It was an ordinary day when we booked our Cebu-Leyte flight almost a year ago. We’ve always been a fan of promo fares and so when we saw that the ticket from Manila to Cebu is only Php 384, we immediately booked it though we didn’t see a promo ticket back to Manila. So what we did was look for other promo fares. We happened to see a ticket from Tacloban to Cebu for only Php 184.12Imagine?! That’s way too low! So we booked right there and then. We really didn’t know this route until that same day when we tried to quickly surf the net if Cebu-Leyte trip is possible.

CEBU

Our last visit in Cebu was 4 years ago when we had our graduation class trip to Cebu-Bohol. We’ve already visited the ‘usuals‘ like Magellan’s Cross, Sto. Niño Church, Museo Sugbo and Taoist Temple. If you haven’t been to Cebu before, you might want to include them in your itinerary.

Day Tour in Busay, Cebu City

Since we’ve already visited most of the tourist spots in Cebu City, we did a research on the other places to see in Cebu. Most of the tourist spots and activities I wanted to see and experience are in the southern part! And that’s way too far considering the fact that we need to squeeze our days between Cebu and Leyte. Luckily, I remembered a post on facebook about Sirao Garden and Temple of Leah. And so we decided to spend our first day in Cebu City again but this time, we explored the tourist spots in Busay.

Temple of Leah

“This Temple was constructed in the year 2012 A.D. as a symbol of my undying love for my ceaseless devotion to Leah Villa Albino-Adarna, my wife of 53 years. I adopted an architectural and structural design that can withstand time and still be appreciated for a millennium so this Temple will become a landmark of Cebu City where future generations of the Adarna clan coming from her can come and trace their roots and heritage. All her lifetime collections are showcased in the 24 chambers of this Temple principally for the members of our family who cherish her memory.” – Teodorico Adarna

Okay, that was quite a devotion for someone to build a temple for you!

And what really surprised me is that it’s a heritage of Ellen Adarna’s (a local artist/model) family.

It was raining when we went there so we actually didn’t do the photo-ops we have in mind but still, it was worth a visit.

Entrance Fee: Php 50

Tops Lookout

The initial plan we had was only to visit Temple of Leah and Sirao Garden but when I searched them in Google Maps and saw that Tops Lookout is near Temple of Leah, we decided to include it in our itinerary. It’s just a 10-15 minutes habal-habal ride from Temple of Leah.

From its name, Tops Lookout is one of the spots in Cebu where you could see the city from above but because of the rain, it was totally in zero visibility that day. Though this didn’t stop us to enjoy the place because of the cozy cafés and food corners found there.

If you have more than a day to spend in the city, you might want to spend more time in Tops Lookout as you sit by one of their cozy sofas and read a book!

If only we have enough time, we would’ve chosen to stay until sunset.

Entrance Fee: Php 100

Other Nearby Places: Love Lock Garden, Rope Course Adventure, Mountain View Nature’s Park, Lantaw Busay (Restaurant)

Sirao Garden

We were hesitant to continue our trip to Sirao Garden because again, it was raining. But since we were already there and it’s only about 30 minutes away from Temple of Leah, we decided to continue.

Glad that we made the right decision because the place was heaven for people who love flowers as a backdrop like me!

Look at all the colors!

Entrance Fee: Php 30

How To Get Around Busay, Cebu City

We had a deal with one of the many habal-habal drivers offering a ride to Temple of Leah and Sirao Garden in JY Square Mall. We were told that it costs Php 150 from JY Square Mall to Sirao Garden so that’s Php 300 for a roundtrip. Then we asked how much if we include Temple of Leah and Tops Lookout and so we were offered Php 400/head.

