Category Archives: Eastern Visayas (Region VIII)

Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum

Highlights of Tacloban City

This page has moved to a new address.

Highlights of Tacloban City

Spire of the Santo Niño Church
Spire of the Santo Niño Church in Tacloban City

Tacloban City is the capital of Leyte, and the regional center of the Eastern Visayas. It is by far the largest city in the area.

Though tourism is underdeveloped in Tacloban City, as it is throughout the Eastern Visayas, the city does have a lot to offer to the visitor.


Santo Niño Church

Spire of the Santo Niño Church
Santo Niño Church

The Santo Niño Church, the largest church of the city, dominates the skyline of Tacloban City. With its distinctive color you can see it from afar, even from the plane just before landing.

The church has daily masses in English and in several Filipino languages.


Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum

Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum
Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum

The Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum, also known as Romualdez Museum, is a mansion built for the then first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

The Marcos family never used it, though, and after President Marcos was ousted the villa was opened to the public.


Stations of the Cross

First Station of the Cross
Stations of the Cross

Just outside the city, on a hill aptly named Calvary Hill, are groups of larger than lifesize statues depicting the stations of the cross. You have to climb all the way to the hilltop to see all the stations, so visiting them is not for everyone.

You can see all the stations in the blog article Stations of the Cross.


Capitol

Capitol, Tacloban City
Capitol

The white Capitol landmark houses Leyte’s provincial government.

When you visit the Capitol, don’t forget to have a look at the beautiful reliefs, on either side of the building, depicting scenes from Leyte’s history.


Madonna of Japan and Japanese Peace Park

Japanese Peace Park
Japanese Peace Park

The Japanese peace park houses the statue of the Goddess of Peace, also known as the Japanese Madonna. The statue was a gift from Japan, as a symbol of peace and friendship.

The park is a popular destination for young, courting couples.


Nearby attractions

San Juanico Bridge
San Juanico Bridge

There are many more attractions in the direct vicinity of Tacloban City. Popular sites include:

  • The McArthur landing memorial in Palo.
  • The San Juanico Bridge, one of the longest bridges in the country, connecting Leyte with neighboring island Samar.
  • Rafael Farm, a landscaped park with a restaurant and function rooms.


Villa Calicoan, Samar

Three resorts

This page has moved to a new address.

Three resorts

Three resorts

The road to Sulangan
The road to Sulangan

It’s a long way from our base in Tacloban City to the church in Sulangan. When we visited Sulangan, we started our trip at 4am, to be in time for mass, and even though we had breakfast and snacks in the car, we felt quite hungry after the mass. So when we passed a few resorts on our way to Balangiga we decided to stop at one of them to have an early lunch.



Villa Calicoan, Samar
Villa Calicoan

We stopped for lunch at Villa Calicoan, a small coastal resort. We were soon joined by other pilgrims, on their way back from Sulangan to Tacloban City.

Villa Calicoan is a very small resort, but it has several spots with a beautiful view over the ocean. While waiting the ladies in our company (that means everyone except me and the driver) roamed around to find nice spots to pose and take photos of each other, and I also took a few photos of the views (and of the ladies).

The Surf Camp is a luxury resort, almost next door to Villa Calicoan. The ladies wanted to have a look, and as there were no guests at the time we received permission for a short visit.



Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, Samar
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort

From the southern tip of Samar back to Tacloban City is a long trip, so we had another stop-over for a drink, a walk, a rest, and another photo shoot – this time at the Caluwayan Palm Island Resort.

Villa Calicoan and The Surf Camp are in the municipality Guiuan, province Eastern Samar, at the extreme southern tip of the island Samar. Caluwayan Palm Island Resort is in the municipality Marabut, province Samar.


Photo Album

The ocean at Villa Calicoan, Samar
The ocean at Villa Calicoan
Villa Calicoan, Samar
Villa Calicoan
Girl overlooking the ocean, Samar
Girl overlooking the ocean at Villa Calicoan
Swimming pool and ocean at the Surf Camp, Samar
Swimming pool and ocean at the Surf Camp
Surf Camp, Samar
Surf Camp, Samar
Surf Camp, Samar
Surf Camp, Samar
Beach and ocean at the Surf Camp, Samar
Beach and ocean at the Surf Camp
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, Samar
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, Samar
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, Samar
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, Samar
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort, Samar
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort
Detail of the Balangiga Monument, Balangiga, Samar

Balangiga

This page has moved to a new address.

