Saturday, May 23, 2015

SAN JUANICO BRIDGE

Location: Sta. Rita Municipality (Samar) and Barangay Cabalawan, Tacloban City (Leyte), Philippines

The monumental San Juanico Bridge of Samar and Leyte Islands


Note: This is a part of my May 2 - 8, 2015 Samar-Leyte-Biliran-Mactan-Cebu Trip which includes: Capul Island, San Antonio Island, Dalutan Island, Sambawan Island, The Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine, Ciriaco Hotel, Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Other Calbayog tours, San Juanico Bridge, MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, Limasawa Island

San Juanico Bridge is a US$21.9 million infrastructure which was built for four years where its construction started in August 1969 and was completed in 1973 under the administration of the late President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. This is the very reason why the bridge was formerly called as Marcos Bridge. The connecting link of the bridge is from the Municipality of Sta. Rita of the Samar side across the San Juanico Strait to Barangay Cabalawan of Tacloban City of the Leyte side which is 10 kilometers from the city proper. The bridge connecting the islands of Samar and Leyte did not only benefited the two islands but it also spurred economic development for the entire country particularly Mindanao.

My moment while I commune with San Juanico Bridge


To date, it is the longest bridge in the Philippines spanning a body of seawater, that is, the San Juanico Strait, the narrowest strait in the Philippines, with the length of 2.162 kilometers or 1.34 miles and width of 10.620 meters supported by a total of 43 spans. The shape of the bridge varies into an “S” shape on the Samar side and “L’ on the Leyte side. Its height is 41 meters from the sea level.

The surface of the water evidently shows the countless whirlpools


The best thing to be on the bridge is very early in the morning when the sun starts to rise till 8:00 A.M. and late in the afternoon till the sun sets. The hues of the sky and sea give a total contrast on the architectural lines of the bridge. These hues of colors give a useful advantage to the photographers to capture a postcard perfect picture of the bridge. I like the bridge when its color was silver then but this time it was changed to rust red. However, upon looking to my pictures recently, I realized that its present color defines it better in contrast with its sky and sea background while a silver color would only blend with the silver color clouds and structural lines do not seem to appear much.

The highest truss bridge arch has its foundation laid on an islet


Walking through the bridge might be an exciting experience for some but the contrary for those who have fear of heights. Just imagine, when a bus or truck, passes, the bridge really shakes and the sound of the vehicle’s engine is magnified like that of a thunder. And as you approach the midpoint of the bridge, the wind literally blows you strong. Down at the sea level, you can see a countless whirlpools.

Leading to the truss bridge arch in rust red color


A lot of you may know this monumental bridge merely by its name but there are some stories behind it that you may ought to know. There was one article in Manila Bulletin which I read that I kept but since it was an article cutout, it no longer bears the date of its publication.

Firstly, initially known as Marcos Bridge project, it was awarded to the Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines (CDCP) for the contracts to design, finance and construct this enormous engineering project. CDCP's design and engineering staff, together with Japanese engineers, undertook a detailed survey, study and analysis and the construction of the bridge began and it was completed in 1973.

"Welcome to Leyte" is what it says coming from the Samar side


Secondly, the bridge has been dubbed as “The Bridge of Love” since the late President Ferdinand Marcos has dedicated it to his wife, Imelda Marcos famous as the “Rose of Tacloban” as a birthday gift to prove how he loves her so much. This has been held during the groundbreaking ceremony of Marcos bridge which he coincided it with Imelda’s birthday. Of course, we knew Imelda Marcos. She is known to everyone as a “Woman of Thousand Shoes” who lived extravagantly during the administration of his husband as the president of the Philippines. With that, her name, Imelda, has been used in some dictionary as “imeldific” which means extravagance.

The highest point of the truss arch at 41 meters above sea level


Thirdly, San Juanico Bridge is a part of the Maharlika Highway which now appears in Philippine road maps as Pan-Philippine Highway which means that it is a network of roads, bridges and nautical routes that connect the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao. I still remember when I was a kid that this Maharlika Highway is also called South Road – a network of road which connects Manila to the southern part of the country.