If you don’t want to include Sirao Garden in your itinerary and wish to visit only the Tops Lookout, your other option would be “Go To Tops Van” offering “Go To Tops” roundtrip package for Php 300 inclusive of the entrance fee to Tops Lookout with free drinks. Then if you wish to visit Temple of Leah, you just have to add Php 50. If you wish to skip Tops Lookout and decided to visit only the  Temple of Leah, that’s only Php 90 for a roundtrip! Pick-up point would be in El Taquito Mexican Restaurant just across JY Square Mall (Near Dessert Factory). Trip starts from 2:00 PM with an interval of 1 hour and 20 minutes from Tuesdays to Sundays (No Trips on Mondays!). Should you have any further inquiries, please refer to the latter part of this blog post for the contact information.

Malapascua Island

Malapascua Island is located in the northernmost part of Cebu. It’s one of the many islands in the province that is being flocked by local and foreign tourists.

It was known for its diving spots and it’s famous for being the only place in the world where you can dive with thresher sharks almost everyday.

Aside from that, it’s one of the entry points if you want to visit the nearby island located in the province of Leyte, Kalanggaman Island. Upon your arrival in the island, tour guides and boatmen will approach you and offer you a day tour to Kalanggaman Island but more on that later.

We spent our second day in Malapascua and I’m glad that we decided to include it in our itinerary. It was like we were in a different country because most of the tourists we saw during our visit were foreigners.

Having not much of Filipinos around, we felt free. Hahaha, don’t get me wrong. I just like the feeling around foreign tourists because they don’t care that much about you unlike Filipino tourists who keeps on eye-ing people around them.

By the way you can also tour around the island and explore the beauty of Malapascua’s marine life for Php 1,200. You may contact Kuya Ramon of Mabuhay Bar and Restaurant (contact information on the latter part of this post).

How To Get To Malapascua Island

From Cebu North Bus Terminal, ride a bus bound to Maya Port. It costs Php 200 and will take you 4 hours so make sure you go there early. The bus we rode left 5:45 AM (just not sure what time is their last trip). From Maya Port, you just have to pay Php 100 for a 45-minute boat ride to Malapascua Island.

LEYTE

I’ve never been to Leyte so I was excited for the second part of our backpacking trip. The first problem we had during our planning was how to go to Leyte from Cebu. There were options like riding a ferry from different parts of Cebu to Leyte. You may refer here if you want to check the schedule of the ships operating between the two provinces. But since we’re coming from Malapascua Island, we decided to jump to Leyte through Kalanggaman Island.

Kalanggaman Island

Kalanggaman Island is one of the beautiful beach destinations in the Philippines. Located in Palompon, Leyte, Kalanggaman Island is famous for its long-stretched white sandbars and aqua blue waters.

If you did your research, the Bisaya word “langgam”  is actually “bird” in Tagalog. Kalanggaman Island was named as such because if you look at it from above, the sandbars at the two ends of the island looks like two stretched wings of a bird.

You can rent a tent for Php 300 if you’re planning to spend a night in the island and pay Php 225 for the overnight fee. All other fees are as follows.

For those who prefer glamping, there is this portion in the island where you can find these wooden cabanas.

During the day, we just literally beach bummed, took advantage of the fascinating view around us and had as many photographs we can have.

But there are actually activities you can do in the island like snorkeling, stand up paddle etc.

We spent our third night in this island and the experience is worthwhile ~ and funny. Though I chose not to tell it here. I guess because I believe that there are stories you share to others and stories you keep to yourselves. Tee-hee!

How To Get To Kalanggaman Island

You can reach Kalanggaman Island either from Palompon, Leyte or Malapascua Island. Most of the routes are either:

Malapascua Island ➙ Kalanggaman Island (Day tour) ➙ Malapascua Island or

Palompon, Leyte ➙ Kalanggaman Island (Day Tour or Overnight) ➙ Palompon, Leyte.

