Summer season officially enters the Philippine archipelago, and so, the weather temperature is now rising especially at noon time. So where’s your planned out of town trip? In our case, we kicked-off this summer season with an explosive DIY (do-it-yourself) trip. We explored two provinces in southeastern part of the country, where we experienced nature, city and island adventures in just one escapade.
Leyte is a province in the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region, occupying the northern three-quarters of Leyte Island. Its capital is the city of Tacloban. Biliran, on the otherhand, is an island province in the Philippines also located in the Eastern Visayas region. It is one of the country’s smallest and newest provinces. Formerly a sub-province of Leyte, it became an independent province in 1992. These two island provinces are geographically connected situated in the eastern region along with Samar province. The aforementioned provinces were highly affected and devastated by typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) way back fourth quarter of year 2013. Despite of this calamity event, people nowadays in these provinces are now getting-up and surviving. Their livelihood are getting back, and everything is normalized. Local tourism is getting stronger again as number of local and foreign tourists are increasing. Visitors continue exploring and patronizing the scenic of different local places. Attached to these provinces are well-known places and pristine islands such as; Kalanggaman Island, Maripipi Island, Sambawan Island, San Juanico Bridge, Sohoton Cave, Basey River and many more.
How To Get There in Leyte/Samar/Biliran Provinces?
If you’re planning to visit these provinces, the center point of entry is via Tacloban City in Leyte. From Manila, the fastest way to reach Tacloban City is via air travel where different local airlines provide daily scheduled flight from Manila to Tacloban. Tacloban City airport name is Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport. From there you can ride jeepney or multicab outside the airport that will bring you to the city proper. There are many van terminals in the city proper that aboard to different parts of Leyte, Samar and Biliran provinces.
Leyte – Biliran Trip (4-Days/3-Nights)
Our trip has no formal itineraries nor planned specific destinations, all were just on the spot ‘Leyte-Biliran’ exploration. When our foot landed the ground of Tacloban City, our time was all set and we took it preciously to explore everything.
Day 1 (City Tour)
7am: Arrival at Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport
8am: Checked-in at Basic Room Hotel
10am – 12nn: Start of Leyte trip. Exploring MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park and Sto. Niño Shrine & Heritage Museum
12nn – 1pm: Lunch break at Ocho Seafood Grill
1pm – 6pm: Resume of Leyte trip. Exploring M/V Eva Jocelyn Shrine, San Juanico Bridge, Rafael’s Farm and Palo Cathedral
6pm: End of tour
Day 2 (Nature Trip)
10am: Travel from Tacloban City to Naval via van
12nn: Arrived at Naval, Biliran and checked-in at Fragoh Tourist Inn
1pm – 2pm: Lunch break at Bethany Hill Farm
2pm – 6pm: Start of Biliran trip. Exploring Tinago Falls, Acaban Cave, Caraja Falls, Mainit Hot Spring, Casiawan Falls and Biliran Bridge
6pm: End of tour
Day 3 (Island Tour)
530am – 730am: Travel from Naval to Ormoc City via van
730am – 9:30am: Travel from Ormoc City to Palompon via van
930am – 10am: Bought necessary things like food, drinking water etc to be consumed in the island
1030am – 1130am: Travel from Palompon port to Kalanggaman Island
1130am – 6pm: Swimming, snorkeling, picture taking etc
6pm: End of activities
Day 4 (Free Time)
830am – 930am: Travel from Kalanggaman Island to Palompon port
930am – 1030am: Took a bath and shower at Eco Tourism office
11am – 1pm: Travel from Palompon to Tacloban City
1pm – 4pm: Ate lunch, bought souvenirs and local delicacies, free time
5pm – 530pm: Travel from Downtown to Tacloban Airport
6pm: Departure from Tacloban going back to Manila
Breakdown of Expenses (based on sequential order):
*actual expenses for 2-pax
Jeepney: from Tacloban Airport to Basic Hotel Php10/head (*Php20)
Accommodation: Basic Room Hotel *Php950/overnight
Tour Guide Assistance: *Php800 for entire day city tour
Tourist Fee: Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum entrance fee *Php200 for 3pax, camera fee is *Php30
Lunch: Ocho Seafood Grill Php250/head (*Php500)
Jeepney: From Basic Room Hotel to VanVans terminal Php10/head (*Php20)
Van: from Tacloban to Naval Php110/head (*Php220)
Accommodation: Fragoh Tourist Inn *Php950/overnight
Tour Guide Assistance with lunch and dinner inclusions: Php1200/head (*Php2400)
Van: from Naval to Ormoc City Php130/head (*Php260)
Van: from Ormoc City to Palompon Php110/head (*Php220)
Foods and drinks bought in the Palompon market: *Php500
Tourist Fee: Payment at Eco-Tourism office *Php450
Boat Rental: *Php500 (we were joiners to other group, boat rental is Php3,500)
Van: from Palompon to Tacloban City (Php150/head) *Php300
Total Expenses: Php8,320 (Php4,160/head ≈ $83/head); 4D/3N Leyte-Biliran Trip
The Leyte Landing Memorial is a memorial to the landing of General Douglas MacArthur and his men at Red Beach. It is located in Candahug, a barangay of the municipality of Palo in the province of Leyte, part of the Visayas. Also known as the MacArthur Landing Memorial Park, the memorial consists of larger-than-life bronze statues of the general with other men, including then Philippine president Sergio Osmeña Jr., standing in a man-made pool. The memorial was erected in tribute to MacArthur’s fulfillment of his promise to return to the Philippines after it was occupied by the Japanese during World War II in the Philippines. The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines ended soon after MacArthur landed at Red Beach on October 20, 1944 with 225,000 troops and 600 ships. The anniversary of this event is commemorated annually at the park with a reenactment of the famous landing, attended by local and foreign dignitaries.
The Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum is the most visited spot in Tacloban City for it is known to contain hundreds of artifacts, antiques and art pieces coming from around the world that were collected during the Marcos regime. To name a few there are Italian tiles, Argentine carpets, chandeliers from Czech Republic, Chinese porcelain jars and Austrian mirrors. It is located in Real St, Downtown, Tacloban City, Leyte. When super typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) hit the Philippines in 2013, this beautiful shrine and museum was not immune to the havoc it brought to the country. An entrance fee of about P200-P230 for the tour is collected to help with the maintenance of the shrine and additional fees for those who will use their cameras and video cams. (Rates may subject to change without prior notice).
Unveiled on November 7, 2015, M/V Eva Jocelyn, one of the cargo vessels washed ashore during the storm surge, made as a Yolanda Memorial Marker also known as M/V Eva Jocelyn Shrine in Anibong, Tacloban City. This memorial is in honor of the residents of Barangays; 67, 68, and 69 who died in that spot when this cargo vessel was swept ashore by a gigantic storm surge that was caused by the strong wind that reaches 375 miles per hour.
San Juanico Bridge is part of the Pan-Philippine Highway and stretches from Samar to Leyte across the San Juanico Strait in the Philippines. Its longest length is a steel girder viaduct built on reinforced concrete piers, and its main span is of an arch-shaped truss design. With a total length of 2.16 kilometers (1.34 mi), it is the longest bridge in the Philippines spanning a body of seawater. The bridge was dedicated to Ferdinand Marcos’ wife, Imelda Marcos.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration, also known as Palo Metropolitan Cathedral or simply Palo Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic church located at Palo, Leyte in the Philippines belonging to the Vicariate of Palo under the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Palo.
Tinago Waterfalls. The most hypnotic waterfalls magnificently lay its beauty in the heart of Caibiran rainforest, a loop trail taking 10 minutes from the highway. A hideaway that blends perfectly for nature lovers; rich blend of trees, vines, & other exotic plants accompanied by the cooling & enchanting sounds of rushing streams. It is located in Brgy. Cabibihan, Caibiran Biliran.
The Biliran island province boasts a number of sea caves but perhaps the most famous one is located in the Brgy. Acaban, Culaba. The Acaban Cave or better known as Lover’s Cave, open to crystal blue waters where you can take a leisurely swim without getting smashed on a big waves on a good day.
A bit north of Cabucgayan, Casiawan Falls can put on a good show depending on the amount of recent rainfall, and remain appealingly undeveloped. This falls is said to be home to playful “siaw” fairies. It is a 20-minute ride from Cabucgayan town proper and 1 ½ hrs from Naval then another 10 minutes by foot.
One of the most popular watering spot in the Caibiran Municipality is the spring water located in Barangay Villa Vicenta. Locally known as Mainit or “warm” in English is a popular venue for people who believe in its healing prowess. The Mainit Hot Spring has a man made pool basin with concrete seats which provide comfort to visitors. Surrounded with greenery the Mainit is considered a gift by the Diwata to its local folks due to the scarcity of doctors years ago. The mineral rich waters are believed to treat a wide array of concerns. Since then people from all walks of life have come to visit this haven.
Kalanggaman Island is a beautiful pristine island destination situated in the municipality of Palompon, Leyte. It is well-known for its crystal clear water, white powdery sand and long sand bars stretching on both sides of the island. The surrounding of the beach is really calm, safe and truly relaxing that’s why it’s suitable for family holidays or for short weekend trip.
The island has a length of only 753m and is still uninhabitated. There are no privately owned resorts in the island but overnight camping is allowed. To preserve the beauty of the place, the local tourism office only allows maximum of 500 tourist per day. To provide comfort and security to the tourists, the local government built basic facilities and made the island secured by Tourist Police who are stationed in the island 24/7.
How To Get There in Kalanggaman Island?
