Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tacloban, Leyte - July 2012

Tacloban is surrounded by mountain ranges and is a city by the sea. Small and laid back, probably one that pars in the line of Tagbilaran, Silay and Dumaguete. Taclobanons speak and fully understand Tagalog and is not difficult to communicate with given the dialect barrier. The gentle and very approachable Warays were very kind to us during our short 3 day trip, guiding us in our misadventures in getting lost in their small city. If you're a fan of immersing in a place you can retire to, Tacloban is worth checking out. People are sparsed, evident in their Downtown area, where we have often wondered why concentration of the masses is not as heavy. Well disciplined, Traffic is respected, as well as parking and jeep routes. We were able to go to Rafael's Farm, Caluwayan Palm Island Resort and spent our last day just wandering about the city starting off at the Mac Arthur Park, then to Sto. Nino Shrine and Magsaysay Boulevard.
*These are information gathered as of date of writing. Food and Transportation Prices, even establishment addresses may vary as such we have experienced as well. Refer to the plotted map as well as Googles for additional information regarding the geography of the places mentioned.

Commuting from Daniel Romualdez Airport
There are jeeps waiting just outside the airport going Downtown. These are end to end jeeps with Downtown - San Jose-Airport routes. Going Downtown, this will passby the Rotonda and take Real St. turning left at one of the main roads, Avenida Veteranos Extension now called Imelda Avenue. Fare is P13+-.

The Luxury Suites Hotel
3rd Floor TCS Building
P. Burgos St., Tacloban City
Landline: (053) 321 8844 / 8855

Getting there. (Refer to Map)

  • From the Airport, take a Jeep going Downtown and board off at M.H. Del Pilar which is an inner street along Imelda Avenue. 
  • Landmark-Chowking, Guiseppe's Resto and Divine Word Hospital 
  • Pass by Dream Cafe and Albertos Pizza. 
  • Take next left (P. Burgos Street) passing by Sunzibar and ZenTea. 
  • Hotel entrance is beside the closed Gerrys Grill atop the same building.

Room 302-Suite P1000/day
  • Strong Wifi signal. 
  • Adequately cool window type aircon. 
  • 1 Queen 1 single bed. Good for 3 people.
  • Small Ref. 
  • Hot Bath. 
  • Disproportionate Shower walls.
  • Shallow hand washing sink.
  • Bidet.
  • Daily cleaning (They'll even organize your mess for you). 
  • Small table with 2 chairs and a dresser. 
  • Huge closet. 
  • Phone. 
  • Suspended Tube TV with Cable. 
  • Door keys (with probable upgrade to electronic key cards in the future.) 
  • Clean towels and blankets(not so fragrant). 
  • Balcony connecting to Room 304 with view of P. Burgos. 
  • With 2 windows. 
  • Spacious room. 
  • Number of plugs for electronic devices to charge - 6 sockets available, one already dedicated for the ref. At 304, we only found 2 available, and 1 is for the ref.
  • Low wattage lighting. 
We were initially given Room 304 but since the air condition unit isnt directly blowing towards the direction of the Queen size bed and has not enough freon to accomplish its purpose, we requested to be transferred. Management was kind enough to offer the neighboring room.

Room 302 is not something you can be proud of as a suite, but at 1k, thats pretty much what you'll get by provincial hotels' standards, but maybe in time, you can get lucky.

Rafael's Farm Restaurant
Brgy. Pagsulhugon, Babatngon
Cellphone: +63915 920 0325 
Landline: (053) 325 0729 

Getting there. (Refer to Map)

  • From P. Burgos or within Downtown-Take a tricycle or walk going to Mc Donalds. (it's just a few corners away)
  • Walk along the market and seaport  (left side facing the sea) to get to the Old Terminal.
  • Take Green Multi-Cabs or any that will go or pass by the New Terminal. P8.
  • From the New Terminal, take a Jeep or Van going to Babatngon (P25 each). This may take a while to fill. Vans are not airconditioned. Bring a fan or pamaypay, a towel or Headware.
  • Travel time is about 30minutes, waiting time may be the same or longer.
Last trip of Jeeps going Downtown is before 5PM. Afterwards, special trips such as Taxi's may be contacted at 1k+-. Locals with tricycles can also be arranged.
Developed Landscapes, Tree house, Pond, a view of the Babatngon Mountain Ranges, Open air restaurant, farm grown harvests, nice food, a romantic place fit for lovers and those who love to take pictures. 
For a taste of whats affordable and recommended, try their set meals.

