Sampaloc Lake is often described as the largest and the most beautiful lake of the seven lakes in San Pablo in the province of Laguna.
I did not pass up the chance to shoot sunrise there when I got an invite from one of my friends. I've seen countless photos of the lake, mostly taken at sunrise, with lotus flowers in the foreground and the mysterious Mt. Banahaw in the background. The lake always seems so serene.
We left Manila at 2AM and was there in San Pablo well before dawn. Little did I know that the lake was in fact right smack in the middle of San Pablo. In fact its just behind the city hall.
The lake was not very large, just about 1.2 kilometers in diameter at its widest. Its actually an inactive volcanic maar, a shallow volcanic crater, that got filled with water overtime.
Things around the lake began to stir as the first rays of the day broke through low lying clouds in the east. I could see small fishpens, not very many, and I suspect fishing in this lake in not really a big industry. The lake was too small, but relatively clean.
A narrow cemented road winds around the lake and has become quite popular with joggers and bikers. A small section of the lake side was made into some sort of park, with tables and chairs. It was a good place to watch the sun rise.
I turned my attention to the activities in the lake. I noticed that instead of canoes (in some lakes dugout canoes are common) and bangka, fisher-folks here prefer bamboo rafts.
The western side of the lake is where most of the fish pens are. I read that most of the pens contain tilapia, but carp and bangus are also farmed here, but maybe not in great quantities. The lake also yields several species of shrimps.
As I watched the morning flurry, I took a mental note of trying out the local delicacies - maybe fresh catch from the lake (there are small restaurants by the lake shore) if I have the chance on the next visit.
Before we left I noticed a man fishing on a canoe with a young girl, probably his daughter. It is in places like this where you can see that nature does provides, if one can wake up early.
Sampaloc Lake, like the rest of the Seven Lakes of San Pablo, are being threatened by human exploitation. It is not difficult to see that soon more and more fish cages will cover the lake. The lake is not even that deep, just 20 meters on the average, and the nitrogen levels can easily spike up, no thanks to excess fish feeds. Commercial structures near the lake side also contributes to garbage in the lake.