TACLOBAN CITY (11 November) — Economic activities and the potential of Eastern Visayas to become the country’s premier tourism destination under the super regions concept was amplified 10-fold with the visit of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo here and Eastern Samar Friday.
This was the observation of mediamen in Region VIII during their 45-minute informal interaction with the President last night after she inducted the officers of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP)-Leyte chapter at the Leyte Park Hotel here.
Also yesterday, the President during her inspection ordered the immediate completion of the Jipapad-Lapinig and the Lapinig-Arteche road projects in the northernmost part of Eastern Samar.
The Lapinig-Arteche stretch is the remaining unfinished portion to complete the Samar circumferential road project that would link the provinces of Eastern and Northern Samar.
On the other hand, the 5.22-kilometer Jipapad-Lapinig road would greatly ease the plight of the residents of Jipapad, the most isolated town in Eastern Samar.
As it is, the only access of the residents of Jipapad to the nearest town of Oras also in Eastern Samar where they bring their produce, is a rigorous 12-hour banca ride crisscrossing through the Oras River.
The mediamen told the President they were awed by her stamina in inspecting vital government projects in the remote parts of the country. The President plans to take a backbreaking six-hour land trip during her next visit to Mindanao this month.
The President replied by saying she was used to such strenuous activities as she had already visited quite a number of remote areas even before she became a senator of the country.
Aside from the two road projects, the President also expressed government support to the upgrading of the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport here into an international airport, and the rehabilitation of the American-built 2,084-meter long and 46-meter wide airstrip in Calicoan Island and the former US Navy 3149 Base in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
The road and airport projects have been described as “an accomplishment of a lifetime” that would greatly boost economic activities and improve the influx of tourists to the three islands of Leyte, Samar and Biliran that comprise Region VIII.
The three Eastern Visayas islands, famous for their natural wonders such as waterfalls, caves, pristine white beaches, dive sites, limestone and rock formations, and centuries-old churches and historical sites, also offer year-round festivals
Eastern Visayas’ famous historical sites include the US Navy 3149 Base in Guiuan, which used to be the biggest naval base in the Far East that ensured Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s successful “I Shall Return” campaign to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation during World War II.
Even former US President John F. Kennedy, then a captain, was stationed at the naval base as the youngest commander of the torpedo boat, PT 109.
On Sept. 28, 1901 in Balangiga, Eastern Samar, American soldiers brutally retaliated after suffering a major defeat at the hands of Filipino rebels during the American occupation, turning the town into a “howling wilderness” and taking the famous Balangiga bells which are still being held by the Americans.
On March 16, 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first touched land on Homonhon Island in the southernmost tip of Eastern Samar wherein a visitor can scrutinize a stone carved with “Magellan” which is recognized by the Philippine Historical Commission as the “Magellan Landing Site.”
On March 31, 1521, Spanish Priest Fr. Pedro de Valderrama celebrated the “First Mass in the Orient” on Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte.
Other famous attractions in Region VIII include Tinago Falls, Mainit Hot Spring and the shifting sand bar in Biliran; MacArthur Landing Memorial in Palo, Leyte; Sohoton Natural Bridge National Park and Rawis Cave both in Basey, Northern Samar; Lake Danao in Ormoc City; Calbiga Cave in Calbiga, Samar; and the man-made San Juanico Bridge connecting Leyte and Samar. (PIA)