Balangiga

A historic site

On our way back from Sulangan to our base in Tacloban City, we made a small detour to visit Balangiga, a small town in the south of Samar.

Balangiga was the location of a guerilla attack in 1901, during the Philippine-American war, when almost fifty American soldiers lost their lives. A monument in front of the church reminds passers-by of this event.

The Balangiga incident

In the Philippines, Balangiga is famous as the location of a guerilla attack during the Philippine-American war. In 1901, guerillas attacked a group of American soldiers and killed almost 50 Americans. In retaliation, the American army burned down the (deserted) village when they returned, and American general Jacob H. Smith ordered the killing of everyone ten years old and over. Thousands of Filipinos perished, most of them civilians (American estimates are 2,000-3,000 casualties, Filipino estimates are much higher). Because of the killings, Gen. Smith was reprimanded (!) and forced into early retirement.

On the main square, in front of the church, there is now a large monument commemorating the initial guerilla attack and ensuing battle. The battle is now known as the Balangiga massacre, the Balangiga incident, or the Balangiga encounter. The latter phrase is used in the monument inscription.

Photos

Detail of the Balangiga Monument, Balangiga, Samar
Detail of the monument
Detail of the Balangiga Monument, Balangiga, Samar
Detail of the monument
Inscription of the Balangiga Monument, Balangiga, Samar
Inscription on the monument
Church of Balangiga, Samar
The church of Balangiga
Church of Balangiga, Samar
Church tower
Church of Balangiga, Samar
Interior of the church

The road to Sulangan

This page has moved to a new address.

The road to Sulangan

The shrine of San Antonio de Padua

The church of Sulangan
The church of Sulangan

In the Philippines, on the island Samar, is a town called Sulangan. It is a small town on the extreme southeastern tip of Samar. The area is a popular destination for windsurfers. Sulangan is also the home of a shrine of San Antonio de Padua (Saint Anthony of Padua).

St. Anthony (1195-1231) was a Franciscan friar from Portugal. He was a gifted speaker and famous preacher. St. Anthony spent most of his career in Italy. He was sickly, and died young, near Padua, Italy. It is said that, on his death, the children cried in the streets and all the bells of the churches rang of their own accord.

Apparently, the statue of San Antonio (St. Anthony) in Sulangan was actually meant for the nearby island Suluan, but several attempts to bring the statue failed: Each time, winds and rough sea would force the boat onto Sulangan. Eventually, a shrine was built in Sulangan to house the statue.

Several miracles and miraculous healings are attributed to this statue of St. Anthony.

Pilgrims from all over the country flock to the shrine to pray to San Antonio, and to ask for his intercession. If their prayers are heard people often return to express their gratitude. My wife has made the pilgrimage twice in the year before our wedding, from her home on the neighbouring island Leyte. A few months after our wedding, when we visited the Philippines, we went to Saint Anthony’s shrine together for our first joint pilgrimage.


Our pilgrimage to Sulangan

The road to Sulangan
The road to Sulangan

The road from our base in Tacloban City to Sulangan was long: To be in time for mass we had to leave just after 4 am. First we went to pick up a few family members who wanted to come with us, in other parts of the city. Then we crossed the 1.3 miles long San Juanico bridge into the neighbouring island Samar, and we started our long drive over the badly maintained roads of Samar.

Sulangan is in the municipality Guiuan, in the extreme southeastern tip of the island Samar. The area seems to be poor and sparsely populated. Sulangan itself is on a small island, just off the coast of the main island, and can be reached by a bridge.

When we arrived we first visited the office, where my companions requested (and paid for) their prayers, and changed money into small coins. We still had time to wander around to take a few photos, and buy a statuette of St Anthony at one of the souvenir stalls.

Then we went inside the church. Inside are many statues of saints, each with their own trunk. It is the custom here to visit each saint, say a prayer, and put a coin in his (or her) trunk, taking care not to offend any saint by bypassing him. My wife, a devout catholic, made the round along all the saints, while I, from protestant stock, had a look around the church and took a few photos.

