Sablayan | Libuao Lake, one of the cleanest inland body of water in the Philippines

Libao Lake is located inside the 24 hectares Siburan forest parks and the Sablayan prison Farm in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. The Libao is derived from the local tribe word of Mangyan “Libwa”, or the white lotus, that typically grown in the lake waters. Lake helps to produce local (fish) harvests and another source of livelihood to the prison community. Fish fences are restricted in order to retain the natural beauty, in fact, this lake is considered as the cleanest inland body of lake water in the country. 

Reaching Libao Lake is not too difficult; it is just 27 kilometers drive from downtown Sablayan passing Mindoro west coast road,  and; 72 kilometers from Occidental Mindoro’s commercial center of San Jose. The Road is mostly concreted though some part having a touch of reconstructions, well, it is really amazing that national roads in the province get a lot of improvements to compare to my younger days which really challenging for the travelers to get around places to places.   

Put this lake in your bucket lists as one of the interesting side trips once you visit a wonderful destination in Sablayan like; the APO Reef – the 2nd largest contagious reef in the World, Sablayan Zipline – the longest Island to Island Zipline in the World, the Pandan Island Grande and many more. There are activities available inside the lake park like fishing, canoeing, but the most memorable experience that should not be missed is to have lunch at the cottage in the middle of the lake; then, food is served in boodle style. Other interesting activities that can only be experienced in this place is to encounter prisoners living with their family outside of their cell. Having an interaction with them really gives inspiration to me.

At the Lake, you will notice the large trees in the mountain; the Siburan forest, which considered as the largest remaining old-growth forest in the province. I suggest having extra time to explore the protected forest to closely overlook the beauty of natures, do bird watching and hiking at the top to see the best scenery of the penal farm.

Airline flights are available from Manila and Clark bound for San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. From the San Jose Airport, a short tricycle ride going to the Terminal, for Group; you can hire a Van going to Libao Lake. Amount hired depends on how you deal with but most of the time, the operator offers a two-way trip rides. For backpackers, catch up a Bus or Van bound for Sablayan, Mamburao or Abra De Ilog, then, get off to Colonia or Sablayan  Penal Colony Intersection. From Intersection, Hire a motorcycle going Libao Lake.

Another way to reach Libao Lake is to reach Sablayan via Batangas City port, just get on to RORO ship bound for Abra De Ilog. Then, Catch up a bus or Van bound for San Jose. Ask your driver to drop you off to Colonia or Sablayan  Penal Colony Intersection, around 112 kilometers ride or estimated more than three (3) hour commuter ride from Abra De Ilog; concrete roads, no traffic.  Hire a motorcycle from the Intersection to reach Libao Lake.

If you estimate to reach Libao Lake at afternoon, I suggest staying first at downtown Sablayan. It is close to 5:00 in the afternoon. Transportation return to National Road is also a challenge. At first, contact the Local tourism office to arrange your permit,  entrance and environmental fee. Bringing food is allowed, but encourage tourist to be responsible for our waste, the local government implements proper waste management practices and an equivalent fine for the infringement.

For Group, you can rent a Van at the Bus terminal, they normally charge you around P 2,500.00 for round trip. For backpackers, Catch up a Bus at the Terminal bound for San Jose, then, get off to to Colonia or Sablayan  Penal Colony Intersection  Hire a motorcycle from the Intersection to reach the Libao Lake.

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