[PH Travel] Paddling in Lake Pandin

Izah Morales

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A form of women empowerment is happening with nature as setting.

PLANNED THE WEEKEND ALREADY? If not yet, we suggest you visit Lake Pandin. All photos by Izah Morales

MANILA, Philippines – A weekend getaway does not need to be far. Just a two and a half hour drive from Manila, one can find peace in the province of Laguna. 

The tranquil scenery of lush green coconut trees surrounding the 24-hectare Lake Pandin captivated me. Beyond the beauty that this lake holds is a touching story on how a crisis opened up opportunities for the community in Brgy. Sto. Anghel in San Pablo City.

DRINKING WATER FROM NATURE. This spring is the only source of drinking water in Barangay Santo Anghel, San Pablo City

With all her might, the 36 year-old Lolita Sales — on the bamboo raft — paddles through the calm waters towards a grotto, where they get their water supply. Ate Lolita says that the spring from the mountain is their only source of water. She then recounts how 16 women paddlers brought life to their dying livelihood.

NEW LIVELIHOOD, CHANGED LIVES. Lolita Sales is one of the fishermen's wives who are now paddlers at Lake Pandin

High price of fish feeds yet low number of fish catch brought problems to the fishermen of Pandin. Their wives didn’t let this problem bring them down. Through the help of environmentalist Mandy Mariño, the women rowed their way to a sustainable livelihood — tourism. 

IN DEEP THOUGHT. The author enjoys the quiet and the energy of the lake

Sinuggest ni Mr. Mariño na gumawa kami ng mga balsa kung saan pwedeng sumakay ang mga turista. Dun nagsimula ang pagbabalsa namin (Mr. Mariño suggested that we build bamboo rafts which tourists can ride around the lake),” says Ate Lolita, also the auditor of the Samahan ng mga Mangingisda sa Lawa ng Pandin Farm-C (SMLP). 

LIFE VESTS ON EVERYONE. Swimming is allowed only if one wears a life vest

Ate Lolita shares that the organization bought 35 bamboos which cost Php 120 each. The fishermen were the ones tasked to build the bamboo rafts while their wives serve as the tour guides and paddlers. 

Since 2006, they have been welcoming tourists who want to unwind and relax in the lake. The SMLP now has 7 bamboo rafts. Each raft can accommodate 20 guests. 

BEACONS OF HOPE. Meet more women like Ate Lolita when you visit Lake Pandin

For Php 360, a guest can enjoy a ride in the bamboo raft while eating fresh catch of grilled tilapia, shrimp in coconut milk, paku, banana and drink fresh buco juice. 

After eating, one can jump out of the raft and swim. Everyone is required to wear a life vest when swimming in the lake, which has a depth of 180 feet. Swimmers are not exempted. 

WEEKEND GETAWAY FOR EVERYONE. In less than three hours from Manila, you already get to enjoy this view

While sharing how tourism changed their lives, Ate Lolita beams with pride and joy. She was once a vendor but confesses that she likes entertaining guests in Pandin.

In Lake Pandin, the women are like the spring coming out of a mountain rock. They brought hope in a time of hopelessness. – Rappler.com


(Follow the author’s travels at http://www.tripadora.com. 

PH Travel is the home of wanderlusts constantly discovering the beauty of the Philippines through a shared love for recreation, food, sports, shopping, traveling, or the environment. This is where communities come together to share their stories and adventures — whether they’re into surfing, diving, yoga, mountaineering, hiking, rock-climbing, sailing, eating, cooking, responsible tourism. You name it, you can share it. Send us your stories, photos, and videos with subject heading PH TRAVEL to desk@rappler.com.)

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