The sun tried to shed its light on the lake despite the clouds.

          "To, ano nga ulit pangalan mo?"

          "Kenken po."

          "Ilang taon ka na? Nag-aaral ka pa?"

          "Thirteen po. Opo. Grade seven."

          "Nag-aalaga kayo ng tilapia diba?"


          "Sa palengke nyo dinadala?"

          "Hindi po, dyan lang sa Punta Isla."

          Our conversation went this way as the wooden boat traversed the placid waters of Lake Sebu. I asked a lot of questions and he answered all of them shyly, blurting few words each time. I was thankful that he agreed to let me ride his boat to go to the part of the lake where water lilies are full abloom. 

Kenken's an early riser. He was already on the lake before I got there.
          It was actually yesterday when I saw Kenken on his boat with his little sister tending on fish pens that made me ask him if he could let me ride with him too in the morning to watch the rising sun on the lake. Without any hesitation, he agreed. He just told me to be on the lake shore on the other side of Punta Isla by morning.

          I woke up at around five-thirty. I rushed outside to check if the sun already rose. It was cloudy. A thin blanket of mist is visible around the lake. I went back inside our room to get my jacket and proceeded to the place where I'll be meeting Kenken. He was tending their fish pen again. Few minutes later he prepared his boat and rowed toward where I was standing.

The boat's a 'lil bit shaky. Or it's just me?
          "Hindi naman tayo lulubog dito no?" I asked Kenken when I boarded his wooden boat. I tried to maintain my balance. As far as I could remember, the boat I boarded last time, capsized. 

          He answered me with a chuckle and said that he know how to swim anyway. He then started to row and we went past fish pens and few huts near the lake. I found out that T'boli natives, like Kenken are living around the lake. Some of them are raising tilapia for a living.

Fishes love lilies. Men love fishes.
          We waited for the sunrise. Unfortunately, the clouds seemed to grow darker minute by minute. I was not able to catch the sun rise by the lake. The sun appeared only later as a faint ball of yellow sphere overhead.

          I was lucky enough though, to witness the blooming water lilies. It is said that they open their flowers on certain time of the day. Perhaps it was the reason why I only saw buds yesterday; since when I first arrived here, I was hoping to see water lilies in their most beautiful state.

These egrets sure know that food is abundant in the lake.
          After few minutes of picture taking, I told Kenken that we need to return back to the resort. The sky was showing that rain is imminent. He rowed steadily, steering the boat toward the direction of Punta Isla. I found it amazing that at that age, he is already skilled as boatman. His parents seemed to rely on him too to tend their fish pen. His actions showed that he knows by heart the way of life in the lake.

          As we get near the lake shore, I gave him a hundred-peso bill. 

          "Salamat Kenken ha?"

          "Salamat din po dito kuya."

          "Walang anuman. Sana makabalik ulit ako dito sa Lake Sebu. At salamat ulit ng marami. Mag- aral ka ng mabuti ha?"

          "Opo. Mag-aaral po ako ng mabuti."

          I get off the wooden boat and Kenken smiled while rowing away from the resort. I just waved my hand as he went past the water lilies. He is such a nice boy, I thought. I could only wish the best for him and his family. 

          I stood for few minutes to watch the lake, the mountain ranges, the fish pens and the water lilies before I go back to our room. I couldn't help but reflect on the simplicity. The beauty. The peaceful aura. As I turn my back from the lake, I smiled. I will definitely return here sometime in the future.

Water lilies at their most beautiful state.