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Tacloban City, Philippines,
Travel Guide

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I'm officially in love
with Tacloban!!
By Charmie Tamba from Zamboanga City, Philippines
Oct/07/2010

Overall:

Beyond McArthur and San Juanico bridge ... I am surprised I enjoyed our quick trip to Tacloban! :-)



I've been worried it would end up like another typical tour so until the last minute I've been scourging the net for anything interesting about the place ...

I was even suggesting to Ezra that we should try going out of Tacloban and probably try Ormoc or go to Samar and we might probably find something more interesting there ... :-)



It turned out we didn't even have enough time to go to everything in our Tacloban must see, must eat list ... :-) hehe


HOTEL ALEJANDRO

This is Tacloban's surprise #1. :-) I did not bother making any hotel reservations before the trip because i was confident that we would be able to find a decent place to stay on the spot ...

I made a list of possible hotels to consider. I've scrapped out Leyte Park Hotel because it's just simply too expensive for a backpacking trip ...

I have 3 hotels on my list based on the reviews and rates i saw online: Hotel Alejandro, Asia Stars and Hotel D'Angelo.

Initially, Asia Stars was on top of my list because of the good reviews and somewhat cheap rate ...

But while we were on the jeepney from the airport I asked the driver which hotel he would recommend... and without a blink he said Hotel Alejandro... but my list says Hotel Alejandro is expensive!!! But nevertheless, we asked him to take us there ...

And look at what we saw!!! The facade simply awed us... Hotel Alejandro had us at hello ... hehehe


         Hotel Alejandro - Tacloban City ..

Hotel Alejandro looked so inviting from the outside... :-) the photos on the net does not give justice to the place .. hehehe

I love how it looked historical... somehow blending with the notion of a historical trip if you're heading to Leyte...


CALLE Z

Calle Zaragosa Cafe or better known to locals as Calle Z is one of the best local hangout place in Tacloban. It is a cafe-restobar.


          Calle Zaragosa - Tacloban City ..

They are known for their bulalo, but we failed to try it (huhu)... we were too overwhelmed with the choices and we were too hungry to check our list of what's not to miss in Calle Z hehe.

The owner Gerry Ruiz is a respected photographer and Tacloban Blogger.

The place reminds me of our fave indie bar in Makati - Saguijo! :-) Major difference is the live bands which is a major constant for Saguijo. But the feel, the vibe, the crowd... feels so much like Saguijo... :-)

Calle Z had been a hangout place for Tacloban since 2002! I am sooo loving the foodie world in Tacloban, there are a handful of loved restos that had been there for years! They can really support restos there, just as long as they're good. hehe


JOSE KARLOS

I didn't expect Jose Karlos would end up as one of our favorite place in Tacloban ...


           Jose Karlos - Tacloban City ..

I almost scrapped it out of our list because after having a quick run through of the materials we got from the net on what we can find in Tacloban, Jose Karlos didn't stick with me ... probably because they don't have free Wifi ... hehe im bias like that ..

Good thing turn of events that night ended with us settling at Jose Karlos ... and then we were just filled with our "wow's" and our "aaahh's" .... the place is really nice ... very homey ... nice for just hanging out and having chitchats with friends....

It's as comfy as Starbucks or other known cafes (well except for the wifi hehe) .... I love the trinkets and art on display all over the place ...


STO. NIÑO SHRINE

We went to the Sto Nino Shrine not having any idea what's inside ... thinking, probably its just some religious stuff ....


         Sto. Niño Shrine - Tacloban City ..

We hesitated to enter at first after finding out that the entrance fee is Php200 for a minimum of 5 .... It took us a walk around the building before we decided to check out the Shrine.

As if the lavishly designed guest rooms were not enough, our eyes were treated with more extravagant rooms of the Marcos family at the 2nd floor. I didn't expect that the Shrine was actually like a place to stay for them while in Tacloban....


         Sto. Niño Shrine - Tacloban City ..

Each of them have their own room... and yes by that I mean each of them, Marcos and Imelda having their own rooms even!