From Manila, you can check online the daily flight schedule of Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines and Air Asia going to Tacloban City, Leyte. Take a flight bound to Tacloban City, air travel is about 1-hour and 10-minutes. You’re destined landing airport is Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport. From airport, take a jeepney heading to Downtown, fare is only Php13 per person, just inform the driver to drop you off in either Duptours or Van Vans terminal station. Travel time is approximately 15-20 minutes. Van travel from Tacloban City to Palompon Market will take 2.5 hours, fare is Php150 per person. From Palompon Market, take a 3 to 5 minutes walk approaching to Palompon Eco Tourism Office near Liberty Park for registration. There are many boats at Palompon port that will bring you to Kalanggaman Island if weather permits. Travel time is 1-hour, boat rental is ranging from Php3,000 to Php3,500 depends on the boat capacity. It is highly suggested to take the boat in a big group or joiners for a cheaper rental fee contribution.
From Cebu, travel by boat or a fastcraft to Ormoc City, or you can travel by land to Bogo City then take a boat ride to either to Palompon or you can go straight to Kalanggaman Island. There are daily boat trips plying the Cebu City-Palompon route by Super Shuttle Ferry Pier 8 Private Pier Terminal in North Reclamation Area, Cebu City (Telephone: (032) 232-3150, (032) 231-0639, (032) 234-4121, (032) 345-5581).
From Malapascua Island, it’s a 1 1/2 hour to two-hour boat ride to the island.
Travel Tips in Kalanggaman Island
¤ Make sure that you already contact the Palompon Ecotours Office at-least one month prior of your planned and scheduled trip to the island for reservation (053-338-2094) Mobile (0917 303 7267) (0917 303 7269) or visit their website (www.palompon-leyte.gov.ph).
¤ It is best to visit the island in big group of guests or joiners to have a cheaper contribution on boat rental fee. Boat rental fee is fixed and is ranging from Php3,000 to Php3,500 depends on the boat capacity
¤ As soon as you arrived in Palompon, Leyte, be sure to buy all your necessary stuff in the market like foods, drinks, batteries etc that you’ll be bringing to the island. There is no store nor commercial establishments in the island to accommodate all your needs.
¤ Bring a thrash bag with you for your waste and left-over foods.
¤ Before alighting the boat and setting to the island, don’t forget to approach your boat man or operator for your gallon of fresh water for personal use. Take note that there is no fresh water available in the island for your hygienic needs and personal use. This fresh water is a free of charge and included in the boat rental fee you’ve paid for, provided by the boat operators.
¤ It is recommended to aboard to/from Kalanggaman Island as early as 6am and until 12noon. During this time, sea current is calm and good to sail smoothly.
Our ‘on the spot’ Leyte – Biliran trip was not enjoyable if we failed to meet the hospitable locals who guided and assisted us during our trip.
►Mr. Richard Albelda of 3KR’s Travel and Tour
Contact Number: 0975-7395799
>When we arrived at Tacloban City, we immediately tried browsing the DIY Travel Facebook group page to search contact person or tour guide who can assist us in our trip on that same day. Luckily, we found a contact person and met this guy, Richard of 3KR’s Travel and Tours, around Tacloban City (thanks to DIY Travel Facebook page). We highly needed an assistance in touring the place since we have no idea on the transportation route, also, to know further the particular tourist spots in the area. Initially, Joanne and I opted to hire the service offer and assistance of Richard on the first day of our city tour only (take note: hiring him for our first day tour only). But suddenly everything’s changed, and at the end of the day, we decided to hire him again to accompany us on our Biliran tour the following day. We were convinced to hire him again because he is very nice and accommodating. He even offered and gave us Leyte souvenirs and bottled drinking water during our trip. And most especially, he added free lunch and dinner on his service inclusions in our Day-2 trip. Other inclusions on his services are; van transfer from/to accommodation and van terminal. He is one of the owners of 3KR’s Travel and Tours that offers tour assistance in Leyte and Biliran provinces. Their main office is located at Biliran province. Mr. Richard and the rest of 3KR’s Travel and Tours team is highly recommended tour guide, especially, to those travel budgetarians and backpackers like us who often travel on the spot without planned itineraries. Thumbs up 3KR’s!
►Ms. Mae Dungo of Eco-Tourism Office
Contact Number: 0906-9753053
>Tourists who are planning to visit Kalanggaman Island in Palompom, Leyte, must have a reservation first at Eco-Tourism Office at-least one month prior. LGU (Local Government Unit) limits the number of local and foreign guests who visit the island to prevent over crowded. Trip to the island is per schedule basis depends on the availability and confirmation of the tourism office. In this such, Ms. Mae Dungo was our contact person who confirmed us on our scheduled island trip. When we arrived at the tourism office, Mae was not around as she left to Manila for her personal engagement. But she endorsed to us her nephew, Zardo. This young boy assisted us in booking for a boat trip that day boarding to the island. He provided us brief info about the island and the things to do. As per him, they also arrange tour package aside from Kalanggaman Island trip. If you guys are planning to visit this pristine island, you may directly call Mae Dungo for reservation and assistance.
Our four days Leyte – Biliran trip was a blast and very remarkable. No planned itineraries at all, we had so much fun! Kudos to the locals who assisted and accommodated us during our trip. Inspite of this 4-days travel, there are still lots of wonderful places that we missed in Leyte and Biliran. And just like Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s famous line, I shall return! Yeah.. We will definitely come back…
It’s better Leyte than never!