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What’s your favorite destination in Region 8?

As we commemorate the third anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda hitting the Philippines on Nov. 8, we celebrate renewal and hope. And what better way to give our continued support to the region that’s building back than exploring its still raw beauty?

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By Anonymous

  • Kalanggaman Island

  • Coastal town of Padre Burgos

  • Lake Danao

  • Palo Cathedral

  • Dolores beach town

  • Kalanggaman Island

  • Leyte’s plaza

  • The beach town of Dolores and Tanauan

  • Capul Island

  • Ulot River

  • The clear water inside Linao Cave

  • Highside Restaurant

  • Highside Restaurant utilizesobjects that were damaged during ST Yolanda and made them decors for this motorcycle themed bar.

  • Dolores beach town

    distination mb19My favorite place in Leyte is the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration, also known as the Palo Cathedral. Founded in 1596 by the Jesuit missionaries, this more than three-century-old church edifice is a mute witness to our province’s history. Not only did it become a center for Catholic missionary activities in the region, it also served as a field hospital during the Second World War. It is also known for the 300-year-old observance of the Penitentes, a tradition brought from Spain by the Franciscans and annual Passion play during the Holy Week where the whole town participates. It was severely destroyed during typhoon Yolanda, but almost a year after it was rebuilt and restored back to its original architecture. In Jan 2015, it became one of the few cathedrals in the country to have welcomed Pope Francis, who visited Tacloban and Palo. For me, Palo Cathedral is not only the spiritual center of Leyte, it is an enduring monument to our colorful past, to the resilience of our people and to a future which in faith we confidently put in God’s own hands. —Jude Acidre

    distination mb23I’ve always had this fascination for breaking dawns, and scenic sunrises are best seen in almost every corner of Eastern Visayas. But if there’s one place whose sunrise took my breath away, that would be in Dolores. Situated far up north in the Eastern Samar ridge, Dolores is nothing out of the ordinary: a beach town whose locals know each other’s roots, quiet during daytime and totally radio silent at night. It timidly shows off a few beautiful islands, which themselves are very aloof and unassuming but definitely pristine once met face to face by their beholder. But more than the white sand shores and clear cerulean waters which make up every traveler’s idea of heaven, for me Dolores the one place where I got to savor a moment or two of inner peace. It was a February morning. I spent the night at the town’s Hilabaan Island, and upon waking up I decided to stroll on its shores, until I reached its rocky mangroves. This side of the island offers an unadulterated view of the Pacific, and right at that very moment I got to see the sun glow so bright as it seemingly rose from its sleep. Its rays were blinding, and the waters glittered with red and orange and yellow shades as it came up. It was as if time stopped, and the scene was deceiving, in photos it would have been mistaken for a sunset. Watching the sun from the island gave me this kind of natural high—I felt calm and comforted, detached from all the anxieties I was living with. And yes, it was that kind of peace I am yearning to feel, even to this day. I guess it’s time to pack my bags and pay the town a visit again. —Fae Cheska Marie Esperasdistination mb20

    I love the San Juanico Bridge. For me, it represents passionate love and power. It also is a symbol of unity. I think it should be in the bucket list of all Filipinos. —Marifel Sia Palami

    I liked Lake Danao before Yolanda but learned to love it after. Four days after ST Yolanda made landfall, we traveled to Tacloban to rescue our family and bring them to Ormoc, but along the way we saw with our own eyes the destruction it caused. There were no trees left standing. The mountains barren, not a single leaf to see and chaos everywhere. Bleak. Desolate.distination mb21

    Lake Danao became iconic to me after Yolanda because it represented what we lost for a time after the devastation—life and hope. To me, the lush greeneries and tranquility of the lake are a representation of it. When it recovered its beauty after a year, I knew that we would also reclaim for ourselves the chance to be more appreciative of what’s being given to us and the ability to make our existence matter.—Apple Anido Alagon

    distination mb22Linao Cave, Calicoan Island, Eastern Samar! Unknown to many, there is a cave with turquoise blue water tucked in what is dubbed as the surfing capital of Samar. It was love at first sight because of the serene feeling one would normally get after swimming across cave in pitch darkness just to get to the entry point of Linao. Even all my friends whom I took there were equally mesmerized. —Nikov Bohol Ng

    distination mb25Capul Island, Northern Samar. Head north to Dapdap Port in Allen and take a 45-minute motor boat ride to Capul. The island of Capul offers the adventure of a lifetime. The warm and hospitable people, its breathtaking sunset by the lighthouse, and pristine crystal clear white sand beach of Magloyuan will make a captivating and charming escape. —Zarah Mercado

    distination mb24An all-time favorite of tourists both international and local for a couple of years now, Kalanggaman Island is a must visit destination in Eastern Visayas.  Be spoiled with the natural beauty that surrounds the island. The island is still bare, although there are just a few new structures built on it. Those who stay overnight come ready with their tents and all. There are picnic kiosks for rent, with tables and chairs. There are public restrooms, but be forewarned though that there are no commercial stores, no restaurants there. So one has to bring own food and water provisions. There is no electricity power on the island. To those who love taking the less beaten path and being away, literally far from it all, but still stay connected with the rest of the world, nothing can be better than Kalanggaman Island. It is nature at its best! —Ludette Ruiz

