Rare species

By Bert Eljera

– The critically endangered Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) can still be found in the thick forests of Samar Island, bird watchers reported.

THIS FILE photograph taken on April 9, 2011 shows a Philippine eagle at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao, Mindanao. -- <i>AFP</i>
THIS FILE photograph taken on April 9, 2011 shows a Philippine eagle at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao, Mindanao. — AFP

An eagle was spotted on March 10 in the forests of Barangay San Rafael, Taft, Eastern Samar — the first time the bird had been seen in Samar in two years. The area is part of the Philippine eagle sanctuary and the Ulot Watershed Model Forest, said Purificacion S. Daloos, regional information officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Eastern Visayas.

This is according to a report of the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) which said bird watchers belonging to the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines have been monitoring the presence of the Philippine eagle and other bird species in the area, she said.

The last time the Philippine eagle was seen in Samar was in June 2011 when it was spotted in Mt. Nahulopan in Taft as well as in General MacArthur, Eastern Samar and Barangay Aguingayan, San Jose de Buan town in Samar.

Ms. Daloos said avid bird watcher Ruth Francisco visited the SINP in March to look for another bird species, the Mindanao bleeding heart, but found the Philippine eagle instead.

“The recent sighting in Taft offers a ray of hope for the majestic bird of prey,” Ms. Daloos said.

ENDANGERED
Manolito D. Ragub, DENR regional executive director, said the Philippine eagle remains a critically endangered species and government and public support are needed to ensure its survival.

“Hunting and massive destruction of their natural habitat remain their biggest threat,” Mr. Ragub said.

“The Philippine eagle has a very high socio-cultural value. It has economic value because it helps regulate animal population. It’s also our national symbol and tags the Philippines as the habitat of the world’s largest eagles,” Mr. Ragub added.

The Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) said about 340 Philippine eagle breeding pairs are in the wild and in need of protection.

Bird watchers have caught sight of the eagle in the shared boundaries of Burauen, Jaro and Ormoc City in Leyte as well as in Calbiga and Basey towns in Samar.

Ms. Daloos said the DENR conducts regular surveys in these areas.

“Surveys are conducted in September when the bird builds nests, courts and mates. Target area is from the forest areas of Borongan City down to the southern town of General MacArthur in Eastern Samar, where the forests are still rich,” Ms. Daloos said.

ENDEMIC
Endemic to the Philippines, the majestic and mighty bird can only be found in eastern Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.

The Philippine eagle was first recorded by John Whitehead, an English explorer and naturalist, on June 13, 1896 in Barangay Bonga, Paranas, Samar.

The name given to the newly discovered bird was Pithecophaga jefferyi, from the Greek word “pithecus” which means “ape” or “monkey,” and “phagus” or “eater of” because it was believed then that it exclusively preyed on monkeys. The name “jefferyi” commemorates Jeffrey Whitehead, the father of John Whitehead.

It was only later that it was discovered that the Philippine eagle also eats civets, large snakes, monitor lizards, and flying lemurs, among others.

In 1995, the Philippine eagle was declared the country’s national bird.

Mr. Ragub said protection and conservation efforts are being implemented to ensure the survival of the Philippine eagle, citing the National Greening Program, the government’s flagship reforestation project.

The DENR-PAWB also runs the Philippine Raptors Conservation Program, which aims to raise awareness of, conserve, and protect the Philippine eagle and other species of raptors through information campaigns.

– See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/weekender/content.php?id=72490#sthash.ZYmccidE.dpuf

The critically endangered Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) can still be found in the thick forests of Samar Island, bird watchers reported.

THIS FILE photograph taken on April 9, 2011 shows a Philippine eagle at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao, Mindanao. -- <i>AFP</i>
THIS FILE photograph taken on April 9, 2011 shows a Philippine eagle at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao, Mindanao. — AFP

An eagle was spotted on March 10 in the forests of Barangay San Rafael, Taft, Eastern Samar — the first time the bird had been seen in Samar in two years. The area is part of the Philippine eagle sanctuary and the Ulot Watershed Model Forest, said Purificacion S. Daloos, regional information officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Eastern Visayas.

This is according to a report of the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) which said bird watchers belonging to the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines have been monitoring the presence of the Philippine eagle and other bird species in the area, she said.

The last time the Philippine eagle was seen in Samar was in June 2011 when it was spotted in Mt. Nahulopan in Taft as well as in General MacArthur, Eastern Samar and Barangay Aguingayan, San Jose de Buan town in Samar.