The mass started with the reading of the list of sponsors of the mass – people asking for St Anthony’s intercession or expressing gratitude for an earlier intercession, and who were paying for the privilege. The mass itself was in Waray-Waray, the local dialect, so I missed most of what was said and done. After the mass we shook a few hands (there were several people my wife recognized, that also made the pilgrimage the same day), and my wife went looking for the priest to have our St Anthony statuette blessed.

The church had become too small to house all pilgrims, and building works were on their way to extend the church. (We saw the new church – not yet finished but already in use – on a later trip to Sulangan).

Balangiga

Monument for Balangiga encounter
Monument for Balangiga encounter

On our way back to Tacloban City we made a small detour to visit Balangiga, a village near Sulangan and the site of a famous battle during the Philippine-American war.


Three resorts

Villa Calicoan
Villa Calicoan

On the long trip home, passed several resorts, and stopped at two of them for lunch and drinks. And we visited a third resort, just to have a look and take a couple of photos. Interested? Read the story and look at the photos in Three Resorts.


Practical information

Sulangan, Balangiga, Villa Calicoan, and The Surf Camp are in the municipality Guiuan, province Eastern Samar, at the extreme southern tip of the island Samar. Caluwayan Palm Island Resort is in the municipality Marabut, province Samar.


Getting there

Taking the bus in Sulangan
Taking the bus in Sulangan

If you just want to see Sulangan and/or Balangiga, then a day trip from Tacloban City is probably the easiest way. Tacloban has daily flights to Manila and Cebu, and proper hotels. It is possible to travel by public transport, but I would not recommend it: Jeepneys and vans are uncomfortable and crowded, the roads in Samar are bad, and it’s a long trip. Furthermore, there is no time table: You never know when the next van back to Tacloban will arrive. You are better off renting a car, preferably with driver. If you have relatives in Tacloban, they will no doubt advise you about a suitable driver, otherwise head to the tourist office for advice.

If you plan to stay at one of the resorts, you will also travel via Tacloban City. Your resort can arrange a transfer from Tacloban City airport to the resort.


Eating, drinking, sleeping

There are several resorts on the southern tip of Samar, but I have no personal experience with them – except what I mentioned above. The lunch we had at Villa Calicoan was good enough but not terrific, and as far as I could see it was a decent, clean an well-maintained resort (but I have not been inside to take a look). I would probably go there if I needed a place to stay.

The neighbouring Surf Camp is too expensive for my taste, but if you want something more exclusive then The Surf Camp is probably the place to go. And compared to prices at European and American resorts and hotels, maybe the Surf Camp is not that expensive after all.


What to do

The area has a few old churches and historical sites (like Balangiga mentioned above), and there is some natural beauty to admire, but most people come here for only one thing: Windsurfing. If that’s not your thing, you’re probably better off going elsewhere (or just visit on a day trip, like we did).


Photo Album

The road to Sulangan
The road to Sulangan
The church of Sulangan
The church of Sulangan
Shrine of San Antonio de Padua, Sulangan
The shrine of San Antonio de Padua
Old church of Sulangan
Interior of the church, as it was during our first pilgrimage.
Building a new church in Sulangan
Building the new church. During a later visit we found out is was already in use, though not yet finished.
Souvenir stalls outside the church of Sulangan
Souvenir stalls
Taking the bus to Sulangan
Taking the bus to Sulangan
Jesus falls the second time - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City

Stations of the Cross

This page has moved to a new address.

Stations of the Cross

The Way on Calvary Hill

In Leyte, just outside Tacloban City, is a hill with the name Calvary Hill. On the slopes of Calvary Hill are groups of statues depicting the stations of the cross. It follows the traditional fourteen stations, from Jesus’ condemnation to His entombment. There is one extra statue on top: Jesus arisen from death.

Follow me as I climb Calvary Hill on my way to the arisen Christ.

Jesus is condemned to death

The first station is Jesus’ condemnation to death. He was condemned by the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court. Pontius Pilate later confirmed the death penalty. We see Pilate washing his hands here.

