Lake Sebu. Lake in Mindanao, Philippines

Lake Sebu

Lake in Mindanao, Philippines

Lake Sebu Photo © sarah

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Lake Sebu

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Lake Sebu is the home of the Tboli tribe, known for their seven remarkable waterfalls. All of the waterfalls have adapted Tboli names, Hikong Alo (passage), Hikong Bente (immensurable), Hikong B’lebel (Zigzag), Hikong K’Fo-I (wild flower), Hikong ukol (short), and Hikong Tonok (Soil).

The Tboli people (Wikipedia
	Article) believe the story that a beautiful princess once came to their land. The princess met a mythical frog who asked her to leave the region. The princess got angry, so the frog opened a big lotus flower. It caused a glut of water and flooded the entire town. The princess’s brother in heaven witnessed everything. He dropped a leaf that formed a gigantic land where his sister could seek refuge and this is the reason why the lake is divided into three parts.

The name ‘Lake Sebu’ does not just refer to the most visited falls in the place; it’s the name of the entire town as well. Sebu is the biggest followed by Seloton and Lahit.


The datus of T’boli calls Lake Sebu an 'evangelical municipality', where most of the missionary attempts to spread the faith of Christianity. The municipality also serves as the “summer capital of South Philippines” (Southwest of Cotabato). Lake Sebu is an indigenous cultural community; a barter system was already a long practice in South Cotabato in order to obtain goods.

Most of the locals living in this area were called Tagabili, or Tboli, and Malayan. At the time of Mohammed, only Malayan was converted to Islam. For a long time, Lake Sebu remains independent, but in the term of President Manuel Quezon, the second president of the Philippines, Mindanao became the “Land of promise." It became a site for settlement projects.

General Paulino Santos is the head of the first settlers in Mindanao, but this had a great effect on Tboli. Because the land is very rich, abundant, and huge, many were interested to carry out mining and logging activities in the area. Lake Sebu was placed under one of the political, geographical issues, in this reason they appointed leaders to rule their barangay (Wikipedia Article). As the time passes, the upland area became the town of Tboli and the barangay of Lake Sebu was declared as a municipality.

What Makes it Unique?

There are many reasons why Lake Sebu is a unique attraction. It's a very nice place to unwind and relax. The ambiance in the area is different to that of city life as it is very peaceful, clean, and abundant. One thing that is captivating is the traditional and cultural doings. Even in this generation, traditions are never forgotten.

Tboli is known for their T’nalak weave. Women weavers (dream weavers) making designs of cloth based on their dreams from Abaca fiber. Tboli also plays musical instruments. They entertain guests by dancing and singing.


Aside from their local show, there are a lot of things you will enjoy doing in Lake Sebu. If you are extremely adventurous, you can try the highest “zip line” in Southeast Asia (height of 600 feet and 0.8 miles). In order to travel from the 1st to the 5th fall, you will use a harness, choose the position you want whether it’s seated with leg's hanging out or the superman position. This is a very great way to overcome your fear. It is really scary and terrifying at first but when you accomplish the challenge, you will surely wish to do it once more.

You can also tour around Lake Sebu through hiking and trekking while visiting the other falls. Ignore your tiredness and experience the 7 falls and the lakes view.

On the other hand, visit the Tboli’s Museum. They have their own pottery, Tboli dresses for men and women, or try playing their Kintang (T’boli musical instrument). Moreover, visit the Gono Kem Bo-I “Princess House” and see the “T’nonggong” (Deer Skin Drum).
Guests can’t leave Lake Sebu without trying the banca ride. Tour around the lake to see the lotus flowers and catch hundreds of Tilapia Fish. You can try kayaking and tour the three lakes.

After a very tiring activity, rest and relax in their floating restaurant, have your lunch or breakfast with their authentic tilapia dish and don’t forget to taste their famous “Chicharon Tilapia."

Touring around Lake Sebu would take two days. You can also travel via motorcycle to get there. While traveling, you can stop by the roadside and take a picture of Tboli hut houses and check out their authentic crafts. Most of them are approachable, and they can even sometimes play a musical instrument for entertainment or to kill time. Most of T’boli wears traditional attire, you can also wear one and take a picture of you with them.

Getting There

Travelliong to Lake Sebu would be quite a long trip; you need to travel via plane from General Santos City. From Gensan Airport, you need to get to “Bulaong” bus station and ride a bus via Koronadal, specifically Marbel (traveling would be 1-2 hours and the fare would be ₱75 ($1.65)- ₱85 ($1.87)). From Marbel, take another bus to Surallah (travel for 20 to 45-minute, fares can cost between ₱24 ($0.53) to ₱27 ($0.59)). Then ride a van or a jeep to Lake Sebu (for a one hour, fare would cost ₱35 ($0.77)).

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Author: rochemyrtle. Last updated: Aug 04, 2014

Pictures of Lake Sebu

Lake Sebu
Lake Sebu. Photo by Twelve Inches Behind


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