Looking back to the bridge's Samar side showing the mountainous part of Sta. Rita Municipality in the background


It was on July 4, 2005 that a certain treaty took effect designating the Pan-Philippine Highway as an Asian Highway (AH-26) under the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway Network which has for its objective of providing a framework for coordinated development of the international highways in Asia. Aha!!! Now I knew why often see the sign AH-26 along our highways recently.

Approaching the scenic part of the Leyte Island


Fourthly, the moviemaking industry history revealed that once a film was shoot in San Juancio Bridge with the action star Dante Varona jumped off the bridge in 1981 with Carlo J. Caparas as the director in a movie titled “Hari ng Stunt” to really prove that the former was really the king of stunts in the Philippines.

The rugged and panoramic view of the bridge's Leyte sie


In addition, it has been revealed in the recent news that the foundation of the bridge remains strong and operational despite being hit by a super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013 locally named as Typhoon Yolanda. Major repairs has been made then to restore it to be fully operational.

Right after, San Juanico Bridge, you can either go first to San Rafael Farm in Babatngon if it becomes fully restored already. It was devastated by Typhoon Yolanda and is now under major renovation. This link shows when the farm was still on its full glory. Or better head to Tacloban City to check what it is in store for you now that it has gradually recovered from Typhoon Yolanda’s destruction.

HOW TO GET THERE

If you intend to experience how it feels to be at San Juanico Bridge, the link below will be great help for you, that is, your point of origin is Manila. You can have it BY AIR or BY LAND TRAVEL with a number of bus companies operating from Manila direct to Tacloban. From Tacloban, you may board a public utility jeep or take a taxi going to San Juanico Bridge for 10 kilometers from the city proper.

Friday, May 22, 2015

IN SEARCH FOR BANGON AND TARANGBAN WATER FALLS

Location: Calbayog, Samar, Philippines

The sight of a dead end search


As part of my May 2-8, 2015 Samar-Leyte-Biliran-Mactan-Cebu Trip, I made sure that Tarangban and Bangon Water Falls of Calbayog would be a part of it after my San Antonio-Capul Tour. I assumed too much that our van driver/tour guide will be able to drive us going there.

Bangon-Bugtong Falls as shown in famous blogger's post Mr. Gideon Lasco at www.pinoymountaineer.com


I read extensively this post of Sir Gideon that I was mesmerized and decided that this attraction will have a place in my forthcoming summer trip. As I was busy with my work, I did not notice that I was not able to print the details of the Bangon Falls. I was also thinking that being a Calbayognon, I knew much the place and my alternative is even to ask the locals.

Photo of Tarangban Falls courtesy of Boyet's Tour in his blog at Tourists Haven


Another water falls of Calbayog which I became interested with was the Tarangban Water Falls wherein I was fascinated with the pictures I saw from Boyet's Tour blog at Tourists Haven but just the same, I was not able to print its details.

A long drive to an unknown peripheral road from Pan Philippine Highway


In short, I was not really equipped with information on how to direct my guide in locating the destinations I wanted to visit. We resorted to asking almost everybody that we saw along our way. Surely, they were accommodating enough to answer our queries and giving us directions on how to find the location we desired to reach. But just to find out that we came to a dead end. It was a large river without a bridge and when we asked where we can find the water falls, they said, that part of the river serves as water falls when the current is strong and heavy during rainy season. We also passed through two small rivers where mothers were washing clothes and their children were playing fun with the small rapids and where they described it to us as water falls.

An unexpected superb scenery on our way back to Pan Philippine Highway


Sensing that it was futile to pursue our target destination from a dead end route, we drove back again to Pan Philippine Highway which was along coastal areas. Long and winding roads were so scenic. There were instances where roads had a deep drop and on top of these highly elevated roads unfolded to our sight the breathtaking views of the blue seas blending with the lush green mountainous terrain. We can't help then but to get off from our chartered van and have ample shots for souvenir.