Ms. Daloos said avid bird watcher Ruth Francisco visited the SINP in March to look for another bird species, the Mindanao bleeding heart, but found the Philippine eagle instead.

“The recent sighting in Taft offers a ray of hope for the majestic bird of prey,” Ms. Daloos said.

ENDANGERED
Manolito D. Ragub, DENR regional executive director, said the Philippine eagle remains a critically endangered species and government and public support are needed to ensure its survival.

“Hunting and massive destruction of their natural habitat remain their biggest threat,” Mr. Ragub said.

“The Philippine eagle has a very high socio-cultural value. It has economic value because it helps regulate animal population. It’s also our national symbol and tags the Philippines as the habitat of the world’s largest eagles,” Mr. Ragub added.

The Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) said about 340 Philippine eagle breeding pairs are in the wild and in need of protection.

Bird watchers have caught sight of the eagle in the shared boundaries of Burauen, Jaro and Ormoc City in Leyte as well as in Calbiga and Basey towns in Samar.

Ms. Daloos said the DENR conducts regular surveys in these areas.

“Surveys are conducted in September when the bird builds nests, courts and mates. Target area is from the forest areas of Borongan City down to the southern town of General MacArthur in Eastern Samar, where the forests are still rich,” Ms. Daloos said.

ENDEMIC
Endemic to the Philippines, the majestic and mighty bird can only be found in eastern Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.

The Philippine eagle was first recorded by John Whitehead, an English explorer and naturalist, on June 13, 1896 in Barangay Bonga, Paranas, Samar.

– See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/weekender/content.php?id=72490#sthash.ZYmccidE.dpuf

The critically endangered Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) can still be found in the thick forests of Samar Island, bird watchers reported.

THIS FILE photograph taken on April 9, 2011 shows a Philippine eagle at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao, Mindanao. -- <i>AFP</i>
THIS FILE photograph taken on April 9, 2011 shows a Philippine eagle at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao, Mindanao. — AFP

An eagle was spotted on March 10 in the forests of Barangay San Rafael, Taft, Eastern Samar — the first time the bird had been seen in Samar in two years. The area is part of the Philippine eagle sanctuary and the Ulot Watershed Model Forest, said Purificacion S. Daloos, regional information officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Eastern Visayas.

This is according to a report of the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) which said bird watchers belonging to the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines have been monitoring the presence of the Philippine eagle and other bird species in the area, she said.

The last time the Philippine eagle was seen in Samar was in June 2011 when it was spotted in Mt. Nahulopan in Taft as well as in General MacArthur, Eastern Samar and Barangay Aguingayan, San Jose de Buan town in Samar.

Ms. Daloos said avid bird watcher Ruth Francisco visited the SINP in March to look for another bird species, the Mindanao bleeding heart, but found the Philippine eagle instead.

“The recent sighting in Taft offers a ray of hope for the majestic bird of prey,” Ms. Daloos said.

ENDANGERED
Manolito D. Ragub, DENR regional executive director, said the Philippine eagle remains a critically endangered species and government and public support are needed to ensure its survival.

“Hunting and massive destruction of their natural habitat remain their biggest threat,” Mr. Ragub said.

“The Philippine eagle has a very high socio-cultural value. It has economic value because it helps regulate animal population. It’s also our national symbol and tags the Philippines as the habitat of the world’s largest eagles,” Mr. Ragub added.

The Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) said about 340 Philippine eagle breeding pairs are in the wild and in need of protection.

Bird watchers have caught sight of the eagle in the shared boundaries of Burauen, Jaro and Ormoc City in Leyte as well as in Calbiga and Basey towns in Samar.

Ms. Daloos said the DENR conducts regular surveys in these areas.

“Surveys are conducted in September when the bird builds nests, courts and mates. Target area is from the forest areas of Borongan City down to the southern town of General MacArthur in Eastern Samar, where the forests are still rich,” Ms. Daloos said.

ENDEMIC
Endemic to the Philippines, the majestic and mighty bird can only be found in eastern Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.

The Philippine eagle was first recorded by John Whitehead, an English explorer and naturalist, on June 13, 1896 in Barangay Bonga, Paranas, Samar.

– See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/weekender/content.php?id=72490#sthash.ZYmccidE.dpuf

The critically endangered Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) can still be found in the thick forests of Samar Island, bird watchers reported.

THIS FILE photograph taken on April 9, 2011 shows a Philippine eagle at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao, Mindanao. -- <i>AFP</i>
THIS FILE photograph taken on April 9, 2011 shows a Philippine eagle at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao, Mindanao. — AFP

An eagle was spotted on March 10 in the forests of Barangay San Rafael, Taft, Eastern Samar — the first time the bird had been seen in Samar in two years. The area is part of the Philippine eagle sanctuary and the Ulot Watershed Model Forest, said Purificacion S. Daloos, regional information officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Eastern Visayas.

