2009, the year when I was so young and restless... and homesick! I was a newbie in Dubai, while Ed, who was still my boyfriend that time, was in the Philippines. That year, I managed to go home, to be with him and my family every six months! On January 2009, my restless feet and my homesick heart brought me to Tacloban, Ed's hometown. I instantly fell in love with the town's laid back atmosphere, so I made a promise. Allow me to borrow Gen. Douglas MacArthur's famous line, I told myself that someday "I shall return".
Just like Gen. MacArthur, I kept my promise. Leyte was the second destination of our 8-day family trip. We had an hour flight from Ilo-Ilo to Tacloban. I was able to purchase the plane tickets late last year when Cebu Pacific had promotional offers. We arrived at Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport at 7 pm, checked-in at Hotel Alejandro and had a family dinner at Ocho Grill.
|seafood dinner at Ocho Grill|
The morning after, we started our Leyte Tour. It was not a DIY tour as Ed, his family and friends served as our tour guides. It was gloomy when I first visited Leyte, so seeing the places on a sunny weather was like being there for the first time. The first stop of our family tour was Balyu-an Amphitheater.
|Balyu-an Amphitheater: where major city events are being held|
|The amphitheater has a great view of Cancabato Bay.|
|Beside Balyu-an Amphitheater is Tacloban's City Health office which I thought was a hotel near the bay. :)|
Remember when I said Tacloban is a laid back town? Just have a look at this photo of Magsaysay Boulevard. Zero traffic road, lined with lush trees exactly within the city! Now, you know what I mean!
Just across Balyu-an Amphitheater is the City Hall which sits right on top of a hill. Beside the City Hall are Philippine-Japan Commemorative Peace Park and Maria Kannon Madonna of Peace Shrine; the symbols of peace between the Filipinos and Japanese after World War II.
|Tacloban City Hall|
|Philippine-Japan Commemorative Peace Park|
|Maria Kannon Madonna of Peace Shrine|
A short distance from Magsaysay Boulevard is the Sto. Nino Church. The church is a home of the miraculous image of Tacloban's patron saint, Senior Sto. Nino.
After Sto. Nino Church, we made our way to Rafael's Farm, my favorite place in Leyte. Rafael's Farm is so beautiful that it deserves to have its own spot in my blog. Click here to read more about Rafael's Farm.
Remember about me being a jinx? Here's my story, while boating at Rafael's man-made lake, I sat on something that clung to my skirt and ripped the soft cotton cloth! A safety pin rescued me from the huge embarrassment. I was struck with bad luck twice in row because about an hour after, our van's tire burst in the middle of the street! Nevertheless, we were still blessed that it wasn't a major road accident. Tires where changed and we continued our tour at San Juanico Golf and Country Club.
|San Juanico Golf and Country Club is the latest tourist spot in Leyte.|
|It has an 18-hole golf course, a swimming pool, a hotel and a restaurant.|
|San Juanico Golf and Country Club was the perfect place to unwind after a series of unfortunate events.|
|The boys had coffee at the restaurant, while us girls had some R&R time.|
On our way back to the city, we passed by Leyte Landing Memorial, popularly known as MacArthur Park. The large bronze statues of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his men were build to commemorate his return to the Philippines to help the country defeat the Japanese forces during the Second World War. Near the statues are the General's speech, casts of his footprints and the Commemorative Rock Garden of Peace Monument.
|bronze statues of Gen. MacArthur and his men|
|Rock Garden of Peace Monument|
|Messages from the leaders of other nations surround the Commemorative Rock|
Garden of Peace Monument.
"Mang silot kita!", Ed told me while we were walking at MacArthur Park. I don't speak Waray-waray. I understand a little, but I didn't get what he said. "Silot" was my waray-waray word-of-the-day! :) He actually meant, "Let's eat coconut!" The nearby street is lined with coconut trees. Bundles of coconut fruits were lying on the ground and there are shacks where people can have their coconut break. Am I making any sense? Hahaha!
|The Coconut Shack|
|Coconut Boy! :) He prepared our coconut, made a hole where we can sip the juice and|
opened it after so we can eat the coconut meat!
|fresh coconut juice in the shack :)|
|The soft and yummy coco fruit!|
My camera's battery went empty just when I was also running out of energy! We visited two more spots, namely Leyte Park Hotel and Leyte Provincial Capitol. Since, I couldn't use my trusted camera and we all looked drained-out, these are the only decent blog-worthy photos that we got:
|Leyte Park Hotel is one of the best in Tacloban. There's a fantastic swimming pool and|
an awesome view of the sea. (Sorry, no photos to prove it!)
|Leyte Provincial Capitol at night|
Have you ever been in two places at the same time? You can at San Juanico Bridge! :) Flashpack Trip Day 4 started with a 2-hour road trip. We passed by San Juanico Bridge, the longest bridge in Philippines with total length of 2.16 km. The L and S-shaped bridge connects the islands of Leyte and Samar. Amazing!
|My family in the middle of San Juanico Bridge.|
After two hours of journey, we finally approached our destination in Samar. We went on a day trip at Caluwayan Palm Island Resort. I will also have a separate post on this; major ranting ahead! Sorry, can't help it. Anyhow, it will be up in the coming week.
|the rock formations near Caluwayan Resort|
Fast forward to Flashpack Trip Day 5. We woke up early to visit more heritage sites and do some souvenir shopping! We went to the downtown area to purchase Tacloban shirts and local delicacies. We also visited Sto. Nino Shrine and Price Mansion, but didn't went inside as we had a flight to catch. Before leaving Tacloban, we had lunch at Guiseppe's, a Filipino-Italian restaurant.
|Tacloban Downtown area|
|We can't leave Tacloban without trying the local delicacies..|
Binagol: native sweet made of taro, yam, cassava and milk served in a coconut shell
|Moron: made of glutinous rice, coconut milk and cocoa|
|We purchased souvenir shirts at Kevin's. They also have|
caps, keychains and all touristy stuff!
|Sto. Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum:|
home of President Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos in Tacloban, now a museum
|Price Mansion: Gen. MacArthur's residence in Leyte|
|statues of MacArthur and Osmena beside the official residence and headquarters|
of the General
|I love Guiseppe's authentic Italian Pizza!|
I'll be sharing our dine-out experience at Guiseppe's soon.
I was so happy to be back in Leyte after 4 years. I may have visited the same places, but this trip was more special because my parents were with me. Indeed, things are best when shared. It's even sweeter this time because Ed is no longer my boyfriend, he is now my husband! I actually reminisced our bf/gf moments while we were on tour. Cheesy!
Thanks for reading this super duper long post! The funny shocking truth is: this is just the beginning of my Leyte-Samar Series. I'll be back with the trip's highlights. More stories, more ramblings, more misadventures and more trip tips coming up!
More of Leyte: