Eastern Visayas – A Vacation with Mom

Eastern Visayas is an administrative region in the Philippines as part of Region VIII. This region is consist of Leyte, Samar and Biliran provinces.

As nearest to the Pacific Ocean, this region is mostly the passage way of typhoons. The recent devastation of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) was noted as the strongest typhoon in the entire world for this century.

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Leyte, particularly in Tacloban City is my Mom’s birthplace. After decades of not visiting this place, I decided to treat her a vacation in Eastern Visayas. It was also a pre-birthday celebration for Mom. 🙂

Traveling with your parent is not easy. This is my Mom’s first time to ride a plane, the longest days she was away from our home. I wanted to make the most of out of it on this vacation but I have to consider my Mom’s condition. If she can keep up on kilometres of walk, boat rides, longer bus transfers, etc. But definitely, I wanted her to enjoy these days. So, this was our route then to Eastern Visayas! 🙂

How did we get there? We booked a flight in Travel Tour Expo 2016 to Tacloban City. This is my Mom’s first flight so tell me how is it nervous to fly with your parent? 😀

Where did we stay? It was crunch time at work and almost Christmas when we had our vacation. I was actually the one who knows how traveling will be hassle if you haven’t booked any room accommodation yet (plus yung factor nakasama pa si Mudra). Smart me, I haven’t booked any accommodations for our 6-day vacation. But Mom encouraged to just look for a room or hostel when we arrived. So it has been done, after our breakfast, we looked for a cheap hostel to check in.

We found Traveler’s Suite in Downtown Tacloban. As I don’t want Mom to be tired easily, I never had a chance to look for more hostel. Though the location is good, I was not impressed by the facilities. It is old and bit unpleasant. A night in this inn will do.

Tacloban City

As I know from childhood, Tacloban City is my Mom’s hometown. It is the capital of Leyte. But as time changes, Tacloban City became a horrific site after Typhoon Yolanda. After all the news, this place became a tragic site for many Filipinos.

Yet, Tacloban City is still a part of the travel map of the Philippines. There are many places to visit to relive the history of the Philippines and to showcase Eastern Visayas culture.

Where we have been?After checking in and having some rest in our room, we headed on a DIY city tour. Yey for my Mom as this is what I do every time I travel! DIY, baby!  🙂

Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum–it is said that this one of the Presidential Houses of the Marcos. While heading to Downtown Tacloban, a man told us that this is where the shoes of Imelda Marcos are displayed. All along, I thought it is a church! We wished to enter the museum pero ang mahal! HAHA.

It was like 250+ for each person and to see the shoes and other Marco stuff can be skipped. We just took our photos outside the beautiful façade of the museum. Also, said a little prayer for the real Sto. Niño.

Sto. Niño Cathedral – It has been a part of my solo travel itinerary to visit a Churches on the places I have been to. Since our family is a devout Catholics, Church is a must. We were happy to see the Church open.

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After some minutes of praying and seeing the entire Church, we walked to Tacloban City Hall.

One of Mom’s purpose to revisit Tacloban City is to get a birth certificate. Though we already had an information on how to get it, the documentations and other papers are unattainable.  Mom has no copy of her Baptismal record, no other proof that she was born here. After dropping by at the Civil Registrar, we headed Downtown to see Gen. MacArthur.

Gen. MacArthur Memorial Landing – As a huge fan of  History, this place is definitely on my list! Gen. Mac Arthur landed on in Palo, Leyte. Not far from Tacloban proper, you can reach the site by local commute. The site is free of admission.

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It was quite ecstatic to see the General. The monuments were devastated by Typhoon Yolanda as well. Good thing it was restored immediately.

San Juanico Bridge – The longest bridge in the Philippines that connecting Leyte and Samar. We thought that we can cross the bridge by a jeepney from Downtown but it stopped before reaching the bridge.

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Mom and I met a lovely couple with their daughter. They generously looked for a tricycle that can help us cross the bridge and shared it with them. Though we haven’t stopped on the famous red suspender (only motorcycles can stop as big vehicles will interrupt the traffic on the bridge, mind there are big trucks that always pass by), we were happy to ticked off another bucket list item.

