One of the prime ecotourism destinations in the Philippines is Lake Sebu located in the municipality of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato and within the Allah Valley region. With the efforts of the Department of Tourism and the Local Government, Lake Sebu has invited thousands of visitors every year.
It is a natural lake recognized as one of the country’s most important watersheds. The villages around the lake have been converted into an independent municipality named after the Lake’s name with its former village name as Surallah.
Considered as one of the most important supplies of water for irrigation in the provinces of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, Lake Sebu has played a major role in the lives of the indigenous T’bolis. The DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) have recognized the claims of the T’boli and Ubo tribes that the Lake Sebu and its surroundings are under their ancestral domain.
The economy in Lake Sebu is agriculture and aquaculture. Tilapia fishes grown and protected in large fish cages floating in the lake and sold to nearby municipalities are the main source of income. Agriculture cultivated in half of the land surrounding the lake is one of the ways folks earn.
The T’bolis, considered as one of the major tribes is known for their weaving skills and brassware production as well as fishing skills. Minor tribes are Tirurays, Ubos and Manobos. The rest of the populations are made of Ilonggos, Bicolanos and Ilocanos.
The tranquil Lake Sebu, slightly similar to Lake Danao in Camotes, is surrounded by rolling hills and mountains covered with thick rain forest. The total area of the lake is 891.38 square kilometers, with an elevation of approximately 1000 m.
Wildlife such as Philippine Deer (locally known as “usa”) and Wild Boar (locally known as “baboy ihalas”) which are considered endangered live around the lake. This is also the natural habitat to egrets, kingfishers, swallows, herons, Philippine cockatoos and kites.
The Philippine government proclaimed a 924.50 square kilometers wide area as a protected landscape. On the southeastern watershed of the lake, a bamboo plantation was established.
Swimming in Lake Sebu, playing T’Boli music and dancing are some of the folks’ pastime activities. And because of the growing number of domestic and foreign visitors in Lake Sebu, tourism and hospitality services have been developed to cater the needs of the tourists.
How to get to Lake Sebu
A flight from Manila to General Santos takes almost 2 hours and flights coming from Cebu take 1 hour. Take a trip from General Santos to Surrallah. Just a little farther from the poblacion of Surallah is a junction to the left going to the town of T’boli and a little farther is another junction to the left going to Lake Sebu.
A trip from General Santos City to Lake Sebu takes only 1 hour to 1.5 hours. It used to take longer than 4 hours due to the rocky and muddy road. This road concreting efforts by the government has significantly improved the trade and commerce of Lake Sebu and nearby municipalities.