Friday, 3 May 2013

San Juanico Bridge, Leyte-Samar

The island of the Waray-waray, Leyte is located in the eastern part of the Visayas. It is very close to the province of Cebu and the Camotes. The capital city is Tacloban, which occupies a large part of the island. It speaks two languages, Waray-waray and Cebuano, due to its close proximity to the Queen City of the South.

The way of life in Leyte is more on farming and fishing, and it is basically all about provincial living. You can find a lot of historical landmarks and scenic places around. There are also several places you can go to since Leyte is a large island with numerous towns and islets. The beautiful and mountainous island of Leyte has its own share of notable distinctions such as the location of the longest bridge in the country. The San Juanico Bridge connects the islands of Leyte and Samar at their narrowest point along the San Juanico Strait.
Palo Cathedral, Palo, Leyte: 

This church is originally constructed in 1596 by the Jesuits and later taken over by Augustinians and Franciscans. The two towers were built in the mid 1800s. The church was officially proclaims a cathedral in March of 1938, shortly before the outbreak of the second world war. The cathedral was used as a hospital between October 1944 to March 1945 by the the American forces in the initial months of Philippine Liberation.
Provincial Capitol, Tacloban City

Best Time to Visit

It is often raining in Leyte that in fact, it rains an average of 163 days in a year. It rains more often from November up until January, with typhoons passing by every once in a while. But if you want to be there to take part of grand fiesta celebrations, you can go to Ormoc on the last week of June, and the Pintados Kasadyaan Festival of Tacloban every 29th of June. This is a month-long fiesta of merry-making, parades, pageantry and street-dancing. This celebration is given in honor of the Senior Santo Nino.

Original Leyte Landing Photo

Red Beach, Palo, Leyte: Memorial of former Philippine president Osmeña and then Pacific Theatre World War II commander, Gen. MacArthur, and their staff — wading in the shores of Palo, Leyte in the closing months of the Second World War. This landing preceded one of MacArthur’s famous lines: “People of the Philippines, I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil consecrated in the blood of our two people…”

During the time when MacArthur’s forces landed in the Philippines, the allies were already aiming their plans at Japan, Philippines, doesn’t have any strategic value. But MacArthur, vowing to keep his promise and avenge the Japanese forces in the Philippines, insisted and persuaded then president Roosevelt, Chester Nimitz(Pacific Fleet Commander) and the rest of US top brass — to take the Philippines en route to Japan. One of the major strategic value (after all) that the allies accomplished was the annihilation of the Japanese Navy who tried to ambush the Leyte Landings — in probably the greatest Naval battle of all time — the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

With the memorial (and the original Leyte Landing Photo), is then President Sergio Osmeña (Quezon’s vice president, became president when Quezon died in the US), and Carlos Romulo, the rest are there and MacArthur’s staff.

The Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum was originally built during the Marcos regime. It’s filled with religious paintings, a huge ballroom and designs made by no-less than the Philippine National Artist himself, Fernando Amorsolo.
Canigao Island is located in the municipality of Matalom, province of Leyte. This small island off the southwestern coast of Leyte island is a favorite inexpensive weekend getaway among Leyteños and tourists visiting the island. It is a small, uninhabited island. So small, one can walk around it in less than half an hour.

From Tacloban City, take a van (Duptours or Van-Vans) bound for Maasin City. Tell the Driver to drop you at Brgy. Nonok or Sta Fe in Matalom, Leyte. Fare is around200 pesos and travel time is about 3 hours. From here, look for banca operators that shuttles passengers to Canigao island. Fare is 50 pesos and travel time is 15-20 minutes.

Situated in the Southern Leyte province of The Philippines rests an island of wonders called Limasawa. Surrounded by clear blue water and offering white sand beaches Limasawa Island breaths new life into the meaning of tranquility. Limasawa is a relaxing hot spot for scuba diving, snorkeling and other calm water beach activity and is the home of the first Catholic Mass in The Philippines. With a vibrant ocean life the calm waters around Limasawa Island play host to an active fishing industry and some of the most colorful fish in the sea. Limasawa Island is truley a unique and pleasurable experience.

How to get there?

Limasawa island can be reached from Tacloban, which has its own airport with regular flights arriving from Manila (1 hour). There are regular buses to Tacloban from most major towns and cities in the Philippines like Manila (20 hours), Catbalogan (3 hours), Calbayog (4 hours) and Allen (6 hours). Once in Tacloban, you can ride on a bus or a van bound to Maasin City. From there, you ride on a bus or a jeepney to Padre Burgos. From the Padre Burgos wharf, the island is one hour boat ride on smooth waters. The trip takes longer when the water is rough. Or, totally cancelled when there is an impending storm.

There is only one way to get to Limasawa - take the motorized
boat or locally referred to as "bangkang de motor". Made from wood, both sides have outriggers made of bamboo. Depending on the size, a boat can accommodate 3 to 5 persons plus the "driver". Wooden planks are placed horizontally to serve as seats.
Trips are also limited and do not follow a specific schedule. 

Hence, it would be advisable to rent the boat, just like we did, so you'll have it at your disposal.