History of Leyte

Mentioning Leyte to every Filipino always brings back the memory of WW II’s most popular phrase “I shall return” of Douglas Macarthur. The Red beach of Tacloban City is a famed landmark where General MacArthur landed on October 20, 1944 as the fulfillment of his promise to liberate the Filipinos from the hands of the Japanese invaders. Today, this historic event can be witnessed through the larger-than-actual-life size statues of Gen. MacArthur, Carlos P. Romulo, Pres. Sergio Osmena and some other men walking ashore fronting the Red Beach.

Much of the city’s touring activities are based on this memorable event and most of the tourists whether Filipinos, Americans or Japanese are close relatives of the heroes who come to Tacloban to reminisce.

The Untouched Beauty Of Samar And Leyte

Due to its proximity to the Pacific, these two big islands in the eastern Visayas are known regions most prone to typhoons. While sailing west to Ladrones Islands, Magellan, the portuguese navigator who first set foot in the country, accidentally landed in the southern coast of Samar. Until now no one can explain what exactly caused his landing. His arrival was rather presumed the first trans-pacific voyage in history.

Leyte played an important role during the 2nd world war- witnessing the dramatic return of General Macarthur to fulfill his promise to save the struggling Filipinos from the hands of the Japanese invaders. On the 20th of October 1944, the shore of Leyte witnessed his corps historic landing.

An island filled with natural beauty normally attracts investors on tourism but Samar and Leyte moved far from the list of most visited regions. Sights of potential development were planned but the lack of facilities, technical access and discouraging rumors of rebellion in potential areas prevented these from happening. Only adventure travelers with experiences on remote explorations bravely moved in to the almost inaccessible interiors particularly of Samar. Negative but turned out beneficial for keeping its hidden beauty from being unreasonably exploited.

The massive winds of the Pacific make surfing a worthwhile activity in rugged coastlines of these two islands. Unfortunately, the rumors of military activity and poor transportation have discouraged travelers particularly surfers from exploring more of its surfing sites.

Few years had passed, a few road constructions have been developed and locals have realized the advantage of having tourists around. Visitors were soon accepted and locals have learned the benefits they bring in. The island’s appeal came back and surfers rediscovered the stunning breaks along the coastlines of Samar and Leyte. Some who cannot afford liveaboards get satisfied with hiring boats to transport them from one coast to another. While those who can, take their chances during brighter seasons. Slightly visited until this time, the islands remained untouched and far from being destructed by influx of tourists.

Visiting the interiors of the islands for other adventure trips might discourage inexperienced explorers, however, alternate options vary depending what activities are prefered to do. Samar has less developed infrastractures than Leyte. Thus, be aware of inaccessability in most of its districts.

To get there, buses from Manila such as Philtranco and BLTB have routes bounded for Samar and Leyte. A regular trip passes through Bicol, crossing the sea via ferry from the port of Matnog, Sorsogon, stopping by Allen, Samar and if bounded farther south, it continues through the Scenic San Juanico Bridge to leyte and to its places of destination. Major airlines have regular flights from Manila to Tacloban while Asian Spirit airline flies to Catarman. There are boats operating from Cebu bounded for Calbayog (Samar) and Supercat boats have regular routes to Biliran, Ormoc, and Maasin (Leyte).

Geographic Description: Samar

Samar is the east central part of the Philippines, the third largest (after Luzon and Mindanao). Belonging to the Visayas group, Samar has an area of 13,080 sq/km. It lies between the Samar and Philippine seas and is separated from the Bicol Peninsula (northwest of Luzon) by the San Bernardino Strait. A bridge across San Juanico Strait connects Samar with Leyte to the southwest. Unlike other islands in the Visayas that are characterized with high mountains, Samar’s landforms are low but exceedingly hilly, with heights ranging from 500 to 1000 feet, culminating in Mt. Capotoan, which measures 846 m. Lowlands are restricted to a coastal border and to small rivers running in plain patterns, floodplains and deltas.

Catarman is the chief town on the northern coast, Catbalogan is the island’s commercial center, and the city of Calbayog are important western coastal ports and fishing centers.

Samar Map

Leyte Map