The only objective I had for booking a flight to Tacloban was the zip line, which I saw on Pinoy Adventurista’s itinerary for Southern/Leyte. I only saw Canigao Island on that list in passing and never really paid attention to it until I was already in Tacloban itself. That was when I realized that I would be spending two full days there and so I must do something else aside from that zip line ride. That was when I opted to do that island trip and I was not disappointed at all because it is indeed one of Leyte’s most beautiful weekend getaways!
Surrounded by the islands of Cebu, Bohol, and Samar, Leyte used to be one big island province which was later divided into two, namely Leyte and Southern Leyte. Only now that I am doing research about this island have I discovered that there are issues of language involved here. Apparently, the northern and eastern parts speak Waray-Waray while the residents in the south and west are predominantly Bisaya speaking. I am not sure if this linguistic divide paved the way for their separation into two different provinces but rest assured that I am really amused. This is so Belgium! Sorry, linguistic nerdy rant. Unfortunately, I do not even know the difference between those two languages. All I know is that I spoke to everyone in Tagalog but they replied in their own language, which I recognized to be Bisaya.
Aside from Canigao Island, there are more to see in Leyte, mostly those related to the Second World War for it was here where MacArthur fulfilled his promise to come back and send the invading Japanese back to where they came from. For a list of tourist spots that I no longer bothered to visit, you could always refer to Pinoy Adventurista’s very detailed itinerary complete with information on how to get there. The San Juanico Bridge is also a popular tourist destination and perhaps, better included in an itinerary which includes Samar. As for me, I only slept at GV Hotel in Tacloban and ate at Robinsons, which is said to be the only mall there. My Leyte trip was synonymous to Canigao and Canigao alone. Sorry, I prefer the beach over architecture and history.
We left the Duptours van terminal at around 7:40 in the morning after repeated and very audible sighs of frustration from the woman at the front seat. They said we would leave at 7:30 but because there were only four of us, we had to wait for more passengers. When it seemed like no one else would be coming, we finally left ten minutes later. Not even five minutes into our journey, the driver received a phone call saying that two passengers just arrived. We turned back, much to the chagrin of the woman mentioned. After the father and son tandem boarded the van, we left. Déjà vu. Again, not even five minutes after we departed he received yet another call. The woman was asleep with a towel over her face but still voiced out her anger in Bisaya which I understood thanks to cognates. She said that we would no longer reach Maasin and that all we would ever do is return and pick up passengers. Someone is angry!
Fortunately, after the barkada of three got in the van we no longer came back. The journey was full of stops at different terminals in various municipalities between Leyte and Southern Leyte. Passengers came and went. As for me, I stayed until we finally arrived in Maasin City after four hours, more or less. I wanted to get off at Matlom because I saw some boat ride ads for Canigao but I just opted to extend the trip by half an hour all the way to Maasin to establish an overnight base there and to get something to eat. Since I did not do a lot of research, I was not aware whether there were food stalls or accommodations in Canigao. Anyway, after lunch at Mang Inasal, I checked in at Villa Romana Hotel. After freshening up, I hopped on a bus en route to Bato and got off at Matalom.
There is a rather large Nipa hut by the bay where you could buy souvenirs as well as tickets for the boat. 50 pesos means round trip. I arrived late in the afternoon and we did not leave until a big barkada of around ten people joined us on the boat. They said the last trip going back to Matalom would be at five in the afternoon, which meant I had less than two hours left to roam the island because I had no intention of staying overnight.
The boat ride was fast and did not take half an hour. Seeing white sand from afar excites me somehow. The view was fantastic! Anguib Beach in Cagayan is probably of the same caliber, except that we did not approach it from the sea. Seeing Canigao and being awestruck by its beauty has made me realize how beautiful our beaches are and how weird that most of them remain undiscovered by the general public, which I guess is a blessing in disguise because they could remain as unspoiled hidden treasures. Canigao is rather popular among the local population though, the beach was really crowded when I was there, which I somehow found amusing despite my being allergic to people. It was just teeming with so much activity and the vibe of community was so contagious that it has this positive effect on you. Besides, there were plenty of vacant spots that one could claim as his when I was there. Just enough sand and turquoise for everyone!
Anyway for some trivia, the islet was formerly known as Comigao. It is under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Matalom, which lies at the south-westernmost tip of Leyte bordering Southern Leyte’s Maasin City. Oops, I ran out of trivia. Blame Wiki. Back on topic, you might as well go here on a weekday if you hate people. As already mentioned, the locals tend to come in throngs during the weekend.
There are huts that you could rent for day use. Do not quote me on these figures because my memory is very bad but what I remember is that they are rented for 500 pesos. Add an additional 200 if you are staying overnight. Sleeping in a tent of your own means 15 pesos, way cheaper! There is a 20-peso tourist fee, which for some reason the people in charge of collection said I no longer had to pay. Is it because I was alone? So, did I look that pitiful that day? I have no idea but I am not the one to say no to something free. I only stayed for less than two hours because I just felt a bit depressed. Oh, Christ. Here goes the emo rant.
I was alone, okay. As I looked around, I felt even more alone because the locals were playing football, building sand castles, doing pseudo tug-o-war poses and jump shots, and there I was lying under a tree taking a video like I was some kid asked to buy vinegar by his mom and got lost and somehow ended up there. Nor was I in the mood for some old school life reflection by the beach. I had been awake for 36 hours straight and as much as I wanted to just collapse and lose consciousness in such an awesome beach, I already paid one night in a hotel at Maasin City. So, no sir. My hibernation necessitated a private bathroom and a comfy bed. And so after the look-see, I left. And that was my Leyte trip. I honestly need to re-evaluate my motives for travel. I think I am starting to lose my passion for this. Like, seriously.
MATALOM: The White Sands and Turquoise Waters of Canigao