Jesus is condemned to death - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
First station: Jesus is condemned to death

Jesus receives the cross

Jesus receives the cross and starts the Way of the Cross. The cross is marked INRI, which stands for Iesus Nazarenus rex Iudaeorum, in English Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. It is based on John 19:19-20:

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

Jesus receives the cross - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Second station: Jesus receives the cross

Jesus falls the first time

In the traditional series of stations, Jesus stumbles or falls three times. There is no basis for this in the scriptures, though.

Jesus falls the first time - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Third station: Jesus falls the first time

Jesus meets His Mother

On our way to the next station, a small child joined us, requested a peso to be our guide, and (after receiving the fee) walked with us to the top. The little kid pointed out the several stations (as if we could miss the large statues!) and posed on each of them, whether we wanted or not.

The next station depicts Jesus meeting his mother, Mary. This station has no basis in the scriptures.

Jesus meets His Mother - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Fourth station: Jesus meets His Mother

Simon of Cyrene carries the cross

According to the gospels of St Matthew, St Mark and St Luke, Simon of Cyrene carried the cross all the way. He was just a passer-by who was ordered to bear the cross. In the stations of the cross, we usually see Simon helping Jesus to bear the cross, or taking over from Him, after Jesus bore it Himself for the first part of the Way of the Cross.

Simon of Cyrene carries the cross - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Fifth station: Simon of Cyrene carries the cross

Veronica wipes Jesus’ face with her veil

The story of Veronica is based on the Acta Sanctorum, not on the scriptures.

Saint Veronica was a pious woman of Jerusalem who, moved with pity as Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha, gave him her veil to wipe his face. After Jesus used it, the image of His face was miraculously impressed upon it.

Veronica wipes Jesus' face with her veil - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Sixth station: Veronica wipes Jesus’ face with her veil

Jesus falls the second time

Apparently, Simon of Cyrene has disappeared and Jesus carries his own cross again. He stumbles for the second time. Again, there is no basis for this in the scriptures.

Jesus falls the second time - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Seventh station: Jesus falls the second time

Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem

This station is based on Luke 23:27-8:

And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.

Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Eigth station: Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem

Jesus falls the third time

Jesus falls the third time - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Ninth station: Jesus falls the third time

Jesus is stripped of His garments

According to the scriptures, the soldiers who accompanied Jesus took his garments and divided them among themselves by casting lots.

Jesus is stripped of His garments - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Tenth station: Jesus is stripped of His garments

Jesus is nailed to the cross

We are nearing the top. My companions (all Visayans) are exhausted by the climb and the heat and stay behind. Except for the little kid, who followed me all the way to the top.

We have arrived now at the actual Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross.

Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Eleventh station: Crucifixion, Jesus is nailed to the cross

Jesus dies on the cross

The death of Jesus. Jesus dies on the cross, surrounded by three (female) mourners.

Jesus dies on the cross - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Twelfth station: Jesus dies on the cross

Jesus’ body is removed from the cross

This station is also known as Deposition or Lamentation. We see the same three mourning women as Jesus’ body is removed from the cross. One may assume though that someone else must have been present to help remove the body.

Jesus' body is removed from the cross - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Thirteenth station: Jesus’ body is removed from the cross

Jesus is laid in the tomb

The fourteenth and last of the traditional stations. Jesus is laid in His tomb. Ususally, the last station also depicts covering Him in incense, but I don’t see any incense here.

Jesus is laid in the tomb - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Fourteenth station: Jesus is laid in the tomb

Jesus rises from death

Not part of the traditional stations, but the most essential part of the story: The arisen Christ. Jesus stands here on top of Calvary Hill, overlooking and apparently blessing Tacloban City.

Jesus rises from death - Stations of the Cross, Tacloban City
Last station: Jesus rises from death

Views from the hill

Those that make it to the top are rewarded with magnificent views over the city and the San Juanico Strait.

View from Calvary Hill over Tacloban City and the San Juanico Strait
View over the city and the San Juanico Strait
View from Calvary Hill over Tacloban City and the San Juanico Strait
View over the city and the San Juanico Strait
View from Calvary Hill over Tacloban City
View from Calvary Hill over the city
View from Calvary Hill over Tacloban City and the San Juanico Strait
View over the city and the San Juanico Strait