El Niño dries up Lake Tabeo near Mt. Pulag

PHILIPPINE STAR/MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

BAGUIO CITY — Mountain climbers heading to the famous Mt. Pulag in Kabayan, Benguet will no longer see the pristine Lake Tabeo as it has dried up in this summer season scourged by El Niño.

Lake Tabeo is one of the four mystical lakes in Barangay Ballay in Kabayan, Benguet — the other three being Lake Inkuluh, Lake Latep-Ngapos and Lake Ambulalakaw.

According to the Kabayan Tourism Office (KTO), it is normal that the lakes experience low water level every summer season, but this is the first time that Lake Tabeo dried up completely.

Local tourism officials blamed the extreme heat and extended drought caused by El Niño for the lake’s current state.

“While there is no rain, the heat continually speeds up evaporation of the lake water,” the KTO said.

In spite of this, hikers still reportedly stop by the dried-up Lake Tabeo for souvenir photos on their way up to what is touted as the Filipino mountain hiker’s mecca in Luzon, Mt. Pulag. — Artemio A. Dumlao