Garden Fresh Salad, Grilled Herb Chicken, Green Rice, Turron, Ginger Tea.
Set Meal Menu, mix and match.

5pm and after about 30minutes of waiting at Rafael's Farms roadside, with no success of hailing or visual of any passing jeep, the owner Sir Rene Tampi, was kind enough to offer us a ride back to our hotel and even toured us along the whole 2km stretch of the San Juanico bridge and back. A pleasure and a blessing in disguise.
Caluwayan Palm Island Resort 
Brgy. Caluwayan, Marabut, Samar
Cellphone: +6355 276 5206
Getting there. (Refer to Map)
  • From P. Burgos or anywhere Downtown, take a tricycle or walk to Mc Donalds. Tricycles are not allowed in the seaport street (Quezon Blvd).
  • Walk to Old Terminal.
  • Take Green Multi Cabs going to New Terminal. P8.
  • From there, take the bus or van going to Marabut. 
  • Fare is P40 each. Van-P50.
  • Travel time is 1.5Hours.
  • First trip is at 9:45AM-Be there at least 30mins before. Last from Marabut is up to 7PM.
  • Some buses are dilapidated, hardly conceivable fit to function but they do carry more than they appear possible, built like trucks.
  • To enjoy the view of the Rock formation by the sea and to have more visual of San Juanico Bridges' curves, take the far end of the bus, right side seats.
  • Some buses fill the back with passenger market goods and supplies such as Sacks of rice, flour etc. If not fully occupied, it's best to sit at the back with vertically oriented side seats to enjoy a less constricted and cowboy feel of the travel.
  • When you see the Marabut Rock formations, you're almost ready to board off.
Caluwayans beach is reminiscent of Nagsasa Coves waters in Pundaquit Zambales. Very calm and peaceful, ideal to those who just want to lie afloat without waves crashing onto ones face. A caveat though that as a set-back of these silent waters, the resort warns of Jelly fishes in the area. Of course we were not one to heed but reluctant at first. The resort has first aid, when we asked, and there is always the resorts swimming pool for those who dare not take risk. The beach sand is not white but very fine and offers a distinction that is acceptable and unquestionable. The picturesque Rock formations add to the beauty of the place which makes one doubt the need for a good book while relaxing on its short shore line.

P20 Entrance fee for day trippers, P600 cottage fee, free if you'll dine-in on their resto-no cottage fee.  +P100 for using the pool, free for hotel residents.

Open Cottage P1600 / night with breakfast

The resort also offers accomodation. We initially considered getting an open cottage (a bed at the sea front with curtains as walls) but found it too pricey, if not a bit lacking in security and privacy. Check out their website for more info and reference.

Mac Arthur Memorial Park
Red Beach, Palo Leyte.

