Thursday, July 09, 2009

Samar version of world-class natural wonders: A must see!

By Ricky Bautista

This ruggedly beautiful province of Samar has its own version of world-class natural wonders. No kidding, this really a must see for all adventourists and histourists alike.

Though often called as one of the country’s top 20 poorest provinces, one cannot deny the fact that we are also called “the land of plenty” in terms of ecotourism sites, such as majestic waterfalls, white beaches, springs, caves and other awesome places that can even compare or outclass other country’s top destinations.

As we are proud to say, we don’t only offer these beautiful sceneries to those who come, but we also offer a kind of hospitality that every visitor may come to say, “This is a place where you might not wish to leave anymore.”

The name “Samar” is of dialect origin, it was derived from the local term “Samad” which means wound or cut; and it was perpetually adopted due to the island’s rugged and mountainous topography, with large rivers that seemingly dissects the island deeply. It was on June 19, 1965 when the island of Samar, the country’s third largest island, by virtue of RA 4221 was politically subdivided into three, giving birth to new provinces of East and North Samar, and the western part of the island opted to retain the original name SAMAR, being the seat of administrative government that once oversee the whole island.
Within its hard and enthusing contoured terrains and mountain slopes, this province can give everyone the tryst of their lives showcasing what others describe as the “paradise underneath the earth.” Now, that our provincial roads has become moderately comfortable to land trips, perhaps we can start now to market anew these world-class natural wonders that has already been proven to have attracted thousands of inbound and outbound tourists around the world.

Mystical caves & majestic waterfalls

For example, in the small town of San Jorge (about 45 minutes from Catbalogan, the capital of Samar), one may face-to-face with the “Sulpan Cave”, where Samar Island’s 2nd longest river, the Blanca Aurora River originates, and for leaner spelunking, be awed by the gigantic yet absolutely enthralling caverns of the “Guinbag-sangan Cave” featuring its exquisite “water lilies-like” stalagmite formations and “cave pearls” spread all-over its subterranean clear ponds.

In this town, a one-stop-shop adventure route awaits adventurers in which you will indulge in an amazing exploration of a hydro cave just in front of San Jorge’s show cave. Overwhelming 13 underground cascades interconnect with each other and commune with Mother Nature through an exhilarating mountain and river hiking.

Be amazed by the roaring water disgorge of 3-tiered “Pinipisakan Falls” of San Jorge, which immensely towers vertically to more than 60 meters up to the second tier, and sloping third tier covered by greens runs from exit of the Sulpan Cave, and is where Samar’s longest river (Blanca Aurora river) starts and eventually exits on another drop popularly known as the “Blanca Aurora Falls” near the poblacion area, a compelling sight for a destination indeed from start to end.

Also in Samar, be awed by the grandeur of what is believed by many international cavers as an unmatched distinction courtesy of the “Langon-Gobingob Cave” in Calbiga town - an hour road trip south of Samar’s capital. This cave system, known to be East Asia’s biggest karst cave system measuring 2, 968 hectares offers the penultimate caving experience. The cave, composed of 12 interconnecting chambers, is endowed with gigantic columns, underground rivers, sinkholes, magnificent stalactites and stalagmites, the 7- centimeter long hypogean blind fishes (caecogobius cryptophalmus), white crustaceans and the occasional snakes.

It is suitable for trekking, swimming, cave camping and rope sports. Also, be amazed with the swirling “bat flight” at the Langun exit every 5:30 p.m. With a cathedral-like dome estimated to have the size of three “football fields”, it was first explored by Italian speleologists in 1987.

Just lately, another new huge cave was found in this town. An unexplored “Camparina and Bitong Burabon Caves” now awaits future development being laid down by the local government that would somehow cater tourists, especially local and international cavers. These recent discoveries are add-ons to the existing Langun-Gobingob Caves in Brgy. Panayuran and “Kanyawa Cave” in Barangay Caamlongan. The later also offers at least 15 galleries of distinctive features and underground rivers.

