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
In the tourism map of the Philippines, Limasawa is not really a well-known destination. However, if you happen to visit the place, you will be enticed by its charm dotted with pristine and white beaches. This fact, however, was not a part of my intention to visit the place but rather its historical value. Every year for the last five years, I always planned of visiting this place but it was only this May 2015 that such plan had materialized. My reason of always shelving it from my original plan is its remoteness and isolation.
Limasawa Island is an island municipality at sixth class in Southern Leyte composed of six (6) barangays, namely: Cabulihan, Lugsongan, Magallanes, San Agustin (Tawid), San Bernardo (Tigib) and Triana. This island is also known as Sarangani Island of about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) long from north to south.
Yes! Limasawa is somewhat remote as to transport accessibility. But it is worth to visit. It is near Maasin City which is 70 minutes road travel to the Municipality of Padre Burgos where a boat transport to Limasawa is available. Maasin City has an airport for it does not service commercial flights since it has no terminal. Our 30-minute travel from Padre Burgos Port to Brgy. Lugsongan of Limasawa is very much rewarding as the clear aquamarine water can even show its seabed. Our chartered opted to navigate to Lugsongan because Dakdak Beach Resort which is our accommodation is located in this barangay.
It was already 3:30 P.M. when we arrived at Dakdak Beach Resort and from there, we wasted no time to visit the National Shrine for the First Holy Mass in the Philippines. First, we trek through the white sand beach coast but we find it far to walk. Thus, we hired habal-habal (single motorcycle) to drive us to the National Shrine for the First Mass. It is the only means of transportation in moving around the island.
This national shrine which commemorates the First Mass celebrated in the Philippines in the morning of Easter Sunday of March 31, 1521 by the group of Magellan when they landed in Limasawa as part of their voyage. Magellan sent ashore Father Pedro de Valderrama to meet the two rajahs of Limasawa in the name of Rajah Kolambu and Rajah Si-Agu, through an interpreter to ask if holy mass can be held by Father Valderrama. The two rajahs consented and even sent gifts. With this, the whole group of Magellan went ashore to Limasawa and as they set foot the island, they fired an opening salvo of six guns as a sign of peace. The two rajahs and Magellan along with his sailors embraced each other as they marched to the place of worship which is now the Shrine. During the mass, the two rajahs remained on their knees with clasped hands. At the elevation, the ships fired all their artillery in response to musket signal from the shore.
The shrine is erected in a spacious park manned by a caretaker who also serve as the tour guide. He can discuss all the historical details of the shrine articulately and fluently without batting his eyelashes. There is no entrance fee but the guests can give donation for the maintenance of the place.
Visiting the shrine does not end it there as one has the option to scale through 450 steps to see where the first cross was installed by the group of Magellan after the first Mass was held in the island.
For elders, scaling a 450-stair trail is an exhausting activity. Thus, it is advisable that tourists should visit the place early so that they have ample time to climb the hill. Besides, ascending the hilltop showcases a breathtaking scenery of the neighboring lowlands as well as the seascape along with the nearby islands.
I was disappointed that when I reached the top of the hill where the First Cross was installed, its horizontal part is already downed due to Typhoon Yolanda and it was left untouched since then. However, this cross is only a replica with its original one kept in the Vatican according to our guide.
Staying on the summit is quite relaxing and would even push one to travel back on time when the actual First Mass was held. Seascape is the most scenery which can be viewed from the summit.
Trekking down the summit is absolutely and equally rewarding as aside from the unlimited postcard perfect pictures you can capture, you can see a number of species of butterflies and birds. To make it more relaxing, concrete shades equipped with concrete benches are erected. Seeing concrete benches in every station is very much inviting to signal for rest. With this elevation, visitors are advised to take with them enough water to quench their thirst.
After the shrine, a visitor may opt to tour around the island. An alternative is to visit its poblacion in Barangay Magallanes where the Municipal Hall is located. It is surprising that next to the municipal hall is a huge covered basketball court. It is along a shady beach coast and inhabited by hundred of locals. It is a typical rural barangay which you can find elsewhere in the country.
