I’ve been to places, and I’m lucky enough to have worked in a few cities like Manila, Cebu and Boracay. One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve received from friends and workmates after hearing where I’m from is this one: “Anong maganda dun sa (Southern) Leyte? (What’s good out there?)” Sometimes, I found the answers harder to explain because for one thing they’re not even aware there is a Southern Leyte. I love to answer jokingly to them that there a lot of wonderful and good-looking people (ehmm like me) out there in my province! Unconsciously, I think I failed my province (Oliver Queen/Greet Arrow can you shoot me now?). It deserves more introduction than a cheap joke.
The truth is Southern Leyte is one treasure trove of wonderful places. When I was in the town of San Juan last Tuesday for a funeral, I made this list of places, of tourist spots and places of historic importance here in our Province. I made two columns; one for the places I’ve been to, and one for the places I haven’t been. I came up with a long list, in both columns. My God! All these years, I’ve been like sitting duck under a pile of gems and I never bothered to notice! So to celebrate the founding month of Southern Leyte let me at least offer this travelogue of the wonderful places the province can offer.
This is the SoLey Travelogue. For the whole month of July, and maybe until August I’m going to feature the places on that List. And yes, I’ll be travelling during weekends in the Province. So if you have any places you want me to cover. Just drop by your suggestions in the comments section. 🙂
The Uwan-uwanan Gorge
To start off the series of travel blogs featuring Southern Leyte, let me take you to this captivating place called the Uwan-uwanan Gorge. It’s not just a waterfall, it’s actually a series of waterfalls along a hard and treacherous trek located in barangay Kawayan of the Libagon municipality. I was able to visit this place before summer with my friends and colleagues from BCCI , as a send-off adventure for me. And the whole experience from the roadtrip to Libagon, the challenging trek, the wipe-outs by the river, the falls and the bonding with friend under this Mother Nature’s truly hidden gem completely blew my expectations away.
It was amazing out there. And that place needs some serious promotional effort to attract the young and wild-at-hearts to visit.
So how to get there? If you’re from Tacloban ride van or bus to Sogod town. Don’t ride a trip to Hinunangan since there’s already a new highway that takes on a different route straight to the Pacific towns. From Sogod hire a multicab to Kawayan, Libagon and stop at the Kawayan Elementary School. Then look for the Barangay Hall nearby, they will provide you with the guides and a quick briefing of what’s really ahead: Adventure! So Keep Calm and Pay Your Dues, but not much though.
So we head off in search for this hidden adventure. And here’s my step by step advice on how to maximize you journey. Trust me, this is based on experience.
Step 1. Traverse the kalibunan and try to make good friends with the river. Easy huh? It’s just a good 30-45 minute trek on foot and safety is really no guarantee. Expect the slides and the wipeouts (which I proudly did! haha) for the stones are wet . This is no walk in the park and you’ll be crossing the same river a few times. Word of advice: Have mercy on your Havaianas. Just bring a good pair of tsinelas or a pair of mountain shoes. Quality over style.
Step 2. Get wet. The term Uwan-uwanan is derived from the word “uwan” which means rain. And it’s not called Uwan-uwanan for no reason at all. Because it really rains non-stop in some parts of the trek. Well not literally rain from the sky, but the gorge is surrounded by falls and cliffs that spreads down waters to create the raining effects. Amazing.
Step 3. Pack up. You should know upfront that you’re in for a really wet adventure. And I mean completely wet, before you even reach the finish line. Fake rains will inevitably fall into you, you will have to swim your way accross, and you will literally climb waterfalls to claim that eternal glory of conquering the gorge. So please bring lots of plastics to secure and seal up your clothes, your foods, your cameras and your other gadgets.
Step 4. Trust your tourguides. Because they take you to the place, carry your bags, your foods and even yourself if you want them to. By the way, right after swimming across a river ledge, you will climb up a waterfall – literally (see pics below). Don’t worry the guides will take good care of you. And for Pete’s sake pakan-a ug bayri tawn na sila! Give them food and pay them good.
Oh scary! Nyahahaha
Step 5. Bring a camera. Okay, this the no-brainer part. Of course, every adventure needs a little something to remember just make sure to secure it from the waters. This blogpost is completely impossible without the trusted underwater camera and an SLR from my beloved friends brought along. There’s no way I’m writing this without those stuffs. I love you guys.
Step 6. Swim! You’ll get there eventually to the place where there’s a beautiful waterfall and a very relaxing natural swimming pool with matching colossal rocks by the side shielding you from the sun. In another words, amazing place. Your hurts and bumps will all eventually pay off once you get there. So relax, and swim like a mad man once you get there.
Step 7. Cliff Jump. Yup we are not done yet, you see there’s a cliff by the side and it’s climable and it’s very very very enticing. I heard it say climb up, so I did it. I heard it again saying don’t fall, and I jumped. Don’t worry the water is very deep and please it doesn’t kill.
I said to my cameraman I will jump on the count of three. But I jumped at “1”. Can’t help it, I was excited. Thus this awkward looking shot of an idiot (tsk tsk). Hahaha.
Step 8. Eat and Shoot like there’s no tomorrow!
Step 9. Explore the Beyond! There are still a few sceneries and falls awaiting on top of the gorge that were not taken by the camera. It was a dangerous additional trek but really worth it. It was a killer view. Just see it for yourself when you get there. It’s a bonus.
I hope you guys gets to visit this wonderful place. 🙂 It’s more fun in Southern Leyte!