Leyte occupies a special place in my childhood for I have spent many a happy Christmas vacations there. My late mother was born and grew up in Ormoc City because my grandfather worked as chief chemist Leyte Landing Monument of Ormoc Sugar Company (OSCO) since the 1930's until his retirement.

I consider myself lucky for having parents who came from different environments and social backgrounds. My vacations to my father's place in Lahong, Baleno, Masbate were very rural experiences (we had to hike and cross a river on foot to arrive at my paternal grandparent's place which was atop a hill, with no neighbors, no electricity, and no toilet). Our vacations to Ormoc, on the other hand, provided us the urban amenities which we didn't have in Masbate then (television, refrigerator, home-made ice candies, service vehicle). Though there was more fun to do for kids in my father's poor and forested barrio, both places actually gave us a treasure of childhood experiences which many kids surely missed. But I've digressed already... :)

The pictures here were taken during my second trip to Tacloban City on July 18-21, 2000. My good friend, Frazier Gomez (who works at PNOC), and I synchronized our respective official travels to Tacloban so we could hook up there after office hours. Frazier was a dorm mate in U.P. and is also a native of Leyte. San Juanico Bridge

My companion Bong and I, stayed at the new house of our officemate in Tacloban, Erwin Martinez. We also met with my previous U.P. roommate, Chito Lacanaria.

After we have finished with our official work on the 3rd day of our visit, Erwin brought us to Ormoc City to see Lake Danao. It gave me the opportunity to drop by my grandfather's place to say hello. He looked very old and was apparently sick. The place also lost the happy ambiance I remember from my childhood visits. Why is it that when you're older, the places of your childhood look sadly different? I also felt the same when I visited my father's hometown as an adult . But that's another digression...

The first picture above was taken at the McArthur Leyte Landing Memorial Park in Palo, Leyte. The second is San Juanico Bridge which connects Samar Island to Leyte. My thanks to Erwin, our generous host, who toured us to all these places.

On February 14-16, 2001, my sister Jane and I had to rush to Ormoc City again to attend my grandfather's funeral (he was almost 90 years ). The pictures taken of the rooms inside the Sto. Niņo Shrine were taken during this return trip.

This is what many think is the Marcoses' mansion in the Visayas though Imelda, who is a native of Leyte, built this more as a Museum than a vacation house. She called it "Sto. Niņo Shrine" because it houses the Sto. Niņo which Imelda Marcos brought from Italy as a demonstration of her piety. In truth, this museum is further proof of Imelda's extravagance. It is a sequestered property and is being maintained by the Philippine Commission for Good Government (PCGG).
The museum is not well-lit because PCCG is saving on electricity. To my chagrin, most of the pictures I took came out very dark except for a few. Though the Marcoses never lived here, the museum has rooms for each member of the family -- just for showing off, I guess. I suspected that our guide, who kept a dour face throughout the tour, is a Marcos loyalist because she seemed offended by any remark with the slightest hint of criticism against the Marcoses. This picture shows the room, supposedly for the ex-president Ferdinand Marcos.
As expected, the highlight of the museum showcase is Imelda Marcos' room. It was much bigger than the ex-president's and even had chandeliers that it looked more like a hotel lobby than a bedroom. The bathroom was also very spacious (the couple could ballroom dance there), and most of the furniture pieces and accesories were imported from other countries. This blurred picture didn't do justice to the room's opulent elegance.
We ate fresh coconuts on our way to Palo, Leyte. I'm including this for the sake of foreign visitors who have not seen coconuts yet. :)
A portion of the McArthur Park in Palo, Leyte. It's well-maintained.
The Leyte Landing Monument showing Douglas McArthur and company. From left is Bong, Erwin, Ferdie, and Domie (I'm not referring to the statues, of course).
San Juanico Bridge. Unlike on our first visit two years ago, stopping and parking on San Juanico bridge is now prohibited. We had to be quick to get this shot.
This is the view when you are standing on the arch portion of the bridge looking toward the Samar side. The bridge is winding and is considered the longest in the country.
Just for fun, I took this shot of the Tacloban pier while we were having snack at Jollibee. Chito said that the tall building was never completed and has stood there to waste for several years already. I remember him saying that there are structural problems on the place where it stands.
We picked up Frazier who was staying at Leyte Park Hotel and went out to disturb the videoke joints. From left is Bong, Chito, Frazier, and Ferdie.
From a visit to my grandfather in Ormoc City, we proceeded to Lake Danao. It was raining hard when we arrived so we rested and ate lunch in this Viewing Tower.
This is my favorite shot of Lake Danao. The lake looked very calm.
Taken from the Viewing Tower, after the heavy rains. I'm not sure but I think I remember an article saying that a large part of the water which killed many during the Ormoc Flood Tragedy came from Danao Lake area.
I rode this boat but didn't swim for the water was a tad too cool for comfort. I just realize now that I haven't gone swimming in a lake yet.
Here's a boy who has just gone fishing. We rented his boat to go sightseeing.
Chito didn't trust my 'boating' ability and made sure he wore a life jacket. He couldn't swim.
Another shot at a makeshift bench with Lake Danao on the background.

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