Phreatomagnetic eruptions in the Laguna Volcanic Field are a double-edged sword to the city of San Pablo. Water coming in contact with hot magma pushing up near the Earth’s surface caused eruptions that left in their wake a delightful landscape pocked with seven lakes. These lakes’ natural beauty has been written about many times by visitors who are drawn to the freshwater’s cool blue or green waters backdropped by Mount Banahaw and Mount Cristobal in the distance.
These scars of destructive events long ago are now quiet pleasures that have continued to be the attractions for a city that is otherwise a mere stopover in a long Southern Luzon road trip known as Viaje del Sol. These lakes – Sampaloc, Bunot, Palakpakin, Mohicap, Pandin, Yambo and Calibato – all welcome visitors with their serenity and would conjure Minnesota (not that I’ve been there) if not for the palm trees and the bamboo rafts.
The largest and most accessible – hence most popular – among them is Lake Sampaloc, which is located just behind the city hall. It is the city’s playground, with locals biking, jogging, strolling or angling along its shoreline. Dozens of food stalls line the lake as well.
Lake Bunot lies a few kilometers east and is also one of the most accessible, but its renown is less on tourism than a supplier of freshwater fish.
North, far from the main road, is the Lake Palakpakin, which also supplies freshwater fish to residents.
Further north lies Lake Mohicap, which can be accessed from the road.
Near the border with the town of Nagcarlan are Pandin and Yambo, two lakes separated by a narrow strip of land. Getting to the lakes from the main highway is a long walk, but young guides waiting by the park area are eager to help. Pandin in particular is popular as a picnic site, with tourist rafts lining its south shoreline. Tours of the lake and prepared lunch can be requested in advance.
Bypassing the rafting tour, going to Yambo means a light trek where a guide becomes helpful. Nonetheless, the price of cost-cutting is a limited view of the lake due to thick foliage.
The Lake Calibato at the opposite side of the main road involves walking past a scenic quarry and shallow stream snaking through a forest.