Farah Ramos' Blog

First Time in Tacloban, Leyte

Posted in Adventures by Farah Ramos on July 4, 2011

June 28 to 29 – Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez and Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez invited the movie press people (lucky me, I was included) to witness their Sangyaw Festival.

The Taclobanons gave us a warm welcome by putting medallion-like necklaces made up of scallop shells around our necks when we got to the airport. Celebrity treatment, indeed.

From the airport, our ride took us to Leyte Park Hotel. Built by former First Lady, Imelda Marcos in 1979, the hotel closed for 3 years until 1994 when it reopened following renovation & refurbishing. (Source: http://www.blancsablon.com)

We were given ample time to freshen up. We had lunch with Councilor Cristina “Kring-Kring” Gonzales-Romualdez at a restaurant. Here’s a photo of the group with Tita Kring. Press people include Ricky Lo of Philippine Star, Aster Amoyo of Pilipino Star Ngayon, Julie Bonifacio of The Buzz Magazine, Eugene Asis of People’s Tonight, etc. 

A photo with the beautiful Councilor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez:

That night, we all went to the Coliseum to watch Toto’s original lead singer Bobby Kimball. We were all seated at the front row – Mayor Alfred Romualdez,Tita Kring-Kring, Sen. Bong Bong Marcos.

Although I wasn’t born in the 70’s, I had a great time listening to Toto’s timeless songs such as “I’ll Be Over You,” “Africa,” and “Georgy Porgy.”

Here’s a photo of the all-American rock legend:

We were on Tourist Mode on our second day. Tita Aster (Amoyo) prepared our itinerary.

First Stop: SAN JUANICO BRIDGE

It is the longest bridge in the Philippines. It links Leyte and Samar.

Second Stop: Leyte Landing Memorial Park

Formerly called the MacArthur Park, The Leyte Landing Memorial Park was built to commemorate the historic day when Gen’ Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines to “liberate” our country from the Japanese invaders. This “Leyte Landing” is celebrated annually on October 20.

Third Stop: Santo Niño Shrine Museum

No photo attachment because I went there to pray. We didn’t have much time to take photos.

Our tour was cut short because we had to go to the Cristina’s Salon & Spa. The roads were closed for the Sangyaw Festival at 11:30 p.m. We had lunch at the salon and I took a power nap while waiting for the parade. A few minutes before it started, Sen. Bong Bong Marcos and Tacloban City Mayor arrived. Here are some photos with them:

SANGYAW FESTIVAL

“Sangyaw” which means “to herald news” in Waray language, was created by Former First Lady Imelda Marcos and was revived by Mayor Romualdez in 2008. Called “Sangyaw Festival 2011 Bombo Torotot Parada,” a street dancing competition between school bands performed. There were three areas where the finalists had to showcase their pieces –  Asian Convention Center, McDonald/Jollibee restaurant area, Cristina Salon & Spa at J. Romualdez St. and the  Balyuan Amphitheatre for the final showdown.

Spotted: Junrey Balawing, The Shortest Filipino. He stands just under two feet tall and has been declared as The World’s Shortest Man by the Guinness World Records.

Everyone in Tacloban was on the streets that afternoon to witness the Sangyaw Festival. The different contenders wore creative and colorful costumes. There were outstanding performances…

This one’s my personal favorite. They had a great concept, costume, props, and dance routine. 

There was never a dull moment in our entire trip. I was fascinated with the press people. They sure knew how to turn a dead moment into a colorful one. Even at the start of the trip, they didn’t even notice that we were already being rescued because there was a spark in the car. They were all busy chatting about showbiz gossips and Tita Crispina Belen was playing games in her IPad. They only felt that the engine was already off when it was hot inside.

I would never ever forget Tita Julie B. for her wit and her unexpected punch lines. This lady has a tremendous sense of humor, indeed. She even made a very serious woman laugh endlessly. Whenever we remember the joke, we’d all start laughing again.

Our trip to Tacloban, Leyte sure was a memorable one. I’d like to go on a trip with these amazing people once again. Hopefully soon.

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