In the Philippines, even the poorest province has rich tourism assets which may be harnessed as an alternative source of income and livelihood for the residents.
The fastest route from Manila to Borongan City in Eastern Samar is via a one hour and twenty minute plane ride to Tacloban City in Leyte, and then a four hour van ride through a two-lane national highway which offers a picturesque view of the countryside – crossing through the San Juanico Bridge into coastal towns, rice fields, rolling hills and mountains, public cemeteries, countless bridges and rivers, and public schools. It is literally a long and winding road.
The municipality of Borongan became a city quite recently, in April 12, 2011 by virtue of Republic Act 9394. It is the capital of Eastern Samar.
Borongan City is the hometown of TV personality Boy Abunda. In fact, his sister, Maria Fe Abunda, is the incumbent mayor of the city.
Eastern Samar has a significant backdrop of the country’s rich colonial history through the island of Homonhon, where Ferdinand Magellan first set foot on Philippine soil in 1521. The tiny island of Suluan in Guiuan was likewise where the U.S. Army Rangers had their first encounter of the Philippine territory in 1944, three days before General Douglas MacArthur made his historic landing in Leyte.
In his account, Pigafetta, the chronicler aboard Magellan’s ship, describes the island of Humumu, now Homonhon, as so: We found two fountains of very clear water, we called it the Waters of Good Signs, having found the first sign of gold in the said island. There also can be found much white coral and tall trees that bear fruits smaller than an almond and look like pines. There were also many palm trees, some of the best kind, some of the bad. Thereabouts are many neighboring islands. Hence, we called them the St. Lazarus Archipelago because we stayed there on the day and feast of St. Lazarus.
The Hamorawon Park is located at the center of the city beside the City Hall. It contains the stylized rendition of a concrete giant clamshell, the upper half of which is held up by two mermaids while at its base are two crocodiles. This giant clamshell served as the former town’s cultural stage where social presentations were held while the fenced grounds fronting it served as the venue for social gatherings. From underneath this giant clamshell bubbles and flows the Hamorawon natural spring, the only place in the entire province of Eastern Samar which has a naturally-occurring freshwater spring, flowing from the very center of the city towards the Lo-om River a short distance downstream. Local folks attribute the spring as being 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.
Photo credit: www.jjexplorer.com
Beaches and surfing spots, islands and islets
Eastern Samar has many fine beaches which boast of white sand, vibrant coral formations, sparkling clear blue waters, and rich marine life which are also ideal for diving and snorkeling. As the coastal areas of Eastern Samar face the Pacific Ocean, the changing tides and strong currents make surfing viable. Surfers’ haven is the surf at Baybay Boulevard, in Brgy. Bato, and in Brgy. Locso-on in Borongan City. Other municipalities also have their own local spots.
Pearl Island Photo credit: Martin Schaublin
- Homonhon Island, Suluan Island, Tubabao Island, Kantican (Pearl) Island in Guiuan
- Ando Island
- Butay Island located at the middle of Lo-om River
- Divinubo Island off BoronganCity
- Monbon Island
- Pamuloton Island in Tabunan
- Calicoan Island
Suribao River Photo credit: Vic Asio
Rivers for cruising and river rafting
- Balacdas River
- Borongan or Sabang (formerly called Guiborongani) River
- Can-obing River
- Lo-om 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 is 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)
Kansuriyaw Falls Photo credit: M. Voloso
Waterfalls that entail a certain amount of hiking
- Pahungaw Falls in Brgy. San Pablo, Borongan City
- Kansuriyaw Falls in Brgy. San Andres, Borongan City with a 70-meter drop for rappelling
Other significant sites
- SANTA MONICA CAVES in Borongan
- MENASNGE PARK (natural rock formations) in Maydolong
- GUIUAN WORLD WAR II OPERATING BASE which has a 3 kilometer runway that could service jet-propelled planes; constructed by WWII US Navy in 1944. During the Liberation of the Philippines, it was the airstrip of war planes; now a good picnic area.
For additional information, please contact
Borongan City Tourism Office
Tel. No. (055) 560-9701/560-9945
Sincere gratitude to the Nicart-Leones family for hosting an afternoon at the Sychar beach house in Borongan City. I enjoyed soaking in saltwater and taking in the sights and sounds of the beach.