To the South of Leyte: Visiting April Christine’s Hometown
The Challenge: Tour Southern Leyte without clear IT at 2000 pesos. Let’s see if we achieved the challenge.
With this feast of sumptuous seafood and dessert and paid less than 2000 pesos, would you not want to come and eat here again?
Since one of our friend, April Christine, comes from Leyte, we planned another road trip to her hometown and the rest of Southern Leyte.
From Cebu, we took a 5-hour boat ride to Hilongos where April is waiting for our arrival. Our (me and Lyca) sleepless night was over when the boat finally docked. We headed to April’s home and we were so lucky for our very accommodating and caring hosts, thanks to her family.
Great Morning Welcome From Bontoc, Leyte
Would you not be so overwhelmed with this view from their home’s balcony? The sun starts rising from the horizon while the sea-lake water calms us down. It somehow makes us appease from the torment we had from the boat travel. Eating what they call Magsaysay (choco-filled rice cake) while sipping our hot choco and coffee with this backdrop? Where else would we hope to be that very moment?
Minutes after, we had our delicious breakfast – a buffet of seafood. What a perfect way to start our long day to Limasawa Island.
Serene Limasawa Island
Of course, you’ve already heard of Limasawa Island from our Philippine history classes since our elementary years. It’s where the first Christian mass in the Philippines was held during the Spanish era. Unfortunately, we miss the first trip to the island from Padre Burgos port. We’re told that the next schedule is at 3 pm and it’s still 11 am. Our option then was to rent a private boat to transport us across the island. Our boat docked at Dakdak Beach where we had our beach camp. The boat rental costs 3500 (good for a group of 10-15.) Here’s the contact number of our boatmen 09663044934.
Note: The public boat ride here costs 150 pesos per passenger while the private ones can cost you about 2500-3500 depending on its capacity and your haggling skills (as usual our last resort). The public transport docked at the Triana port. You have a choice to let the boatmen docked the private boat to where exactly you’re staying at the island.
DakDak Beach Resort
Swimming in this white sand beach is awesome with its clear, bluish water and fine sand. The beach is perfect for a camp and some outdoor eat, drink, chitchat and just anything you want to stress out your day-to-day grinds. You can either rent a cottage at 1000-1500 or set-up your tent for 300 pesos per tent space.
Note: Make sure to call for a reservation ahead of time especially when it’s weekends because their cottages likely filled easily.
Staying at the beach doesn’t start and end our Limasawa escapade there.
After pitching our tents, eating lunch and a bit of relaxation, we decided to explore the island. We negotiated the tricycle drivers to tour us around paying 175 pesos each for a few spots worth to visit including the First Mass Shrine, Lighthouse, Island Lagoon, Triana port’s welcome signage, and Triana Boulevard.
First Mass Shrine
The shrine is a must-go if you really want to know the historical and religious background of the island. Fr. Pedro de Valderrama, a Spanish priest, officiated Philippine’s first Catholic mass here on March 31, 1521. Inside of it are paintings depicting the scenes when Ferdinand Magellan along with his crew came in the island.
According to the tourist guide, atop a hill within the vicinity is Magellan’s Cross replica planted by his men. The guide added that the replica is under construction and that there are solar panels installed nearby providing electricity to the island. You will need to take the 450 steps to reach the top where the cross stands still.
There is also a wishing well just a few steps away from the shrine.
The Lighthouse or Parola
Next stop was to the Limasawa Island Lagoon where you’ve got to see the wide turquoise ocean. You can also see the aerial view of the Limasawa Island Lagoon. There’s a steep cliff without safety barriers here so be very careful and watch your steps.
Limasawa Island Lagoon
When you are in Limasawa, never leave without paying a visit to Limasawa Island Lagoon. It has a breathtaking, wide view of the ocean with deep water clear enough to even see its bottom.
Before getting to the lagoon itself, you’ll be passing by a private property so you need to pay a 5-peso access/toll fee. Entrance fee here is 25 pesos for senior citizens, 30 for adults, and 10 for kids.
Welcome Signage in Triana Port
Before heading to Triana Boulevard, we made a stop at the Welcome signage on the rocks just beside the road for photo-ops – and that includes jump shots, yes SHOTS… hahaha…
I’m a “sunrise, sunset” person. Wherever I go, I always look for the best spot to see where the sun rises and sets. That’s my travel mantra. We waited for the sun to set – and… – just see my photos below, see, and describe it yourself because no words can even describe what I feel and see every time.
I don’t know exactly what, how I felt the moment we went back to DakDak Beach. The moon seems to guide our way to the beach, and as I stepped out from the tricycle going down to the beach I was literally stunned by the reflection of the moon on the seawater.
We then prepared dinner, had short socials as some went to sleep early.
