Category Archives: Eastern Samar

Lawaan, Eastern Samar

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A few minutes after 5pm on Saturday, March 7, we boarded a Duptours van from Guiuan bound for Tacloban. Lawaan is just on the way so we were just going to alight there. We still paid the P160 flat rate fare even though we were just going down in Lawaan. There are buses available on that route but I think the people of Eastern Visayas prefer these vans.

A week before this trip, I contacted Sir Bobby Baldo of the Lawaan Tourism Office at 09464140501. I got his number from the former tourism officer of Lawaan, whom I got in contact with after reading the travel guide at akrosdayunibers.com. He was the one who arranged the tour guides for us. Since there were four of us (originally five), they required two guides for us because as Sir Bobby explained, it was for our own safety in case anything untoward happened. They charge P300 per guide so we paid a total of P600.

The travel guide I read suggested to stay at Baybay Inn. But earlier in the day, Ge Ann contacted her friend who lives in Lawaan and told us that Baybay Inn was far from the town proper and we would find it difficult to get transportation from there, so Ge Ann’s friend arranged a room for us at Mana Ede’s place. If you contact Sir Bobby, he can also arrange accommodation for you.

Unfortunately, Ge Ann had to go back to Tacloban so she didn’t come with us to Lawaan. When we got down at the town proper, we looked for Mana Ede’s place and found it a few minutes after. It’s located in Brgy. 3. There was however a misunderstanding when we got there because the person at the place, who we got to know after as Mana Susan (Mana Ede’s sister), was not aware of our reservation. Thankfully, however, the room (they only have one for guests) was still available.

We learned later on that Mana Ede received our reservation but wasn’t able to reach Mana Susan right away. Mana Susan told us that their place is usually just reserved for the guests of the mayor or those who are visiting their town during official events. But they welcomed us and made us feel at home. The room only had one bed so someone had to sleep in the living room which was actually more comfortable because there was an airconditioner there. I’m not telling who was sleeping where for some reason.

Anyway, we paid P300 per person per night. I’m not sure the family would want to commercialize their place but Mana Susan gave me her number anyway – 09087234470.

Emma and Simon bought some food earlier in Guiuan which we ate for dinner. We just bought barbecue and some more food at a nearby carinderia. I never expected to be comfortable but I really had a good night sleep despite not having alcohol.

We all woke up around 4:30am the next day. I told Sir Bobby through text the day before that we would be ready by 6am and around 5:45am, he came. The guides, Kuya Joel and Kuya Jingjing, came a few minutes after.

Mana Ede was too concerned about the three of us just wearing slippers, so he let Emma and Simon borrow hiking shoes and me a pair of outdoor sandals. Jao already had his own aqua shoes.

We then took two habal-habals to get to Brgy. Guinob-an. We paid each habal-habal P50. As soon as we got there, we realized we left our food at Mana Ede’s place. Geez, another hiccup. I remember taking responsibility for bringing the bag of food but then forgot about it. I should probably eat more memory-boosting vegetables. Fortunately, Kuya Jingjing had his own motorcycle so he went back to get the food.

While waiting for Kuya Jingjing, Kuya Joel took us to their office for registration. Some good information about the waterfalls was posted inside the office. Unfortunately, we could only go to Amandaraga and Pangi falls for now. Amanjuray is usually not accessible and the trail going to Ban-awan was destroyed by typhoons Yolanda and Ruby. According to Kuya Joel, it could still be accessed after a four-hour hike, time that we didn’t have. But we could still see Amanjuray and Ban-awan from afar while on the way to Amandaraga.

When Kuya Jingjing got back, we immediately started the hike. Kuya Joel explained during the hike that they were still in the process of clearing the trails. They had to prioritize the trail going to Amandaraga so at least tourists could still see at least one waterfalls.

Although there was mud because of the occasional drizzle, the hike was pretty easy. We had to cross a river but it was just shallow. 

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Wildlife was also thriving. We saw several giant millipedes on the trail. By giant, I mean about just five inches long, they’re not scary but they’re several times bigger than the millipedes I see at home. There were also several colored dragonflies. I only usually see those with transparent wings but I saw dragonflies with red wings and also with blue wings. Kuya Joel also said the dogs caught a wild boar once.

It was after about 45 minutes that we reached the spot where we could see Amanjuray and Ban-awan. Both falls just looked gorgeous. Ban-awan most especially looked magnificent even from afar. Looking at close-up pictures of Ban-awan before Yolanda hit, I know it is just beautiful. I wanted to go brave the difficult trail but no one wanted to be with me.

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Ban-awan is the highest of the four waterfalls, while Amanjuray is the second highest. I didn’t want to leave the spot but I didn’t want to stay either. I just wanted to go to both falls, something that I couldn’t do. Dang!

After about another 15 minutes, we reached Amandaraga. Thankfully, Amandaraga was beautiful too! At least I was happy now.

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I immediately went into the water when we got there. I was scared to slip at first because I wasn’t too confident with the sandals I was wearing as they weren’t mine. But the rocks were fine. The water was shallow enough but there was a part that I was too scared to put my feet on. Kuya Joel said the water was about three meters deep near the drop.

We then had a little breakfast with the food we almost didn’t have thanks to me. After eating, we immediately went back to the water.

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Of course, we each had our selfies with the falls as the background.

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We stayed for over an hour in Amandaraga. It rained for a little while but the sun came back up while we were leaving.

We had to go back halfway down the trail to hike a different trail going to Pangi Falls. Kuya Joel warned us that if we were to proceed to Pangi, we will only be able to go back by 1pm as it was already 10am. I told him it was fine. Our original itinerary anyway indicated we would leave Lawaan by 3pm. We only had to move it to 12noon so we could still stop over Emma’s house in Tacloban before leaving for Ormoc.

