November 03, 2015 Travel

The province of Leyte is inviting everyone to go back to Leyte and they staged a big arts and music fest to kickstart it.

I accompanied a media delegation to Leyte invited by Philippines AirAsia, which has been very involved in helping the province recover from the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda. AirAsia was the first and only to send humanitarian flights to the province to fly in relief aid and evacuate survivors.  It was also able to raise, through its campaign ‘To Philippines with love,” USD 2.17 million which was used for reconstruction efforts.

Continuing their efforts to help the province, AirAsia is now supporting a young group of Taclobanons who is now looking at tourism to revitalize the province.

Spearheaded by siblings Jacques and Tricia Palami, the group, which is actually an informal one, is now pushing for the campaign "See You, Leyte!." 

Tricia told us that the inspiration came from a conversation she had with a friend, a development aid worker, who was leaving. She said the usual "no goodbyes, just see you later," which got the reply "see you, Leyte!"  And that was how the inspiration started.

At first she thought it would be a cool copy for a slogan shirt but it became much bigger than that. She asked her friend, Dan Matutina, to design the logo then offered it as a tourism campaign to the Department of Tourism.

The big start for the campaign was the Guinsiyaman Arts and Music Festival. It was not the first time the siblings organized a similar event because they have done several in their hostel called Yellow Doors but it was the first of this magnitude.  

Tricia and Jacques envisioned it as a two pronged event – a big farewell party for the volunteer aid workers and an invitation for everybody who has left to come back.


Tricia and Jacques with the media delegation from Manila

After Yolanda, there has been an influx of aid workers and volunteers in the province.  A string of new hostels, restaurants and other businesses have opened to cater to the needs of these guests.  But they have started to leave.  The siblings saw the need to sustain the businesses and the economy of the province in general through a renewed tourism campaign, which is ‘See you, Leyte!’

The festival was held in a farm owned by their friend, Kay Veloso.

The huge concert ground

Volunteers from All Hands

It was my kind of thing - chill out, camp out, also pig out. I am not a fan of crowded concert. 

Shout out to Bullet Dumas, who is also a Waray.  There were also performances from The Bandang Shirley, Strangeness, Yolanda Moon, Pulso, Skymarines, The Ringmaster, Aimee Delgado, Kulahig, plus a few more supporting acts. 

The art part was provided by different Leyte LGUs, which provided activities like basket weaving, tuba painting, etc.

Chill fest

Rice Lucido on stage

Although the trip was organized mainly for the coverage of Ginsiyaman Arts and Music Fest, the organizers, including the Department of Tourism, also took it as an opportunity for the media group to experience Leyte.  

It was a 4-day trip, which included tour around Tacloban City, island hopping in Inopacan, tour of Baybay City, and pineapple tasting in Ormoc City.

In Tacloban City, we hopped around different coffee shops and restaurants and all have something in them that makes them memorable.  

We just can’t simply forget the best bulalo in Leyte made by Calle Z, the very lovely Chew Love, the quaint Jose Karlo Coffee, and the cozy K Patisserie.  Too bad, for the second time around, wasn’t able to catch Libro Atbp. open.

Chew Love. True Love.

Our home in Tacloban City, the historic Hotel Alejandro

Jose Karlo

K Patisserie

Of course, we visited a few landmarks around it like the Palo Metropolitan Cathedral, Leyte Landing Memorial Site, and the San Juanico Bridge.

Palo Cathedral

Leyte Landing.  I returned!

San Juanico Bridge 

Another highlight for me was Cuatros Islas (four islands) hopping.  We visited two of the four islands – Mahaba and Digyo and both were breathtaking.  I wish we stayed there longer to camp and enjoy its white sands and clear blue water.  

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

In Baybay, we sampled its famous Chicken Barbecue and had a sampling of its cassava chips at Ciudad Coffee and Bar.  We also toured Visayas State University, which is a tourism-accredited establishment and SC Coco Global, which exports tons of coconut products.

Visayas State University's Obelisks

Make sure to grab these when you visit Baybay

At Ormoc’s Sabin Resort, we got to sample one of the country’s sweetest pineapples.  Sabin is actually synonymous to sweet pineapples in the Visayas.

Sabin Resort

The pineapple

That's it! A four-day tour that also made me want to say “See you, Leyte!”

Special thanks to Mr. Patrick Steven A. Buena, the perfect tour companion.  Thank you also 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.

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