Great Island Morning Vibe
How I wish to wake up each morning with this view. Mr. Sun seems slightly not in the mood to greet us but still, it is a great day. We ate our boodle breakfast, swim, and went back to the mainland.
Banahaw Cold Spring (San Joaquin, Macrohon)
From Limasawa Island, our road trip to the south starts at Banahaw Cold Spring. Located in San Joaquin, Macrohon, the spring was perfect to freshen up from the scorching heat of the sun. Entrance fee is 25 pesos per person and cottage rent starts at 200 pesos. Overnight stay is also allowed here.
Other than the big pool, they also have fish ponds with huge fishes like coi (I’m not certain if there are other fishes there). Grilling station, sari2x store, toilets, videoke station, and washing area are also available for use.
Pagatpat Seafood Restaurant (Sta. Fe, Matalom)
Tribu AdOBo never explores or goes anywhere without a food trip – it’s a mainstay for this group. And it’s a seafood restaurant, so we’re actually looking forward to stop by and satiate our grumbling tummies. What makes it appealing to me is the setup of the cottages above the water surrounded by the mangrove trees. They even have a few floating cottages with the sea horizon where you can see the neighboring islands like Canigao Island from afar.
The food, my gosh! They are really delicious and not that pricey compared to the other seafood restaurants serving the same menus especially here in Cebu. Imagine, 8 hungry stomachs consumed a number of seafood dishes and dessert and only paid approximately 1,000 pesos. Quite surprising isn’t it?
Curious enough, I bugged the staff getting our order on the origin of the restaurant’s name and was told that it came from the word “pagatpat,” which is a mangrove species.
Gunhuban Falls (Bato)
From the looks of it from the outside, there’s something strange in this area. The falls is situated in the core of the verdant forest of Leyte. It requires you to take steps down to the two-tiered falls. Only a few came here maybe because of the stories about the falls that I learned later at the next falls we visited.
Note: There’s an entrance fee of 10 pesos for adults and 5 pesos for kids upon entering the gate towards the falls.
Tumpag Falls (Osmeña, Bato)
I guess most visitors flock more to this falls than on the previous falls because it’s safer and cleaner. The ambiance here is also great for relaxation. For the fees, you will only pay 5 pesos and 100 for cottage rental. You can swim, eat, dive, and have a chitchat with your family, friends, and colleagues.
Before leaving, a local approach us and revealed to us the developments and plans for the area. He even told us about the rumors and stories associated with Gunhuban Falls.
Since we have a boat ride to catch in the evening, we need to travel back to Bontoc to wash up. We then went to Baybay Port as some of us will be taking the Baybay-Cebu ride while we will be taking the Hilongos-Cebu trip.
That quick road and island trip was exhausting indeed yet very rewarding for the memories we had in another place foreign to most of us. Next trip? It’s next month already. Til’ our next wander…
P.S.: Let’s always be a responsible traveler wherever we go and whatever we do. Always practice the Leave No Trace (LNT) principle.
6 pm – Meet-up at Robinson’s Galleria Cebu
10 pm-3am – Boat ride Cebu-Hilongos, Leyte
4 am-5 am – April’s House in Bontoc (sunrise, breakfast, prepare for Limasawa)
10 am-11 am – Bontoc to Padre Burgos Port
11 am-12 noon – DakDak Beach (Limasawa Island)
Pitch tent, lunch, relax
1 pm-7 pm – Tour around the island
8 pm-11 pm – Dinner, socials
5 am – Wake-up call/sunrise
6 am-9 am – breakfast, swimming, photo-ops, decamp
9 am-10 am – Limasawa to Padre Burgos
10 am-11 am – Banahaw Cold Spring
12 noon-1 pm – Pagatpat Restaurant
1 pm-2 pm – Gunguban Falls
2 pm-3 pm – Tumpag Falls
3 pm-4 pm – Back to Bontoc
7 pm-9 pm – Baybay Port
9:30 pm – Hilongos Port
10 am-3 pm – Hilongos-Cebu
— Home sweet home —
700 – Cebu- Hilongos (back and forth)
187.5 (1500 divided by 8) – Vehicle gas
390 (3500 divided by 9) – Boat rental (you may contact this number 09663044934 for negotiation)
50 – DakDak Beach entrance fee
100 – Tent (300/camp space-900/9)
175 – Limasawa Island Tour
35 – Limasawa Island Lagoon toll fee 5 and entrance fee 30
30 – Banahaw Spring Resort (Macrohon) entrance fee
10 – Gunhuban Falls (Bato) entrance fee
10 – Tumpag Falls entrance fee
Total = 1687.5 (we’re actually below our target expenditure :-))
Here’s the vlog by Asa Ni Quen?
*some photos credit to everyone here