I first heard about Guiuan shortly before it was hit by Typhoon Yolanda. We still had power when we heard news that the typhoon made landfall, but I never saw how much damage the town suffered until two weeks later when power went back up in our town. I live in Sagay City which is about 70 km south of Bantayan where Yolanda also made landfall. The winds were still strong and scary when the typhoon passed by near us so I could only imagine the horror that the people of Eastern Samar felt when they were experiencing the winds. According to our guide in Lawaan, which we visited after Guiuan, it felt like the end of the world.
I wanted to go to Guiuan just to see what it is like now. I know I should have done volunteer work but I never got to it. I feel guilty about it now.
For this trip, I invited my friends Jao, Emma, Simon and Ge Ann.
I started my trip at 7am when I left Sagay en route to Cebu. Two hours in and the bus broke down so we had to transfer to another bus. Because of the delay, we didn’t get to the 10am ferry in time so I had to buy a P220 ticket for a fastcraft boat which was leaving from the San Carlos City port at 12:30pm. I reached Toledo port around 1:45pm, then rode a passenger van going to Cebu City where I paid P100.
When I got to Cebu, I went to the Robinson’s mall to meet up with Emma so we could purchase a ticket for the ferry going to Ormoc. We first thought that there was a ticketing office inside the mall but there was none for any ferry plying the Cebu-Ormoc route.
So we called the shipping companies. We first called the Super Shuttle Ferry but learned that they do not have available trips that night because their vessel was under repair. We then called Roble Shipping which confirmed that there was a 10pm trip but we had to go to the port to buy tickets.
After drinking a cup of coffee, I then went straight to Pier 3 to purchase tickets for myself, Emma, Simon and Jao. Upon Emma’s insistence, I bought tourist class tickets because this section had beds. Tourist class tickets cost P520 a piece. There is also a sitting section at P420 per head.
It was a hassle around Cebu Port because after purchasing the tickets at Pier 3, we had to go to Pier 1 to pay the terminal fee and a shuttle bus would take us to Pier 4 to get to the ferry. Phew!
A few minutes after 10pm, the ferry left the Cebu port. After having dinner inside the ferry, I went to sleep and I was able to get a good one until the boat docked at the Ormoc port. I’m really thankful for the bed!
There were Duptours vans parked at the port waiting for passengers so we immediately boarded one going to Tacloban. The fare was P120. We left Ormoc around 4am and we arrived in Tacloban at 6:15am. After breakfast outside the Duptours terminal, we met up with Ge Ann.
We then boarded another Duptours van going to Guiuan. The fare this time was P160. We left around 6:45am. At first, I was in a comfortable position at the back of the van but when more passengers were loaded to the van’s full capacity, I was stuck with very little leg room that my left leg went numb.
I also missed the San Juanico Bridge. I fell asleep on the van while we were still in Tacloban and when I woke up, it was already Basey in Western Samar. I promised to myself that I would not sleep when we get back to Tacloban.
We passed by Marabut and saw these rock islets dotting the sea near its beach. The rocks were comparable to that in Palawan and they made for a magnificent view. I promised to visit Marabut next time I’d explore Western Samar.
We arrived in Guiuan a little past 10am. For some reason, I had this idea that Guiuan was a farm town. It wasn’t. It is somewhat urbanized. You may however still see the effects of the typhoon. Plenty of houses are still damaged and the coconut trees were only left with their trunk.
We then spoke to a tricycle driver who offered his service for P50 per head (this would become a problem later on) to go to Sulangan. And off we went.
Our first destination was the Guiuan church. It took us about 30 minutes from Guiuan town proper to get here. After hearing a lot of things about the church, I was expecting something grand like the church in Simala in Cebu. I was surprised when I saw the church. It was small and it looked new probably because of the renovations being made after the typhoon. The bell tower must have been severely damaged because what is left now is a makeshift one – a bell inside a treehouse.
They say devotees flock here on Sundays because of the miracles that were granted after they prayed in the church. Emma must be needing some miracles of some sort because she was praying. Har har!
We had lunch at a carenderia near the beach in front of the church. I was shocked when I paid what I ate. I ordered a plate of fish kinilaw and another plate of squid and for that I paid P100! That’s too expensive for a carenderia. Since it was a carenderia, I assumed food was cheap. I should probably ask for the price next time.
We then had some last-minute picture taking before heading to the next destination.