My Brief Journey to Samar

A close friend of mine, Ruben, invited me to go to Eastern Samar to teach farmers sales and marketing concepts. He is currently working for a non-government organization. Our objective was to empower them to sell their produce to improve their economic situation. We took a plane from Manila to Tacloban City which is a 1 hour 20 minutes plane ride.  It was my first time to go to Tacloban City, Leyte.  I would be able to see for myself  the city that was devastated by typhoon Yolanda years back.

Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any delay so it was a comfortable ride and we were spared from flight delay frustration.  We reached Tacloban City airport as per schedule.

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When we got out of the airport, we took a jeepney to the city proper. While traveling to the city, I saw from a distance the “coliseum” which was featured after typhoon Yolanda’s onslaught, where a lot people sought refuge to wait it out until the storm subsided. But it was flooded with seawater because of the storm surge.  Sad news.

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The coliseum is all fixed up now leaving no trace of the grim episode that happened at the time of the Yolanda devastation.  The rest of the city is fixed up as well, with a very few reminder of the devastation. Tacloban City has already moved forward.

We reached the city limit and my friend told me that we will take a UV express van that will bring us to Guiuan, Samar – our destination. If you’re planning on a trip to Eastern Samar starting from Tacloban City , you’ll have a choice between two transport companies plying that route.  One is “Duptours” and other is “Van-Van.”  The price is 150 pesos per passenger, and is approximately a 3 1/2 hour trip to Guian, Samar.

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The UV express follow departure schedules, so all you have to do is wait for departure time. I settled at the back of the passenger van because other seats were already occupied. We pushed off at around 5.30 p.m. and braced ourselves for the long journey to Guiuan, Samar. Along the  trip we passed by the San Juanico bridge, which I got to see for the first time.  I managed to get a photo inside the van, but it did not show the entire length of the bridge.  I must say, that the bridge was an impressive sight, if you where to compare it with other bridges in the Philippines.

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After crossing the bridge, it will be another 3 hours to Guiuan. So I tried to make myself comfortable during the long trip.  It was getting dark and we were passing the different municipalities starting with Lawaan followed by Giporlos, Balangiga, Quinapondan. Balangiga was famous in our history books because the Balangiga church bell was taken by the Americans as reprisal to the Filipino insurgents during the Fil-American war.  The bell hasn’t been returned since then.  Just had glimpse of the church as we passed by.

We reached  Guiuan, Samar by 9.00 pm and the main boulevard of the municipality was already silent (rural silent) with few people walking around. Guiuan, Samar is an idyllic municipality located at the southern tip of Eastern Samar. This place faces the Pacific Ocean and write-ups on the internet says that there are a lot of good diving spots.  The people’s livelihood is mostly from fishing because of abundant fishing grounds.  Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the warm salty air while walking the main avenue.

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We were so hungry and like an oasis in the dark night, there was an “Andok’s Lechon Manok” store still open to serve food. We ordered right away to satisfy our hunger after that long trip.

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After wolfing down the delicious roasted chicken, we headed for Marcelo a seaside hotel, and booked our respective rooms were we will stay for the next three days. After settling inside our rooms, we got out and drank a couple of beers in a small restaurant with videoke across the seaside hotel.  The restaurant was owned by a Norwegian named Klaus who was married to a local named Amy.

After the nightcap we went back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep.

I woke up early in the morning to experience the early dawn view across the bay.  It had  a refreshing and calming effect. This is my price after that long trip.

*The author is a 25-year sales veteran and can be reached through melfonollerajr@gmail.com

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