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Laguna de Bay

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Title: Laguna de Bay  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Cabuyao, Pasig River, Calamba, Laguna, Taguig, Muntinlupa
Collection: Crater Lakes, Laguna De Bay, Lakes of the Philippines, Landforms of Metro Manila, Volcanic Calderas of Asia
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Laguna de Bay

Laguna de Bay
Landsat photo
Location CALABARZON and Metro Manila
Type Caldera lake (theorized)/ Tectonic lake
Primary inflows 21 tributaries
Primary outflows Pasig River (via Napindan Channel)
Basin countries Philippines
Max. length 47.3 km (29.4 mi) (E-W)
Max. width 40.5 km (25.2 mi) (N-S)
Surface area 911-949 km² (352-366 sq mi)
Average depth 2.8 m (9 ft 2 in)
Max. depth 20 m (66 ft) (Diablo pass)
Shore length1 220 km (140 mi)
Surface elevation less 2 m (6 ft 7 in)
Islands 7 - Talim, Calamba (Wonder), Cielito Lindo, Malahi, Bonga, Two unknown (between Malahi and Bonga)[1]
Settlements Metropolitan Manila and the Provinces of Laguna and Rizal
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Laguna de Baý (Filipino: Lawa ng Laguna, Lawa ng Baé; English: Lake of Laguna, Lake of Baý) is the largest lake in the Philippines located east of Metro Manila between the provinces of Laguna to the south and Rizal to the north. The freshwater lake has a surface area of 911–949 km² (352-366 sq mi), with an average depth of about 2.8 metres (9 ft 2 in) and an elevation of about 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) above sea level. The lake is shaped like a stylized 'W', with two peninsulas jutting out from the northern shore. Between these peninsulas, the middle lobe fills the large volcanic Laguna Caldera. In the middle of the lake is the large island of Talim, which falls under the jurisdiction of the towns of Binangonan and Cardona in Rizal province.

The lake is one of the primary sources of freshwater fish in the country. Its water drains to Manila Bay via the Pasig River.


  • Etymology 1
  • Geography 2
  • Uses 3
  • Environmental issues 4
  • Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike 5
  • Protection and conservation of Laguna de Bay 6
    • The Environmental User Fee System 6.1
  • Integrated Coastal Ecosystem Conservation and Adaptive Management 7
  • Cultural impact 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Sources 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13


The Laguna de Bay surrounded by the province of Laguna and Rizal and Metro Manila on the north-west; the town of Bay highlighted.

Laguna de Bay means "Lake of [the town of] Bay" for the lakeshore town of Bay (pronounced as "Bä'ï"), the former provincial capital of Laguna province.[2] Alternate spellings of the town's name include "Bae" or "Ba-i", and in the early colonial times, "Bayi" or "Vahi". Thus, the lake is sometimes spelled as "Laguna de Bae" or "Laguna de Ba-i", mostly by the locals.[2] The town's name is believed to have come from the Tagalog word for "settlement" (bahayan), and is related to the words for "house" (bahay), "shore" (baybayin), and "boundary" (baybay), among others. The introduction of the English language during the American occupation of the Philippines, elicited confusion as the English word "bay", referring to another body of water, was mistakenly substituted to the town name that led to its mispronunciation.[2] However, the word "Bay" in Laguna de Bay has always referred to the town.[3]

The Spanish word Laguna refers to not just lagoons but also for freshwater lakes, aside from lago.[4] Some examples of the worldwide usage of laguna for lakes include Laguna Chicabal in Guatemala, Laguna de Gallocanta in Spain, Laguna Catemaco in Mexico and Laguna de Leche, the largest lake in Cuba. The lake's alternate name, "Laguna Lake", refers to the Province of Laguna, the province at the southern shore of the lake. (Laguna province, though, was named because of the large lake and was originally called La Laguna till the early 20th century.[5])

In the pre-Hispanic era, the lake was known as "Puliran" (Laguna Copperplate Inscription. 900 AD), and later by "Pulilan" (Vocabulario de Lengua Tagala.1613. Pila, Laguna).

Laguna Caldera
Map of the Philippines showing the Province of Laguna in the Calabarzon Area.

Currently, the lake is often incorrectly called "Laguna Bay," including in government websites. [2]


The middle part of Laguna de Bay between Mount Sembrano and Talim Island, is the Laguna Caldera believed to have been formed by two major volcanic eruptions, around 1 million and 27,000-29,000 years ago. Remnants of its volcanic history are shown by the presence of a maar at the southern end of Talim Island and a solfataric field in Jala Jala.[6]

Laguna de Bay is a large shallow freshwater body in the heart of Luzon Island with an aggregate area of about 911 km2 (352 sq mi) and a shoreline of 220 km (140 mi).[7] It is considered to be the third largest inland body of water in Southeast Asia after Tonle Sap in Cambodia and Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia. Laguna de Bay is bordered by the province of Laguna in the east, west and southwest, the province of Rizal in the north to northeast, and Metropolitan Manila in the northwest. The lake has an average depth of 2.8 metres (9 ft 2 in) and its excess water is discharged through the Pasig River.[8][9]

The lake is fed by 45,000 km2 (17,000 sq mi) of catchment areas and its 21 major tributaries. Among these are the Pagsanjan River which is the source of 35% of the Lake's water, the Santa Cruz River which is the source of 15% of the Lake's water, the Balanak River, the Marikina River, the Mangangate River, the Tunasan River, the San Pedro River, the Cabuyao River, the San Cristobal River, the San Juan River, the Bay, Calo and Maitem rivers in Bay, the Molawin, Dampalit and Pele rivers in Los Baños, the Pangil River, the Tanay River, the Morong River, the Siniloan River and the Sapang Baho River.[7] [10]


The lake is a multipurpose resource. In order to reduce the flooding in Manila along the Pasig River, during heavy rains, the peak water flows of the Marikina River are diverted via the Manggahan Floodway to Laguna de Bay, which serves as a temporary reservoir. In case the water level on the lake is higher than the Marikina River, the flow on the floodway is reversed, both Marikina River and the lake drain through Pasig River to Manila Bay.[11]

The lake has been used as a navigation lane for passenger boats since the Spanish colonial era. It is also used as a source of water for the Kalayaan Pumped-Storage Hydroelectric Project in Kalayaan, Laguna. Other uses include fishery, aquaculture, recreation, food support for the growing duck industry, irrigation and a "virtual" cistern for domestic, agricultural, and industrial effluents.[8] Because of its importance in the development of the Laguna de Bay Region, unlike other lakes in the country, its water quality and general condition are closely monitored.[12] This important water resource has been greatly affected by development pressures like population growth, rapid industrialization, and resources allocation.[13]

Viewed from Bay, Laguna.

Environmental issues

Because of the problems facing and threatening the potential of the lake, then President Ferdinand Marcos signed into law Republic Act (RA) 4850 in 1966 creating the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), the main agency tasked to oversee the programs that aimed to develop and protect Laguna de Bay.[14] Though it started as a mere quasi-government agency with regulatory and proprietary functions, its charter was strengthened by Presidential Decree (PD) 817 in 1975 and by Executive Order (EO) 927 in 1983 to include environmental protection and jurisdiction over the surface waters of the lake basin. In 1993, by virtue of the devolution, the administrative supervision of the LLDA was transferred to the DENR by EO 149.[15]

Government data showed that about 60% of the estimated 8.4 million people residing in the Laguna de Bay Region discharge their solid and liquid wastes indirectly to the lake through its tributaries. A large percentage of these wastes are mainly agricultural while the rest are either domestic or industrial[16] According to DENR (1997), domestic and industrial wastes contribute almost equally at 30% each. Meanwhile, agricultural wastes take up the remaining 40%. In a recent sensitivity waste load model ran by the Laguna Lake Development Authority's (LLDA) Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) division, it revealed that 70% of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) loadings came from households, 19% from industries, and 11% came from land run-off or erosion (LLDA, 2005).

