Let me share with you my new goal for this year and for the coming years: to travel and to discover every culture and province in my own country, Philippines – starting with the City of Hope, Tacloban.
Just a quick back-story: Back in November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan took a direct hit to the city causing massive destruction that led to Tacloban’s ground zero. Our tourist guide, kuya Butz Eguia, told us that it was a 13 feet storm surge, and that they were back to square one. But they are thankful to everyone who helped them and prayed for them, as they are now back on their feet.
And now, seeing how lovely Tacloban is and how happy the smiles of its people, makes me feel hopeful, inspired and also, proud of how strong they become to stand on their own and start again.
All this I learned and witnessed as we explored Tacloban last June. Unfortunately, we only had three days to travel, but we made sure to maximize each day and managed to visit some of the best destinations in both Tacloban and Samar.
1. Sangyaw Festival
Sangyaw festival is indeed memorable not only because it is the first festival I have seen in the Philippines, but also because of the devotion of the people of Tacloban to their patron, Sto. Niño: women carrying the Sto. Niño statue while dancing as a symbol of the native Catholic ritual thanking him for the blessings that he has brought. Additionally, the colorful lights and costumes were so striking and beautifully done!
2. Dreamland Tacloban
Every June 29th, a street party tradition happens after the Sangyaw festival known as Dreamland – Tacloban’s version of Tomorrowland. And this year, we got to experience partying, dancing and drinking in Tacloban, and it was so fun – I think this is something you should see if it is your first time to attend Sangyaw Festival.
3. San Juanico Banca Cruise Tour
There is no reason to miss seeing the beauty of the San Juanico Bridge if you are visiting Tacloban. You have two choices: to see it over or under – obviously, we opted to see it under as we tried the San juanico Banca Cruise Tour.
Just a quick trivia: The San Juanico Bridge connects the provinces of Samar and Leyte and is known to be the longest bridge in the Philippines.
Going back, the Sightseeing Tour costs Php 450 per head. There are other options too such as Island Hopping Tour for Php 600, San Juanico Island Hopping with Boodle for Php 800 and Dinner Cruise for Php 1,000. And because we only opted for the Sighteeing Tour, we had our boodle fight lunch at The Breeze by Aqua Momentum.
4. The Breeze by Aqua Momentum
To be honest, it is one of the delish boodle fights I had! It has prawns, calamares, fried fish, grilled pork, veggies like eggplant and water spinach, and many more! Everything is fresh and tasty!
Aqua Momentum has other tour packages that you should check out if you are in Tacloban: Kalanggaman Escapade, Marabut Rock Formation Tour and Sohotan Cave and Natural Bridge Experience. Click this link for more details: Aqua Momentum Tacloban Tour Packages
5. Torpedo Boat Adventure
This is definitely one of the highlights of our trip! The Torpedo Boat Adventure is in Ulot River, Paranas, Samar. I am not sure how to get there via public transportation if you are coming from Tacloban, the only thing I knew is that there is a van going to Catbalogan at the Grand Tours Terminal. Nevertheless, if you decided to rent a van like what we did, the travel time is one and a half hour to two hours – we reached the Ulot Riverafter two hours from The Oriental Hotel.
First thing we did was to register at the registration area – this is where you should also pay Php 1,825 per boat. Afterwards, we were assisted to wear the life vests and helmets for our safety, and we were told that the only time we can remove the safety gears is when jumping in Deni’s Point.
Throughout the boat ride, three persons accompanied us: one driver, one tour guide and one point man, so there was really nothing to worry about – just make sure to secure your gadgets, bring water bags!
So after 20 minutes, we reached Deni’s Point! I had no plan of jumping, but because Seph and Pax did, and Seph agreed to jump with me, I did! It was a fun experience, and the water is really refreshing!
Oh if you are wondering where you can change and shower, there is a comfort room in the registration area. While for your things, better to bring only the stuff you need as there are times when the lockers are all occupied.
6. San Juan By The Bay and Bamboo Mangrove Foot Rail
First impression? I love the whole idea of the place: you will be picking up by a floating hut to take you to the floating restaurant or you can walk on 400 meters boardwalk along mangrove area.
One of the views in San Juan By The Bay is the San Juanico Bridge!
The food is of course, fresh and delightful – everything we ate in this trip is delicious by the way! The place is quiet and the view is relaxing, which makes it the perfect place to eat and chill – just make sure to visit on a clear day to really enjoy the view. There are also activities that you can do such as kayaking, fishing, snorkeling and swimming.
San Juan By The Bay and Bamboo Mangrove Foot Rail is located at Barangay San Juan, Sta. Rita, Samar.
Too bad we did not get to see the famous Sohotan river, caves, rock formations, and natural bridge, but I am sure there is still a next time!
How to go to Tacloban? The best and faster way is by a plane of course, but which airline is cheaper? AirAsia was recognized as the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for 10 consecutive years, which means, if you want cheaper flights, you should book your flights with AirAsia. Additionally, you can already fly from Clark airport to Tacloban!
To give you an idea on how cheap their fare is, I checked it and the lowest one-way fare from Manila and Clark to Tacloban is Php 1,157 – the travel dates are the whole month of September, a couple of days in October, and a few days in November and December 2018. See more details at www.airasia.com!
Drone shots by Seph Cham