First room we went into - the President's room ... first thing you'll notice is the mini office on the right side of the receiving area .... a sitting place is set on the left side ... Marcos' bed is on the other end ..




Tireless in Tacloban
By Ricardo F. Lo
Jul/08/2010

Overall:

We were invited by second-termer Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez and his wife, second-termer Councilor Cristina "Kring-Kring" Gonzalez, to watch the Sangyaw Festival (June 29) and to attend the city fiesta (June 30) in honor of Señor Sto. Niño.


        Tacloban City Mayor Alfred
             and his wife Cristina
..

From the airport, we stop at the modest residence (a bungalow within a compound) of Alfred and Kring-Kring who, with their daughters Sofia and Diana, welcome us with a merienda of native delicacies (moron, binagol, etc.).


                         Hotel Alejandro - Tacloban City ..

It's almost 6 o'clock when we check into Hotel Alejandro. Kring-Kring has reminded us to be ready by 7:30 at the lobby where we will be fetched for the Air Supply concert at the Tacloban Astrodome which is packed full with people by the time the show starts at 9 o'clock, one hour behind schedule.


                      Air Supply - Tacloban City Concert ..

We are seated at the front row, together with Alfred and Kring-Kring with their other guests (including Mega magazine editor Sari Yap). In a while, we are joined by second-termer Leyte Congressman Martin Romualdez, Alfred's first cousin (Martin's father is Kokoy Romualdez and Alfred's is Bejo Romualdez, both former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos' brothers).


                      Air Supply - Tacloban City Concert ..

What a show it is! The Taclobanons are a happily uninhibited audience, much to the delight of Air Supply duo Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock who must be pleasantly surprised that the audience knows all their songs since they...we!...sing along with them.

By the time the perspiration-soaked Graham and Russell are doing Making Love Out of Nothing At All, their encore song, the space between the front row and the stage is throbbing with dancing ladies, Kring-Kring included. There are shouts of "More, more, more!" but the duo has given more than enough.

It's whole-morning city tour the next day.


                       Sto. Niño Chruch - Tacloban City ..

Our companions have gone ahead. Raoul and I go to the Sto. Niño Church and join them at the San Juanico Bridge that connects Leyte and the Samar provinces, the same bridge from the top of which Dante Varona jumped in a breathtaking, death-defying stunt for a scene in his movie.


                       San Juanico Bridge - Tacloban City ..


          Rafael Farm and Restaurant in Babatngon, Leyte

Next stop is the sprawling San Rafael Farm which is ideal for those who want to do some soul-searching. Then we proceed back to the city proper for a quick tour of the PCGG-sequestered Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum which houses domestic and foreign collections of art, furnitures and musical instruments, with thematic bedrooms.


        Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum - Tacloban City ..

After lunch at the Balyu-an Amphitheater along Magsaysay Boulevard facing Cancabatok Bay (the place is a popular venue for cultural, sporting and religious events), we are driven to Kring-Kring's spa in front of which a stage has been put up. That's where we watch the Sangyaw Festival Parade featuring colorful floats.




        Sangyaw Festival - Tacloban City ..  (by Gerry Ruiz)

To cap the day, Kring-Kring invites us to try the foot massage at her spa's branch at the newly-opened Robinsons Mall across from which is the Stephanie Smoke Haus where we are treated to an eat-all-you-can dinner of seafood and other mouth-watering goodies.


                   Stephanie Smoke Haus - Tacloban City ..

Back at Hotel Alejandro, Raoul and I drift into sweet slumber muttering superlatives in Waray - Ay, kaupay hindoro!!!

We fly back to Manila via PAL on Wednesday, June 30, promising to go back to Tacloban to see and enjoy more of what Mayor Alfred calls "The Gateway to Eastern Visayas."






Our Trip to Tacloban City:

Mixing the educational
with "pure pleasure"

By Minnie Advincula
Jan/14/2010
Overall:

Taking advantage of a promo fare by Zest Air, our family hied to Tacloban in what we planned to be an educational trip to historical places in Leyte.