In Malapascua Island, day tour packages are mostly for Php 800 with free lunch but we got ours for only Php 600 (excluding day tour/overnight fee). I’m just not sure if those packages that costs Php 800 already includes the entrance fees but in case it does, the tour package from Mabuhay Bar and Restaurant is still cheaper (Php 600 + Php 150 = Php 750)

Actually prior to the trip, we were undecided whether to visit or skip Malapascua Island because we were unsure if boats are available from Kalanggaman Island to Palompon, Leyte if we’re coming from Malapascua Island.  Boats from both Malapascua and Palompon are either rented or packaged for day tours and so we have second thoughts if

Malapascua Island ➙  Kalanggaman Island➙ Palompon, Leyte is possible. But upon calling Kuya Ramon of Mabuhay, he told me that he can arrange boat transfers for us and so we took the risk. Luckily, the caretakers in Kalanggaman are very accommodating that they offered to help us out. So yes, it’s possible! You just have to pay Php 200 for the boat ride from Kalanggaman to Palompon.

Day Tour in Tacloban City

We spent our fourth day in Tacloban City. Coming from Palompon, Leyte, we rode a van up to the bus terminal in Tacloban. The earliest trip starts from 3:30 AM and the last trip would be by 2:00 PM with an interval of 30-45 minutes.

We rode another tricycle to bring us to our booked accommodation. It cost us Php 150 from the bus terminal. It was quite expensive for a 15 minutes ride. Right? Luckily, Kuya Jimmy, our tricycle tour guide offered us a package of Php 800 to tour around Tacloban inclusive of the Php 150 ride.

M/V Eva Jocelyn

Our first destination was the remains of M/V Eva Jocelyn. It’s one of the ships that were washed inland from the sea to the city of Tacloban due to the super typhoon Yolanda. We were told that the shipwreck blocked the main road and a large area in Anibong district. The locals cried out to have it salvaged and removed as it is a painful memory of the tragedy but then it also turned out to be a magnet for humanitarian aid. So the government decided to turn the front hull and deck of the ship  into a monument and salvaged the rest of the ship.

San Juanico Bridge

Still the longest bridge in the Philippines, San Juanico Bridge stretches from the municipality of Sta. Rita in Samar to the city of Tacloban in Leyte. It took us about 15 minutes from M/V Eva Jocelyn to reach this iconic spot in Leyte. Though it’s not originally made to be a tourist attraction, tourists stop by the bridge to take some photographs. But please take caution because it’s still a highway. Believe me when I say it’s too scary just to stand in the footpath on the side of the bridge! So be extra careful and AVOID TAKING A SELFIE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.

MacArthur Landing Memorial

One of the national parks in the country, MacArthur Landing Memorial is a shrine of the historic landing of General Douglas MacArthur in Leyte Gulf at the start of the campaign to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese occupation.

Located in the municipality of Palo, it is quite far from Tacloban City that it took us about 30-45 minutes to reach it.

Downtown

Our last destination was in Downtown, Tacloban. Think of it as their ‘bayan‘ or where most of the stores, hotels etc. are found. It was not originally in our plan. We skipped Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum (because we want to rest already) so we asked Kuya Jimmy if he can bring us to souvenir or ‘pasalubong’ shops.

Tip: Buy Binagol and chocolate moron as pasalubong!

Other Nearby Spots:  Sto. Niño Church, Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum, Tacloban Convention Center, Leyte Provincial Capitol Building

SUGGESTED ITINERARY

BUDGET BREAKDOWN

WHERE TO STAY

Cebu Guest House

Location: 211 General Maxilom Avenue Cebu City, Cebu 6000

Contact Information: +032 233 6010

Website: http://www.cebuguesthouse.com/

Malapascua Legend Water Sports and Resort

Location: Beachfront – Bounty Beach

Contact Information:

Landline – (+63) 32 406 8384

Mobile Number – (+63) 917 623 1433

E-mail Address – info@malapascualegend.com

Website: http://malapascualegend.com

Zpad Residences

Location: 6500, Dadison St, Tacloban City, Leyte

Contact Information: (+63) 053-325 5555

Website: http://www.zpadresidences.com

WHERE TO EAT

House of Lechon

Malapascua Legend Water Sports and Resort

Mabuhay Bar and Restaurant

CONTACTS

Go To Tops – +639425180870

Kuya Ramon De Dios (Mabuhay Bar and Restaurant for Malapascua-Kalanggaman Tour) – +639155068705

Kuya Jimmy Presiguel (Tacloban Tour) – +639758797090

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