Tired of the rush? The hordes of people everywhere you go? The traffic and the pollution?
Don’t get me wrong, Manila is my city (born and raised here!) and I love how you can keep yourself entertained and find something to do at any hour of the day. But I was away for a long time last year and mostly stayed in islands and small cities. This was when I realized that being in a big city is not for me. I enjoyed being close to nature. It revitalized me, lowered my stress levels and overall, made me happier. So being back in the concrete jungle for almost a month was taking its toll on me. I missed the quiet, the peace, the fresh air and just being around beautiful nature. I had to get out and recharge. And then I remember seeing this blog post a few years ago about this nice lake not too far away from Manila where you can chill on a raft and have lunch, swim and relax. With the help of my mighty friend Google, I was able to find this gem of a place: Lake Pandin, San Pablo, Laguna!
Lake Pandin is part of the seven lakes in Barangay San Lorenzo in San Pablo, Laguna. Roughly 84 kilometers or around 2 to 2.5 hours from Manila, it’s a practical destination if you want a quick escape from the city.
- Take the JAC Liner bus (on the corner of Buendia and Taft Ave, beside the LRT station) bound to Lucena. Inform the driver that you are getting off at SM San Pablo. Fare is 126 pesos.
- In front of SM San Pablo, take a jeepney going to “Bayan,” you will see a sign. Fare is 8 pesos. Get off at the center of town. You will see an old church and a rotunda.
- Walk to 7-11 on the right side, there are jeepneys parked there with signs going to “Ilog.” Tell the driver to drop you off at Lake Pandin. Fare is 13 pesos.
- You will get dropped off at the parking lot and you will see kids there who will offer their services as guides to accompany you to the lake.
*If you text Aling Siony (+639299789565) and make a reservation for the raft (which is highly recommended), she will assign a guide for you who will meet you at the parking lot of Lake Pandin.
After a 10-minute hike, you will see the beauty of Lake Pandin.
Lake Pandin is indeed a hidden gem. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and the lake was glistening under the sun. There weren’t a lot of tourists around when we arrived, maybe just two rafts with a family and a couple. The day before, I texted Aling Siony to make a reservation for the raft and also to prepare lunch for us. The rent for the raft is 180 pesos per person for 2 hours. For the lunch, it is an additional 180 pesos per person.
We boarded the raft and floated away on the lake. It was purely relaxing. The lake is pristine and you could see that the local residents have really been taking care of it. With no blaring karaoke music in the background, you could only hear the sounds of nature. Bliss! It was exactly the getaway we were looking for.
If you look around Lake Pandin, you will notice something in particular, all the rafters are women. Back in 2006, an environmentalist, Mandy Marino, shared an idea with the local residents of Lake Pandin. The husbands were mostly fishermen and the idea of the housewives earning extra income while caring and promoting their beautiful lake and community, came in the form of doing lake tours. The husbands built the rafts and they started holding tours at the lake. It feels good to know that when visiting this place, you also help the local community in your own little way.
And it only gets better! The lunch was served and it was delicious, surely a deal at 180 pesos per person. All made with fresh local ingredients, we had grilled tilapia, shrimps in coconut milk, pako salad, rice wrapped in banana leaves and bananas. They usually serve fresh buko for drinks; however, the recent typhoon wiped out all the coconuts so they replaced it with bottled water.
After lunch, we got to relax and chat with the lady rafters and one of the husbands who parked his own little boat on the side of our raft. We got to know more about the community and their livelihood. It is refreshing to know that the members of the community all have an active role and are working together to keep the place clean and organized. All profits from the tours are divided equally at the end of the day.
After almost three hours of eating, swimming, chatting and relaxing, we made our way back to shore. Lake Pandin was everything that we hoped for and more. We are glad that we also learned about the thriving community behind this charming place. For a cheap, relaxing and stress-free break from the city, Lake Pandin definitely fits the bill.
So, what do you think of Lake Pandin for your next weekend getaway? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below.