It is good to note that the municipality has almost concrete two-lane roads mostly found along the coastal areas. From Barangay Magallanes, my habal-habal driver and me had a refreshing drive cutting through the peaceful barangays of Cabulihan, Triana, San Bernardo and finally to San Agustin.
San Agustin was really my final destination as I was curious then how its lighthouse looks like. It was almost dark when we got there. The habal-habal was parked in a nearby public elementary school and we walked for more than 500 meters to reach there. On its side was a deep cliff and virgin beach. But it was too stiff for one to scale down. Besides, it was getting dark already.
It was getting dark but I can still see how the sun sets in all its glory. It was really amazing as my habal-habal driver and I witnessed how sun completely rested on its own. After this, we drove for more than an hour heading to my accommodation in Dakdak Beach Resort in Barangay Lugsongan and it was completely dark already.
Would you believe that we stayed in Limasawa Island for 3 days and 2 nights. We just love the island so much. We love the food and our accommodation in Dakdak Beach Resort was really that great since the owner personally cooked our food in every meal at a very low price of P150 per meal with five kinds of viands.
Since I was alone in my island tour during the first day, I joined again my group in the island tour on the second day. We followed the same routes as what I did during the first day. Each of us paid P140 for the entire island tour. Afterall, it was a long drive then.
Limasawa island is not at all isolated when it comes to network and signal connection. Personally using a Globe mobile network connection, I can check and upload photos in my Facebook account. There is a supply of electricity from 5 P.M. to 2 A.M. and so guests can charged their mobile phones.
The supply of water was never a problem in the island for non-drinking purposes. In fact, I was able to wash all my clothes and dried it before we left Limasawa. To be sure, however, one can provide a distilled water which they can buy in Padre Burgos town before they board a boat going to Limasawa Island.
The following pictures are randomly taken while on board our boat going back to Padre Burgos Port as we head to Maasin City, then to Hilongos and finally to Cebu City for our flight to Manila.
HOW TO GET THERE:
There are four options going to this place, namely:
FROM MANILA TO PADRE BURGOS MUNICIPALITY OF SOUTHERN LEYTE
By Air from Manila to Tacloban City Airport. Then by land from Tacloban to Padre Burgos for 158 kilometers or 2 hours and 30 minutes travel. However, the above is just an approximation. Road conditions, diversions, weather conditions, traffic, etc. will affect driving distance and also the total travel time.
By Air from Manila to Ormoc City Airport. Then by land from Ormoc to Padre Burgos via Maasin, Leyte for 136 kilometers and 20 minutes. However, the above is just an approximation. Road conditions, diversions, weather conditions, traffic, etc. will affect driving distance and also the total travel time.
By Air from Manila to Cebu-Mactan Airport. Then take a ferry ship from Pier 4 of Cebu City to Hilongos Port of Southern Leyte for 6.5 hours. From Hilongos, take a service bus provided by the ferry ship for an hour to Maasin City. From Maasin City, take a jeepney to Padre Burgos Port for more than an hour. However, the above is just an approximation. Road conditions, diversions, weather conditions, traffic, etc. will affect driving distance and also the total travel time.
By Land, take a bus from Manila to Maasin, Southern Leyte for 928 kilometers which includes a ferry boat crossing from Matnog, Sorsogon of the Bicol Peninsula to Allen, Northern Samar through the sometimes rough and turbulent seas of San Bernardino Strait. The availability of the ferry may depend on the number of vehicles boarding the ferry boat. During the peak season, buses and vehicles can fall into a line as long as 1 kilometer or more delaying the buses to cross to Samar island. Then, with the same bus, it will cross the majestic San Juanico Bridge connecting the islands of Samar and Leyte. Then, from Tacloban, the travel continues to Padre Burgos municipality. With this, the road travel may reach until more than 1 and a half days.
FROM PADRE BURGOS PORT TO LIMASAWA ISLAND
Take a chartered boat from Padre Burgos Port to any part of the island for almost an hour. Non-chartered boats has corresponding barangay port in Limasawa island with more than an hour travel time.