With Kuya Joel’s warning in mind, I thought it would take us another hour to reach Pangi but it only took us less than 30 minutes. The trail was not totally cleared yet though. Kuya Joel had to cut the overgrown grasses along the path so we could pass through. Well, isn’t that the true essence of hiking?

Pangi is the smallest of the four waterfalls in Lawaan. It is on a different river system from the three other falls.

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When we got there, Kuya Jingjing jumped into the water to see how deep it was. It was deep alright so I didn’t dare get past the fallen tree trunk. I simply waded in the shallower part of the water.

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Jao was urging me to jump from a cliff on the other side of the falls. He jumped several times himself and Simon once before I was persuaded to jump. I wasn’t too confident because I only have done cliff diving once with a life jacket waiting for me and on seawater (I can easily float at sea but find it very difficult to float in freshwater). Jao assured me he’d pull me though so  I jumped. I have a video of my jumping in Jao’s GoPro and I looked like I was going through hell!

A little after 11:30am, we started going back. We reached the highway before 12:30pm. We said goodbye to our guides and went back to Mana Ede’s place to get our bags. After checking out, we went to eat at a carenderia and hailed a bus going to Tacloban. Goodbye Lawaan! Goodbye Samar! We will miss you!

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Guiuan, Eastern Samar – Part 2

After our short stop at the church, our tricycle driver took us to the White Sand Beach. At first I kept hearing “swimming pool” from the driver. Geez, I did not just spend 25 hours on the road just to see a swimming pool. I was at the back of the tricycle so I couldn’t hear him well. He must have been referring to the natural pool in the beach.

When we got there, we rented a cottage that was originally at P250. Emma or Ge Ann or maybe both of them were able to haggle it down to P150. We weren’t staying the entire day anyway.

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There was a nice rock that I thought looked like Mount Connor in the Australian Outback. This one has plenty of vegetation though.

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It was still low tide so there was not a lot of water in front of the beach.

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There were a few pools though, which might have been what the driver was referring to earlier, that were deep enough to dip in.

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Wildlife was flourishing in these waters, most likely because of the mangroves in the surrounding area. There was a pool that appeared to be a little coral reef because of the number of fishes swimming in it. There were starfishes lurking everywhere that I think I might have stepped on a lot of them while walking. Sorry!

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Jao even saw a flatfish. I’ve never seen one before.

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No fish was harmed when this photo was taken.

 

While Emma and Ge Ann were resting in our cottage, the tricycle driver told them of another nearby beach where there was enough water to swim in. So after an hour or so in this White Sand Beach, we headed to that other beach called Boro Boro.

Boro Boro is a public beach so there was no entrance fee or any other fee. It started to rain when we got there so we were a little wet. But hey we were on the beach. We were supposed to get wet.

We first stopped under a rock near the entrance of the beach to take shelter from the rain. Just right next to us were some drunk students so I was a little worried that they might get too rowdy. This stop that we made would become very significant later on.

When the rain appeared to slow down, we proceeded to walk towards the spot where a bigger pool of water was located. Depending on your energy, it was either a short or a long walk.

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The view of the shore while we were walking made me feel like I was somewhere medieval. The watchtower (Simon later told me this was PAGASA’s watchtower) slightly covered by the mist on the other side looked like a castle or a fortress of some sort. It felt a little Game of Throne-ish (or Thrones-ish but that sounds weird).

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I immediately hit the water when we got to that spot. I took off my slippers thinking it would just slow me down in the water. Bad move! The seafloor was full of rocks it made me even slower now that I didn’t have anything to protect my feet.

Jao then gathered us to take some pictures and videos with his GoPro. I’ll upload the video later once Jao is done editing it. For now, here is a picture of us having fun on the beach.

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After some more pictures and 360 videos, we went back swimming. I made sure to wear my slippers this time.

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Things went awry when we got back to shore. It was all because of my absent-mindedness. My first sin of the day (or my second as I wasn’t aware yet of another I did before this) was stepping on Jao’s sunglasses. It was just lying in front of me and I didn’t see it while I was hurrying to change.

The second mistake (or the first, phew!) I did was leaving my wallet on that spot where we first stopped when we got to Boro Boro beach. It was the most possible spot where I left it because the last time I clearly remember holding on to my wallet was when we stopped in front of a store outside the beach. Then we proceeded to that spot under a rock near the drunken students.

I panicked when I realized this. The cash which was my entire budget for this trip and my ATM were inside that wallet. It was just a big coin purse actually so my other documents were not in there. Thankfully, when we got back to that spot, my wallet was still there untouched. It must have been mistaken for trash or the people were just so honest. Either way, I am thankful to the people of Guiuan because of that. You just don’t know the relief I felt when we found it.

After rejoicing for a moment, we asked our tricycle driver to take us back to the town proper of Guiuan. We were told earlier that the last trip going back to Tacloban was at 5pm so we made sure to leave Boro Boro at 4pm. Our next destination was Lawaan but we would still have to take the Tacloban-bound van to get there.

We alighted in front of Van-Van’s terminal. When it was time to pay the tricycle driver, he asked us for P800 which was a far cry from the P50 per head he quoted us earlier. He was insisting that because he guided us and stayed with us, he was charging that amount. There must have been a misunderstanding somewhere here but we ended up paying him P600.

Anyway, Van-Van no longer has vans going to Tacloban so we walked towards the terminal of Duptours. Thankfully, they still had one trip available where we got on immediately.