Leyte – off the beaten track
Leyte located in the eastern Visayas is less travelled area of the Philippines. It is most famous for being the place in which General MacArthur landed on the beach of Tacloban and Palo, the staging point for the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese in World War II. The place in Palo where MacArthur landed is known as MacArthur Landing Memorial Park a popular tourist site near Tacloban. Fierce battles and fighting occurred all around the area as the Americans pushed back the Japanese, some battle grounds sites can be visited and are simple know as Hill 120 and Hill 522. Leyte doesn’t have the breathtaking white sandy beaches like other parts of the country, but it still has decent ones to enjoy. One of the most popular beaches, White Beach is located a few kilometers from Tacloban and easy to get to.
If you’re arriving from Cebu by ferry you will depart at Ormoc City. If you’re connecting to other parts of Leyte (Tacloban around 3 hours, Maasin around 4 hours and Naval around 2 and a half hours) you need only to walk a few meters from the pier to the main Ormoc bus terminal and v-hire vans. Across the road from the bus terminal is large Hotel Don Filipe which overlooks the bay. For a tourist, things to visit and see in Ormoc and around include the beautiful fresh water Lake Danao around 20kms out of town. Here you can hike, picnic or camp. A little north of the city is a geothermal energy plant.
Leyte resorts and hotels
Leyte’s two biggest cities Ormoc and Tacloban have the greatest choice of hotels in Leyte. When in Tacloban try the Leyte Park Hotel with the best views on the Island. While areas are in need for a renovation the try the newer villas with the infinity private swimming pool overlooking the bay and Samar Island one word describes it – WOW! If your budget is a little bit more conservative, head to the city. Hotel Alejandro with its historic memorabilia adorning the hallways is like sleeping in a museum. For a hotel in Ormoc the 2 best options (as in nicer rooms and more expensive) are the Sabin Resort just out of town and Ormoc Villa, both have swimming pools and garden with Sabin Resort also having ocean front (but no beach).
Things To See in Leyte
Tacloban is the capital city of Leyte and is known to be the largest while Ormoc is also a popular city of Leyte. Lake Danao Natural Park attracts the attention of most of the tourists to the small and lovely city of Ormoc. People can easily walk around the city visiting their favorite places such as Centennial Park. It is famous for its sweet pineapples and therefore known as the pineapple belt. Eighty hectares of land is offered by the Leyte Golf and Country Club which makes it a unique spot for golf players.
One of the admired festivals of Leyte is Pintados-Kasadyaan Festivals, which is held in Tacloban in the last week of June. Dancers bodies are covered with different colours. The festival represents the local culture along with lots of music and street dancing.
Travel to Leyte
By Boat Cebu to Ormoc
Supercat Departs Cebu City 3 times daily ( 5.45am/11.00am/4.40pm) approx 2 and 30 minutes.
WeesamExpress (tel (63 32) 412 9562/231 7737) Departs Cebu City twice daily (10.45am/4.30pm) and extra service every Saturday and Monday (5.30am)
Cebu Ferries Daily Mon-Fri. Mon/Weds Depart 8.00am (4 hours) Tue/Thur dept 8.30am (4 hours) Fri depart 12.00 noon ( 5 hours 30 mins)
Super Shuttle Ferry Mon/Wed/Fri Depart 9.00pm
Cebu to Tacloban
Cebu Pacific daily approx 40 mins
AirPhil Express daily approx 40 mins
Manila to Tacloban
AirPhil Express daily approx 1 hour 10 minutes
Cebu Pacific daily 3 or 4 times daily depending on the day
Zest Air twice daily.
On April 7, 1521, Portuguese explorer (under the Spanish flag) Ferdinand Magellan arrived in Cebu. He was greeted by the king of Cebu, Rajah Humabon. The king and his wife and about 700 natives were converted into Catholicism on April 14, 1521. Magellan was killed by Lapu-Lapu a king of the neigbouring island of Mactan( April 27th). This event stopped the Spanish from claiming the island of Cebu for the crown of Spain. It wasn’t until 40 years later on April 27, 1565, Spain colonized the area with the arrival of Spanish explorers led by Miguel López de Legazpi, together with Augustinian friar Andrés de Urdaneta arrived in Cebu. The Spaniards established settlements and renamed the city on January 1, 1571, from San Miguel (Saint Michael) to Villa del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús (Village of the Most Holy Name of Jesus). Cebu City became the capital of the Spanish East Indies. during this time. In 1898, the city was given over to the United States after the Spanish-American War. In 1901, the city was governed by the United States for a short period but in 1936 it was given the status of a city and Filipino government. Following the end of the Japanese occupation in World War II, the city gained independence from colonial rule in 1946 as part of the Republic of the Philippines.