Saturday, September 19, 2015

Island-hopping in Visayas During the Rainy Season [Part 1]

As usual, this is another uber late post. 

December 2014. 'Twas a year when the holidays were placed just right, making it one of the longest Christmas vacations evarrr! (December 24 - January 4, 2015, with the exception of December 29 as the last working day of the year here in the country. It was a whopping two weeks' worth of free time.) 

A long holiday calls for lazy mornings just tossing and turning around the bed until lunch time going out on another adventure, of course. This time, it was with my former officemate, Bongskie, who is another certified "rabasero" many magnitudes higher than me. He told me he wanted to go south (Visayas), for which I happily agreed to be his riding buddy, as I myself got no further than the "You are now leaving the Island of Luzon" arc in Matnog, Sorsogon.

4PM of December 25th, we set out for Matnog. People during these times were wishing for toys, cash, gifts, better employment, longevity, health, a better lovelife, you name it... I, on the other hand, wished for nothing more that Christmas than Mister Sun shining down on us during the entire duration of our trip. And to bring us back safely, of course. 

We arrived at the Matnog Arc around 6:10PM. For those planning on going on a roadtrip to Visayas, it'll be good for you to know that travel to and from Allen, Samar goes on a regular, two-and-a-half-hour interval - even on major holidays like Christmas, New Year and the Holy Week. Here's what you have to pay for to cross: 

Terminal Fee for Passenger: PHP45.00 
Terminal Fee for the bike: PHP65.00 
Fare per head: PHP120.00 
Fare for the bike: PHP300.00 
Total: PHP530.00

Please note that it may have changed in the meantime, rates are from our ride last December 2014. 

Here are some pics of our departure from Matnog Port towards Allen, Samar:

This is Bongskie (Jhon Ronell Araña), a co-"rabasero" and a Certified Luzon Looper. I'd love to have that title on my name one day.

Travel time from Matnog to Allen and vice versa is about 2 hours or so. The ship just takes too long a time to start its voyage. We arrived at the Port of Allen at around 8:35 PM. Since it's already late, and we both don't know the area, we stayed at an inn within the port to rest for the night.

4AM the following morning, we prepared for our travel towards Palo, Leyte (per our original plan, our main destination for this trip was the MacArthur Landing Site in Palo, Leyte, with the San Juanico Bridge as a bonus landmark destination.) There was a light rain that time. It was good that I brought along my water resistant riding jacket and pants. Except for very heavy rains, I wouldn't need to don my rain coat. 

It was about 250 kilometers from Allen to our first stop-over, Catbalogan City. We took about five hours of riding to reach the city. The road from Allen was horrible. We had to go extra slow as to avoid large-sized potholes that riddle the road. Add to the fact that it was raining that these potholes were a bit harder to spot due to them being filled up by water. As per riders that traversed the same route recently, the road condition is unchanged, so heads up to any future riders who will go to this place.

We reached Catbalogan about 9AM, where we took our first stopover/photo-op and our breakfast. It is here in Catbalogan City that the Provincial Capitol of Samar is located. The weather from Catbalogan onwards was excellent. Guess I've been a good kid this year, my Christmas wish has been granted.

After having our fill, we pushed forward to Leyte. From Catbalogan, it took us another couple of hours or so (if memory serves) to reach our first destination, the longest suspension bridge in the country: the San Juanico Bridge. We also made some photo-ops on some scenic stops along the way.

Finally, our first real scenic stop. I've been dreaming of crossing this bridge since I was a kid. Well, I still am, only bigger.

San Juanico Bridge, here we come!

The middle part of the bridge serves as the boundary between Samar and Leyte.

Here's a little 360 video I took on the bridge. Watch in HD!

Move forward a bit further and you will reach the city of Tacloban. This was one of the hardest hit areas during the onslaught of Super-typhoon Yolanda, back in 2013. More than a year after the calamity, the city still hasn't fully recovered yet. They say it will take a decade to bring everything even close to what it once was.

We arrived in Palo, Leyte around 1PM. I asked to stop over for a photo-op at our Regional Office in Palo. Back in November 2013, our team from Legazpi and the Central Office were among the first to respond to help this office clean up after the devastation of Yolanda. We also brought some supplies, food and clothing to our co-employees, and in a way helped them to start again. I remember coming here to find that almost nothing in the office can be saved, from documents, to furnitures, to files, to computers and other equipment. The entire roof was peeled off like it was nothing.

It's good to see CSC RO8 repaired and fully operational once again.

Just a few meters ahead is our main destination: MacArthur's landing site. It was on this very site that Gen. Douglas F. MacArthur returned to the country in 1944 to help with the war against the Japanese occupancy after he was forced to flee two years earlier. Our visit here was timely. Well, sort of, as the locals celebrated the 70th year anniversary of MacArthur's "I shall return" in October of that year. We were just a bit late, for about two months. LOL.

But enough of the history lesson, let's get on with the pictures!

I also took the liberty of taking a walkaround video. Check it out.

And so, we were done with our plan of touring Samar and Leyte, and reaching the San Juanico Bridge and the MacArthur Landing Memorial. We were already contemplating on going back home to Legazpi. But it was just the 26th - a Friday. It was early... 


From here on out, the places we went to were totally unplanned, and was decided on a whim. But hey, sometimes it's those moments of spontaneity that are the hardest to forget. Anyway, I DID say in the title that it was an island hopping, and touring just one island does not an island-hopping make.

Our next destination?

Find out in the next installment. Bye for now~!

No comments: