One of the 2 reasons why Jandy and I dropped by Guiuan (the other was the town itself) was to visit Calicoan Island. Called the “Sleeping Beauty of Eastern Samar,” this island is blessed with long stretches of unspoiled white sand beaches; limestone cliffs (tempting for rock climbers); alien abstract rock formations (great for camera buffs); dive destinations (Pearl Island, Binabasalan Island and Baul Island); crystal clear blue waters; numerous, cathedral-like caves for spelunkers (the large Buro Cave is accessible during low tide) with stalactites along the seashore; 20 isolated and romantic coves; 6 huge and unexplored saltwater lagoons and nature trails inside tropical virgin forests (50% of the area).
|Causeway to the island|
Come morning, after a hearty Filipino breakfast at the Calicoan Surf Camp’s restaurant, we opted to burn calories by exploring the island on foot (for me still the best way), bringing along resort staffer Mr. Marcial Orocay as guide. From the resort, we cut across the 3-km. width of the island, to the western side which faces the calm waters of Leyte Gulf, its 8-km. long beach ideal for swimming, snorkeling, picnics and watching magnificent sunsets. The forest along the way is said to be home to mischievous monkeys, monitor lizards and colorful birds. Though we didn’t get to see any up close, we did get to see a snake crossing our trail.
Skirting the western coast, we visited Sulangan Beach, the habitat of the world-famous and rare Golden Cowrie (Conus gloriamaris) shell. These shells were being sold (at a whopping PhP1,500 per piece) at souvenir shops at nearby St. Anthony of Padua Church, also a notable pilgrimage site. With its schools of multi-colored fish, Sulangan Beach is also an ideal site for scuba diving.
|The original 3149 Base flagpole|
Caliocan Island, a low coralline island in Brgy. Ngolos, 23 kms. from the town was, during World War II, the site of the U.S. Navy’s 3149 Base. The base’s original flagpole still stands. The late U.S. Pres. John F. Kennedy, a PT boat commander during the war, was also stationed here.
|Guiuan Airport runway|
The runway of the former U.S. Navy airbase, located on the eastern edge of the town, was once one of the biggest U.S. bases in the Pacific and was also used actively until the Korean War. Its 60 m. wide and 1.9 km. long runway was built, during the liberation, by U.S. Army engineering battalions in December 1944. Here, the B-26 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan (August 6, 1945), was launched. Disused for some time after its turnover to the Philippines, it is now undergoing a PhP142 million rehabilitation (its runway, now with an overlay of asphalt, is now 2.134 kms. long) and will opened this October as a feeder airport for chartered or regular flights. Its opening would be heaven-sent as it would make Guiuan easily accessible by plane (cutting its dependence on Tacloban City’s airport), thus supporting the commercial and tourism industry in the region, most especially Calicoan Island, an upcoming island resort which boasts of miles of white sand beaches as well as powerful swells rolling in from the Pacific over the 10,000 m. Philippine Deep, making it a surfer’s paradise. A PhP38 million water system that would supply the island resorts’ operational requirement is also nearing completion. All these aim to promote Guiuan as the next eco-tourism hub in the country, a place that offers visitors a lot when it comes to cultural and historical heritage sites, natural beauty plus the warmth and hospitality offered by its 38,694 Guiuananons.