It took time for me to appreciate our hometown. Growing up, I was initially disappointed with its surroundings and dismissed it as a poor, sleepy city facing the mighty Pacific—a view that was also shared by locals. However, shortly after high school, things started to change for the better. Suddenly, tales about scenic spots in the city were aplenty. Perhaps it was the collective discontent of our people that led us to explore and get to know our place better. People soon started surfing, skimboarding, caving/spelunking, trekking, and rappelling, which hints of Samar’s strong eco-adventure potential. This has led me to keep coming back several times a year to see and explore new places, some of which have never been photographed before.
Over 20 waterfalls can be found in our hometown and among them, Kansuriyaw is the tallest waterfall that is most accessible—a 70-meter drop from the top, located in Barangay San Andres.
Braving an almost three-hour trek from downtown, I vividly remember the first time I looked up in awe at the beautiful 70-meter falls. The real adventure on this trip, however, is rappelling down the falls.
My emotions were generally mixed on the way down. I stopped many times just to take a close look at the majesty and beauty of the falls. Happiness overwhelmed the fear I was nursing because it was then that I realized that our hometown is truly blessed by nature, leading me to make a lifetime commitment to exploring, photographing, and helping protect its wonders.
This 1.6-kilometer cave in Sitio Catian is a perfect representative of Samar island’s caves: unspoiled, splendidly beautiful, and incredibly challenging. I initially didn’t want to enter out of fear, and when I finally did, it turned out to be among the best adventure trips I have ever taken.
Expect to climb up and down, get wet, and be stunned by the beauty of its crystal chambers and waterfalls. The last 200 meters of the cave leading to the exit will challenge even the fittest travelers as one is forced to carefully crawl his way out of the narrow chamber filled with sharp stalactites.
Eastern Samar is the birthplace of surfing in the Visayas, specifically, Borongan’s Boulevard, a sand-bottom beach break perfect for beginners and advanced surfers alike. It is not unusual to have the beach to yourself until the sun sets, which continually makes it difficult for my friends to invite me to surf in the more popular and usually crowded spots in the country. The best time to go surfing is during the amihan season, which begins every November and lasts until April.
Held every September 7 to 8, the festival features the legend of how the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary was mysteriously transported from Portugal and how it is connected to the woman in white that causes the waters of Hamorawon Spring to miraculously heal the locals.
The festival begins with a pre-dawn fluvial procession carrying an image of the Our Lady of Nativity from Punta Maria to the Port of Borongan, and culminates with a street dancing competition that is as lively and colorful as its Visayan counterparts.
A favorite native treat among us Boronganons is the salukara, a rice-based pancake whose taste is made unique by the tuba mixed into its batter. I particularly enjoy eating it in the morning paired with a hot cup of coffee. Also worth mentioning is the Lechon de Borongan which Ms. Kris Aquino once said is among the best in the country. For seafood lovers with exotic taste, tarukog, arakaak, and ulnitan are your best bets.
REGINALD JAMES BUGTAS-LORICO is an aspiring travel photographer from Eastern Samar. He believes in the potential of Samar island to become the prime eco-adventure destination in the country and dreams to make it a reality soon. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @rjlorico.
This article was originally published in EXPLORE Philippines Magazine February – March 2016 Issue.
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