As far as industries and factories are concerned, there are about 1,481 and increase is expected.[9] Of the said figure, about 695 have wastewater treatment facilities. Despite this, the lake is absorbing huge amounts of pollution from these industries in the forms of discharges of industrial cooling water, toxic spills from barges and transport operations, and hazardous chemicals like lead, mercury, aluminum and cyanide.[17] Based from the said figure, 65% are classified as “pollutive” industries.

The hastened agricultural modernization throughout the region took its toll on the lake. This paved the way for massive and intensified use of chemical based fertilizers and pesticides whose residues eventually find their way to the lake basin. These chemicals induce rapid algal growth in the area that depleted oxygen levels in the water. Hence, oxygen available to the lake is being used up thereby depleting the available oxygen for the fish, causing massive fish kills.[18] While there are several native fish species in the lake, none are endemic.[19]

As far as domestic wastes are concerned, around 10% of the 4,100 metric tons of waste generated by residents of Metro Manila are dumped into the lake. As reported by the now defunct Metropolitan Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), only 15% of the residents in the area have an effective waste disposal system. Moreover, around 85% of the families living along the shoreline do not have toilets.[13][18]

On January 29, 2008, the Mamamayan Para sa Pagpapanatili ng Pagpapaunlad ng Lawa ng Laguna (Mapagpala) accused the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) of the deterioration of Laguna de Bay due to multiplication of fish pens beyond the allowable limit.[20]

Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike

People of Los Baños in the Laguna de Bay area, south of Manila, were affected in the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana. Part of the image collection of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike

The Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike is a proposed expressway that will start from the coastal area of Laguna de Bay from Taguig in Metro Manila to Calamba and Los Baños in Laguna.The project aims to provide a high-standard highway that will speed up traffic between the southern part of Metro Manila and Laguna, as well as a dike that would mitigate flooding in the western coastal communities along Laguna Lake.

Protection and conservation of Laguna de Bay

According to the Clean Water Act of 2004, the DENR (through the LLDA) shall implement a wastewater charge system in all management areas including the Laguna Lake region and Regional Industrial Centers through the collection of wastewater charges/fees. The system shall be established on the basis of payment to the government for discharging wastewater into the water bodies. Wastewater charges shall be established taking into consideration the following: a) to provide strong economic inducement for polluters to modify their production or management processes or to invest in pollution control technology in order to reduce the amount of water pollutants generated; b) to cover the cost of administering water quality management or improvement programs, including the cost of administering the discharge permitting and water pollution charge system; c) reflect damages caused by water pollution on the surrounding environment, including the cost of rehabilitation; d) type of pollutant; e) classification of the receiving water body; and f) other special attributes of the water body.[21]

The technical aspect regarding the quality of wastewater is given in DENR Administrative Order 1990-35. The order defines the critical water parameters’ value versus the classification of the body of water (e.g., lake or river). Discharge permits are issued by the LLDA only if the wastewater being discharged complied with the said order.[22]

The Environmental User Fee System

To realize the objectives of the creation of LLDA, the agency implemented policies to curb the possibility of stressing the lake’s assimilative capacity. The most recent policy was the Environmental User Fee System (EUFS). The EUFS was implemented by virtue of LLDA Board Resolution 22 in 1996. The objective of the policy was to “…(reduce) the pollution loading in to the Laguna de Bay by enjoining all discharges of liquid wastes to internalize the cost of environmental degradation…”. Formally, the said board resolution aptly defined the EUFS as a “market–based” policy instrument aimed at reducing the pollution loading in the lake. As such, companies found to have unusually high concentration of pollutants in their emissions, need to pay fines or lake “user–fees”.

The system encourages companies to invest in and operate pollution prevention and/or abatement systems in their establishment. Applying the "polluter pays principle", the system effects direct accountability for damage inflicted on the integrity of the Laguna de Bay region thereby encouraging individuals and business establishments to internalize into their decision-making process the environmental impacts of their day-to-day activities. The EUFS covers all enterprises in the administrative jurisdiction of LLDA that discharge wastewater in the Laguna de Bay system. These include commercial and industrial establishments; agro-based industries and establishments (such as swine farms and slaughterhouses); clustered dwellings (i.e., residential subdivisions); and domestic households[23]

Under the EUFS, a firm is required to secure a discharge permit which is renewed annually at the LLDA. The discharge permit effectively allows the firm to discharge its wastewater to the lake or through its main tributaries. The discharge permit gives the establishment a legal right to dispose their waste water in the Laguna de Bay region. Wastewater is basically sewage, storm water, and water used around the community, including firms.

