|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
The timing of the third leg is opportune coinciding with the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival in Tacloban, Leyte. One of the landmark events in the Eastern Visayas, it brings together different, vibrant festivals from its various towns. It’s also a celebration of life—a perfect reminder of the Leyteños’ resiliency, rising after the destruction brought about by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
Landing at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban, the first stop was the Sto. Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum. There, a cultural number from the Eastern Visayas State University, one of the region’s best cultural performers, greeted the group. After a performance that echoed the one that greeted Pope Francis early last year, a tour of the museum ensued. Built by Imelda Marcos, the Sto. Nino Shrine and Heritage Museum was a rest house. With 13-guest rooms and private bedrooms for the former first family, it contains priceless artifacts and antiquities from Austria, Italy, China, Argentina, among others collected by or donated to the Marcos family during their rein.
Day One ended with the group having dinner and catching the performances at the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival Park. Amidst the festive colors, the Fiery Red Nissan X-Trail and Solar Yellow Nissan Juke vehicles certainly stood out.
The next day, the early call time meant a unique photo taking opportunity at the iconic San Juanico Bridge—the longest bridge in the country. After that, it’s off to Basey, Samar. Known as the seat of natural resources, it’s home to several growing natural attractions. Through the alternating good road-rough road route, the Nissan crossovers performed beautifully until it reached the banks of the Golden River. From there, it was short boat ride upriver to the Sohoton Caves & Natural Bridge National Park. Surrounded by forests, the enormous caves featured sparkling stalactites and stalagmites.
After touring the cave and going for a quick swim at the Balantak Waterfalls also located inside the park, the group drove to the Saob Cave in Basiao where local mat weavers can be found. The cavern’s cold temperature help preserve the raw materials that make for their top-quality banig products.
The final day of the trip meant a drive back to Tacloban. Crossing the San Juanico Bridge once more, the first stop was the M/V Eva Jocelyn Memorial where the hull of a ship grounded at the height of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) served as a memorial to the thousands of causalities. After that, it was a drive to the Leyte Provincial Capitol Building. Built in 1907 in neoclassical architecture, it briefly became the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth Government from 1944 to 1945. Finally, the drive ended with a visit to the MacArthur Landing site in Palo, Leyte.
The less than perfect roads, incremental weather, and tight roads highlighted the Nissan X-Trail and Juke’s advanced features. These include the X-Trail’s All-Mode 4x4-i system, Around View Monitor, and anti-fatigue Zero Gravity Seats; and the Juke’s I-CON Dynamic Control System and compact, maneuverable proportions. Of course, everyone was comfortable thanks to the cool blast of Nissan’s climate control system.
Exploring some unsung tourist destinations in places such as Samar and Leyte make for a truly unforgettable experience, enabling Filipinos to known about their own country. This is the kind of experience that lives up to Nissan and the TPB’s unique program. The “Visit the Philippines, Drive to Discover with Nissan” is an ongoing project by Nissan Philippines and the Tourism Promotions Board until October 2016. There will be monthly road trips to various tourism destinations set by the TPB.