Bicol River News
The Triplets: The Magnificent Lakes in the Bicol River

The sloping plains of the Bicol Region in the Philippines is home to a triplets - the triple lake of Lake Buhi, Lake Bato and Lake Baao. These three lakes form part of the Rinconada, commonly called, the Bicol River system.

Lake Buhi is found in Buhi, Camarines Sur, Philippines. It has an area of 18 square kilometers and has an average depth of 8 meters. The lake lies in the valley formed by two ancient volcanoes, Mt. Asog and Mt. Malinao. It was created in 1641, due to an earthquake and the resulting landslide created a natural dam that blocked the flow of nearby streams. Another theory suggests that it was created by the eruption of Mt. Asog, which is now dormant. Meanwhile, the forest surrounding the lake is the home of at least 25 bird species.



Lake Bato is a freshwater lake and the 7th largest in the Philippines. It is located in the town of Bato, approximately 9 km southwest of Iriga City, Camarines Sur. The average depth is 8m, and the bottom is muddy clay. The beautiful lake was originally called "Caligno" by natives living around the area and a small settlement was founded on its shores during pre-Spanish times. The lake was later named into Lake Bato after the early settlements in the area, which became a town under a national government decree on February 15, 1758, when the Philippines was still under the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

Lake Baao is a shallow freshwater lake located in Baao, Camarines Sur. It expands into an estimated surface area of 177 hectares (1.77 km²) and reaches an average of only 1 meter deep. The lake is fed by local run-off and several small rivers, the most important of which is the Tabao River, which flows from Lake Buhi. During summer months (March–May), the surface area of the lake shrinks leaving only one third of its original size, about 60 ha (0.60 km2).

The three lakes are famous since they are the few bodies of water that contains the “sinarapan” (Mistichthys luzonensis) which is the world's smallest commercially harvested fish. “Sinarapan" literally means "caught by sarap" is threatened by extinction due to overfishing and other factors but efforts to conserve it are ongoing. Such is this specie's importance to the lake's ecosystem since it is endemic only to this region.

Furthermore, the water from the three lakes drains into the complex Bicol River system. The lakes provide livelihood and means of transport to its outlying communities. Such is there importance that these have become the origins of the early settlements in Camarines Sur. Thus, the life of the Bicol River comes and go around in these three mystic lakes.

Bicol River

The Bicol River is the eighth largest river in the Philippines in terms of drainage basin size with an estimated catchment area of 3,770 km²

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