The Jewels of Leyte

As a Northener, the beauty of the Visayases has always captivated me. Its elusive beaches are bound to cure heaps of stress and the warmth of its people is certain to grow on any soul searcher.

In my first trip, I visited the renowned Kalanggaman Island, stayed in one of the region’s more rural places, Babatngon and toured the City of Tacloban.

Here’s how my travel went:

Day 1: Arrival in the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport
Upon arrival, we took the jeep costing us Php 13 and told the driver to drop us off at Save More where planned to do some grocery shopping since we were informed that no food and drinks were sold in our destination, Kalanggaman Island.

After shopping, we took the tricycle to Rexel Tours, a Van Company. They could be reached thru these numbers: 0915 584 1248 (Gleen) 0906 908 0824 (Reming) 0915 528 7815 (Aljon). We decided to rent the whole van instead of waiting for it to be full. It costed us Php 2,500, the regular rate is Php 153.50. It took us about 3 hours to get to Palompon, where we stayed the night.

We stayed at Juan Titang Beach Resort.

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I’d definitely recommend the place! Their overnight rates are cheap at Php 600 per person. They have friendly staff and even lent us some pots we used in the Island the next day. They are reached through this number:    0917 741 0259.

Day 2: Travel from Palompon to Kalanggaman

Upon checkout, we traveled via tricycle to the Palompon Eco-tourism Office.  Note that you have to book your visit earlier with them because they are observing a daily maximum capacity.  I’ve been told that as of March 28, the month of April has already been fully booked. They can be reached through this number: 0917 303 7267. 

They have the following entrance fees:

Regular Overnight Rate
International Tourist 500 750
Non-Palompon Tourist 150 225
Non-Palompon College Student 40 60
Non-Palompon High School Student 30 45
Non-Palompon Elem. Pupil 20 30
Non-Palompon Senior 120 180

Note that there are no hotels and restaurants on the island. Bring your tents and food with you. Tents could also be rented at the center.

Also, private pump boats:

3000 Below 15pax
3500 Below 25pax
4000 Below 30pax

You may contact our boatman, Rudel 0908 263 9933.

After more than an hour of travel by boat, we were greeted by the pristine waters and the white sand bar of the Island. It was majestic. I couldn’t fathom how a strip of white sand with a bunch of coconut trees in the middle of nowhere be an earthly paradise for people like me.

Kalanggaman gets its name for the local dialect, Langgam, meaning “bird” because of its aerial view.   It is famous for its sandbar which stretches for lo and behold.

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Day 3: Travel back to Tacloban

We decided to check into Paru-parong Bukid in Babatngon.  This place is like a forest! Although it’s a bit far from the city (about an hour). We paid our driver an additional Php 1,000 so all in all, our fare was Php 3,500. It’s perfect for nature lovers. Here’s their number -0921 739 7088. Their room rates start at Php 2,900 good for 4 people, additional Php 750 for each person, that’s including breakfast. If you’re interested, they also offer kubo huts in which you can stay in.

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It’s a sprawling 30-hectare nature conservation center.  They serve organic meals from vegetables they plant themselves.  They have a butterfly sanctuary and also offer kayaking.

Their kayaking is a must try.  It costs Php 300 per person, complete with safety gear. During oour kayak session, we stopped by and rested in a nearby island where the staff got us some fresh coconuts to eat.

The staff also recommended that we go to the Busay Waterfalls near by.  We had to ride on habal-habals to reach the place. Unfortunately, we were a bit late in reaching the falls so we didn’t stay long because it was already getting dark. We headed back to the hotel, had dinner and called it a day.

 

Day 4: Tacloban City Tour

On our last day in Leyte, we wanted to take a tour of the City.  The hotel was nice enough to call us a tricycle to take us to the town proper where we could ride a van to the City. It took us Php 1,000 to rent the whole van to take us to the San Juanico Bridge and then lunch at Ocho Seafood and Grill, a local restaurant known for its seafood.

After lunch, we met up with a friend of mine who is a local of Tacloban City.  She took us to the Sto. Nino Shrine, which I think is a misnomer. It’s really just the the government-sequestered mansion of former first-lady, Imelda Marcos, although it is most known for its antique Sto. Nino figurine.

We toured the place for less than an hour and may I just say, that is one huge house. Wow. I’ve been to the Malacanang of the North in Paoay, but that was nothing in comparison to the Sto Nino Shrine.  It has like, I don’t know, 50 bedrooms? One thing’s for sure though, from its ancient relics dating back to more than a century ago to its Gucci-leather walls; the Sto Nino Shrine is the epitome of grandiose.

To conclude our trip to Leyte, we visited the Mac Arthur Landing Memorial Park, a historic place that memorializes the historic landing of Gen. Mac Arthur in 1944.It was a lovely park just beside the sea. We  chose to leave this for last because it was on the way to the airport. 

My friend mentioned about how the strongest typhoon,Yolanda,had destroyed some houses on our way. She pointed out to where people were evacuated and yet still met the clutches of the Typhoon. In our tour of the City, I guess we almost forgot about how it was devastated in 2013.  The people were so nice and warm; it was hard to believe they were struck by something that horrible only a little more than two years ago. “Kung tanungin mo sila ngayon, hahagulgol parin sila.”, a most touching statement from my friend.

Upon reaching the airport, we said our goodbyes and thanked Him for the splendid time we had and prayed that not so long from then, our next adventure awaits us. #backtoreality

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