calicoan island

The Essential Leyte and Samar Exposure

Much of what i love about traveling is that you get to see new places, meet and talk to interesting new people, & experience its’ culture first-hand. I got to do all these during my latest amazing trip to the most beautiful underrated places in the Visayan region, Leyte and Samar.

I’ve been wanting to go for so long to Calicoan Island, Eastern Samar(ever since the first time i read about it from a column by the Gypsy Queen & saw it featured on RCTV Ch.36). When my Wow! Phillipines spokesgirl/friend, Gwynne,(who’s literally been to almost all places in our beloved country) informed me last month that we just might be able to go there after an island-hop tour package around Leyte, I couldn’t be pinned down in my excitement(hehe). Another fellow nomad friend, Gayang signed up too. Us three wanderlusts were gonna go on this all-girl beach expedition (i should tell you that makes a heck of a trip indeed, haha).

We arrived at Tabango, Leyte (our townbase during the trip) last Saturday, Oct.21. Here we met & got to talk to their most forward-thinking, genial young Mayor, Sir Benjo and their most open-minded, gracious Board Member, Sir Ruel, who we only got to talk on the phone but to whom both, we can’t thank enough for making our trip most comfortable and enjoyable. Their municipality was sponsoring this seven island/destination trip around Leyte & even north Cebu(Malapascua) which was part of the package. With the weather on our side(thanks to the perfect clear blue skies all throughout the trip), we scaled five islands on that day with our most interesting tour guide, Pablo( who’s a lot like Jim Carrey with all his hyper energy and most funny antics). Higatangan Island - the most unique sand formation(a white sandbar formed like a snake), La Manok Is.- probably the most crystal clear water i ever swam in, Carnasa Is.- an island as huge as Malaspascua we got to marvel at, Isla de Gato - with the most fantastic rock and cave formation, we were informed it was home to thousands of sea snakes (yikes! must be great for divers but i wouldn’t be caught swimming in it ever) and last stop for the day, our very own Malapascua Island where we would spend the night - most beautiful but remaining even more underdeveloped than when i visited it before. I wonder if it is part of a plan to give the island its’ rustic charm(i hope not).

The next day Sunday, Oct.22, we sailed forth immediately after breakfast back to Leyte passing by the last two destinations in the package tour. Bong’s Peak or Kimud Seamount - a volcano-like protrusion from the floor sea bed you can only see by diving and Dawahon Beach - where we took a break for a swim again before heading back for an early afternoon lunch of sumptuous delicious seafood at Tabango. That night we went to visit this most peaceful respite in the hills of Calubihan, Leyte, the St. Therese Retreat House where we met & held the most interesting conversation/interview with Sister Corazon, a most gracious and pleasant contemplative nun who is aspiring for hermitage in the near future. As we asked how someone as friendly as her would ever want to be completely alone(we can hardly fathom it), she simply said it’s a calling from the Lord and she couldn’t think of any other way. Gayang was in tears listening to her. Me, I couldn’t resist to shake the hand of someone so amazing.(I couldn’t stress enough the great people you meet just by traveling).

By 3am Monday morning, Oct.23, we started for our final adventure to Calicoan Island. Accompanied by Mr. Jovic, a friend of Sir Benjo’s, who agreed to escort us, we kissed our drowsiness goodbye when we crossed San Juanico Bridge(boy! did we stop & get a lot of beautiful shots at the sunrise). We arrived at Calicoan around 8:30am and even got lost before that(we drove literally to the end of Eastern Samar- Sulangan, a little further away from Calicoan proper which had the most beautiful natural sand bar on its’ end). Anyhow, we went back on our trail and found ABCD Beach, the longest widest Surfing stretch i’ve seen so far(not even Cloud9 of Siargao is as wide).

Along ABCD Beach is the most beautiful luxury resort, Surf Camp (yes, the same one shown on RCTV, you can only dream of getting to when watching the commercial). But then, we were actually there. It really is all true, everything i’ve seen on TV and read about Calicoan. In fact, it couldn’t be even more beautiful. Gwynne, Gayang, & I swore on our lives that next time when we have the money, we are going back to check in the Camp and not just pose around its’ gorgeous salt-water infinity pool fronting the Pacific Ocean but actually swim in it (you see, the resort has yet to offer day use for its’ facilities). Not the types to fret, we opted for a humbler option(what with our tight budget for the time being, hehe), Gayang & I found this naturally formed infinity pool/acquarium just before the breakers, just a slight walk away from our cottage in a much more cheaper place there than the Surf Camp. Here, we swam and back-floated till we were golden and just hanged loose watching the big beautiful waves a few meters away and looked up only to see perfect blue skies above. At that moment, life was sweeet (I couldn’t thank the Lord enough for everything). That afternoon, my friend Gayang & I owned that most beautiful pool and just as inevitably a way to remember that lovely place forever, we named our own pool, Gaita(a combination of our names, hahaha). How appropriate!:-)

I’ve learned a lot on this trip. I’ve learned that even in these very modern times, you can still rely on kindness from strangers (we are forever grateful to all the great people we met in Leyte & the warm welcome they extended to us). I’ve learned the value of old friends who never left (thanks Gwynnie:-) and the value of true friendship(thanks Gayang:-). I’ve learned that it really is mighty important to go outside the confines of your soul’s four walls and that the only way to do that is to embark on a trip just like this trip i just so have very lengthily written about now.:-) Till the next trip….— posted 10/27/06 on my Friendster blog, Amateur Lover