Philippines’ Beaches: What’s Not to Love?

The Philippines, being an archipelago, is dotted with innumerable pristine, sparkling beaches. Some white, others black, a few brown, and surprisingly pink too! We have beaches that are as fine as talcum powder to gritty, sandy ones, while others are pebble lined. Majority of these tropical paradise boasts off crystal clear water that comes in azure to turquoise colors. Regardless of the color and texture of beaches’ sand and water, Philippines’ seashores will make one’s “beach escapade” memorable and fun!

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Besides the obvious aesthetics of our beaches, here are other reasons why bumming around the beaches of the Philippines is a must doPhilippines’ beaches have a laid-back vibe, especially the small-town beaches and the off-the beaten ones. They are the ultimate relaxation zones perfect for experiencing serenity and peace of mind. One can go for an afternoon walk along the shoreline or sit down under shady palm trees while reading a book. Or just lie down, let the crashing waves touch your feet and the gentle wind kiss your lips. Totally relaxing and an awesome escape to a stressful life!

Philippines’ beaches have a laid-back vibe, especially the small-town beaches and the off-the beaten ones. They are the ultimate relaxation zones perfect for experiencing serenity and peace of mind. One can go for an afternoon walk along the shoreline or sit down under shady palm trees while reading a book. Or just lie down, let the crashing waves touch your feet and the gentle wind kiss your lips. Totally relaxing and an awesome escape to a stressful life!

Philippines’ beaches are home to various water sports and activities. From surfing, to snorkeling to SCUBA diving, kitesurfing, kayaking, island-hopping and many more. Plus, the marine life is teeming with wonders.  One will never run out of things to do. These activities can keep you fit and make your vacation more fun-filled.

Philippines’ beaches showcase some of the most jaw-dropping sunrise and sunset views. Everything turns into a picturesque, surreal nature art once the sun starts to rise. It is even more dramatic during sundown. Sunset by the beach is one thing I look forward the most.

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Philippines’ beaches are generally cheap. While some of our beaches are becoming more and more commercialized, I want to believe that majority of our beaches are still inexpensive, and some even for free. One could spend some time along the beach without worrying about spending much – paying for entrance fees or buying pricey food because again, the cost isn’t really high.

Philippines’ beaches are home to good and hospitable Filipinos. I want to think that Filipino hospitality is evident in almost all parts of the country – whether at the mountain villages, to seaside towns, and various rural areas. Most Filipinos are willing to lend a helping hand in whatever ways they could. Some families would invite you their homes, some would even cook the freshest sea catch of the day for their visitors to have a sumptuous meal.

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They say “life is a beach”. Whether you have a beach bod, dad bod or whatever kind of body figure you have, the beach is one welcoming place for you to experience life, to live life.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Attraversiamo: Crossing the San Juanico Bridge

Attraversiamo is Italian for “let’s cross over or let’s go to the other side“. Ever since I have read the book “Eat, Pray, Love”, this Italian word never left my mind. Moreso when I have watched the film. I just love how the actors enunciated this word. It just sounds so pleasing to the ears. The word is often uttered when people walk down the road. Beyond the aural orgasm it brings to my vestibule-cochlear nerve, I like “attraversiamo” because it’s meaning goes beyond crossing over the other side.

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Attraversiamo means letting go of the past (especially those that has tremendously hurt or disappointed us), the “what was”, “what if’s” and “if only’s” that are setting us back to move forward. This word reminds me to think of the “now”, the “what is” and “what will be”.

In 2011, my friend Imma and I went on a trip to Leyte and Samar. I remember that there were moments when we talked about what we envision to be our personal “Eat, Pray, Love” journey. And attraversiamo has been was an outright topic for conversation then. You see, the island provinces of Samar and Leyte are connected with each other by a lengthy bridge. We were in Samar side when Imma and I decided to go to the other side (Leyte) on FOOT via the San Juanico Bridge.

She was hesitant to do so. I was too. But the sense of excitement has always been at the back of my mind. Well, who wouldn’t? The bridge is considered the longest in the Philippines at 2,200 meters. I knew I wanted to cross the bridge, and I was aware it was a bit tad scary as well.

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“What if my then fear of heights comes back while we were in the middle?”
“What if an earthquake strikes, and we haven’t reached the other side yet?”
“What if Imma, my friend, tells me she can no longer do it?

These were so many thoughts running my mind before we started our foot race. “Attraversiamo” as a word became more significant than ever. We took our time crossing the bridge, stopping from time to time for several reasons. There were times when we had to take photos and marvel at the lovely water view, there were instances when we had to stop because we can feel the bridge shaking as vehicles pass by, and there were moments when I just wanted to pause, breathe, and look back how far we have come. Another notable thing I have observed then when I looked back from where we came from, the clouds were dark and gloomy, while the weather towards the direction we were heading to was all bright and sunny.

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It was yet another moment reminding me that nothing in life is set in stone. That as human beings, we always have the choice to change directions or paths and be better individuals. Crossing over could mean going after our dreams… Getting into the other side could be a way of pursuing our passion. And as I look at my life, it has dawned in me that I have already made several crossovers… Crossovers that led me to where I am right now. Six years after that literal “attraversiamo” moment in Samar-Leyte, I was able to put into fruition my personal “Eat, Pray, Love” journey. And it wasn’t a smooth sailing “attraversiamo”.