Domestic wastewater includes black water, or wastewater from toilets, and gray water, which is wastewater from all sources except toilets. Black water and gray water have different characteristics, but both contain pollutants and disease-causing agents that require monitoring. Nondomestic wastewater is generated by offices, businesses, department stores, restaurants, schools, hospitals, farms, manufacturers, and other commercial, industrial, and institutional entities. Storm water is a nonresidential source and carries trash and other pollutants from streets, as well as pesticides and fertilizers from yards and fields.[24]

The EUF is paid for the amount of pollution that is discharged into the tributary rivers in the Laguna de Bay region. It is composed of a fixed fee and a variable fee. The fixed fee covers the administrative cost implementing the Environmental Users Fee System and is based on the volume of wastewater that is discharged.

According to LLDA Board Resolution 33, as amended, the fixed fee is different for those firms that discharge wastewater without or with heavy metals.

Wastewater without heavy metals:

Fee Volume of Wastewater Discharge
PhP 24,000 More than 150 m3 per day
PhP 16,000 Between 30 and 150 m3 per day
PhP 8,000 Less than 30 m3 per day

Wastewater with heavy metals:

Fee Volume of Wastewater Discharge
PhP 12,000 Less than 150 m3 per day
PhP 24,000 More than 150 m3 per day

The fixed fee also depends on the volume of wastewater discharged. For a firm that discharges wastewater without heavy metals, the fee is PhP 24,000 if the discharge is more than 150 m3 per day, PhP 16,000 if the discharge is between 30 to 150 m3 per day, and PhP 8,000 if the discharge volume is less than 30 m3 per day. Those firms that discharge wastewater with heavy metals pay higher fixed fees. The fee is PhP 12,000 for a firm that discharge less than 150 m3 of wastewater with heavy metals per day and PhP 24,000 if the discharge is more than 150 m3 per day.

The variable fee is calculated with the reference to the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5) loading as well as to the volume and concentration of the wastewater being discharged. According to the same policy, the variable fees is PhP 30 per kilogram of total BOD5 when the BOD5 concentration is less than 50 milligrams per liter and PhP 30 per kilogram of total BOD5 when the BOD5 concentration is greater than 50 milligrams per liter.

Integrated Coastal Ecosystem Conservation and Adaptive Management

CECAM is a 5-year research cooperation between Japanese and Filipino scientists. Seven monitoring instruments are being used as part of the Continuous and Comprehensive Monitoring System (CCMS) provided by the Japanese government.[25]

Cultural impact

Laguna de Bay has had a significant impact on the cultures of the communities that grew up around its shores, ranging from folk medicine to architecture. For example, the traditional cure for a child constantly experiencing nose bleed in Victoria, Laguna is to have the child submerge his or her head in the lake water at daybreak.[26] When nipa huts were more common, huts made in the lake area were constructed out of bamboo that would first be cured in the waters of Laguna de Bay.[27] Some experts on the evolution of local mythologies suggest that the legend of Mariang Makiling may have started out as that of the Lady (Ba'i) of Laguna de Bay, before the legend was transmuted to Mount Makiling.[28]

See also


  1. ^ U.S. Army corps of Engineers (1954). "Manila (topographical map)". University of Texas in Austin Library. Retrieved on 2014-08-03.
  2. ^ a b c Sheniak, David; Feleo, Anita (2002), "Rizal and Laguna: Lakeside Sister Provinces (Coastal Towns of Rizal and Metro Manila)", in Alejandro, Reynaldo Gamboa, Laguna de Bay: The Living Lake, Unilever Philippines,  
  3. ^ Odal-Devora, Grace P. (2002), "'Bae' or 'Bai': The Lady of the Lake", in Alejandro, Reynaldo Gamboa, Laguna de Bay: The Living Lake, Unilever Philippines,  
  4. ^ "Laguna". Spanish Dict. Retrieved on 2012-10-18.
  5. ^ U.S. Bureau of Census (1905). "Census of the Philippine Islands, 1903, Vol. II". Government Printing Office, Washington.
  6. ^ "Laguna de Bay".  
  7. ^ a b LLDA 1995, p. 4.
  8. ^ a b Gonzales, E. (1987). "A socio economics geography (1961 – 85) of the Laguna lake resources and its implications to aquatic resources management and development of the Philippine islands" Dissertation. Cambridge University, England, United Kingdom
  9. ^ a b Guerrero, R. & Calpe, A. T. (1998). "Water resources management : A global priority". National Academy of Science and Technology, Manila, Philippines
  10. ^ Nepomuceno, Dolora N. (2005-02-15). "The Laguna de Bay and Its Tributaries Water Quality Problems, Issues and Responses" (PDF). The Second General Meeting Of the Network of Asian River Basin Organizations. Indonesia: Network of Asian River Basin Organizations. Retrieved 18 February 2007. 
  11. ^ LLDA 1995, pp. 4-6.
  12. ^ Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 1996
  13. ^ a b Batu, M. (1996) Factors affecting productivity of selected inland bodies of water in the Philippines: The case of the Laguna Lake 1986 to 1996. Undergraduate thesis. San Beda College, Manila.
  14. ^ "Republic Act no. 4850". Laguna Lake Development Authority. Retrieved on 2012-10-22.
  15. ^ LLDA 2009, p. 9.
  16. ^ DENR, 1997
  17. ^ Sly, 1984
  18. ^ a b Solidarity for People’s Power (1992) Laguna de bay: Racing against time. Pamphlet article. Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.
  19. ^ Santos-Borja, A., and D.N. Nepomuceno (2005). Laguna de Bay, Experiences and lessons learned brief, pp. in: 225-258 in: Lake Basin Management Initiative. Retrieved 13 November 2012
  20. ^ "Group blames LLDA for Laguna Lake’s deterioration". Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  21. ^ Department of Environment and Natural Resources (2005). "Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Clean Water Act of 2004 (Republic Act no. 9275)." DENR Website. Retrieved on 2012-10-20.
  22. ^ Department of Environment and Natural Resources (1990). Administrative Order No. 35, March 20, 1990 'Revised Effluent Regulations of 1990, Revising and Amending the Effluent Regulations of 1982'. DENR Website. Retrieved on 2012-10-20.
  23. ^ Laguna Lake Development Authority (2001) Annual financial report CY 2001. Pasig City, Metro Manila: Author
  24. ^ "Wastewater, 2005". Taylor, C, Yahner J., & Jones, D. Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  25. ^ "Why JICA is deploying sensors in Laguna Lake". abs-cbnnews. Retrieved 2015-04-21. 
  26. ^ Remi E. de Leon (2005). "Health Knowledge Processes and Flows in a Coastal Community in Victoria, Laguna Philippines; (Master's Thesis)". University of the Philippines Los Baños Graduate School. 
  27. ^ Morales, Izah (2008-09-22). "'"Being Filipino: Constructing a Modern-Day 'Bahay Kubo. Philippine Daily Inquirer. 
  28. ^ Odal-Devora, Grace P. (2002). ""Bae" or "Bai": The Lady of the Lake". In Alejandro, Reyndaldo Gamboa. Laguna de Bay: The Living Lake. Unilever Philippines.  


  • Laguna Lake Development Authority, LLDA (2009). "2009 Annual Report".
  • Laguna Lake Development Authority, LLDA (1995). "Laguna de Bay Master Plan - Final Report".

Further reading

  • Canonoy, F. V. (1997). Lake Laguna's environmental user fee system.
  • Laguna Lake Development Authority. "Frequently Asked Questions (archived 2007-06-08)".
  • McKitrick, R. (1999). A derivation of the marginal abatement cost curve.
  • National Statistical Coordination Board (1996). Estimation of fish biomass in Laguna de Bay based on primary productivity.

External links

  • Laguna Lake Development Authority
  • Department of Environment and Natural Resources
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