Veriato Falls


As we continued driving, we reached Veriato and since its water falls is just a few meters away from the highway, we all jumped from the van to see what was in store for us in this attraction. It was almost 11:00 A.M. then and it was so hot. The water was obviously not clear as the other night there was rain which was unusual for a summer season. The falls was like a public pool and washing area of the locals and so by the time we were there, there were a lot of them cooling themselves from the hot temperature of the sun. With that sight, we just had a picture taking and we left the place.

Ton-ok Hanging Bridge


Our driver guide, really felt how disappointed we were and so he suggested that we visit their place in Ton-ok where there is a hanging bridge and water falls. His place is a part of Oquendo District of Calbayog and after the town proper of Oquendo, we still had a long drive passing through a few barangays until we reached Pan-as Hayiban Protected Landscape of Ton-ok.

Ton-ok Water Falls as part of Pan-as Hayiban Protected Landscape


From the point where our chartered van was parked, we trekked for almost 20 minutes going to the water falls. Part of the trail was the long hanging bridge. Most of the trail was open and so we felt the hot sun in our skin. We reached the water falls and only four of us out of 10 decided to have a swim since the basin was so deep though the water was so cold. It was like a fiesta in the water falls. There were a lot people there who wanted to have a cool dip.

Enjoying the hanging bridge during our return trek


Trekking back to where our chartered van was parked a little less hot as compared to the time when we were trekking to the water falls at almost 12:30 Noon. My companions and I had enjoyed our moment taking photos of the hanging bridge.

Taking a picture of the hanging bridge down from the river


I spent ample time to take photos of the hanging bridge from almost all angles. One was taking a picture down below where I need to step down to the river and took the shot from there.

Taking a picture of the hanging bridge with the locals


For the second time around, most of my companions decided to take some photos on the hanging bridge. This time, they were no longer scared compared to the first time they crossed it. Each one of them had their solo moment with the hanging bridge.

A last look of the hanging bridge


As we boarded back in our chartered van, we headed to our accommodation, that is the Guest House of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine in Malajog, Tinambacan Distric, Calbayog, Samar. The road travel was worth one and half hours. It was there that we stayed overnight as we prepared for our Catbalogan-Tacloban-Naval-Sambawan Trip the following day.

I might have failed to locate Bangon and Tarangban Water Falls but the quest and urge of conquering it is very much alive in my midst.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

SAINTS PETER AND PAUL CATHEDRAL (CALBAYOG CITY)

Location: Corners of Acedillo, Rueda and Bugallon Streets, Calbayog City, Samar, Philippines

Note: The pictures posted here is a part of my May 1-8, 2015 Samar-Leyte-Biliran-Mactan-Cebu Trip.

Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral: An Iconic Symbol of Calbayog


Note: This is a part of my May 2 - 8, 2015 Samar-Leyte-Biliran-Mactan-Cebu Trip which includes: Capul Island, San Antonio Island, Dalutan Island, Sambawan Island, The Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine, Ciriaco Hotel, Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Other Calbayog tours, San Juanico Bridge, MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, Limasawa Island

The Roman Catholic Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral of Calbayog City is the seat of the Diocese of Calbayog under the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical province of Palo which has then became an archdiocese and finally on November 15, 1982 Palo was promoted to be a metropolitan archdiocese. This cathedral was established in 1910 where its ecclesiastical foundation was laid on April 10, 1910 by Pope Pius X. It was in May 2010, that a Vatican’s Philippine Representative was sent to attend for its first Centennial Celebration. As of this posting, it is already 105 years old.

The majestic Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral with its proud Bell Tower


The Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral is the most important landmark in Calbayog City where its tell-tale dome, spire, and thick walls reveal the blending of Spanish and modern architectural designs. It is located in the corners of Acedillo (a part of the Pan-Philippine Highway), Bugallon and Rueda Streets. It is a block away from the city hall and opposite to Cardinal Julio Rosales Plaza. Since it is along the Pan-Philippine Highway, buses with routes to Catbalogan, Tacloban, Ormoc, Maasin, Baybay, Surigao, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and some other parts of Southern Philippines would normally pass along this symbolic figure of Calbayog City.

