Call of the surf
Travel by boat and van from Cebu to Calicoan in Eastern Samar is one long and rough ride but the wonders of the island are worth every minute of ache and discomfort. Calicoan is among the numerous islands and islets that ring Guiuan, a town at the southernmost tip of Samar, the third largest island in the Philippine archipelago. Our destination in Calicoan was The Surf Camp, a resort on the side of the island that faces the Pacific Ocean. It was night when we arrived at the resort and a rumbling sound--it was a few minutes before it dawned on us what it was--greeted us when we arrived. (click on photos to view larger images) Tired and hungry upon our arrival, we feasted on seafood--fish, prawns, and crabs--and put the sound at the back of our minds. It was when we realized what it was that it filled us city people with awe. It was unforgettable--that sound; it followed us around all the time we were at the resort. It was background noise to our conversations--it was loudest in the mornings--and it lulled us to sleep at night. It was sometimes loud and guttural and insistent and at other times soft and melodious like a siren's call. It was the sound of the surf, of the waves breaking on the island's shores. We were at a place battered by waves rolling in from the Pacific over the 10,000-meter Philippine Deep all year round and on certain months they become powerful swells. The best waves for surfing, people at the resort told us, usually appear from October to March. Calicoan is a surfer's paradise but surfing is just one of many things it has to offer. The island also has white sand beaches and one of these is a long stretch called ABCD, which is also the prime surfing area. Resort people said some adventurous visitors to the island stay in tents on the beach or make do with a surf hut. We stayed at well-furnished cottages and villas in The Surf Camp resort. In both architecture and furnishings, the cottages take inspiration from Thai, Balinese, Indonesian, and Filipino cultures. Our cottage came with two twin-size beds, air-conditioning, cable television, mini bar, hot water, safety deposit box, and intercom. The resort has a saltwater pool aptly named Infinity, as it offers a wide and unhampered view of the Pacific Ocean. It also has two viewing decks built on a rocky outcropping along the beach and connected by a long walkway. At certain times of the day, the waves would get stronger and as they break upon the rocks, sprays of seawater would fall on the decks. At the resort's restaurant, we dined on baby lobsters fresh from the island's seas. Outside of the resort is one of the island's tropical forests and residents say wild monkeys sometimes cross the dirt road that cuts through it. I've never seen one though in our four-day sojourn in the island. Time constraints prevented us from exploring the island's other wonders, such as its lagoons--the largest is reportedly 30 hectares in size, caves along its forests, and wetlands that teem with fish, shrimps, and crabs. More photos, click on images to enlarge: We were, however, able to devote time to visiting a pilgrimage church located a little farther into the village of Sulangan, where the resort is located. Village folk say the two saints in the church grant favors but only if you give to one the exact offering that you give to the other. As we went back to the resort from the church, the day was dying and we were stopped in our tracks by the kaleidoscope of light that filled the skies as the sun bids goodbye. While we watched transfixed, the colors exploded into a single shade of orange that darkened the clouds and lent the world an eerie glow. Dusk finally set in and we headed for home. Road to Calicoan The Surf Camp offers round trip travel from Cebu to Guiuan and back to Cebu at $150 per person. The Guiuan airport is only 25 minutes from the resort. In our case, we caught the two-hour Supercat boat trip from Cebu City to Ormoc City. In Ormoc, we hired a van to take us to The Surf Camp for 2,500 pesos. The amount does not include the cost of gasoline for the whole trip. We arrived in Ormoc City at around 1 p.m. and at past 8 p.m. in Calicoan. We made several stopovers along the way--one of which was in Tacloban City--to buy provisions needed for our trip. We passed by and had our pictures taken at the two-kilometer San Juanico Bridge that connects the islands of Samar and Leyte. A less expensive option would be to ride any one of the passenger vans in the Ormoc City pier to Tacloban City and transfer to another van bound for Guiuan. The fare is 120 pesos from Ormoc to Tacloban and 110 pesos from Tacloban to Guiuan. ABCD beach is located in the village of Sulangan and it is just 20 minutes away from the town center where the passenger vans make their stop. Tricycles are the modes of transport to Sulangan and they can be hired for a minimal fee. There are a few pension houses, a hotel, and convenience stores in the town center. Regular commercial flights fly daily from Manila to Tacloban. Calicoan is just a three-hour ride from Tacloban City.
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