    distination mb26Busay Falls, Babatngun, Leyte where the waters are pristine and the trek accessible. When I went there, it was a three-level falls, each level having a different feel to the water, and at different depths, with the last level being the coolest part of all. The site was surrounded with humongous boulders almost like it was cupped in a pair of hands, within a lush green forest, serene with the echoes of birds in the background. —Earlbhert Lauzon Fabella

    distination mb11One should visit Kalanggaman Island in Leyte. This gorgeous sandbar in the town of Palompon is a place one can visit repeatedly without worrying about irresponsible tourism. Despite the crowds during holidays, tourists are regulated, properly registered, and briefed on proper waste disposal. Before leaving the island, the boatmen ensure that garbage is kept to a bare minimum by collecting waste bags and bringing them to the mainland. Sadly, these policies are only optional in other local tourist destinations. —Mark Anthony Togonon

    distination mb13After the typhoon, when foreign aid workers told me about the beauty of our province, I set out to discover for myself. I went on a spontaneous road trip and we decided to go to the Olot River in Paranas, Western Samar. Here you can go on a torpedo ride, which was so fun. I was lucky enough to see wild birds flying overhead and a couple of monkeys swinging from the trees. And after the long torpedo ride we got to jump off the big rocks to the deeper end of the river. My heart was pumping and my adrenaline was kicking in but it was so much fun to do that!

    Another fave is Cuatros Islas, made up of four islands named Digyo, Himolikan, Apid, and Mahaba. Digyo, my favorite, is a place you can snorkel in, grill freshly caught fish, and soak up the sun. You’ll feel like you have the entire island to yourself. We paid P2,000 to tour the four islands and have the fisherman grill the fish we caught for us.—Vanessa Salazar

    distination mb12Three and a half hours away from Tacloban is a quiet and laidback town called Padre Burgos. Beyond its white sand beaches and towering crevices is an abundant marine life. Several foreign divers visit the place since its dive spots are said to be world class. I did not get a chance to explore its dive spots yet because one needs a license to do so. With its pristine turquoise waters, one can go snorkeling even without going to the deep part of the ocean. With just a pair of snorkeling goggles, all you need to do is just bend your knees, go underwater, and you get a beautiful panoramic view of life beneath the tranquil sea. For the adventurous, they also have a snorkeling spot with depths ranging from 20 to 40 feet. I was able to swim without my life vest on for the first time, I was scared at first but I knew I would regret it if I let my fear take over. Thankfully, my eagerness to explore outweighed my fears; I was in awe of the magnificence of Padre Burgos’ underwater paradise. The place made me do things I never thought I could do, which is why it is my favorite spot in Leyte. —Joanna Sustento

    distination mb16My love for nature will always be rooted from the unspoiled destinations of Eastern Visayas. Most of our first-time visitors say we are such an underrated region—and I agree! My family’s love for traveling has always been fueled by the excitement of an undiscovered spot just within our backyard. Come swim with us in the clear blue waters of Kalanggaman Island, or explore jaw-dropping Sohoton Caves. Shriek with us on the torpedo boats of Olot River and take a plunge into the roaring river right after! Our beaches, caves, and rivers offer different adventures to more than satisfy one’s wanderlust, and we can’t wait to share these to the world! —Nani Banzon

    distination mb14My favorite destination is Biri Island in Northern Samar where one will find the series of the most grand and majestic rock formations in the country. Biri Island lies at the entrance of the San Bernardino Strait separating Luzon from the Visayas, at its mouth facing the mighty Pacific Ocean. As such, it’s no wonder these rock outcroppings, which are huge and sizable—some of them are as tall as a four-storey building—shaped by nature’s elements over thousands nay centuries of time, are truly a visual feast for first-timers. It is, for me, one of the most impressive and beautiful natural wonders of the Philippines. —Gerry Ruiz

    distination mb15I love walking along the streets of Tacloban City because it reminds me of the stores and restaurants I used to go to and most especially of the people I used to hang out with. I feel nostalgic whenever I pass by the parks and plazas in downtown Tacloban where cultural shows were held during fiesta. I remember how fun it was to participate in the Pintados festival where we got play with paint as face make up or T-shirt design. These memories are one of the reasons I come back whenever I can. Indeed, there’s no place like home. —Lavs Orline

    distination mb17My favorite spot in Tacloban is Highside, a concept restaurant which, apart from its sumptuous dishes, has for its decoration typhoon-battered motor vehicles, barrel drums and other stuff rummaged from junk shops or donated by friends. Four motorcycle enthusiasts from a local club had an idea to rummage through the trash and use their finds as the restaurant’s designs. It’s a unique and Instagram-worthy dining experience, and a reminder that Yolanda didn’t just turn Leyte into a junk shop, that we also found beauty in the debris. —Julius Sustento

    distination mb18People should check out how we’ve built back better in Tanauan, Leyte. Visit relocation sites, evacuation centers, and of course, the Yolanda mass grave memorial sites in Calogcog and the town plaza to get a sense of our history. To understand Tanauan, you have to visit the plaza, built at the same time the town was founded, and it is the town’s center, which people treat like their living room and gather and hang out in. Some say it’s a bit morbid for the victims to be buried there, but we had no choice then. I guess now it has become a testament of our culture and our everyday life, and serves as a reminder of who we really are. —Paul Cinco

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    • Raymund Jovy Sugay

      Someday I will step on region 8, as for now, it’s pictures from those who’ve been there.