Chase all kinds of thrills in E. Samar

Chase all kinds of thrills in E. Samar

Chase all kinds of thrills in E. Samar

HELLO, SUNRISE Locals and tourists are treated to a majestic sunrise in Borongan City, capital of Eastern Samar. —ABBIE ODEJERTE

Eastern Samar almost always gets overlooked as a tourist destination, perhaps because it has yet to completely shake off its image as a home to rebels and typhoons.

But it is nevertheless coming into its own, as local businesses continue to open shop to cater to visitors and Philippine Airlines flights between Manila and the capital city of Borongan via Cebu have become regular.


A variety of thrills awaits intrepid visitors with the appetite for new adventures as practically all of the province’s 22 municipalities and capital city have their fair share of attractions.


But since many offer the same charm and some are way off the beaten track, it is best to carefully choose your route if you are in a real time crunch.

And if you just have 48 hours to spend in the province, here’s our suggested itinerary.


We suggest you take one of the many early morning flights from Manila to Tacloban in Leyte to make the most of your time.

While there are flights to Borongan, these are currently limited to twice a week and arrive around noon.

Upon arriving in Tacloban, splurge on getting your own vehicle to get around easier.

First stop: Amandaraga falls, LawaanAbout two hours from Tacloban, this first town in the southern part of the province hides a paradise for nature enthusiasts.


The jumpoff point is a 10-minute motorcycle ride from the town proper.

From there, it is a two-hour hike to the majestic Amandaraga falls. This town actually has three more waterfalls, less accessible but just as stunning

Second stop: Balangiga Monument and BellsIf you are a history buff, then you need to check out these landmarks in this municipality about a 45-minute drive north from Lawaan.

Right at the center of the town plaza is a memorial to the heroes and martyrs of the Philippine-American war locally known as Balangiga Encounter that put this once backwater town in the annals of history.

Designed by National Artist Napoleon Abueva, the memorial showcases the bravery, unity and resiliency of the town’s ancestors.

Within the premises of St. Lawrence the Martyr Parish Church are the three bells, which were taken from the church as war booty after the Philippine-American war in 1901. After years of concerted efforts and lobbying from both the Diocese of Borongan and government officials, the bells are back and on display after 120 years.

BRUNCH: Leonora’s Lutong Bahay, Barangay Buenavista, Quinapondan

After a hike and taste of history, it’s now time to have a taste of local cuisine. While there are other food joints in this popular pit stop about an hour away, this eatery is in a class of its own. Their sisig and bulalo are to die for. Best of all, it is neat and clean, a secret formula strictly applied by the owners; a doctor and a nurse.

Possible next stops:

From Quinapondan, make your way to the southernmost town of Guiuan about another hour away where you have options on where to spend the rest of your first day.

Handig beach, Homonhon islandFrom Guiuan, you can take a one and a half-hour boat ride to Homonhon, where the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan set foot and discovered the Philippines.

Handig beach is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by anyone who enjoys just being near water. Its 500-meter fine white sand without any beachside amenities and cozy accommodation sets it apart from crowded popular destinations.

St. Anthony of Padua Shrine, Barangay Sulangan, GuiuanIf you would rather not get on the boat, then you can choose to nourish your spirit by visiting this shrine dedicated to the patron saint of miracles, lost objects, lost people and lost souls, St. Anthony of Padua.

On his feast day on June 13, thousands of people from all over Visayas and Mindanao flock to this southernmost village, sleeping in their cars and fishing vessels to wait for the procession of the icon.

During bar and board exams, it is not unusual to see people taking a 20-kilometer hike from Guiuan to this shrine to ask the rock star saint to help them pass.

Calicoan Island, GuiuanThis is an underrated surfing haven but is getting discovered by more people who are drawn to its swells and challenging breaks, with the stunning Pacific Ocean’s sunrise and sunset as backdrop. It is called an island yet accessible to all modes of transportation, in between Sulangan and downtown Guiuan.

SNACKS: Kaunan ni Sangkay, Barangay Pagnamitan, Guiuan

The sign means “A Friend’s Eatery” in Waray and the place is as welcoming as it sounds.

Its claim to local fame is the buko halo-halo, shaved ice with all the sweet fillings and milk served in a coconut shell and topped with their homemade ice cream.