The awesome architectural design of the altar


Posting this blog is somewhat a personalized effort on my part as I am a proud Calbayognon and this cathedral has been a great part of my life being a Roman Catholic. I was a catechist of Calbayog Catechetical Circle for 6 years of which I became the head of it for the last two years of my membership teaching Religion and Values Education in Calbayog East Central School. We usually held our closing ceremony in this cathedral. It was also here that I had our Baccaulaureate Mass when I graduated college in Christ the King College.

The bishop Reverend Isabelo C.Abarquez seated on the pulpit in an 8:00 P.M. Sunday Mass


This Calbayog Cathedral is indeed strategically located in the heart of the island of Samar. Being here would give you the opportunity to visit to a haven of natural attractions; towering and cascading waterfalls (Veriato, Bangon, Pan-as, Ton-ok, Tarangban and a few others) which dubbed Calbayog as the “City of Waterfalls”; beaches like the Lo-ok Beach of Malajog and caves and picturesque rock formations in Biri Island; beaches and a hot spring named “Mapaso Hot Spring with consistently 100 degrees boiling water and with healing value; a new attraction of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine ; a marble park forest ideal for mountaineering (Malopalo Marble Walls), trekking, housing caves underneath preserved for over a hundred years; a few hours land and sea travel to the beautiful islands of San Antonio (the Boracay of Samar), Capul and San Vicente for Pink Beach; it hosts the annual Sarakiki/Hadang Festival which is unique for its grand street dance performance and exhibition depicting different rituals of participants and the legendary dance of “Kuratsa”.

Not only that, driving towards Catbalogan would only take more than an hour and further at 3.5 hours would give you San Juanico Bridge - the longest bridge in Southeast Asia which connects the provinces of Samar and Leyte. Barely 30 minutes drive further will be Tacloban City and just adjacent to it is the McArthur Leyte Landing Memorial Park of Palo, Leyte. From Palo, is another 2 hours drive via Curry Avenue and Lemon-Leyte-Biliran Road for 108.60 kilometers. And finally from the port of Naval will be 1.5 to 2 hours boat ride leading to the most-prized destination of Sambawan Island. But don't forget to drop by on the white sand beaches of Dalutan Island and Capinahan.

HOW TO GET THERE

There are daily flights from Manila to Calbayog and vice versa for just an hour. You may opt to travel by land via South Road for 16 hours in a distance of 682.2 kilometers excluding the ferry boat which would take you to cross the turbulent waters of San Bernardino Strait from Matnog Port of Sorsogon to Allen of Northern Samar and then the bus ride continues till it reaches Calbayog City.

CIRIACO HOTEL (CALBAYOG CITY)

Location: Km. 745 Maharlika Highway, Brgy. Bagacay, Calbayog City, Samar, Philippines

Note: This is a part of my May 2 - 8, 2015 Samar-Leyte-Biliran-Mactan-Cebu Trip which includes: Capul Island, San Antonio Island, Dalutan Island, Sambawan Island, The Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine, Ciriaco Hotel, Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Other Calbayog tours, San Juanico Bridge, MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, Limasawa Island

The state-of-the-art swimming pool of Ciriaco Hotel


Ciriaco Hotel is the only deluxe hotel in the entire Region VIII and because of this fact, it somewhat spurs progress in the entire region being world-class of its kind. Guests can be accommodated in its 45 elegant and luxurious rooms, a restaurant with the best chef with his culinary expertise in various cuisines whether local, Oriental, American, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and a few others. It is noted, too, for being the region’s premier boutique hotel with other facilities like ballroom and function rooms for private and corporate events and state-of-the-art swimming pools for guests’ swimming pleasure.

The modern and stylish facade of Ciriaco Hotel


If there is one great significance that Ciriaco Hotel is contributing to the provinces of Samar (Northern, Eastern and Western provinces), it is no other than its pioneering role of boasting its tourism by offering its guests adventure getaway packages in the adventure-filled and scenic-bounty island of Samar where these tour packages are summed up into three, as follows:

Eco-exploration Package

A 3-day/2-night package that will let you explore Samar’s enchanting falls and Biri Islands intriguing rock formations .