I do not epitomize perfection like anyone else. I had a lot of setbacks, rerouting, layovers and even dead ends. I have been ruined from some of my past experiences – from heartbreaks to family problems to work frustrations. And letting go has always been a challenge on my end. But I am learning… slowly learning to do more “attraversiamo”… Baby steps they maybe, but the goal is to keep moving. I am on a constant learning to let go of the pains and become a better version of myself… A Lester who is kind, thankful, optimistic, and nice to everyone… and in everything he does.

Say ATTRAVERSIAMO with love and conviction. Attraversiamo to a wonderful place, to a wonderful change, to a wonderful YOU.

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The Philippine landmark featured in this write-up is The SAN JUANICO BRIDGE.

The San Juanico Bridge is regarded as the longest bridge in the Philippines connecting the islands of Samar and Leyte. It is considered by most as a symbol of love since it is a gift of former Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos to his wife Imelda, a native of Leyte Province.

How to Get There: The San Juanico Bridge is the major route for Eastern Visayans as it connects Tacloban City on the Leyte side and the town of Santa Rita on the Samar side.

From Manila, one can fly to “The Gateway to Eastern Visayas,” Tacloban City, as all major airlines service the city. A bus and ferry ride are also possible options but it will take 24 to 36 hours of travel time. Once in Tacloban, you can take a jeepney or a tricycle going to the bridge. The best way to experience the bridge, just like what I did, is to cross it on foot.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Kalanggaman Island (Palompon, Leyte)

““Let the sea water wet your feet, and the sand be your seat…”

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The moment I saw several photos of my friend on an island’s sand bar and its ever clear turquoise waters wayback 2013, it never left my mind. Every now and then, I would seek for opportunities as to when I could possibly make my way to this indescribably beautiful island.

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Fastforward 2015. July. Rainy season in the Philippines. And I found my way going to Leyte – the home of the very paradise-like Kalanggaman Island. This uninhabited island that is 753 meters in length, is now considered a dream beach destination, not only in the Visayas, but in the entire Philippines. Located in the municipality of Palompon and the province of Leyte, it is known for its stunning sandbar that seem to stretch endlessly into the cerulean waters. The white coralline and sand shoreline and crystal clear waters along both sides of the island adds more beauty to this pristine place.

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FYI: In 2013, the island gained attention after a big cruise ship stopped there to let its guest relax for a few hours.

There are no resorts on Kalanggaman Island. However, the local government of Palompon have established some basic amenities for the comfort of visitors. There are also policemen stationed on the island for the guests ‘security If you intend to stay overnight in the island, make sure to bring your tent and food as there are no available cottages for sleeping and store to buy food.

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So if you want to relax and perhaps, get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, take time to go and see Kalanggaman Island. Bring with you a book to read or walk along and capture how photogenic the island is. Wait for the sun to set or rise, or just laze around and get your skin some sunshine vitamin early in the morning. Of course, swimming and snorkelling are some of the usual activities one can do.

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*Take note of the following reminders: 

Regular Rate (Day Tour)
International Tourists – P500
Non-Palompon Tourists – P150
Non-Palompon College Tourists – P40
Non-Palompon High-school Tourists – P30
Non-Palompon Elementary Pupil – P20
Non-Palomponganon Senior Citizen – P120
Overnight Rates
International Tourists – P750
Non-Palompon Tourists – P225
Non-Palompon College Tourists – P60
Non-Palompon High-school Tourists – P45
Non-Palompon Elementary Pupil – P30
Non-Palomponganon Senior Citizen – P180

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The rates for pumpboats (round trip) are as follow:

P3,000 – for 15 people and below
P3,500 – for 25 people and below
P4,000 – for 30 people and below

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Where to Stay in Palompon Town:

Hutton Lodge
Cor. San Francisco St. & Evangelista St.
Contact number: (053) 338-3098Juan Titang Beach Resort
Brgy. Buaya, Sabang
Palompon, Leyte
Contact number: 0917 741 0259
PACCI House
Rizal Street, Palompon, Leyte
Contact number: (053) 338-2880Whispering Beach Mini Hotel
P. Del Rosario Ext., Brgy. Guiwan I
Contacts numbers: (053) 338-2135/555-8045

*I personally stayed at PACCI House as it is the nearest to the Liberty Park where one has to pay the necessary fees.

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How to Reach Kalanggaman Island?

Fastest way is by air. From Manila, go to Palompon, Leyte via Tacloban Airport or Cebu Airport (a.k.a. Mactan International Airport).

From Tacloban Airport, ride a van going to Palompon. Van rides are found at the Abucay terminal in Tacloban. Trip takes about 4 hours.

From Cebu Airport, ride a taxi and choose from among the following location of shipping lines:

Super Shuttle Ferry (Bogo, Cebu – Palompon Leyte)
– Bogo, Cebu to Palompon, Leyte at 12:00PM daily
– Palompon, Leyte to Bogo, Cebu at 7:30PM daily

Super Shuttle Ferry’s office is located at 38 Gorordo Ave, Cebu City

Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Inc. (Cebu City – Palompon Leyte)
– Cebu City Pier 1 to Palompon at 08:00 PM (Mon, Thu)
– Cebu City Pier 1 to Palompon at 12:00 NN (Sun)
– Palompon to Cebu City Pier 1 at 08:00 AM Tue, Fri)
– Palompon to Cebu City Pier 1 at 10:00 PM (Sun)

Once in Palompon, go to Palompon Liberty Park and pay the necessary fees for the Kalanggaman EcoTour. The boat ride from this point to Kalanggaman Island takes about an hour for regular boats .

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