CRASH PAD: Sea Quest Lodge and RestoIf you want to wake up to a mesmerizing view of Leyte Gulf, this landmark, which has been welcoming guests for years, is the perfect place to spend the night.

Formerly known as Tanghay Lodge, it has its own restaurant and bar, with outdoor dining in a well-tended garden where you can rest after a full day.


First stop: Canhugas Nature Park, Hernani

After frolicking in beaches or surfing in Guiuan, take in the awe-inspiring sight of massive waves crashing against rugged rocks in this nature park about an hour to the north.

In this rock of ages you will have an unobstructed stunning cliff view of the Pacific Ocean and even feel and taste salt air and sprays.

This geological wonder is easily accessible from the town proper.

Another option: Sea of clouds Barangay Hebacong, BoronganIf you would rather leave Guiuan early and make the two-hour trip north to the capital of Borongan, then make it out early enough to reach this nature park before dawn.

Take a 30-minute chilly motorbike ride from the capital to a hilly lookout point enveloped in thick fog. The stunning view of clouds spilling out across the park is Insta-worthy. At times the park is completely shrouded in mist, but within minutes some sections shift and are blown away and you behold a tree-covered landscape. This scenic natural phenomenon is the city’s newest attraction and a favorite pit stop for local joggers.

BREAKFAST: Ike’s Coffee

If you want a light or heavy breakfast, hot or cold tea, medium or or dark roast coffee bean, this is the outlet for you. Their servings are generous and Ike’s promises superb service and a coffee from an ace barista.

Next stop: Ohana Beach Makate Island, SulatAbout 40 minutes north of Borongan is the town of Sulat, where you can take a boat to this beach.

Getting out on the water is a mandatory part of any visit to this coastal municipality as it offers all types of water sports activities depending on your endurance and skills level: snorkeling, surfing, kayaking among them. Take another 15-minute boat ride to Barangay San Vicente where you can buy the sought after fish pancake or Pudpod, a compulsory souvenir for out-of-towners.

LUNCH: East Wing Restaurant, Dolores

Chances are, you will end up spending the rest of the day at the beach, but just in case you don’t want to soak up too much of the sun, you may consider leaving the island and drive on to this town further north.

The place is spacious and the food is something to write home about. Its best come-on is you can order your food on your way there. Upon arriving, you’ll find your freshly grilled lapu-lapu and sizzling bulalo set at the table.

Next stop: Ilawud Eco-Adventure Park, Barangay Amantacop, Borongan

After that nice lunch, it is time to head back to the capital and this hideaway is a good stop, about 20 minutes from downtown.

You can immerse yourself in nature’s beauty from every angle as you will be overlooking streams and a mini forest. You can also enjoy a dip in its natural spring.

Last stop: Baybay Boulevard, BoronganAside from the Cathedral, this is the place that never runs short of a crowd from sunrise to sunset. Once the cock crows, joggers and bikers would be pacing the kilometer-long walkway and shoreline enjoying the cold and fresh morning air.

Its two basketball courts and skating rink are always jampacked.

The fine black sandy beach is home to volleyball and soccer players and occasionally hosts concerts and other events.

Just recently, the Miss Earth Swimwear competition was held here, where visitors can watch surfers riding the swells.

DINNER: American Ribs and Wings, Borongan

The ribs here fall off the bone and their wings are cooked to perfection and served with an array of sauces. Excellent value for money here.

NIGHT CAP: Baybay Boulevard, Borongan

If you fancy a drink or bite before hitting the sack, there are a number of kiosks and joints that offer all types of drinks and street food.

CRASH PAD: There are plenty of  hotel options when it’s time to unpack your bags.

But if you are a do-it-yourself enthusiast, here is a more intimate budget hideaway you may want to consider:

Lucio’s Cabin, Barangay Campidhan, San Julian

Tucked right off the main highway, about 30 minutes from Borongan, you can have the stunning beach-front sunset and enjoy a bonfire or candlelit dinner. This place guarantees a memorable escape and a rejuvenating break from the everyday.

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You can fall asleep listening to the swoosh of the waves before you get up in the morning and then go back to the city life. —CONTRIBUTED INQ

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