Sunday, April 12, 2015

Leyte Province, Philippines

By James Barcelona

Tourist Attractions
San Juanico Bridge
Location: Crossing over San Juanico Strait, connects Brgy. Cabalawan, Tacloban City (Leyte side) and Sta. Rita town (Samar side) approximately 10 minutes from Tacloban City; accessible by passenger jeepneys, buses, motorcabs and private vehicles.

Attraction: Longest and most beautifully designed bridge in the Philippines; picturesque San Juanico Strait with a thousand whirlpools; lovely islets; picturesque views.

Lake Danao
Location: Ormoc City, 125 kms. from Tacloban City

Attraction: A violin-shaped lake 2,100 feet above sea level and 3 kms. long; hemmed by cloud-capped mountain ranges of undetermined depth; wild animals roaming its surrounding forest; hunter's paradise; lake said to be the habitat of giant eel.

Cuatro Islas 
Location: Towns of Inopacan and Hindang, Leyte; plus pump boat ride.

Attraction: Four lovely isles namely, Digyo, Apid, Mahaba and Himokilan bordered by white sandy shore; surrounded by beautiful coral gardens, the best in Leyte island. A total of 287 species of reef building corals can be found in the islands waters; rich fishing ground. breathtakingly beautiful sunset on summer evenings; museum for specimen on wildlife. 

Leyte is a province of the Philippines and is the largest and oldest among the provinces in the Eastern Visayas Region. It is bounded on the north by the Province of Biliran, on the east by the San Juanico Strait and the island of Samar, on the west by the Visayas and Ormoc Sea and Southern Leyte to its south. The province is subdivided into 40 municipalities and three cities. Tacloban City is the provincial capital.

Leyte has a colorful history. It is one of the provinces where the early seeds of nationalism were planted. Their ancestors were among the first to welcome the Spaniards but they were also among the first to resist the invaders. But it was the World War II which placed Leyte on the world map. On October 20, 1944, General Mac Arthur, at the head of the largest US fleet of transport and warships, and accompanied by Commonwealth President Sergio Osmeña and General Carlos P. Romulo, landed on Palo, Leyte to regain the Philippines from the Japanese. 

The people of Leyte are divided into two main groups, primarily by language: the Waray-Waray on the north and east, and the Cebuanos who live on the western side. The province has two types of climate. The climate on the eastern part is characterized by very pronounced rainfall from November to January. The western portion, on the other hand, has rainfall that is more or less distributed throughout the year. 

The economy of Leyte depends on agriculture. The lower flatter areas especially those around Tacloban produce rice, hemp, copra, corn, sugarcane and tobacco, while the more mountainous areas yield rattan and timber. The province is also the site of the largest geothermal plant in Asia, making it one of the resources rich provinces of the Philippines. 

Leyte is a showcase of rich history and culture. The provincial government has organized cultural festivals for tourism promotion. Among these is the Leyte Kasadya-an Festival which showcases the unique culture and colorful history of the province thru a colorful and vibrant dance-drama parade and ritual dance. Kasadya-an means merrymaking and gaiety. Another festival in the province is the Pinatados Festival of Tacloban held every June 30 in honor of the miraculous Señor Sto Nino de Leyte. The festival showcases their ancestors’ ancient practice of body painting and how they became Christians. 

The presence of natural allures, rich culture and rare historical landmarks makes Leyte an ideal travel destination for local and foreign tourists, and a possible site for tourism-related investments.

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