See You, Leyte: A Symphony of Sights and Tastes in Four Days

November 03, 2015 Travel

The province of Leyte is inviting everyone to return, and they have organized a large arts and music festival to kickstart this initiative.

I accompanied a media delegation to Leyte, invited by Philippines AirAsia, which has been deeply involved in assisting the province in recovering from the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda. AirAsia was the first and only airline to send humanitarian flights to the province, delivering relief aid and evacuating survivors. Additionally, it successfully raised USD 2.17 million through its campaign, "To Philippines with Love," which was utilized for reconstruction efforts.

Continuing their commitment to helping the province, AirAsia is now supporting a young group of Taclobanons who are focusing on tourism to revitalize the area. Spearheaded by siblings Jacques and Tricia Palami, this informal group is promoting the campaign "See You, Leyte!"

Tricia shared that the inspiration for the campaign arose from a conversation with a friend, a development aid worker, who was leaving. The friend said the usual "no goodbyes, just see you later," and the reply was "see you, Leyte!" This interaction sparked the inspiration for the campaign.

Initially conceived as a catchy slogan for a shirt, the idea quickly evolved into something more significant. Tricia enlisted her friend, Dan Matutina, to design the logo and presented it as a tourism campaign to the Department of Tourism.

The campaign took off with the Guinsiyaman Arts and Music Festival. While the siblings had organized similar events at their hostel, Yellow Doors, this one was the first of this magnitude. Tricia and Jacques envisioned it as a two-pronged event – a grand farewell party for the volunteer aid workers and an invitation for everyone who has left to come back.


Tricia and Jacques with the media delegation from Manila

After Yolanda, there was an influx of aid workers and volunteers in the province. A string of new hostels, restaurants, and other businesses opened to cater to the needs of these guests. However, they have started to leave. Recognizing the need to sustain local businesses and the overall economy of the province, the siblings initiated a renewed tourism campaign called 'See You, Leyte!'

The festival took place on a farm owned by their friend, Kay Veloso.

The huge concert ground

Volunteers from All Hands

It was totally my vibe – a chance to relax, camp under the stars, and indulge in some fantastic food. Large, crowded concerts aren't my cup of tea.

The festival featured awesome performances by The Bandang Shirley, Strangeness, Yolanda Moon, Pulso, Skymarines, The Ringmaster, Aimee Delgado, Kulahig, Bullet Dumas, and a handful of other supporting acts.

The artistic element was curated by various Leyte LGUs, offering engaging activities such as basket weaving, tuba painting, and more.

Chill fest

Rice Lucido on stage

While the primary focus of the trip was to cover the Guinsiyaman Arts and Music Festival, the organizers, including the Department of Tourism, saw it as a golden opportunity for the media group to immerse themselves in the Leyte experience.

Spanning four days, the itinerary encompassed a tour around Tacloban City, island hopping in Inopacan, exploring Baybay City, and indulging in pineapple tasting in Ormoc City.

In Tacloban City, we delved into the vibrant scene of various coffee shops and restaurants, each leaving a lasting impression. The unforgettable highlights included savoring the best bulalo in Leyte at Calle Z, basking in the charm of Chew Love, appreciating the quaint ambiance of Jose Karlo Coffee, and enjoying the cozy atmosphere of K Patisserie. Regrettably, despite our efforts, we missed the chance to experience Libro Atbp. as it wasn't open.

Chew Love. True Love.

Our home in Tacloban City, the historic Hotel Alejandro

Jose Karlo

K Patisserie

Certainly, we took the opportunity to explore some of the noteworthy landmarks in Tacloban City, including the Palo Metropolitan Cathedral, the Leyte Landing Memorial Site, and the iconic San Juanico Bridge.

Palo Cathedral

Leyte Landing.  I returned!

San Juanico Bridge 

Another unforgettable experience for me was the Cuatros Islas (four islands) hopping adventure. We explored two of the four islands – Mahaba and Digyo, and both left us in awe with their breathtaking beauty. I couldn't help but wish for a longer stay to fully immerse in camping and relish the pristine white sands and crystal-clear blue waters.

Mahaba Island

Digyo Island

Two of the residents of Digyo Island having a blue lagoon moment

The perfect campsite.  Found a spot already for my hammock

While in Baybay, we treated our taste buds to the renowned Chicken Barbecue and indulged in the flavors of cassava chips at Ciudad Coffee and Bar. Our exploration extended to the Visayas State University, an esteemed tourism-accredited establishment, and SC Coco Global, a significant exporter of tons of coconut products.

Visayas State University's Obelisks

Make sure to grab these when you visit Baybay

During our visit to Ormoc's Sabin Resort, we had the pleasure of sampling one of the country's sweetest pineapples. Sabin has become synonymous with sweet pineapples in the Visayas region.

Sabin Resort

The pineapple

That concludes the four-day tour that has left me eagerly saying, "See you, Leyte!"

A heartfelt appreciation to Mr. Patrick Steven A. Buena, the perfect tour companion. I extend my gratitude to the Tourism Promotions Board, the Department of Tourism, Provincial Government of Leyte, Local Government Unit of Inopacan, Local Government Unit of Baybay, SC Global, and Sabin Resort Hotel for making this enriching experience possible. Thank you all!

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