This is according to a report of the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) which said bird watchers belonging to the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines have been monitoring the presence of the Philippine eagle and other bird species in the area, she said.

The last time the Philippine eagle was seen in Samar was in June 2011 when it was spotted in Mt. Nahulopan in Taft as well as in General MacArthur, Eastern Samar and Barangay Aguingayan, San Jose de Buan town in Samar.

Ms. Daloos said avid bird watcher Ruth Francisco visited the SINP in March to look for another bird species, the Mindanao bleeding heart, but found the Philippine eagle instead.

“The recent sighting in Taft offers a ray of hope for the majestic bird of prey,” Ms. Daloos said.

ENDANGERED
Manolito D. Ragub, DENR regional executive director, said the Philippine eagle remains a critically endangered species and government and public support are needed to ensure its survival.

“Hunting and massive destruction of their natural habitat remain their biggest threat,” Mr. Ragub said.

– See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/weekender/content.php?id=72490#sthash.ZYmccidE.dpuf

Peaks and mountains

By Bert Eljera

trek

Hiking through the Samar Island Natural Park

In June two years ago, 99 climbers simultaneously scaled Mt. Kapudlusan in Maydolong in a coordinated national effort to set a world record in mountain climbing.

Dubbed the “Freedom Climb 2011,” the event was held to coincide with the 113th Independence Day celebration and set a record of the most number of people hiking up several mountains at the same time.

In all, 6,700 Filipino climbers successfully climbed 70 mountains that day, surpassing the previous record of 6,000 climbers set in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

As reported by Samar News.com, a similar climb was held at Mt. Huraw near San Jose de Buan with participants from Catbalogan, Calbayog, Catarman and Laoang.

But while one purpose of the climb was to set the record, the more important mission was to bring awareness to protecting the environment, organizers said.

Events like this generate employment among locals,” said Floyd Ramos of the Borongan Awareness on Nature and Outdoor Group (BANOG). “This also draws them nearer to the environment and makes them understand the reason why we have to protect it.

Thanks mainly to groups like BANOG, the Allince of Filipino Mountaineers Inc., Centro Outdoors, and the Samar Island Natural Park, mountain climbing, trekking and other outdoor sports have become popular in Eastern Samar.

It is another facet of ecotourism that needs to be promoted and encouraged to grow for its positive impact on livelihood programs and weaning off local folks from destructive practices, such slash-and-burn farming, and charcoal-making.

A favorite hiking route is through the Borongan-Llorente Closed Canopy Forest, one of the remaining low-land rain-forest in the country, and situated within the Samar Island Natural Park.

trek1

Trekking through the rain-forest

A  23-man SINP team joined the Mt. Kapudlusan climb, camping for three days at the forest, where members said they saw the rare and endangered Philippine eagle.

Rising to a height of 470 meters, Mt. Kapudlusan is one of 28 mountains in Eastern Samar, many of them still not fully explored yet.

range

Along the SINP trail (Photo by Carlos Alido)

Peakery.com has three on its list of world mountains – Mt. Bingo and Mt. Canmaasim, both in Jipapad, and Mt. Pacgem is Nena, San Julian.

Although not on Peakery’s list, Mt. Capoto-on, near Jipapad, is one of the tallest in Samar Island and 419th highest in the Philippines at 3,898 feet.

Other well-known mountains are Mt. Mactaon, Mt. Yacgem, Mt. Bihag, Mt. Caputian, Mt. Lonhi and Mt. Sohoton.

hikers

Hikers (Photo by Benjie Panaguiton)

 

 

 

Natural wonders to make you cave

linaw cave

Linaw Cave in Guiuan

By Bert Eljera

Noted cave explorer and guide Joni Bonifacio describes his feeling inside a cave this way:

“You can find serenity in caves; it’s a peacefulness that envelops in the inner self. It’s a magical place…the age of it, the shapes and the form of it…it’s a peace that you can’t find on the surface, where there is life and activity all around. It’s an appreciation that hold for a remarkable place, like a cathedral.”

If cave exploration seems like a religious experience for Bonifacio, it’s because he has devoted a big part of his life to finding, exploring and cataloging these natural wonders and leading teams of similarly-inclined enthusiasts in caving adventures around the country.