Extreme Adventure Package

A 3-day/2-night package that will test your limits as you embark on an exciting journey to Samar’s famous falls and wild river rapids.

Ultimate Expedition Package

A 4-day/3-night package that will take you to an exhilarating expedition to enchanting falls, wild rivers and intricate rock formations.

It is appropriately cool to have a plunge in the wide-ranging pool of Ciriaco Hotel


Hitting its website at www.ciriacohotel.com , you will know what are those tourist attractions that you will know about Samar Island and Calbayog City in particular in order to give you an idea of what tour package you will opt to have.

A Superior Deluxe (Highway View) 37-square meter room with two queen beds


Hotel rooms are classified into five as follows: (1) Deluxe (Highway View), (2) Deluxe (Sea View), (3) Superior Deluxe (Highway View), (4) Superior Deluxe (Sea View), and (5) Executive Suite. Each room is equipped with 37" LCD TV with cable connection; Duvets and 350-thread count linen bed features; bathroom features: ultra plush bath linens, rainforest shower and Ciriaco bath amenities such as shampoo, body soap, body lotion, toothbrush, razor, comb, vanity, sewing kit, hot and cold water; and with room features such as luggage rack, oversized work desk, in-room safe with charger and in-room electronic safe port.

Rooms with Sea View has also the Pool View


Dining services includes a mini bar, with coffee maker upon request and with 7:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M. in-room dining. Its room services also includes laundry and pressing services and personalized wake-up services. In addition, it also has WIFI internet access in guest rooms. Its check-in time is at 2:00 A.M. and check-out time at 12:00 Noon.

A blend of scenery: the sea and pool view for rooms with sea view


Other than Biri Island and the water falls, Ciriaco hotel is a 30-minute drive away from The Queen of the Most Holy Rosary along with Lo-ok Beach and accessible to the beautiful islands of San Antonio, Capul and San Vicente for the Pink Beach. Driving eight hours from Calbayog heading to Naval of Biliran, tourists can board a boat from there going to Sambawan Island.

You may find this Trip Advisor link very useful to know more about the place based on the testimonies of the satisfied clientele.

For reservations, you may contact Ciriaco Hotel and Resort through their numbers at (055) 2096521, (055) 5339300 and Mobile Number at (+63) 917 7100787 or Email address at sales@ciriacohtoel.com and search on at www.ciriacohotel.com.

HOW TO GET THERE

There are daily flights from Manila to Calbayog and vice versa for just an hour. You may opt to travel by land via South Road for 16 hours in a distance of 682.2 kilometers excluding the ferry boat which would take you to cross the turbulent waters of San Bernardino Strait from Matnog Port of Sorsogon to Allen of Northern Samar and then the bus ride continues till it reaches Calbayog City proper. The bus you are boarding can drop you in front the hotel as it is more than two kilometers away from the city proper.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

THE QUEEN OF THE MOST HOLY ROSARY SHRINE (MALAJOG)

Location: Barangay Malajog, Tinambacan District, Calbayog City, Samar, Philippines

The imposing Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine


Note: This is a part of my May 2 - 8, 2015 Samar-Leyte-Biliran-Mactan-Cebu Trip which includes: Capul Island, San Antonio Island, Dalutan Island, Sambawan Island, The Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine, Ciriaco Hotel, Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Other Calbayog tours, San Juanico Bridge, MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, Limasawa Island

The Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine is indeed, a pride of Calbayog City. It was erected through the leadership of Mr. Leonardo Hermo Oben, Jr. or known as Junior, when he was still the barangay captain of Barangay Malajog. This whole area of real estate property is a conjugal property of the deceased couple Catalino Pelito Oben and Dionesia Abayon Oben. Junior is just one of the descendants of this deceased couple. Junior worked hard in the United States to finance this project where on its later stage, some of his friends and relatives in the USA, had helped him to finance the completion of this project.

The shrine taken from the Look Beach


Brgy. Malajog is 24 kilometers away from Calbayog City or approximately 25 minutes drive. Malajog is one of the barangays of Tinambacan District --- which is one the three districts of Calbayog City, Samar. This shrine is closer to Calbayog Airport at 18.7 kilometers or 19.5 minutes drive.

