You may be wondering why I haven’t posted any travels from my beautiful country. That’s because I just started my travel blog late last year. And since I am done with my North America articles, I will now start to share my adventures in the Pearl of the Orient Seas.
I am proud to say that I am no tourist in my own country. I’ve been exploring the Philippines since I was in my teen years. But do not worry as I will only share the travels up till my images were digitized. 😀
Let me start with Southern Mindanao’s most precious jewel – Lake Sebu. It is a municipality in the province of South Cotabato, Philippines within the Alah Valley region. The lake’s shores and the surrounding rainforest are home to the indigenous tribes of T’bolis, Tirurays, Ubos and Manobos.
I arrived on a rainy Friday afternoon of August. Lake Sebu is famous for its glorious sunset but during the wet season there’s a lot of cloudy sky. I still kept my hopes high and decided to stay a bit longer. I know you’re probably thinking why I still pushed through with my plan. Well, there is also a good reason for traveling during the wet season in the tropics especially when the place has waterfalls, lakes, rivers and springs – yes, you heard me! 😁
Lake Sebu is known for its majestic waterfalls, the Seven Falls. Waterfalls always exude extraordinary beauty; I love hearing the powerful pour of water when trekking to one of them. The waterfalls of Lake Sebu are given T’boli names that describe them. They are Hikong Alu (passage falls), 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 Hikong Tonok (soil falls).
The first two waterfalls are easily accessible, while others require some trekking. Hikong Alu or Falls 1 can be accessed via a short leisurely walk near the entrance of the eco-park, while Hikong Bente or Falls 2 can be reached by either hiking the 700+ steps, driving down the road or simply fly up in the air by means of a zipline ride.
I was up for a thrilling adventure so I took the zipline ride! By the way, it is the highest in Southeast Asia at a stunning height of more than 180 meters. It is composed of a 740-meter ride that only lasts for about 40 seconds long from the second waterfalls to the fifth one (you just pass hundreds of feet above them). The ride was way to short, really! Good thing that there was a second zipline ride back below the first station. This one’s even shorter (about 20 seconds long) at 420 meters from the fifth waterfalls to the second one. But even if the rides were short, the experience was really worth it. I enjoyed the breathtaking view of waterfalls, rivers, treetops, cliffs and hills.
One of the major tribes, the T’bolis are known for their weaving skills. I was lucky to met the Master Weaver, Be’Lang Dulay, she passed away early last year. The finesse of her craft has earned her the title of National Living Treasure in 1998, an award only given to National Folk Artists of the Philippines. T’nalak weavers are considered dreamweavers since their designs are inspired by the patterns they saw from their dreams. The t’nalak geometric designs represents T’boli’s traditions. Colors are significant: red for bravery, commitment, and love, and black for their struggles. Taking a piece of it is like taking a piece of history of the T’boli people. I am honored to bring home one of Lang Dulay’s designed t’nalak cloth, a blooming lady.
One day the weather cooperated. I was already out by the placid Lake Sebu before the day breaks. As the brilliant orange and yellow colors take over the sky, I just sit in awe…the calmness of the mirrored lake is a breathtaking beauty. And that’s probably how Lake Sebu made me fall in love with the sunrise.
I rode a traditional dugout canoe and witnessed the pink lotuses bloom. The magnificent blossom unfolds gradually, one petal at a time, till full bloom in the morning when the sun’s rays touched the flower. This interdependence between the lotus and the sun is a symbol of love.
Then, I also went for a quick hike to Traangkini icy cold springs. A friendly staff from the resort volunteered to drive me to this hidden gem. The place got its name from the T’boli word tdaan-kini which means an intersection of two streams, one of which is hot (kini). According to the locals, the hot streams remains warm even on a cold night. Traangkini is one of the major sources of Lake Seloton. I am glad that he took me here…this raw beauty should not to be missed.
I also took a boat cruise along the lake as I wanted to see more of the place. Indeed, Lake Sebu is a paradise on its own. This part of the Philippines offers a unique cultural experience even for a local like me. One of my unforgettable solo travels I must say.