Also in this town, your stay is incomplete without visiting the “Lulugayan Falls” in Brgy. Litiron as your appetizer to caving. The most majestic and panoramic 50-meters wide waterfalls has often dubbed by tourist as a “Mini Niagara Falls.” From its source at Lake Kalidongan, hundreds of waterfalls cascade down the 14 kilometers rapids.

What else can you ask in the 4-tiered “Bangon-Bugtong Falls” in Calbayog City that brings to light an approximately 50 meters of clear lagoon on its mezzanine level.

And not to be outdone, is the “Balantak Falls” and the undying prominence of the “Sohoton, Panhulugan and Rawis Caves” in the town of Basey, part of the 840-hectare Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park, which are, in fact, one of Samar’s icon in the tourism industry, being one of the most visited ecotourism sites in Eastern Visayas.

For the mountain climbers, the “Mt. Danglay” in Brgy. San Antonio, also in Basey, will give you a majestic throne while you overlooks to the, so far, longest single-span bridge in Asia - the San Juanico Bridge, its strait and the city of Tacloban. This peak, measuring to 360 meters above sea level is being eyed by the local government as pilgrimage site in the future.

Add-ons to the above-mentioned show-caves is the “Tagacay Caves” of Sta. Rita town, to which 3 carved-wood coffins were recovered in 1967 by a group of antique collectors.

These nature caverns that peppers the province of Samar incidentally is backed up by numerous magnificent water courses evidently marking the richness of the place in biodiversities, thus assuring everyone an absolute 100% adventure with Mother Nature.

Towering rock islands, beaches and festivals

But apart from caves and waterfalls, Samar is very much endowed with natural beauties, intricately designed by nature for everyone to feast on, get a hold of the sea breeze along the beach coves of “Marabut Marine Park” and be impressed by its 15-towering rock islands, plus its spectacular underwater coral gardens.

Get a soothing therapeutic splash at the “Mapaso Spring” in Calbayog City or in an escapade in “Gloritess Beach Resort” and the newly constructed “Leyte-Samar Beach Resort” in their pool and air-conditioned cottages near the beach, both are located in Brgy. San Antonio, Basey Samar. And maybe, after posing a souvenir shot at the famous San Juanico Bridge, everyone can drop a coffee and enjoys the greens of Marjorie’s Garden along the Maharlika Highway of Sta. Rita.

Learn with pleasure Samar’s culture and history as you travel the newly asphalted highways from Tacloban to Calbiga down to Catbalogan until the ends of the DPWH’s working crews - you can drop or stop at the Catbalogan’s Pieta Park and Samar’s obelisks and to the Samar Archaeological Museum in Calbayog that showcases a variety of artifacts unearthed and collected from all points of Samar, and you bet, some even dates back to as early as the 14th century.

Also a must see for every histourists are the ruins and historical landmarks and festivals of every municipalities such as the Sarakiki, Banigan-Kawayan, Patiklos, Bagolan, Pahoy-pahoy, Mangirisda, Alimango, Kima-kima, Mayaw-mayaw, Sadok, Daramsiyaw, Pilipig, Manobo, Sortidos and Pintados.

But exploring Samar doesn’t end by viewing its charms and splendor only, we showcase things that would endlessly remain in your experience, our culture and traditions, our religiously, and most of our entire struggle to protect Mother Nature.

Thus, when you wrapped up your mind for a full rendezvous with nature, or for a historical yet rational jaunt, or for just a simple vacation, Samar province have it all for you the most ideal places you wish to go.

Editor’s Note: The author, Ricky J. Bautista, is a member of the Philippine Caving Society and Centro Outdoor Sports Unlimited that offers tourism inventories, cave assessment and mapping, tour packages and guiding trips to any of the ecotourism sites in Samar. For your reservations and inquiries, you may contact them at 0920.7675.444, or emailed them at trexpelunker@yahoo.com or drop message at their website www.pinoycaver.blogspot.com for transpo & accommodation arrangement, budget estimates including detailed itineraries and routes for your adventure or simple R & R vacations to Samar. Or you may directly contact respective LGU’s of each destinations and sites.

1 comment:

cdokay said...

This is so great!:) A must-see indeed! ~Cagayan de Oro news