Gems of Guiuan (Eastern Samar, PH)

“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”  – William Shakespeare

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My interest in visiting the southernmost tip of Samar Island came about when I first saw an article saying that it is home to a great surfing spot as it faces the Pacific. I became more eager to set foot in this town when I have learned that it is the hardest hit during the Yolanda catastrophe. I wanted to know how the people are and how much damage was caused. Located at the eastern most side of the Philippines, Guiuan is a town frequented by (strong) typhoons. It is part of Eastern Samar, one of the 3 provinces that comprise the entire Samar Island.

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So the next time I was in Tacloban, I made my way to this seemingly quiet seaside town. Going to this town was not as difficult as I thought since it only took me a van ride away (around 4 hours of travel time). Upon reaching the town, Imy friend and I quickly grabbed something to eat before haggling with a tricycle driver who will take us to 2 of Guiuan’s most visited places.

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Our first stop is the famed Calicoan Island, established to be Visayas’ surfing hub. One will pass by some very scenic views despite the obvious remnants of typhoon Yolanda. Upon reaching the main surf area, I was amazed to see various shades of blue – azure sky, cerulean waters with beginner’s waves, and some rock formations along the shore. There were several locals surfing. The view of the Pacific was just lovely. This popular surf spot in Calicoan Island is said to feature what they call the “Jurassic Waves”. (I am not aware though why they called it such).

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After visiting Calicoan Island, we then went to Pagnamitan Bridge and its natural pools. The bridge serves to connect the island of Calicoan and mainland Guiuan. One would immediately gaze at the natural “swimming pools” below it. According to a local, the depth of these pools can range from 3ft-7ft or even more depending on the tide. Water was really inviting but I had to contain myself as I did not bring with me extra clothes. So better luck next time. Hahaha…

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It was a short visit to Guiuan. Nonetheless, it was great seeing those 2 places. I love how not touristy the place is. Moreover, I am happy that the people and the town itself has improved since Yolanda. I would love to visit the place again in the future and see more of its beauty. And oh, did I mention that the sunset is just magical at this side of the Philippines. Well yes, truly magical.

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How to Get to Guiuan:

From Manila, ride a planeto Tacloban City (nearest) or Cebu City. From Tacloban City, you can ride a van going to Guiuan. There are two well-known companies that ply to various places in Leyte and Samar — Duptours and Van Vans. The usual fare is Php150-180. It will take you 3-4 hours to reach the town of Guiuan. One may also opt to take the bus (Silver Star or Eagle Star) in the bus station near Farmers, Cubao. The fare is usually 2000-3000php one way. This will take you on a very long, 24hours (more or less) ride to reach Guiuan.

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From Cebu, one can take the Supercat to reach Ormoc City in Leyte, then ride a bus bound for Tacloban; and finally, a van or bus from Tacloban to Guiuan. Once in Guiuan, rent a tricycle for a fixed price (you have to negotiate with the driver. Prices depend as to how many places you want to see and visit).  If you are in for a surfing action, visit the local surf club “headquarters” located at the Calicoan Villa.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

Lulugayan Falls (Calbiga, Samar PH)

In life, we are confronted with several options. Travelling may serve the same options life gives – the more popular and safe ones or the off-beaten tracks that is defined by uncertainty. Which path to take is determined entirely by our own actions, our decisions, and our priorities. I personally like roads that are less travelled. One of my backpacking experiences in the Visayas has led me to explore a place only to most locals knew of. DSC_3903 After an awesome trip to Biri and Capul Islands in Northern Samar, my friend Imma and I were off to Tacloban. But for some reasons, we ended up working pur way to a quiet town in Western Samar called Calbiga. Calbiga is home to a cave system known to some. But we were more interested when their tourism officer mentioned about a falls they call their version of a “Mini Niagara” at this side of the Philippines.DSC_3907So, without any know-how of this waterfalls, we bravely made our way to the mountainous area of Calbiga and see for ourselves Lulugayan Falls. The term “lologayan” or “lulugayan” came from the waray-waray root word “logay” meaning to unfold a braided long hair.  The term probably came from a legend of a maiden who frequently visited the place to rinse her long hair.  Lulugayan Falls is is said to have originated from Calidongan Lake to which the water goes down the Calbiga River.PicMonkey CollageThe fastest way is through a “habal-habal”/ motorcycle. Going to the site, we had to endure some butt-cracking-cramping ride. The roads are exquisitely unpaved, muddy and long and winding. It took as an hour or so before we reached the jump-off site. From the registration area, a 740 meter trail awaits to saunter for approximately twenty to thirty minutes well before you see the waterfalls. (Actually, from afar, one could already see the surprisingly wide waterfalls plus its cascading waters flowing into the Calbiga River).DSC_3892As we continue walking through the narrow trail, we were greeted by trees that reach a hundred feet into the air, and some chirping birds and butterflies freely roaming. Then you’ll notice a butterfly tiled path that leads directly to the waterfalls.DSC_3898As we draw nearer, the mist coming from the waterfalls gently touched my face as if it is telling me – “God bless you for you have seen such great beauty”. And the thud of water pouring is telling me to “come and take a plunge”.DSC_3941I had to stop for a moment from where I was standing and allowed myself to be amazed (once again) by God’s awesome creation. It wasn’t something I have expected. The utter volume of water gushing over the rocks and the picturesque view of the falls (despite the gloomy/cloudy weather that day) is such a sight to behold. Really stunning! Truly, the Philippines is gifted with so many natural wonders.CSC_4085 DSC_4033 How To Get There: Calbiga is an hour travel away from Tacloban, known to be a fourth class municipality in the province of Samar. Passing through the famous San Juanico Bridge that connects the province of Samar and Leyte, couple of towns of Samar. From the town of Calbiga, hire a habal-habal that will take you to Lulugayan Falls in Brgy. Literon.DSC_3985 DSC_3952Note: Other than taking a relaxing bath at the falls, you can also do tubing activity. And if the current from the waterfalls isnt too strong, one may hike up to Calidongan Lake  🙂