvenir shop selling different that sells T’boli souvenirs such as T’nalak textile, beadworks, headpiece, embroidered blouses, word carvings, brassware and other trinkets like keychains and magnets.

True to their motto “where life blends with nature”, Punta Isla also offers a boat tour for Php 500.00/trip the goes with a T’boli guide where the brief history of the lake and T’boli culture is explained.

Last but not the least, the thing that we’re excited about – FOOD! Aside from its famous floating restaurant, the resort is known to serve various kinds of Tilapia cuisine – no other place in the country who does that, I don’t think so… guess only in Punta Isla.

Among the meals they offer are nilasing na tilapia, spicy tilapia fillet, tilapia vegetable, kinilaw na tilapia, sizzling tilapia with brown sauce, tilapura (tilapia tempura), chicharong tilapia, pinaputok na tilapia, sinugba na tilapia with atchara, laswa na tilapia, sinangay na tilapia, tilapia vegetable with zepo guisado, hototay soup, pinakbet ng punta isla. I wonder what else is not Tilapia??? Haha!

An additional Php 150.00/pax is collected if you want to dine in their floating restaurant with a giant replica of a Tilapia fish on top symbolizing their livelihood and industry but if you want to settle for less, tables and chairs in the lakeshore will do, offering the same lake view with its peaceful ambience and relaxation effect

While waiting for your lunch to be serve, you will be given a complimentary paksiw na tilapia as appetizer. A T’boli group will also approach your table for a short cultural dance performance – free as part of tourism promotion but of course it would be nice to give them a little tip. There are also T’boli kids that will be canoeing around the lake waiting to dive for some of your lose change.

 

Aside from dining, Punta Isla resort also offers accommodation for a fair price in case you want to stay overnight. The facilities may not be world class but their hospitality and service definitely is.

 

For more information, inquiries and reservation you can contact:
Punta Isla Lake Resort
Sitio Toku-ful, Brgy. Poblacion, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines.
Contact No. +63-905-289-5134 | 083-236-1053
Email: reservations.puntaisla@yahoo.com | reservations.puntaisla@gmail.com

Things you should do:

  1. Have an overnight stay @ Punta Isla Resort – I heard lotus flowers really look beautiful as they bloom early in the morning sunsets are awesome over the lake. Too bad we missed both.
  2. Pay a visit to Lang Dulay – A T’boli master dreamweaver known for her fine creations, the T’nalak cloth. She’s the southern counterpart likened to Apo Wang Od of Sagada. Nominated as one of the National Living Treasure Awardee. They are called dreamweavers because the pattern that they weave are according to what they see in their dreams.
  3. Attend the Lemlunay Festival – Every September, The T’boli and 6 other tribes of South Cotabato gather to celebrate Lemlunay Festival. It’s the perfect way to immerse in their culture and attend the festivities.
  4. Canoeing the Lake Sebu – I bet you’d enjoy exploring the lake by canoeing in the same way you enjoy kayaking in the beach. I also personally find it romantic to do it with your special someone early in the morning where you can paddle around the blooming lotus flowers.
  5. Trek and conquer the 7 falls – Ziplining is a good overview of the 7 falls that could suffice if you don’t have enough time but if you feel more adventures, trekking and conquering the 7 falls seems to be a lot of fun, besides it’s a good remedy for adrenaline junkies like me. I would consider this one as a regret not doing.

 

Well I hope you really enjoyed this article. I just wish that when you go there, you’d have more to experience than I did. Lake Sebu is a really wonderful place worth of your time and attention, only that I was on a time constraint since we’re only doing a day tour.

 

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PINAY VOYAGER | GRACE GIFT T. CHUA

 

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