My first trip to Samar was in 2005, when I took part in several art workshops, as a facilitator, along with artists from the Cultural Center of the Philippines. We traveled from the northern part passing through the western side and set on the east. It was a long road trip that all I could remember were my dreams, as I was forcing myself to sleep through the endless rocky roads.
Four years have passed and I found myself taking a road trip back to Eastern Samar. The rocky roads have improved somehow but what was new to me in this trip was the sight of so many beautiful rivers, clear blue waters, and sunsets that awakened my senses to the natural wonders. I knew I was bound to discover more than the best of what is known about this quiet and seemingly rustic region.
My Secret Hideaway in the East
Playa de Catalina is a newly opened resort located in the town of Can-avid, bound in a peninsula covering 29 hectares of land with a shore line of 3.6 kilometers (just a little short of Boracay’s Stations 1-3). The front side of the resort gives you the view of the sea that’s perfect for an early morning walk on a beautiful sunrise or a good surf on a windy day. The other side of the peninsula is a huge river where you can cruise while watching the sun set and migratory birds fly back to the mangroves. This resort is fast becoming one of the region’s practicing Responsible Travel destinations.
For inquiries and reservations, you may call:
Playa de Catalina, (632)425-3872 / 0908-5686816 / http://www.playadecatalina.com
The Fruitiest Halo-halo
I have never tasted a halo-halo with an almost all-natural fruit ingredients. We had a sweet stop at Sulangan in Guiuan to taste the locals’ favorite snack of halo-halo. It consisted of bananas, avocado, melon, mango, papaya, and crushed Graham Crackers. It was the most refreshing halo-halo I’ve ever tasted because of its fresh fruits factor.
How do you find it? Look for the Banago Beach Resort in Sulangan in Calicoan Island and you’ll see a small sari-sari store just beside it, THAT’S IT!
My Search for Pearls and Clear Blue Waters
We took a 45-minuite banca ride going to Pearl Island in Guiuan to see the pearls being cultured by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. We coursed through clear blue waters and watched fishes swim along with our banca. We were lucky to chance upon a man diving for seaweeds and gave us a bagful for our dinner.
As soon as we reached Pearl Island, we were guided to ride a glass-bottom boat to see the cultured pearls and amazing living giant clams underwater. We were told that these pearls will be ready for harvest by 2010 and will be brought to the regional office of BFAR in Tacloban.
If you intend to go to Pearl Island, make sure you get your permit from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Guiuan.
My Cruise to a Thousand Rivers
Long before roads became the main transportation route, our rivers were used as nautical highways for trading products and transporting people from one town to the next. In Can-avid, we hopped on a boat that brought us from the mangroves and cruised the ‘Ulot’ river (‘ulot’ meaning hiking from the upstream and down). The river was wide and calm, sprawling with lush vegetation. It felt like I was traveling through time when people lived simply in the abundance of its natural environment. And here in Eastern Visayas, a lot of locals actually still do.
If you want to do this river cruise, I suggest you bring a good book. You can either rent your own boat or ride with the locals while they do their everyday travel. Playa de Catalina Resort in Can-avid can help you with this cruise.
Changing the Way We Travel
It has become a habit for a lot of tourists to research on the more popular ‘what-to-see’ and ‘what –to-do’ itineraries. It’s a quick fix I must say in planning our vacations. What if you try traveling the way the locals live their everyday life? It’s amazing how our travels can change the way we could look at our country. How the simplest ways of living can make you understand the value of preserving our environment and understanding living conditions different from our own. Not just crossing boundaries but building bridges to see what natural real beauty means.
Photos by Karlo De Leon