Bonifacio heads  “TREXPLORE,”  an organization whose self-assumed mission is to be a record-keeper of Philippine caves.

“It’s a labor of love,  and there is a balance that must be struck between disseminating information and limiting human traffic in caves,” Bonifacio says. “Caves are a valuable, limited and nonrenewable resource. Once its destroyed, it’s gone.”

According to Wikipedia, a cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. Caves form naturally by the weathering of rock and often extend deep underground. The word “cave” can also refer to much smaller openings such as sea caves, rock shelters, and grottos.

It’s a process that takes hundreds, even thousands, of years to complete.

Speleology is the science of exploration and study of all aspects of caves and the environment that surrounds the caves. Exploring a cave for recreation or science may be called caving, potholing, or spelunking.

For caving enthusiasts, one of the favorite areas is Samar Island, which  offers visitors a myriad of caves to explore.

Located in the eastern part of the Philippines, this place maybe the caving capital of the country. Some of the caves in Samar are well developed with large passages and more than of these caves are over ten miles long.

Bonifacio, who has extensively explored the Samar caves, says caving is a great hobby for adventurers who aren’t afraid of tight spaces, heights, darkness, and bugs.

He has led expeditions to the Can-Yawa Cave in Calbiga, Macatingal Cave in Las Navas, Northern Samar, and the Maybug Sulpan Cave in Matuguinao, Samar.

talubagnancave

Talubagnan Cave in Borongan

In Eastern Samar, he and his team visited Maslog, and discovered five caves: “Bagoy”, “Mercing”, “Jaime”, “Zoo” and “Bai-ang Caves”.

More than 100 caves have been explored and cataloged with more than 1,000 caves still to be explored. Thousands more caves are known in Samar Island. It has more caves than many other countries.

Rock formations will delight and excite the more adventurous visitors. There are organized expeditions in Samar and only the best equipment and most experienced guides are used, according to Bonifacio.

 

Among the popular caves in Eastern Samar are:

  1. Linaw Cave in Guiuan
  2. Donghoy Cave in Taft
  3. Talubagnan Cave in Borongan
andoislandcave

Ando Island Cave in Borongan

In Borongan, the well-known caves are:

  • Ganap Cave

Located in Barangay Cagbonga which is about 13 km. northwest of Borongan town proper. With beautiful spring; stalactites and stalagmites of various colours and sizes.

ganapcave

Ganap Cave

  • Locso-on Cave

Located in Barangay Locso-on, about 8.5 kilometers south of Borongan. A beautiful cave full of stories and legends. Old folks would swear that many strangers get lost in this cave when they go deep into the hinterlands of Suribao River.

  • Santa Monica Caves

Located in Borongan,  it has a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean; excellent place for fishing, scuba diving, surfing, swimming.

Magic of flowing waters

The Rivers and Streams of Eastern Samar

By Bert Eljera

loomriver

Loom River

Early on, fresh, abundant water provided the lifeline for the growth and development of a fog-shrouded place by the Pacific Ocean that eventually became the city of Borongan.

From the scattered hamlets along the banks of the Guiborongani (Sabang) and the Lo-om rivers, grew Borongan, the name taken from the thick “borong” or fog that covers the place, particularly in the early morning.

According to Wikipedia, the development of Borongan was greatly influenced by the religious missions of the Jesuits during the period 1604–1768, and the Franciscans from 1768 to 1868.

Borongan was established as a pueblo on September 8, 1619.

It may be religion that provided the structure, but it was water, in the form of rivers and streams, most of which were navigable, that allowed the community to move and sustain such growth.

sabangriver

Sabang River

And Borongan is not alone. At least in Eastern Samar, practically every town grew from the banks of a river – and drew sustenance from the water.

The major rivers of Eastern Samar are:

  • Llorente River
  • Suribao River
  • Taft River
  • Can Avid River
  • Dolores River
  • Oras River

In all of them, boats can be used to transport goods and people from the interior to the coastal areas.

llorenteriver

Llorente River

taftriver

Taft River

can-avidriver

Sunset over Can-avid River

orasriver

Oras River

Aside from the Lo-om and Sabang rivers, other rivers in Borongan are:

  • Balacdas River
  • Can-obing River
  • Maypangdan River
  • Naghahagong underground river located past Sitio Cati-an (its “snore” or “hagong” – hence the name – can be heard by the locals when there is heavy rains as the onrushing torrent of water gushes and rumbles underground), ideal for spelunkers although it has remained unexplored up to this day and thus relatively unknown to outsiders
  • Palanas River
  • Salog River in Brgy. Cancaligdas
  • Suribao River (serves as common city/municipal boundary with the adjacent town of Maydolong)
suribao river

Suribao River

In addition, there are countless streams and springs. In Borongan alone, there are numerous tributaries from both the Lo-om and Sabang rivers.

