Leyte Province: The Promised Land

Leyte is an island in the Philippines that consists of two provinces, Leyte Province (Northern Leyte) & Southern Leyte. The province is known for the longest bridge in the Philippines, the San Juanico Bridge, that connects the provinces of Leyte and Samar.  Seems impossible but former President Marcos made it possible, for his wife Imelda Romualdez Marcos, so people say.

Tacloban Convention Center
The division of the island into two provinces was due to the difficulty of managing the government affairs of the entire island from the main city (Tacloban). Another reason is the language barrier for Cebuano-speaking South-Westerners and the Waray-Easterners.

Northern Leyte has 2 major cities, the capital Tacloban City and the more independent Ormoc City.  Southern Leyte has Maasin as their city & also the capital of the province.
Leyte Provincial Capitol
Leyte is most famous for it’s role in the re-conquest of the Philippines from the Japanese in the World War II.  It’s well known for the promised made by General Douglas MacArthur, an American General and Field Marshall, when he left to Australia to prevent the capture by the Japanese.

In his speech he declared, “I came through and I shall return”. He was ordered to change it to “We Shall Return”, but he never did.  On October 20, 1944, he fulfilled that promise and waded ashore Leyte, saying, “I have returned”.  A landing memorial was built in Palo, Leyte, though his actual landing happened in Dulag Beach, Leyte.
General MacArthur Memorial Landing Park
His return, however, did not stop the Japanese from taking over the Philippines, resulting to the four-day Battle of Leyte Gulf, the biggest naval battle in history.

The very popular traditional and well-known dance, in the Philippines called Tinikling originated from this island. And has made its way to an American TV show.  

This dance involves two people beating, tapping and sliding two bamboo poles while two or more dancers step over and in between the poles. This dance requires grace, skill and focus. One wrong move and your feet will get caught and crashed by bamboo poles.
Sto. Niño Shrine & Heritage Museum
The very first Catholic Mass is believed to be officiated in Limawasa, also known as Sarangani Island. The birth of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines was told in a form of a painting by Carlos V. Francisco. A shrine was built in the spot to commemorate the event and in in 1960, it was declared as a National Shrine.

In 2013, Leyte was included in history again when it was hit by super typhoon Yolanda.  One of the strongest typhoons ever recorded in history. It has taken thousands of life and left millions affected – many have been left homeless.
Sunzibar Nachos Salad
Given the chance I will definitely explore more of Leyte province.  And I'll make sure that the next time I visit, Southern Leyte will be part of my itinerary.

There are lots of historical sites and good food in this province and like what the general said, “I came through and I shall return, over and over again.

The photos above were taken before the typhoon Yolanda hit the province.

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