Two years after Typhoon Yolanda struck Samar, last August 4-10, 2015, I visited Guiuan Eastern Samar, Leyte. I was thrilled to be part of an organization that was involved in volunteer projects and to taskted to assist in children’ Skills and Training Inventory, as well as to assist in children’s formation.
When I visited, I expected Samar to still be stricken by the wrath of the storm. Little did I know that I would be amazed and struck by the beauty of the place. I found Samar beautiful the moment our plane landed at the Tacloban airport. The long 4-hour but breathtaking drive to Guiuan from the airport was also rewarded by the scenery of long stretches of beaches and small lagoons.
It was evident though from the citizens that the nightmare brought about by the Super Typhoon still lingered on their consciousness. A lot of people perished, livelihoods were badly affected, and homes vanished as a result of the storm. Even big buildings couldn’t withstand the strong winds of 315 kilometer per hour. However, upon visiting the province, you would be amazed by how fast the people of Samar seemed to have recovered from the catastrophe. You will be inspired by their resilience, their capacity to bounce back from the human tragedy that befell them.
Thanks to local and international aid that came pouring to Leyte, it is on its way to recovery, although some remnants of the catastrophe can still be seen. Among them, mountains are still dotted by thousands of half-slashed and toppled coconut trees. This gives an eerie feeling and an indication of just how monstrous the typhoon was. Livelihood generated from coconut plantations was among the most affected from the typhoon— it would take five to seven years to grow all the coconut trees lost again and planting, during the time that I visited, hadn’t even started yet. Although majority of the people in Samar are dependent on fishing as their main source of livelihood, most of the people are also reliant on the coconut industry.
Most of the dwellers have replaced the rooftops and walls of their homes. However, some big buildings are still left without roofs. The Immaculate Conception Church in Guiuan for instance, hailed as one of the most beautiful colonial churches left in the country, has been totally wrecked. The ruins of both the church and the buildings have served as a reminder to all of us how powerful nature really is. The saying is true that it will take years for men to build a building and only an hour for nature to destroy it.
Our six day sojourn to Guiuan allowed us to accomplish what we were tasked to do and even accomplish more. I came to be of some service but in the end, I got to do so much more that I did not expect. I’m ending my story with a list of why Eastern Samar should be in anyone’s bucket list of “Places to visit in the Philippines” also. It has so much to offer, like:
- Seeing the sunrise at Calicoan Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
- Riding the waves at the Surf Camp Resort Calicoan Samar
- Watching your first falling star at the Monay Beach Resort. Lying in the sand, stargazing.
- Feasting on the freshest alimasag from Tubabao (it was delicious and sweet!) We made sure to bring home freshly-steam crabs at only P180 per kilo.
- And finally, don’t forget to bring home their famous suman latik wrapped in hagikhik leaf. Also, the Suman Moron is not to miss– it is made up of glutinous rice and mixed with chocolate wrapped in banana leaves.