The springs of Borongan are Hamorawon, Capinian, Kalugtugan, Gaanap, Can-apong, Maybito, Sunog, Bito, and Masacpasac.

Hamorawon

Hamorawan Spring

But while the rivers and streams provide such tremendous transportation and livelihood purposes, they can also be destructive.

During the rainy season, it’s not uncommon for flooding to occur when the rivers overflow their banks and spill into coastal areas, abetted by illegal logging that destroys forest cover upstream.

In 2011, a dredging project was undertaken in the province’s major rivers and some progress was made.

In addition to the floods, pollution has become a problems, especially among rivers close to population centers.

The Loom River, for example, has practically become a dump site for the businesses and residences along its banks.

On the banks of the Sulat River, a sign exhorts people to use the river more responsibly.

sulatriver

Sulat River

riverpollution

A polluted stream

Lost in political wilderness

 By Bert Eljera
SIP1 rapids

Rapids at the Ulot River

In times past when no road connected the eastern part of Samar to the rest of the island, a river served as highway to move people and goods in ways that legends were built on.

The Ulot River, a 520-kilometer- long tributary and considered to be the longest in Samar, meanders through Paranas in Samar and touches 11 towns before it pours into the Pacific Ocean in Can-avid, Eastern Samar.

So dependent were the folks on the Ulot River that it became the stuff of hilarious anecdotes. Like: A student was coming home from Manila and had to notify his parents through telegram.

He wired: Tapo, ulot ako! (Meet me. I’m a monkey!) Ulot is Waray, the local dialect, for monkey. You can just imagine the consternation of his parents.

But if the Ulot River was the lifeline then, it’s still a lifeline now. With the Ulot Watershed Ecotourism Loop, it’s the centerpiece of an ambitious environmental and conservation program that is one of the largest in the entire Philippines.

It is part of the Samar Island Natural Park, a biodiversity project originally funded by the United Nations.

In 2003, then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, through Proclamation 442, created the Samar Island Natural Park  that covers 333,330 hectares and a buffer zone of 125,400 hectares or a total area of 455,700 hectares.

It encompasses 34 towns and three cities and contains one of the country’s largest unfragmented tracts of lowland rainforest.

SINP2

Sohoton Cave

It seeks to conserve biodiversity, provide sustained ecological services and opportunities for equitable and sustainable development and opportunities for the local folks to be involved.

Under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, SINP is managed by a Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) – a multisectoral body responsible for policy formulation and general administration of the Protected Area.

DENR Region VIII manages the day-to-day operations with an on-site manager, the Protected Area Superintendent.

So far, the SINP has helped organize community groups and provide livelihood training to stop local residents from engaging in charcoal making, timber poaching, kaingin (slash-and-burn farming) and hunting wildlife.

With the Department of Tourism, a thriving livelihood project, a boat ride along the river that has attracted foreign tourists and provided additional income to  local folks has been in operation since 2010.

SNIP

Samar Island Natural Park

Unfortunately, the SINP has hit a financial snag that threatens to scuttle the entire project.

In a recent interview with the local paper, the Leyte Samar Daily Express and with other journalists, it was learned the SINP needs at least a P2.17 billion budget until 2016.

Protected Areas Superintendent Angelito Villanueva said that P1.11 billion is intended for biodiversity management, P1.03 billion for community outreach, P6.34 million for community-based eco-tourism and P13.54 million for stakeholder participation and management.

“Now that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has expired, we have to find other funding sources to sustain management activities,” Villanueva told the newsmen.

In 2001, the UNDP allocated $21 million in grants as part of its worldwide conservation program.

According to the Philippine Clearing House Mechanism for Biodiversity, which provides information for biodiversity projects in the country, the SINP was planned in three phases.

The first phase was from 2001-2005, which focused on planning and policy works required to “formally gazette” the natural park , and institutionalize the proposed community-based management approach.

The second phase of the project ran from 2008-2011 aimed at building core conservation functions, and nurture conservation processes through to maturity. In 2012, the UNDP funding support expired.

SINP3

A sign to the park

The third phase, which is ongoing, will build on the successes of the earlier phases and expand the operations.

Villanueva said that with the limited financial support from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) budget, they have been sourcing out funds from other agencies, local government units and international organizations.

The hope was that eventually the Philippine Congress will pass a law creating the SINP and providing for its funding.