Getting there. (Refer to Map)
  • Go to Mc Donalds and walk to the Old Terminal. 
  • Take a Campitic jeep. P11. It will pass by the New Terminal but instead of taking Imelda Avenue, like Airport and Robinsons jeeps, it will go through the Pan-Philippine Hiway(Refer to map, Not sure of its locally recognized name), passing by the Rotonda and Robinsons Mall. 
  • Board off at the intersection landmark is the Philippine Science High School.
  • It's a long walk but you may take a pedicab or tricycle. P10 per head.
  • Will pass by the Boy Scout Rotonda, as well as various government offices.
Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum
Real Street, Tacloban City
Landline: (053) 321 977
One of the Presidential mansions of the late Ferdinand Marcos. A huge part of the ground floor and upon entry is a chapel with stations of the cross. Thematic rooms, luxurious collections, murals and furnishings, aged to antiquity.
  • They charge P200 for a 3 person tour. 
  • P60 additional per head, in excess of 3.
  • P30 camera fee and P200 for video. (Entire place is dimly lit, A flash gun can prove useful here or a wide prime lens-DSLR freaks would know.)
  • Opens Monday to Sunday 8AM to 5PM, cut-off tour at around 4PM.
Magsaysay Boulevard.
  • Take tricycle at Mc Donalds and alight at the Leyte Provincial Capitol (Pamunuan San Lalawigan sa Leyte) at Senator Enage street. 
  • Plaza libertad and Taclobans Children's Park and Playground is across.
  • Left, facing the Capitol leads to Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, (Facing it across the street, turn right) one corner start of Magsaysay boulevard. Its a long walk but refreshing much like UP Diliman, well there's actually a UP along Magsaysay. :)
Places of interest along Magsaysay Boulevard.

  • The Leyte Park resort
  • Maria Kannon Garden
  • Philippine - Japan Peace Commemoration Statue and Park
  • Tacloban City Hall and Park
  • Balyuan Tower/Ampitheater
  • Kankabatok Bay
  • Theres also Rizal Park and Sto. Nino Church when Magsaysay meets Justice Romualdez Street and Real Street.

Dream Cafe Restaurant and Bakery
222 MH Del Pilar Street Tacloban City
Phone: (053) 325 8222
Cellphone: 0916 659 5574

I doubted anything awesome from the resto, I underestimated it. Food is actually good and affordable. Forget that there's a Chowking at the corner, eat here. We were even fortunate that an acoustic set is performing during our visit. It's also a night spot, perfect for a couple of bottles of beer. They also offer accomodation and has a 24 hour bakery; Complete package, proximity to the main road, quite tough to beat. If you prefer fine resto dining and spend more though, Guiseppe is just a stone throw.

Alberto's Pizza
M.H. Del Pilar Street
Phone: (053) 530 3760
Cellphone:  +63917 3248202
Cellphone:  +63948 3378286

One of the nearest establishments from our residence, we opted to have the pizza delivered to our hotel after a tiring day-almost sleepless, prior to the trip. I ordered a 11'  ALBERTO'S FULL HOUSE and my wife a 9' PIZZA SUPREME using Quickmelt cheese, which by the way is an option you can take if you less prefer Mozzarella for an additional cost.  Thin slice, affordable and with lots of topping options.
Check out their Pizza list here.

SunziBar (Mexican food)
Burgos St. Tacloban City
Phone: (053) 523 4565

Ask what's recommended and take it. We ordered their Rum Ribs and was wowed at the huge serving. Taste is even more ... errr. Ok Im no food blogger, but I recommend its worth checking out. Extra rice worthy. :) 

Unit 3 Aquitania Bldg., P. BURGOS ST., 6500 Tacloban City

We were late bloomers in accepting the Milk Tea concept and taste, but once we were on the bandwagon, we pretty much patronize almost all we encounter. Enough that we were at ZenTea almost everyday, thanks to its proximity to our hotel and its nice ambiance and free use of wifi. Price is almost the same range as in Manila, although as a personal preference, Tea-rrific from The Fruitas Group is still tough to beat, price and taste wise.

Libro  Bookstore & Coffee Shop
Corner Gomez & Sto. Niño Street, 6500 Tacloban City
Phone: (053) 523-2738

What better tandem is Coffee, Pastries and Books? A perfect one. A concept similar to Powerbooks and Bo's Coffeee's partnership. Dont go looking for a Wifi connection here, all you'll get is a comfortable seat, nice ambiance, food and coffee and a lot of books to choose from and pass time with. A refreshing break from the normal that is worth checking out.