The plan sounded subdued enough so it was a pleasant surprise to find out in the end that the children enjoyed the trip a lot and did not resent our mixing the "educational" with pure pleasure.


SAN JUANICO BRIDGE

              The San Juanico Bridge - Tacloban City ..

First in the list is San Juanico Bridge, touted to be the longest in the country. The 2.16-km bridge is convincingly one of the most beautiful bridges in the country.

Built during the martial law years, we told the children of the tales and popular belief that have gone into the bridge construction such as its being a gift of Ferdinand Marcos to Imelda Marcos.

Nowadays, police have banned picture taking along the bridge so one has to get off at either end of the bridge if one wishes to have a souvenir shot.


BARANGAY TINGIB

Upon crossing from Leyte to Samar, the search for a good beachfront begins. We ended up in a beach in Barangay Tingib. The sand may look like mud but the beach, being dotted with islands, offers a breathtaking view.

Barangay Tingib is less developed with just a few cottages and simple facilities for local tourists. Its rusticity, however, is a welcome treat for those running away from the crowded cities. We even took time to see all the rare flowers and plants near the beachfront.


CALUWAYAN RESORT
         Caluwayan Palm Island Resort in Marabut, Samar ..

Farther into Samar, there is Caluwayan which has facilities for overnight stay and other outdoor activities such as boating and mountain climbing. Caluwayan hosts trainings for corporate functions and the package is priced reasonably.


RAFAEL FARM
          Rafael Farm and Restaurant in Babatngon, Leyte


Back in Tacloban, another stop is Rafael's Farm where one can enjoy a beautifully-landscaped garden with a restaurant. There is a man-made lake where one can hire a boat to take you around for P50 for 30 minutes.


PALO CATHEDRAL &
MACARTHUR NATIONAL PARK


           MacArthur Landing Memorial Park in Palo, Leyte

Visit the Palo Cathedral and tour some of the old houses nearby. The cathedral is on the way to the MacArthur National Park. Traveling with children, it took longer for us to visit the place as we had to explain every personality involved in the Leyte landing.


STO. NINO SHRINE AND HERITAGE MUSEUM

  The Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum in Tacloban City

The Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum, to our surprise was the favorite among the children. It was built by Imelda Marcos as a Romualdez ancestral house but as in most things historical in this country, it has since fallen into a sad state of decay.

The museum charges P250 for five persons and P30 for every person in excess of five. There is additional charge for the use of camera and video camera.

Considering the vast collection of treasures given to the Marcos family during their 20-year in power, what a waste to see the government neglecting this part of history merely on the basis of its being a part of the Marcos memory.

Some of the wood furniture, including bed posts, religious images and the 32-seater dining table had been eaten by termites.

The museum survives on the entrance fees, which are barely enough for the salary of the museum staff and payment of electricity bill. As it is, the museum is poorly lighted and maintenance of the whole place is clearly wanting.

Despite this, we were held in awe at the opulence this place once was and marveled at the value of every piece of foreign gift given to Imelda by such people as Mao Zedong.


BALYUAN AMPITHEATER

         The Balyuan Ampitheater in Tacloban City at night

To cap the night, we went to Balyuan, across the city hall where the ampitheater is. Feasting on P5 per stick barbecue and "pinuso" rice beside the Leyte Gulf, it was such a delight to be eating street food in a non-threatening environment.

If this is not enough, walk to the nearby Lion's Den restaurant for a proper meal.


WITH SPIDER TAXI TO THE AIRPORT

                        Spider Cab in Tacloban City

Finally, ride the Spider taxi to get to the airport - or wherever you want to go. It's Tacloban's version of Metro Manila's FX taxi. At P10 per person with an additional P5 for every succeeding kilometer, this vehicle provides the amenities and services of a taxi.


AIDA'S PASALUBONG

But before leaving, drop by at Aida's in downtown to buy "pasalubong." Highly recommended is the pili hopia and special pastillas from carabao milk. Binagol, moron, and sagmani can also be bought along the sidewalks.










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