In the current 16th Congress, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone has filed a bill, SB 358, titled “Samar Island Natural Park.”

“An Act declaring the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) situated in the provinces of Samar, Northern Samar and Eastern Samar, as a protected area and its peripheral areas as buffer zone, providing for its management and for other purposes.”

It is pending with the Committee on Natural Resources. Evardone, in a message on his Facebook page, said the bill was approved in committee last week.

I filed it also in the last Congress but the Senate did not act on it, apparently because of the strong lobby of influential pro – mining and pro – logging groups and individuals,” Evardone wrote.

” I hope that this time the Senate will act on it favorably, even if there is still a senator who has logging interests in Samar island,” he added.

The side issues in the park project are additional roadblocks to its full implementation. (We’ll tackle these in future stories.)

In his talk with the local newsmen and as reported by the Leyte Samar Daily Express, Villanueva said that the SINP is a weapon against global warming.

He said Samar Island’s cover shrunk to 318,348 hectares in 2001 from 425,200 hectares in 1987, or an average annual forest cover loss of 7,632 hectares.

The major causes are charcoal making, timber poaching, encroachment and unregulated hunting of wildlife species. Commercial logging in the past has contributed to forest denudation.

The protected area supports some 38 species of mammals, 215 species of birds, 51 species of reptiles, 26 species of amphibians and over 1,000 species of plants.

For Eastern Samar, the SINP is an important project.

The towns affected are Arteche, Balangiga, Balangkayan, Borongan, Can-Avid, Dolores, Gen. MacArthur, Hernani, Giporlos, Jipapad, Lawaan, Oras, Llorente, Maslog, Maydolong, Quinapodan, San Julian, Sulat and Taft,

Fifty sites in the protect area were initially identified but planners conceded there would be difficulty in developing all of them due to lack of funds.

Instead, they chose important areas in the three provinces and started the social preparations to make them market ready.

These include:

Pinipisakan Falls in Las Navas, Northern Samar

Calbiga Cave in Calbiga, Western Samar

Ulot River Torpedo Ride in Paranas, Western Samar

Sohoton Cave in Basey, Western Samar

Borongan-Llorente Closed Canopy Forest

Various falls in Lawaan town in Eastern Samar

V illanueva also underscored that amid reported presence of insurgents in the area, there has been no report of tourists who were harassed or hurt by the rebel group.

Paradise in our backyard

SAPAO BEACH

sapao1

Sapao Beach

Beautiful beach with white sand and shells of various kinds and colors; viewing of the Pacific Ocean; ideal for swimming.

MENASNGE PARK

menasnge beach

Menasnge Beach (Maydolong@tourism)

Located in Maydolong, Eastern Samar, it has magnificent natural rock formation made more beautiful by the Maydolong landscape aficionados.

CHURCH OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

guiuan church

Chuch of the Immaculate Conception (Vicente S. Labro)

Located in Guiuan, Eastern Samar,  the 16th-century Immaculate Conception Church is at the town proper. Originally made of wood, the structure was rebuilt by the priests and natives using stones after it was razed by fire.

It is within a 42-square-meter fortress, its corners mounted with artillery.

At that time, it was “the best and most regularly planned in all the Visayas” and that it “exceeds in grandeur the celebrated fort in Zamboanga.” But with the passage of time, the walls were destroyed.

Most of the church, including its belfry is still preserved, however.

GUINTAGICAN BEACH

Guintagican Beach

Guintagican Beach

blogcover4

Located in Punta Maria

The 2-kilometer beach is ideal for surfing and swimming. It features tide pools with rich marine life.

DIVINUVO ISLAND

A 3-sq. kilometer island off  Brgy. Lalawigan, Borongan City, it has a crystal-clear water, white beach, swaying palm trees, multi-colored fishes and corals beneat. Best suited for scuba diving and swimming.

Divinubo Island lighthouse

Divinubo Island lighthouse

A beautiful lighthouse sits atop the mountain of Divinubo, which was constructed by the American engineers in 1906. It was originally a gas-operated facility but now it is electrically lighted and is enclosed in thick glass. It beams a bright light every 15 seconds. It serves to locate and guide the position of international and inter-island ships passing the treacherous Pacific Ocean

HAMORAWON SPRING

Tilang

Tilang

The Hamorawon park is located at the center of the city proper itself and can easily be located by the presence of the giant acacia tree beside it. It contains the stylized rendition of a concrete giant clamshell the upper half of which being held up by two mermaids while at its base are two crocodiles with their mouths agape.