Some notes about the City. 
  • Vans going Ormoc, Maasin, Guiuan etc. are at the intersection of Senator Enage and Burgos Street. Some are also at the New Terminal. (Refer to Map)
  • Multi-cabs anywhere is small and Tacloban is no exception.
  • Jeeps have conductors and you should always pay through them.
  • "Lugar lang" is the ilonggo way of telling the jeep that you'll board off, "Para" or "sa tabi lang" will do.
  • View at Mc Donalds of the sea and mountains is nice, stepping out will make you remember that its situated in the market area.
  • By observation, people flock to the market areas mostly at night time when fresh supply of sea merchandises are dropped off.
  • Small boats at the seaport side sells goods; Pineapples and Melons during our visit.
  • Dont expect Calle Zaragosa Cafe at Independencia Street (Dont know what time it opens), Cafe Lucia along Real- Astrodome (Opens at 2PM) to be opened at days first crack or even to serve lunch.
  • This includes Astrodome establishments like Porbida, Burger Bar, Ramos Grill, El Marino, Lighthouse etc. This is possibly Taclobans night spot, come here at night :D. 
  • No body visits the park at Astrodome but it was a nice walk along the calm sea.
  • One can buy pasalubongs of tarts, chips, pastillas etc. along Zamora Street, between M.H. Del Pilar and Avenida Rizal. Try Aida's Delicacy downtown in front of Goldilocks. Chocolate, a local delicacy may also appeal to a sweet tooth. It's fine rice cake rolled by banana leaves to an elongated candy shape-available at the airport.
  • For more food preferences in Tacloban, visit
  • Take jeep along Imelda Avenue going to the Airport, P13-15.
  • Sangyaw and the Pintados Festivals are celebrated monthlong starting June of every year.

TACLOBAN TRIP – July 18 to 21, 2012 (Actual Itinerary and Expenses)
 July 18, 2012 - Wednesday

615 AM – 645 AM
Taxi going Terminal 3

Terminal Fee

Café France
1030 AM

Arrived at Tacloban Airport
1050 AM – 1120 AM
Jeepney fare from Airport to Tacloban downtown
1130 AM
Luxury Suite (3N)

Tricycle to Mc Donalds

Snack at Mc Donalds

Jeepney fare to New Terminal
135 PM – 215 PM
Travel going to Rafael’s farm
230 PM
Late lunch at Rafael’s farm
600 PM

Back to Downtown


Alberto’s Pizza for dinner

900 PM


July 19, 2012 - Thursday

700 AM
Breakfast at Mc Donalds
800 AM
Jeepney fare  to New Terminal
935 AM – 11 AM
Bus fare going to Marabut, Samar

Food spent at Caluwayan Beach Resort
435 PM – 615 PM
Back to Downtown
815 PM
Dinner at Dream Cafe

930 PM

Back to Hotel, rest

  July 20, 2012 – Friday

830 AM
Breakfast at Chowking
930 AM – 1015 AM
Jeepney fare to Mac Arthur plaza




Jeepney fare going to Natasha

Jeepney fare going to Café Lucia (CLOSED)

Jeepney fare going to Calle Z (CLOSED)

Jeepney fare going to Jollibee
120 PM
Late lunch at Jollibee
200 PM – 330 PM
Sto. Nino Shrine

Tricycle back to Hotel

500 PM
Buy pasalubong at Aida’s

Tricycle to Capitol

Jeepney fare to Imelda St.
700 PM
Dinner at Sunzibar

Tricycle to Libro coffee shop
800 PM – 900 PM
Coffee + cake

Tricycle back to hotel
915 PM


July 21, 2012 - Saturday

730 AM
Breakfast at Chowking
800 AM – 830 AM
Jeepney fare going to airport

Ref magnet

Terminal fee

Coffee, espasol and choco delicacy
1135 AM – 115 PM

Left airport (delayed flight)

Life in Tacloban.

Overall, and as per a friend, nothing much really happens in Tacloban but if you're the type of person who digs a different kind of city life, where people are kind and less concentrated, go and possibly retire here. There are a lot to go to and explore from Tacloban such as Ormoc City and Samars Biri Islands, one, we may find reason to return to.