Look It Up!

17 September 2012

Of Vans and Good Food - Our Samar Experience Day 1

Last week, Rhuel and I embarked on a Samar vacation. My family's from Eastern Samar so it was really nothing new to me. But since it was Rhuel's first visit, there was something new to look forward to.



We left Manila on Wednesday, September 5. We took the earliest Cebu Pacific flight to Tacloban. Nanay, Barn and Asam (Tatay's younger brother) were with us. Tatay left the day before and Toto and Trish were leaving the following day.

Surprise, we had a hassle-free overnight parking experience. Meaning, there were no kotong guards this time. It was raining so they probably didn't want to go outside their guard house.

Check-in process was fast for me and Rhuel because we were not checking in any luggage. Nanay, Barney and Asam exceeded the baggage limit so they had to pay extra. They even encountered a rude airport official who insisted on counting their money out in the open. The person was insisting that anything beyond Php10k had to be declared. Mmm, last time I checked the limit was at USD10k. Good thing they made it just in time for boarding.

There were several familiar faces on our flight who were probably attending the Borongan fiesta like us. :)

Unfortunately for us, we were seated beside a noisy and crying kid. I usually have high tolerance for such things but not at 4 in the morning.

Tacloban City, Leyte

We arrived in Tacloban at almost 6 in the morning. Tita Mayette, Nanay's former officemate, picked us up from the airport. She and her husband were kind enough to tour us around the city before we left for Samar.

First stop was at Mc Donald's for breakfast. Rhuel stopped over the nearby market to buy a Php100 belt because he left his at home. :D

After breakfast, we headed to the MacArthur Park in Palo, Leyte. It's the famous site where MacArthur landed when he returned to the Philippines after World War II. It was my first time to visit the place.

The place reminded me of Corregidor. It was nice because it was near the sea and the surroundings were landscaped. But there was nothing to do there after the usual picture taking.

Tita Mayette showed us a hotel built near the landing site. I think it's called The Oriental Hotel. The amenities looked nice. It has a swimming pool and it's facing the sea. However, I don't think the sea is ideal for swimming. I think one of the staff informed Rhuel that the water fronting the hotel is deep.

Afterwards, we went around Tacloban to buy some stuff we need. We were able to buy some very crispy and tasty lechon that's way cheaper than what they sell in Cebu. We dropped by Goldilocks to buy a cake for Daddy Lolo (Nanay's father) who's turning 91 on September 28. We decided to have an early celebration for him to coincide with our vacation. We also got some groceries from Gaisano.

After the last minute shopping, we transferred to our hired van that will take us to Sulat, Nanay's hometown. (It's the first of numerous van rides we had to take throughout our trip.)

On the Way to Sulat, Eastern Samar

Rhuel was kinda excited to pass by the San Juanico Bridge. Kuya Nonilon, our driver, said that we can stop over the bridge but we had to do it fast. I guess we were tired already so Rhuel just took pictures of the bridge from the van.

After about 2 hours of traveling, we stopped over Buray in Western Samar. Trips from Tacloban to Samar are never complete without visiting this place for a quick meal or merienda. It's a very busy place because it's the intersection for the roads that lead to Western and Northern Samar and Eastern Samar. You can find a lot of vendors there selling pasalubongs of local delicacies.

I have vague memories of sleeping there as a kid when Nanay and our other relatives were stranded due to a typhoon. We were going to attend the wake of one lola but we had a hard time traveling because of the bad weather. We had to sleep on top of the tables but I was happy because we always had seafood for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Buray used to serve good food. The servings used to be very generous. But not this time. One order of pork chop means half of a pork chop cut. The chicken cuts are so small. And the bulalo was not chewable at all. Rhuel even said jokingly that, "Siguro naman hindi na kailangan picturan ang food ngayon." (Referring to people's penchant for taking pictures of dishes before eating them.) Perhaps we should have considered Rhuel's suggestion of buying lechon from Tacloban and eating it for lunch at Buray.

After lunch, it was time for the final stretch of our trip to Sulat. I wanted to take a quick nap before we get there so I'll feel fresh. Unfortunately, the roads were terrible!!! The van had to stop after every few minutes because there was a pothole. I'm not sure if the bad parts were under the jurisdiction of Western or Eastern Samar. I don't care actually. I just wish they can do something about it. Especially our "beloved" congressman who claims to be Mr. Kalsada. Gawin ko siyang aspalto diyan eh. Hmpf.

Sulat, Eastern Samar

After about two hours of wrestling with the potholes from Buray, we finally reached our destination. First stop was at Uncle Vic's resort, Kalaniyugan, where we spent the night. It's located in Barangay Tabok with the Tabok beach fronting it.

We dropped off our things and toured the place a bit. Last time I saw the place was in 2010 and so much has changed since then. I think it's landscaped. There were more cottages and houses there too.

Uncle Vic built a nice and cozy chapel where he holds Sunday masses.

Of course, Rhuel had to have a kenkoy post. ;-)

Afterwards, we proceeded to the town proper in Barangay Baybay where Nanay's ancestral house is located. We were going to get Daddy Lolo and Mama (Rose, Nanay's youngest sister who's looking after Daddy). Daddy Lo didn't want to leave the house initially. However, after Mama threatened to leave him and join us in Marikina, he got up and dressed up. :)

While waiting for Mama to convince Daddy Lo, I introduced Rhuel to some relatives like Uncle Maeng, Auntie Norie, etc.

When we got back to Kalaniyugan, it was time to catch up with relatives, especially Mama. We rarely see each other so we really value these bonding moments.

After the chikahan, Daddy Lolo blew the candles on his cake. It was a very heartwarming moment for me to hear my relatives sing Happy Birthday to Daddy. I hope he has more years ahead of him.

Then a sumptuous dinner was served. Grabe, ang daming seafoods. Crabs, shrimps, lobsters, curacha (which looks like but is not the same as a lobster), lechon, etc. We were fortunate to have Uncle Pidoy, an excellent cook, with us. We thought the lechon from Tacloban had to be cooked as paksiw because it would no longer be crispy. But Uncle Pidoy, with whatever powers he has, was able to heat the lechon and retain its crispiness. Ang sarap!

We had cake and ice cream for dessert. Rhuel had a nice time serving ice cream to the kids, provided they called him Tito Aga before he gave them their share.

P.S. Even Daddy Lo thought I really married an actor with Aga Muhlach as his screen name.

He has such sharp memory. At 91, he still remembers the birthdays of his kids. He also remembers my birthday because it's the death anniversary of his second wife. He knows Rhuel's full name. Amazing.

We were tired from the long trip. And we barely slept the previous night due to the early morning flight we had to take. So after dinner, it was time to rest. Barney didn't want to sleep in her own room so she slept with me and Rhuel.


  1. nicely written, Trina. you must be one of our kind. Mano Pabling, your Auntie Alma, your tatay, (me, a little bit), Byron, (even Birgit, Sarah), Cedric, have this gift in writing. keep it up. i enjoy reading your blogs. regards.

    1. Thank you very much, Auntie. That means a lot to me since I consider myself a mediocre writer compared to Tatay and Cedric, hehe. I guess it runs in our blood. Thanks for dropping by. Please send my regards to everyone. :)