This giant clamshell served as the then town’s cultural stage where social presentations were held while the fenced grounds fronting it served as the venue for social gatherings. This was the brainchild of the late Mayor Pablo “Buaya” Rosales. On its left side but still within the park grounds is the city tourism building.

From underneath this giant clamshell bubbles and flows the Hamorawon natural spring, the only one place in the entire province of Eastern Samar which has a naturally-occurring fresh-water spring, flowing from the very center of the city itself towards the Lo-om River a short distance downstream.

The waters of this spring has been said to be miraculous the site itself having allegedly been the place where appearances of a lady in white (supposed to be the patroness saint of the city) have reportedly been seen.

Unfortunately, access to this natural water source has of late been impeded and virtually blocked, its previous access road having been long fenced off leaving the spring almost unnoticeable already to busy passersby.
Location: At the heart of the town of Borongan.
This spring as the Boronganons say, is full of legend that whoever takes a bath in this cool spring especially foreigners, will surely go home with a Boronganon wife. Around this spring is Spanish built stone wall.

SAN JULIAN BEACH

Located 17 kms. north of Borongan. Beautiful white beach. Just a few meters away from the beach with swaying palm trees lies a small lake with fresh water.

CANHUGAS BEACH

Kanhugas

Cascading waters at Canhugas Beach

Located in Hernani, Eastern , this beach is legendary. It has a 200-meter foot bridge from the reef to the sea said to be built by a giant. There is also a rock formation that looks like man-made steps, and the waves slamming on it flow down through through the steps resembling a waterfall.

Link: http://iamstyxxss.blogspot.com/2012/04/hernani-eastern-samar-beauty-in.html

LAWA-AN ISLET

can-usod islet

Can-Usod Islet (Lawaan Tourism)

Known as Can-Usod Islet,  it is rather amusing that this small island with an area of 200 sq. meters has calm waters despite the fact that it is facing the Pacific Ocean. It also has beautiful beaches excellent for swimming.

Link: http://lawaan.com/?p=84

ANDO ISLAND

andoisland

Ando Island

Located about 4 km. south of Borongan. A rich fishing ground and good place for swimming, skiing, snorkeling, and just plain lazing amidst palms trees and sunshine.

BINALOAN RAPIDS

Click to see slide show:

Binaloan Rapids
Located between Brgy. San Rafael and Brgy. Binaloan in  Taft,  it can  be reached by public transport, 63 km. from Borongan. It is a beautiful rapids which is visible along the highway.

A 45-minute travel by motorboat from Borongan town proper. Features a large cave with cathedral-like interior filled with relics and rock formations.

Tourist attractions in Eastern Samar

1. HOMONHON ISLAND

homonhon

History

On March 16, 1521, the day when Ferdinand Magellan first set foot on Philippine soil, it was in the island called Homonhon. This was the time when he was on his way to rediscover the Philippines for the western world. It is probably because of this the majority of the town’s population are Catholics. The town’s church which is the Church of the Immaculate Conception is one of the oldest in the country.

Before Magellan and his three surviving vessels discovered the Philippines, they were out of food while crossing the Pacific Ocean. Fortunately when his team landed Homonhon Island, they were blessed to find food since the island is uninhabited; the island is abundant with foods that can supply their whole voyage.

However while Magellan’s team were busy hauling foods from the island they were detected by the boats of Rajah Culambo of Limasawa. Thru Rajah Culambo, Magellan and the Datu of Cebu met. Rajah Culambo was an ally of the Datu of Cebu.

Geography

Eastern Samar occupies a total land area of 4,470.75 sq. km. This province is bounded on the north by Northern Samar, on the east by the Philippine Sea, on the west by Western Samar, and on the south by the Leyte Gulf. The 20 kilometers (12 mi) long island is part of the municipality of Guiuan.

Tourist Attractions

Homonhon Island Coral Reef

When you already set your foot on this enchanting island you must ready yourself for a fun and breathtaking adventure experience. Try this kayak paddling on the blue ocean on a tropical island paradise. You truly should not miss this.

If the water is so tempting and you feel like wanted to be part of the underwater activity. You can cut your kayaking and ready your dive suit for an underwater jaunt.

Surfing

The wave riders can perform their passion on this island. So try having fun on the waves and discover the excitement and thrill about the blue water island of Homonhon.

Beautiful Island

Sunset island hoppers in Homonhon will be definitely amazed to witness this ocean sunset with Filipino fishing boats, fishermen outrigger a “pump boat” and Filipino fishermen with fish traps. This kind of scenario will absolutely persuade you to capture a picture perfect momentum. There are some instances where this island show cast some of nature’s wondrous creation like rainbow above a tropical island.