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Crossing the bridge is more exciting than taking photos, I guessed. It is experiencing the real thing. The tricycle driver told that there were many bodies found after typhoon Yolanda near the banks. It was heartbreaking to hear those stories.

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Plus our driver, confirmed that there were babies and women killed to make the bridge stronger. This is a superstition that is followed specially in provinces. Creepy it is, but I guess crossing San Juanico Bridge and just the fact that it connected two provinces is a more interesting story.

After a day in Tacloban City, we left to see Ormoc.

To have an idea of our expenses in Tacloban City, here it is:

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Ormoc City

Another well-known city in Leyte. Aside from the Ormoc landslide on 1991 from the flashfloods caused by another typhoon, Ormoc is known as the hometown of the beauty Lucy Torres. Wife to the actor Richard Gomez. Now, he is the Mayor of this City. These are the few things I know about Ormoc.

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How did we get there?Ormoc is 2-3 hour drive from Tacloban City. From our hostel, it is 10 minute walk to Van-Van’s terminal. We arrived by lunchtime.

Where did we stay?This time, I booked a room in Booking.Com. We stayed at Oriental Pension Plaza. I love the location of this inn. It is 10 minutes walk from the van and multicab terminals.

Downstairs, you will find local restaurants and fast food chains. There are also near convenience stores and drugstores.

Where we have been? It was a short stay in Ormoc City. But I guessed we made the most our of it. Though, we arrived by lunchtime, we had to keep up to see Ormoc! 🙂

Lake Danao – After our lunch, we walked to the multicab terminal going straight to Lake Danao. Locals said that there are few multicabs going to Lake Danao specially on afternoon. After more than 30 minutes of waiting, multicab arrived. I thought that was only it but we need to fill the multicab with passengers. 

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It is actually not part of the itinerary I made. Yet, after searching it online while on the road, this place became more interesting for me.

Lake Danao is a guitar-shaped lake on the island of Leyte. The lake is covering an area of 148 hectares and situated in the 2,193 hectares now proclaimed as Lake Danao Natural Park. The lake covers the Amandiwin mountain range.

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The driver told us that his last trip going back to Ormoc proper is 4 PM. By then, it was 2 PM. I was thinking to cut off the trip since we don’t have any sure transpo going back to our hostel. After few minutes, the multicab is filled with passengers. After all the commodities of locals were picked up, we left Ormoc by 2:30 PM.

While on the road, rain poured hard. We assumed that we will arrive in Lake Danao by 3:20 PM. After dropping off the passengers in different locations, we arrived at Lake Danao by 3:45 PM.

My Mom and I had no chance to see the entire lake or else we don’t know how to get back to Ormoc. We might rent a habal-habal (motorcyle). Mom hesitated to ride it. Rain poured harder. The multicab driver allowed as to see the Lake for 15 minutes. We then grabbed the chance to see Lake Danao in a misty and rainy feels.

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It will be more enticing to swim or paddle on the entire lake but time is running out. The weather is getting worse. After taking some photos, we immediately head back to the multicab.

I guess Lake Danao is just an introduction on how Ormoc feels like – perplexing yet beautiful. We wished to have more time then. Definitely, going there and blending with the locals are the best introduction of Lake Danao.

Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral – It was timely to see to see the Cathedral on a Sunday morning. The Church was full of locals, celebrating the mass with their families.

My Mom and I were a bit on that awkward state. The priest dialect is Visaya. More interesting to hear a mass.

I had a short time as well to take photos of what’s happening outside. #streetphotography

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We also enjoyed the view near the ocean while eating our breakfast. Near a local restaurant is Ormoc City Superdome. Might be their Araneta Center there 🙂

We have to leave Ormoc then head to Biliran next.

Here is much we spent in Ormoc City,

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To follow our adventure to Kalanggaman Island, see Kalanggaman Island – One of the best sandbars in the Philippines.

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