Lake Sebu’s Secret Garden

At the end of the paved highway, hidden from the main thoroughfare, nestles the Balben Family Cove. Protected with a lush green cover that opens delicately to reveal a quiet resting place.

Attic rooms to accommodate more

Attic rooms to accommodate more

Most of our family reunions were spent here since the 90s. The flowers were in full bloom last January with the Royal Palm revealing its majestic beauty at the crack of dawn. The shell protecting the flower fell after its long incubation.

Flower of the Royal Palm

Flower of the Royal Palm

We have seen several beautiful trees mature in the property from our first gathering in 1996. Digital cameras were not yet popular and we had to search for decade old photos to appreciate the development of the precious haven. Roads have not been paved and during rainy season we had to hire a big boat to ferry us across the lake. Many times, we have groped in the moonlit shelter looking for our things. Stories would fill the night until the gas lamps would falter and signal us to retire. Those were the days we sharpened our senses adapting to our natural environment.

Paths lead to different areas to enjoy the view, the plants and some birds

Paths lead to different areas to enjoy the view, the plants and some birds

It was only in 2005 when electricity was provided to the far end of Bakdulong, thus, reaching the Cove. From 3 small bamboo houses, the Cove can now accommodate up to 60 guests.  All cottages are well lit and provided with a fan. However, we hardly turn the fan on because of the cool weather by the lake. Decembers used to be chilly, but as we all know the climate’s changing everywhere. And so is the lake.

Summer vacations wouldn’t be complete without wandering across the lake using the local boat. One could wonder at the simplicity of living by the lake in a boat ride. The long narrow boat silently glides through the glistening water as the lead boatman shoves the paddle deep into the lake. Carved out of water-resilient wood, the boat carries up to 4 adults. My cousins and I, supervised by a grownup, would row toward and across the bigger lake for market errands. The boat is an alternative to the skylab. The skylab is an extended motorcycle carrying up to 5 adults, at times with baggage carried at their sides.

Water lily covered lake

Water lily covered lake

However, as the smaller lake where the Cove is nested has been covered with lilies, the water is no longer navigable. The local government is raising funds to clear the water. Only the smaller lake in the Bakdulong area has been closed to keep the growth from reaching and infiltrating the big lake.

The Family Cove’s owners and staff are warm and polite and will consider special requests for dining. Fresh Tilapia is available all year round in the Cove’s pen. During Durian season, we have Durian ice cream for dessert. Ingredients for salads and teas are homegrown organically. Though, we enjoy the cool spring water for bathing, guests may request hot water for a warmer bath. Hot and cold water is always provided near the main hall.

Multi Function Hall

Multi Function Hall

Down from the main hall, paths lead to a smaller cottage beside the lake. Its nice to hold intimate meetings or simply lounge and idly watch small birds skip around for nesting materials. Another floating cottage used to be a favorite resting place, but time and season has aged it and was removed for guests’ safety.

Stairway leading to more spaces for meditation and intimate moments

Stairway leading to more spaces for meditation and intimate moments

Lakeview by the Main Hall

Lakeview by the Main Hall

The Cove is home to unique and valuable plants from anthuriums to Royal and Red Palms. More tropical plants thrive at the sloping garden at the back of the cottages. Cuttings are sold for enthusiasts and collectors. At the Cove’s craft corner can be found wovencraft of T’boli and Obo women: a collection of materials made of t’nalak, ticog, rattan and bamboo. Individually handcrafted so you can appreciate the unique patterns and forms. Customized orders are encouraged to be given a lead time of atleast 2 weeks.

The gracious landlady Mrs Marilyn Suedad can be reached at +63-9165126256.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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~ by theorangehut on November 1, 2008.

One Response to “Lake Sebu’s Secret Garden”

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