The shrine taken from the entry point of the Kutay peninsula


The construction of this shrine started in October 2007 erecting initially the 22-foot statue of the Blessed Virgin Mother. It was in the year 2009 that the 14 stations of the cross, nativity scene, resurrection and the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ and two archangels has been started and was finished for more than a year where the construction of all statues was supervised by Mr. Jose Camacho. By September 4, 2010, the blessing of this shrine has been held through Bishop Isabelo C. Abarquez and he declared it as the Marian place for reflection and meditation.

The 20-foot statue of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary on top of the hill


By February 2012, the construction of the shrine’s chapel with its adjoining guest rooms was started where there was no architect employed for this building construction. All the designs was the concept of Junior and was supervised by its visiting engineer, Mr. Allan Lanuza. The chapel is named Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. Presently, the shrine is fully operative accepting guests who wanted to stay overnight in Barangay Malajog.

The underlying view from the hilltop


There are three guest rooms at the back of the chapel where each guest room has one double-bed and one king-size bed for an overnight charge of only P1,500 per room equipped with airconditioned units and lockers to keep the guests’ stuff safe. Each guest room has each own comfort and bath room with clean towels also provided.

Overlooking the beach front stretch from atop the shrine


The common area for these three guest rooms is a 10-seater dining table, a sala and porch and a kitchen equipped with gas range and freezer where guests can use for free including the plates, cutleries and kitchen utensils. Cooking of the food can be requested from the very accommodating caretaker, Mr. Ricky Sagala.

The rewarding scenery of the famous Malajog Lo-ok Beach as viewed from atop the shrine


As of this posting, there are on-going construction for the terrace for the sunset viewing at the back of the chapel, guard house, gift shop and the office of the shrine association.

Aerial view of the guest house and the chapel


Just below the shrine is the lone building with the guest house on the rear part of the building and the front has the chapel named Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. The shrine nestles in the Kutay peninsula. It was once an abandoned piece of property.

Overlooking the vast beach coast from atop the shrine


Indeed, the peak of the hill offers a 360 degrees panoramic view showcasing the nearby islands and islets, the beaches, the rugged mountains and the picture of Barangay Malajog on its totality.

Clean beds and cabinets with lockers are provided


Guest rooms are spacious for a minimum of five persons and it allows extra bed (s) for a bigger group of family occupants and there are enough electrical outlets so that guests can provide the following day. There is mobile and internet network within the area.

Two of the guests' common areas - the dining table and the living room


There are common areas in the guests' house such as the hightech kitchen and the spacious living room with the dining table just adjacent to it. The living room has a glass sliding door which offers the complete scenery of the nearby picturesque islands.

Dining table, living room and the kitchen rolled into one common place


The ambiance inside the guesthouse on its guest rooms are just so rewarding as its amenities are just the same with that of a typical hotel room which are fully furnished.

The Most Holy Rosary Chapel


The chapel can accommodate at least 60 persons during held Catholic masses. Holy masses are only held if there are some special occasions.

Each guest room has a double bed and the queen size bed


Just close to the shrine are some added attractions where guests can also enjoy just like the beach line stretch of Lo-ok Beach. The beach itself is being surrounded by high limestone walls grown with trees which are used as a habitat of the “balinsasayaw” birds where its feces are used as expensive soup in some hotels.

Daraga Islet as taken from the gate of the shrine


Next is the Daraga Islet which is just across the shrine for 5 minutes boat drive. Guests can request the caretaker to look for boat facility to cross to the islet where it is good for swimming. The islet is uninhabited and there are no facilities there. Since nobody manages the islet, guests can enjoy it without paying for any entrance.

A private sea port as viewed atop the shrine


Another 6 minutes drive is the Malopalo massive marble walls along the Bulungto River which empties to the sea. Its entry point is in Malopalo Bridge.

Malopalo marble walls along Bulungto River


To reserve accommodation for the guest rooms, you may contact Mrs. Naty Oben, the wife of Junior at 09175516532 or contact Junior through his Facebook account at https://www.facebook.com/leonardo.oben.

