(Thanks to my brother LPVJ for some of the photos which I used in this entry.)
Taking off from my GenSan trip, let me now continue with my journey to Lake Sebu. From the fish port, we travelled down the long stretch of the Pan-Philippine Highway, passing through Polomolok and Tupi and making a quick stop at the roadside market to buy loads of fruits in season such as the pineapple, mangosteen, durian, lanzones, rambutan, watermelon and guapple.
Then we continued our road trip, making another stop in Koronadal to buy myself some medicines. This road trip brought back so many memories, having been to South Cotabato sixteen years ago as one of Region 8's delegates to the 1994 National Secondary Schools Press Conference hosted by Koronadal City or Marbel to the locals.
Allow me to digress a bit. My dad almost didn't allow me and my brother to push through with that NSSPC trip because of stories of beheading inside the Yellow Bus Lines. And of course, there were no other buses for us to take at that time except YBL. In the end, dad relented. I enjoyed that trip, it being my first time to set foot in the Cotabato area. I remember passing through Polomolok and Tupi and being amazed by all the pineapples that dotted the parcels of land flanking the highway. I also met my science camp buddies from Marbel. In one of our field trips, our guide told us that we were near the entrance to the T'boli community. Looking back now, the guide must have referred to Surallah. The acres of pineapples are still there in Polomolok and Tupi. And the Sports Complex (where we had some of the activities then) still looks the same.
South Cotabato Sports Complex
From Marbel, we continued our trip to Lake Sebu. Since our host Ian Tupas is from Lake Sebu, we proceeded to his family's place. The first five non-tribal families who lived with the T'boli included Ian's family. In fact, Ian can still speak the language of the T'bolis. But before we could reach their home, it was an uphill climb for us since the vehicle we were in (an automatic Innova) struggled going up the mountain. We found ourselves getting in and out of the vehicle several times. In fact, in the last stretch, we decided to just walk under the blazing heat of the sun.
Walking towards the house of our host
We were famished but the cool breezes, the scenic terrain, the warm hospitality of the Tupas family and the lunch we had (free range duck ala patatim and tuna kinilaw) made up for the misadventures we had.
We stayed after lunch, chatting with the rest of the family. Then it was time for us to check in at the Punta Isla Resort which had a picturesque view of the Lake Sebu. Since there were six of us, we took the Family Room Dorm Type good for six persons which had its own T&B and television. And the accommodation was very cheap, denting our pockets for less than a thousand pesos. As it was very cold in Lake Sebu, there was no need for an airconditioner. Thick pieces of cloth covered the windows. We were a bit tired and it was also raining so the obvious choice for most of us was to curl up in bed.
The Family Room Dorm Type Cottage
It was dusk when we woke up, just in time for our dinner at the lakeside cottage where we had the resort's prime produce: TILAPIA. The restaurant boasted of over 20 ways of cooking tilapia. As we savored our "everything tilapia" dinner, our eyes occasionally turned toward the lake's lighted fountain. The only disturbance to an otherwise quiet evening was the videoke session at the floating restaurant just across the lakeside cottages.
The floating restaurant by day
Getting to the restaurant through this tug boat
(literally tug the rope for the boat to get to the other side)
the fountain (which is lighted at night)
cottages by the lake
The next day, while waiting for our breakfast, my brother and Ian went out canoeing in the lake. The water was so calm, the sky so clear and the sun shone bright.
After our breakfast, we went to check out one of the Seven Waterfalls.
Then we trekked to the zip line area to try the zip ride and we almost didn't make it. First, the line was already long when we got there. Plus around twenty members of the Special Action Forces were also there to try out the zip line. We weren't sure if we would make it before closing time. Second, the weather was unpredictable. If it rained, we would surely say bye to the zip line.
view from where we waited for our turn in the zip line ride
an orange butterfly joined us in the line
Finally after three hours of waiting and lunch in between plus keeping our fingers crossed that the rain won't come, we were geared up. This was my fourth zip ride (previous rides were at the Pelaez Estate in Cagayan de Oro, Danao in Bohol and Eden Nature Park in Davao). But I also had many firsts --- first time to share a harness with another person, first time without helmet and first zip ride under the drizzle. But this had the best view by far. Everything beneath was just lovely and breathtaking, it made me want to stop mid-air and just take in the beauty of Mother Nature even for several seconds or a minute at the most.
mist from one of the waterfalls (was it #3 or #5?)
view from above
Another waterfalls on our way back
After the zip ride, we stopped by a carinderia to have some hot lomi on a cold afternoon.
fish inside the carinderia's aquarium
Then we proceeded to the T'boli musuem, just a few meters from the resort. A T'boli woman inside the house showed us the artifacts of their tribe.
different kinds of rice
We ended our day with a forty-minute boat ride in the lake. The trip cost Php 400 and the boat can accommodate fifteen persons. As we went around the lake, Ian gave his personal accounts. He pointed to us the spots where he and his friends used to bathe. He also told the story of the fingers island which was called as such since it was shaped like human fingers. Basically, he shared his growing-up years in this place he called home.
I would definitely recommend a vacation in Lake Sebu especially if you want to escape from all the stress in the city. It's a nice place to recharge --- cool air, fresh fruits, laidback ambiance and tranquil environment. Most of the roads leading to this place are in good condition. It's also an opportunity to learn more of the culture of the T'boli.