An NRCP study finds that Lake Lanao is ultra-oligotrophic, which implies that the water quality is pristine.

Dr. Fema M. Abamo, NRCP expert, shows the photo of Lake Lanao during her presentation at the virtual Regional Basic Research Caravan for Bicol region on January 20, 2021.

Scientists use ciliates — one-celled protozoan characterized by hairlike structures called cilia — to study and monitor the water quality of the lake. These protozoans are known to be bioindicators of organic pollution in freshwater ecosystem.

“A total of 52 morphological distinct ciliate species were accounted for three years, but we only classified across 47 genera,” says Dr. Fema M. Abamo, an NRCP expert from Mindanao State University (MSU) –Marawi Campus who is the project leader of the NRCP-funded study entitled Preliminary Inventory and Diversity of Ciliated Protozoans in Lake Lanao: Its Spatial and Temporal Variations and Its Bio-indication on Lake’s Water Quality.

Abamo found three genera with “cosmopolitan distribution,” namely: Vorticella, Tetrahymena, and Paramecium.

Two of the ciliates found in Lake Lanao.

This NRCP research study was done in the nearshore and the open water areas of the lake along Marawi City, Ramain, Balindong, Binidayan, and Taraka.

According to Abamo, another project leader of the program Lake Lanao for Sustainable Development Program, Dr. Carmelita G. Hansel, also reported similar results from her physico-chemical monitoring of the lake.

The Lake Lanao for Sustainable Development Program is rooting for stronger lake governance. It gears towards preservation of the pristine condition of the lake.


Dr. Abamo shares some photos of the sampling locations in Lake Lanao.

Recommendations for the preservation and conservation of Lake Lanao

Abamo and her team at MSU-Marawi Campus are currently collaborating with the local and provincial government, including non-government organizations, to create and implement stricter policies and ordinances that will protect the lake, such as: proper waste disposal, regulation of business establishments, and monitoring on waste water treatment and sewerage system.

The team recommended the establishment of Lake Lanao Development. It likewise proposed to include topics on conservation of natural resources, such as lakes, forests, and rivers, in the DepED curriculum. Abamo said that this will inculcate awareness, values, and stewardship of natural resources among young people.

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Lake Lanao “is the largest lake in Mindanao, the second largest in the Philippines and is considered as one of the 15 ancient lakes in the world.” It is located in the province of Lanao del Sur of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).


Lake Lanao’s regional relevance

The lake is a proclaimed watershed reserve by virtue of Proclamation No.871 issued on February 26, 1992 and is included in the initial components of the National Protected Areas System (NIPAS) governed under NIPAS Act of 1992 (Republic Act No. 7586). Not only as source of food, Lake Lanao also holds a regional relevance as it supplies about 70% of the electricity used by the people of Mindanao.

Abamo presented findings of their study in the virtual NRCP Regional Basic Research Caravan for Bicol region on January 21, 2021, in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology Regional Office V.

The Bicol Region is also a home of lakes such as Lake Buhi, Lake Bato and Lake Baao. These three lakes form part of the Rinconada, commonly called, the Bicol River system.