Calbayog is tagged as the City of Water Falls and some other tourist attractions. Thus, it deserves to be toured around. You can hire a van good to move around the place through Indira Ambos Rumohr with Facebook account at https://www.facebook.com/indira.a.rumohr?fref=ts or through her mobile number at 09177188182 or through her driver in the name of Mr. Rey Tocayon with mobile number at 09265078350.

Monday, May 11, 2015

SAMBAWAN ISLAND

Location: Municipality of Maripipi, Biliran Province, Region VIII, Philippines

Sambawan Island in all its splendor


Note: This is a part of my May 2 - 8, 2015 Samar-Leyte-Biliran-Mactan-Cebu Trip which includes: Capul Island, San Antonio Island, Dalutan Island, Sambawan Island, The Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Shrine, Ciriaco Hotel, Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Other Calbayog tours, San Juanico Bridge, MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, Limasawa Island

Sambawan is a part of Maripipi, and island municipality of Biliran province with 8 municipalities located northwest and considered as the smallest municipality of the province. Sambawan Island is a part of Maripipi but politically speaking, it does not belong to any of the 15 barangays of the municipality, not even Barangay Ol-og which has a port leading to Sambawan.

Biliran Bridge - it connects the provinces of Biliran and Leyte


Sambawan is indeed an island paradise with such an enchanting turquoise blue waters. There are 12 diving sites on its vicinity which have been identified showcasing variant and rich biodiversity of coral gardens. The whole of it offers a very rich marine life.

The panoramic view of Biliran town as taken from Biliran Bridge


The resort of Sambawan is managed and operated by the local government and with my experience it is well-organized. Of course, to get a chartered boat would always depend on your haggling skills. You have the option to take a boat from the Kawayan Wharf which would cost P3,000 to P3,500 for 50 minutes. Traveling there late in the afternoon will take longer as the sea becomes lightly rough even during summer, thus, it would take more than an hour. Another option is taking a boat from Naval Port which would cost you around P7,000 to P8,000 for one and half hours but again, during late afternoon, the sea becomes rough and this can even take you for 2 and half hours reaching the island.

The undisturbed Capinahan Island


For my trip, I was in a group of 10 for a 7-day Samar-Leyte-Biliran-Cebu Trip. Our trip to Sambawan was such a long one coming from Barangay Malajog, Tinambacan District, Calbayog City leaving there at 3:30 A.M. and reaching Naval Port of Biliran at 12:40 Noon for a total of 341.2 kilometers. On our way, however, we dropped in Catbalogan (Samar) – 5:25 A.M., Calbiga (Samar) – 6:05 A.M. for breakfast, San Juanico Bridge – 7:53 A.M., San Rafael Farm (Babatngon, Leyte) – 8:05 A.M., McArthur Leyte Landing Memorial Park in Palo (Leyte) – 9:05 A.M. and Biliran bridge – 11:40 A.M. via Pan-Philippine Highway just for pictorials.

This picture was taken at 6:05 P.M. of May 5, 2015


We had our lunch in Naval and decided to market our drinking water and all other food supplies we need in the island. Lunch in Naval was in a decent carinderia where costs varies from: viand is P30 and P10 for rice, fried and paksiw fish costs P15 for two pieces and vegetable per order is P20 while buco is P25 which is the same with Manila’s price. Its public market offers P160 a kilo for yellow fin fish and same with tuna. Practically, all the food supplies you need are in Naval. There are banks there and grocery stores.

The southernmost tail end of Sambawan island


We left Naval Sea Port at 2:05 P.M. and docked at Capiňahan Island at 2:30 P.M. We just stayed there for short pictorials and headed to Dalutan Island where we reached there at 3:00 P.M. The island has a stunning scenery overlooking the nearby islands and so we stayed for 20 minutes there. We reached Sambawan Island at exactly 5:00 P.M. with a total travel time of 2.68 hours from the port of Naval.

