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.
Photo by storm-crypt
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.
Photo by storm-crypt
Photo by storm-crypt
Ryan: Leyte is not a very touristy area, and it takes a bit of prodding to get into Leyte’s hidden treasures.The beaches are not that spectacular but quite decent enough, and if you crave for the ritzy, international crowd of Boracay and Palawan, then better skip out on Leyte. It does have a heap of charming fishing villages where you can stroll and frolic like what little Imelda Marcos did when she was an impoverished, illegitimate child running barefoot on its beaches (and you will get to understand her super fascination with shoes).
Why Not Go
Leyte is not the best place to go if you are looking for great sandy white beaches. You can always checkout the nearby Camotes Island if this is what you are hoping to find on your vacation. Moreover, you cannot find the convenience and luxury afforded by a first class metropolis around the area. So there are no tall buildings and huge shopping malls around.
Ryan: There is a beach in Barangay San Jose, 8 kilometers from Tacloban City called the White Beach. And at the northwestern tip is Higatangan Island (which is actually part of Biliran) which has a very nice white sand bar but close to Leyte itself. Kaburubutngaan hit dagat near the coastline of Libertad, Capoocan, Leyte and Puro Island also in Leyte has largely undeveloped white sand beaches as well.
There are a lot of things you can find in Leyte which have become instrumental in shaping the country the way it is now. They also have nice resorts at very affordable rates as well as gardens and parks that are well worth your money. You do not even have to spend so much when visiting Leyte as most of the things you can find here are pretty cheap.
Photo by storm-crypt
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.
Ryan: The problem with traveling in Leyte is that its right up there in the Philippine typhoon alley – weather conditions can alter your schedule, and transport is not very reliable. Accessibility and information to the different areas is scarce and unreliable. If you are the type of traveler used to the sometimes razor-sharp efficiency of traveling to Boracay or Palawan, you may have to extend your patience a little more.
We are focusing on two progressive cities in Leyte which are: Ormoc and Tacloban. For Ormoc, you should stay at Sabin. It is a resort hotel, with two swimming pools. It is a very nice place to stay and quite affordable too. Room rate starts at $35.
When you go to Tacloban, you can stay at the Leyte Park Hotel, which was originally built for Imelda Marcos, the most famous former First Lady of the country. Standard room rate is at $48. You can also stay at the MacArtrhur Park Beach Resort as it has a very nice beach and lush gardens. It is cheap too with rates starting at $32.
Where & What to Eat
• Chito’s Chow Bar and Restaurant: Great Chinese food especially their ‘mixed seafood’ soup. You can find it at the Ormoc Superdome.
• Giuseppe’s: Authentic Italian dishes served here. You should sample their Pizza Napoletania- it is simply the best. You can find them in Tacloban, along Avenida Veteranos Street.
• Rafael’s Farm and Garden Restaurant: Great food, great view. They have a complete meal for only $6, inclusive of drinks. You can find them in Babatngon, Leyte.
• Sunzibar: Awesome Mexican food that is just right for the palate. Try their burritos and nachos. They are located along Burgos Street in Leyte.
Well, you cannot find it in Ormoc. Everyone is sleeping by 10pm and the streets are mostly quiet and dark at this time. However, in Tacloban, there are a few hangouts around. You can go to Inzomnia at Real Street for some dancing. You can also go to bars and nightclubs.
My to do List
• First, have a taste of the famous Ormoc pineapples. They are small and extremely sweet. You should also grab a bite of their cassava cake- great for dessert. You can find both almost anywhere in the city. Then proceed to Lake Danao which is pretty near. You will see a violin-shaped lake that is a couple thousand feet above sea level. Very nice and quiet place to go in Ormoc.
• Then you move on to Tacloban and sample their moron, it is made of sticky rice with chocolate, and wrapped in banana leaves.
• Once you have had your share of the local delicacies, let us move on to the places to see in Leyte. Start with the Leyte Landing at the Red Beach, where General Douglas MacArthur arrived to free the people during World War II.
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 Osmena(Quezon’s vice president, became president when Quezon died in the US), and Carlos Romulo, the rest are their and MacArthur’s staff.
Even before I was in grade school, I’ve been seeing photos of the landings. From books, and stories of my grandfather who was a USAFFE lieutenant and a guerilla. Finally, I am now standing at Red Beach to see this memorial.
Photo by storm-crypt
• Next, check out the San Juanico Bridge, which is known to be the longest bridge in the country, offering picturesque view of nearby islets and sparkling waters. The San Juanice Bridge connects Leyte to Samar, crossing the San Juanico Strait, and is about 7,200+ feet in length.
Photo by storm-crypt
• Then, go to the Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum, which was originally built for the Marcoses, filled with religious paintings, a huge ballroom and designs made by no-less than the Philippine National Artist himself, Fernando Amorsolo.
• You can also go caving in Tacloban at the Jiabong and Gubingo caves. They are about an hour and a half’s drive from the city.
• Moreover, you can do kayaking, simply by renting a kayak and enjoy a fun adventure under the San Juanico Bridge.
• If you love surfing, one of the best surfing destinations in the country is here. Just drive 3 hours to Calicoan where you will be greeted with gigantic waves. The coast is fronting the Pacific Ocean.
PKTan: Calicoan Island is one of the islands of the town of Guiuan, in the province of Eastern Samar. It lies east of Leyte Gulf, off the southeast point of Samar. The island can be reached from Tacloban City by a two-hour bus ride.
Grace: Leyte is definitely not the common tourist destination, however the historical values of Leyte make it one worth the trip. Here’s a quick rundown of the other historical attractions of Leyte not listed. *click on link, or scroll to comments section.
Stay Away From
There are a handful of people who take advantage of foreigners in the area. They charge you more for rides and even room rates. This can also happen when you are looking for tour guides or car rentals. Make sure to check out the charges first and see if they are reasonable; if not then try to haggle on rates or look elsewhere.
You can get to Leyte by air via Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Airlines. There are 3 daily flights from Manila to Tacloban. You can also get there from Cebu via Air Philippines and other small planes, which travel to Tacloban daily. If you plan to travel by ferry, you can take Sulpicio Lines which has a Manila-Tacloban route 3X weekly. From Cebu, you can also take the fast crafts such as the Supercat and Oceanjet which have about 3 trips to Ormoc daily, and from there, you can take a V-hire (vans for hire) to Tacloban which will take about 2 hours. You can also get there by land with bus liners such as Philtranco which travels to Tacloban from Manila, and they also have bus trips around Samar and Leyte.
From Samar, you can take the scenic route via San Juanico Bridge by means of a bus or the local jeepney.
Roz Visarra has always been fond of travelling. As a young girl, she would travel with her parents in the Visayas and Mindanao because their relatives are from all these areas. She currently resides in Cebu, the Queen City of the South and looks forward to her next travel.
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