When I was young my family and I always pass by this long stretch of a road in going to Sulangan, Guiuan, Eastern Samar. This road was, in every part, bumpy. This road was very dusty to the point that one can actually have an asthma attack at the moment. But this road has one thing that other roads in the whole of Region 8, or perhaps the whole Philippines, do not have. Awesome waves, crystal clear waters, fine golden sand, half virgin forests, weird but beautifully shaped shells and corals by the seashore are just a few. So what’s this road anyway?
Tourists call it Calicoan Island. Calicoan Island is actually the main road in going to Sulangan, Guiuan, Eastern Samar, a famous place among religious devotees. Although it is an underdeveloped road, it is nothing but rich of nature. Just one of the many places of Guiuan, Eastern Samar. It is beautifully placed looking out to the Pacific Ocean on the eastern side and the Leyte Gulf on the west side. Perfect for the ultimate Pacific adventure yet the place to be on lazy days just watching the waves. The island is famous for its big waves and golden sand. It is not uncommon to see waves of 8 feet or more. On days when the wind is up, it is also not unusual to see people of different nationalities – Americans, British, Australians, Koreans, Filipinos, male and female – riding the waves and soaking up in the sun. On the months between May and October, the island is filled by more than just locals. Tourists from all over the world flock to the island for the beach, the sun and the waves.
Before the island had resorts, villas and subdivisions to quench tourists’ thirst for a slice of paradise, the island was covered in thick untouched forests with an abundant wildlife. You can expect to see animals like monkeys dangling around trees and watching passers-by. And if you happen to be in Calicoan Island at night, you can see a parade of crabs making their way on the other side of the road especially on a full moon. The island also prides itself with fresh seafood like lobsters, crabs, tuna fish, Blue Marlin and Spanish Mackerel to name a few. Nature lovers will find themselves following the forest’s small trails that lead to caves, rugged cliffs and other unexplored gifts of nature. Near the end of a 3 kilometer beach is a cliff where one can stand on top and fell the spray of the waters as the waves crush the jagged parts of the cliff. Also, don’t forget to climb to the yoga camp and witness the breath-taking view of the whole island bound by the Pacific Ocean and the Leyte Gulf.
Unbeknownst to many, this place played more than a major role in Philippine History. In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan, the first person to circumnavigate the world, first landed in the Philippines in Homonhon Island, a neighbour of Calicoan. Other than that, Calicoan had been a major staging area for the American forces during the ending stages of World War II. When Gen. Douglas Macarthur returned to the Philippines and landed in Leyte, Guiuan became the largest supply base in the Pacific. Over 100,000 servicemen were stationed in the area and Guiuan instantly became a bustling beehive of activity. The Americans also built a 7,000 foot runaway which hosted a stream of fighters, jets, bombers and patrol and transport planes. This large airfield is still in good shape and is still used for private flights. The airfield is not the only living remnant left by the war. A concrete rotunda and a flagpole with an inscription “US Naval Forces Supply Depot August 1, 1945” is found at a crossroad in the middle of Calicoan. Part of today’s road which runs the length of the island had been the original road built by the Americans. Also, just a few miles offshore Calicoan Island had been the venue of one of the fiercest sea battles known as the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Although very little remains from that period in history, Calicoan will always be a part of American history, of the Japanese and most especially of the Filipinos.
Indeed, Calicoan Island has lots to offer – its rich history, breathtaking views, and huge waves with fine golden sand. Some are even in common with other famous tourist spots in the Philippines. But others, like me, are realizing how much the place has to offer. Splendid isolation, for one. Or “Far from the Maddening Crowd” as they say. Although it has this adventurous vibe brought about by surfing, it has still the quiet and serene charm of untouched paradise. On Sundays, you can see a lot of families scattered all over the place enjoying their family day over lunch with the sea breeze. Compared to internationally known Boracay Island, Calicoan offers less hustle and more of nature and relaxation. Perfect for those who feel like they are always moving way too fast in this busy world.
And since Calicoan has so much to offer, it can be a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, it is home. It is peace and quiet. It is the feeling of a Sunday morning for me when there is no work or school to think about. When I am there, I feel like the world belongs to me and I control my own time. It is more than just any other tourist spot, it is home. I grew up in both the poblacion in Guiuan and its smallest barangay, Sulangan. So Cailcoan Island has always been within reach for me. I have been there even when the island was just part of an old road. I have been there when resorts started to sprung. I have been there when major events have started happening on the island. I have been there when the island was featured on national tv. I have always been proud to live nearby this place. I haven’t been home in months and I haven’t been in this road for a very long time already. But someday when I’m all tired by my almost busy lifestyle here in Tacloban, I know that I’ll find myself driving down the long road again on an early Sunday morning. You know what they say, “ You’ll always find your way back home”.