The majestic sunrise as captured from the foot of the viewdeck


Sunset in Sambawan island offers a superbly majestic scenery where one can readily capture it without any obstruction in any part of the island most particularly from the island's viewdeck.

This same angle was taken at 5:06 A.M. of the following day, May 6, 2015


Going to Kawayan wharf from the entry point of Biliran bridge will give you another 18.60 kilometers for it is nearer to Sambawan as compared with the Naval Port. There are available jeepneys which are always jampacked with passengers and cargoes.

An aerial view of the resort's cottages and beach coast as taken from the viewdeck


Personally, touching the ground of the majestic Sambawan Island is an event. I felt I was then close to mother nature. The place was so serene. The fresh sea breeze massages my skin and I find it so soothing. Friendly and accommodating staff guided us to our booked accommodation. They were actually giving us the usual briefing which included the house rules but I begged with them not to be disturbed and we just dropped our things in our cottage and we ran up to the 130-concrete stairs view deck to capture the best scenery, the one which I usually see in the blogs and their webpage.

The resort's viewdeck


I also captured a picture of a breathtaking sunset. My adrenalin rush of taking pictures came to a halt when the night gradually invaded the island. It was only that time that I came back to my normal senses. We had booked for two P2,500 cottages but we found out that each cottage has its own attic where it can accommodate 10 people in the cottage. This is not to mention that the spacious balcony of the cottage can accommodate four people to sleep. With this, I requested from the management if we can all stay in just one cottage and we were granted.

The concrete 130 stairs leading to the viewdeck


Our cottage is equipped with three beds only with soft pillow and a blanket. It has two electric fans, one in the main room and one in the attic. Outlets are available for charging cellphones and other gadgets enjoying a sundown-to-sunrise electricity supply. There is one comfort room and one bathroom equipped with fresh water. There is a strong network signal where you can enjoy net connection all night and day long.

Well-kept cottages and clean surroundings


It was at this time, too, that I negotiated with one resort’s staff to cook our food for dinner and breakfast. All the cutleries for dinner and breakfast were provided. We were charged for P300 for the cooking and the cutleries but satisfied of the service, we opted to pay the staff with P500.

The typical P2,500 per day cottages


After dinner, while enjoying the huge moon above us during a night swim, one of the resort’s staff approached us giving some in-house rules and we learned the following: (1) getting shells has penalty of P2,500; (2) no liquors are allowed in the viewdeck; (3) guests are responsible for the proper waste disposal where we are given three garbage bags segregating the recyclables, biogradable and non-biogradable; (4) our cottage has its own water meter where the first 200 liters is free and the excess would be charged for P1 per liter; (5) entrance fee is P100 per head; (6) boat docking fee is P125; and (7) minimizing noise is enforceable.

The receiving area and balcony of a P2,500 cottage


We woke up at 5:00 A.M. the following day to make sure that we can dip in the beach early in the morning. The water was really clear and irresistibly inviting. As early as 5:30 A.M., our breakfast was already served in our balcony. After rinsing, we trekked around the island which we knew that during high tide, the island transforms into three small islets.

The interior of a P2,500 cottage with a ladder going to the attic


We really wanted to stay but we still had scheduled trips ahead. Thus, at 7:08 A.M. we left the island boarding our chartered boat and reached Naval Port Terminal at 9:05 A.M. It was at the port that we eat much the chicken and pork barbecue and the puso rice. Then, at exactly 9:45 A.M. we left Naval boarding our chartered van heading to our next tourist destination – the Limasawa Island.

The toilet facility of the P2,500 cottage


The P500-rental cottages with common comfort rooms


The Diving Shop offering diving equipment and services


The J17 UP Bridge at the background


The open cottage that can accommodate 20 people for P1,000 rental


An upclose photo of the J17 UP Bridge


A photo of the cottages taken from the J17 UP Bridge


Last group photo in Sambawan island


Capturing the view of Tingkasan Island while on board the boat heading for Naval


Passenger motorized boats docked at Naval Port Terminal


A photo of Boning, our boatman with CP No 09464009849


For the resort's reservation for accommodation, you may contact in advance Mr. JC Manuel in his mobile phone at 09264104866.