2. SULUAN ISLAND

suluan

Suluan Island (Bernie Pantin)

This two kilometer- stretch island is composed of beautiful white beaches on the western front and breathtaking cliffs and rock formations on the eastern side which faces the Pacific.

There is a lighthouse on the southern part of the island which is reached by hiking through thick vegetation and a 490 step staircase from the foot of the mountain. After the arduous climb, one however is gifted with a picturesque view of the forest and the ocean.

Just nearby is a cave called Panamboan that looks out into the blue ocean. One could see the waves wildly striking at the rocks below.

Suluan is a barangay (village) under the town of Guiuan. It is east of the island of Homonhon where Magellan first landed when he discovered the Philippines in 1521. It is a two hour ride by boat (motorized banca) from Guiuan.

Since it is already facing the Pacific, the waves are so huge and treacherous that there are seasons in the year that it becomes isolated from the mainland. It is during the month of May and two weeks of June that the sea becomes calm.

Composed of about five thousand inhabitants, the people occupy only the southwestern portion of the island, hence it is a safe haven with still waters as it is guarded from the huge Pacific waves by the mountains and cliffs on the eastern front of the island.

There are seven small islands that dot around the mainland of Suluan.

3. TUBABAO ISLAND

A small lagoon in Tubabao (Angelo Juan Ramirez)

A small lagoon in Tubabao (Angelo Juan Ramirez)

History

Just off the coast of Guiuan, Tubabao was used by the International Refugee Organization (IRO) in 1949 and 1950 to provide a temporary refuge for 5,000 Russian refugees escaping from China.

The Russians were survivors of the Bolshevik Russian Revolution of 1917 and Russian Civil War of 1919-1920, when the Tsarist autocracy was overthrown by the socialists. Some Russians managed to escape and took refuge in foreign lands.

Many of them moved to China, especially Harbin and Shanghai. Most of these refugees survived the Second World War but the communists took power in China and thus the IRO requested all countries around the world to provide accommodation to the Russians.

The Philippines volunteered, and offered the Tubabao Island. The Russian refugees later were granted to stay in the United States and Australia. Many who went to the U.S. took U.S. citizenship following a required five-year waiting period.
Wikipedia article: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tubabao

4. NAVY 3149 BASE

navybase 3149

Navy Base 3149 marker

Located in  Ngolos,  23 kms. from the town proper of Guiuan, it was a base of the American soldiers in World War II. It commands a view of the Pacific Ocean. It was the base of the “Elona Gay” (B-52 Bomber) which droped the first atomic bomb on August 7, 1945 in Hiroshima, Japan.

Additional links: http://www.pt27.org; http://www.seabees93.net/MEM-SAMAR-index.htm

5. GUIUAN WORLD WAR II OPERATING BASE

wwII airport

World War II Airbase

GuiuanAirport

Present-day Guiuan airport

6. SULANGAN BEACH

Sulangan Beach

Sulangan Beach

Located about 24 kilometers from the town proper of Guiuan. It is the Habitat of the world famous “Golden Cowrie”; ideal site for deep sea fishing, scuba diving; multi-colored school of fishes is a common sight.

Sulangan is a pilgrimage village and is famous for its shrine and now-modern church that attract Catholic pilgrims from across the island of Samar and the rest of the Philippines.

7. KANTICAN ISLAND (PEARL ISLAND)

Thirty minutes by boat from the mainland of this town is Kantican Island, a site developed as a government’s pearl experimental farm but for visitors, it has been more considered as a tourist destination.

Known as Pearl Island, the tiny place is becoming famous for snorkeling and scuba diving with its rich marine life along the 52 hectares fish sanctuary. It was developed in 1972 as pearl farm of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The crystal-clear seawater surrounding the island is the home of an assortment of marine life such as giant clamps, different species of corals, lobster, multi-colored small fishes usually seen in aquariums, shells, seaweed.

“The site is ideal for snorkeling. Good that we’re able to protect the area now since there were traces of illegal fishing activities in the past. We are looking at expanding the fish sanctuary,” said BFAR National Director Asis Perez.

What makes the 30-minute boat ride from the mainland to the tiny island more enjoyable is seeing the mangrove plantation is still intact, seagulls searching for prey in pure waters, and flying fishes. (Leyte Samar Daily Express).

MORE TO COME:

LINKS:

http://www.villapacific.co.uk/places.ph

http://www.visitmyphilippines.com/index.php?title=EasternSamar&func=all&pid=2373&tbl=0