Leyte Landing Memorial (Palo, Leyte)

From the Sto. Nino Shrine & Heritage Museum, we were next driven 12 kms. to the next town of Palo where we visited our final destination, the Leyte Landing Memorial along Red Beach, 2 kms. north of the Palo town center.  Marking the spot of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Leyte landing, this beautifully landscaped memorial was established in 1973.

Leyte Landing Memorial
The memorial contains the 7 bronze statues (1.5 times bigger than lifesize) of MacArthur (taller than the others to create perspective, it was designed by the late National Artist Leandro V. Locsin), Pres. Sergio Osmeña, Sr., Brig.-Gen. CarlosP. Romulo, Gen. Richard K. Sutherland (MacArthur’s Chief of Staff), Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid followed by two staff members, standing on a shallow, man-made lagoon.
Red Beach

Fifty meters away is the Philippine Commemorative Rock Garden of Peace, designed by Renato L. Punzalan and built in 1994 for the 50th anniversary of the landing.  It has messages of peace from leaders of different countries etched in stone slabs indigenous to these countries.  These are set around a bronze sculpture of the Eternal Flame of Peace.

Rock Garden of Peace

Leyte Landing Memorial: Brgy. Candahug, Palo, Leyte.

Sto. Nino Shrine & Heritage Museum (Tacloban City, Leyte)

After lunch at Agus Restaurant, Grace, Jandy, Cheska and I, with Manny, Paula, Mark, Nenette, Dad, Mom and Cheska’s new friend Kookie Bal, continued on our tour of Tacloban City, this time visiting the Sto. Nino Shrine & Heritage Museum, one of 29 presidential resthouses built by the late Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos and Tacloban’s top tourist attraction because of its association with Mrs. Marcos.  This 20-room, colonial-style structure, designed by Arch. Jorge Ramos and built from 1979 to 1981, houses former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos‘ vast collection of art objects from all over the world.  

Sto. Nino Shrine & Heritage Museum

At the ground floor is the 100-pax chapel, lit with beautiful chandeliers from Czechoslovakia; with narra pews and a replica of the image of the Sto. Nino of Leyte (made with Italian ivory) as the altar’s centerpiece.  This is where the Sto. Nino connection ends.  Everything else speaks of the Marcos family, especially the former First Lady.

Posing in front of the replica of the Sto. Nino de Leyte

On the chapel’s periphery, elevated by 2-3 steps, are 13 tastefully decorated guestrooms of varied Filipino motifs, each unique and exceptional as they represent the different regions of the country. Each room had a diorama of the First Lady.

One of the themed guestrooms
At the second floor is a spacious ballroom, a 30-pax dining/conference room and 7 magnificently designed and decorated private bedrooms for the First Family.  Imelda’s bedroom had a very large bathroom.  The whole place just screams grandeur, power and magnificence. 
Wooden bas relief of Malakas and Maganda
The whole mansion was furnished with original paintings done by by the late National Artist Fernando Amorsolo, Amadeo Y. Manalad and Malang; the 14 Stations of the Cross done by Filipino painters; priceless furniture; musical instruments; fine English, French and Chinese porcelain; Austrian mirrors; Argentinian and Persian carpets, grandfather clocks; Italian tiles; wooden bas-relief of the legend of Malakas and Maganda, ivory and wooden sculptures of local and foreign  origin; Russian dolls; Chinese Qing Dynasty vases: a whole glass case filled with ivory carvings; and other priceless collectors items. 
One of the 7 bedrooms
Sto. Nino Shrine & Heritage Museum: Real St., Tacloban City, Leyte.  Tel: (053) 321-9775. Admission: PhP60 (maximum of 6 per group).  Open daily, 8 AM to 5 PM.  Guided tours from 8 to 11 AM and 1 to 4 PM.

CAP Building (Tacloban City, Leyte)

Back in our van, we made our way back to the city proper.  Near the wharf, we made another stopover at the CAP Building.  Formerly the Price Mansion, this American colonial house was built in 1910 by American businessman Mr. Walter Scott Price, founder of the Leyte Transportation Co., Ltd. (Letranco). During World War II, it  was used as a Japanese Officer’s Club. 
CAP Building
For three months during the liberation, it served as Gen. Douglas MacArthur‘s headquarters and residence.   Here, the general escaped injury when a Japanese bomb penetrated the roof over his room but failed to explode.  The hole left by that attack can still be seen.  It is now the headquarters of the College Assurance Plan, Inc..
Aside from being the company’s office, the building also houses a MacArthur memorabilia room (second floor), an art gallery and a conference center.  On the right side of the mansion, facing Romualdez St., is a statue of Gen. MacArthur and Pres. Sergio Osmena.
Statue of MacArthur and Osmena
CAP Building: Justice Romualdez cor. Sto. Nino St., Tacloban City, Leyte.  Tel: (053) 523-9856.

San Juanico Bridge (Tacloban City, Leyte)

After breakfast at the Filamor Residence, Grace, Jandy, Cheska and I, together with Manny, Paula, Mark, Nenette, Daddy, Mommy and Cheska’s new friend Kookie Bal left for our tour of Tacloban City.  We secured the services of a guide and a van at the Department of Tourism Region 8 office.  Our first destination was to be the San Juanico Bridge, the longest bridge in the country as well as Southeast Asia.   At the foot of the San Juanico Bridge is the 15-hectare, Japanese-funded multi-million peso National Maritime Polytechnic, a  merchant marine training school and the most modern graduate institution for seamen in Asia.  

Posing along the San Juanico Bridge
We finally made our way midway up the bridge and made a short stopover.  Here, we had a panoramic view of the San Juanico Strait, located between the islands of Leyte and Samar.  It is considered the narrowest but most navigable strait in the world.   The strait has a number of beautiful islets.     The San Juanico Bridge, which crosses this strait, is also called the Marcos Bridge.  Inaugurated on July 2, 1973 and located 10 kms. from Tacloban City, it is a major link in the 3,000-km. Pan-Philippine Highway.  
San Juanico Strait
This impressive S-shaped bridge, said to be the most beautifully designed bridge in the country, is 2,162.4 m. (7,092 ft.) long, 10.62 m. wide with 43 spans and towers 41 m. above the sea at its highest point.    The S-shaped structure on the Samar side had to be adopted to make use of the importance of the existing islet, the Cabalauan islet that lies in the middle of the strait.  This islet serves as resting point and provides added support to the massive structure soaring over the swift currents of the strait.