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Leyte Province, Philippines

Brief History | Language | Major Industries | Man-made Attractions | Natural Attractions | Cultural | Religious | Festivals

CAPITAL: Tacloban
LAND AREA: 6,268.3 sq. km.
ZIP CODE: 6500


Leyte has a colorful history. Leyteños, like the Samareños when it comes to their province, like to point out of that their forebear were among the first to welcome the Spaniards but they were also among the first to resist the invaders. Leyte was one of the provinces where the early seeds of nationalism were planted.

In 1521, Magellan sailed from the island of Homonhon, Samar to the island of Limasawa, Leyte, entered into a blood compact with Rajah Kolambu. On Eastern Sunday, March 31, of that year, was celebrated the First Mass in the Philippines. Some historical researchers, however, are now disputing this.

The next century witnessed a religious uprising lead by Bancao, the Limasawa chief, and his high priest, Pagail. The revolt began in Carigara and spread to neighboring towns before it was quelled. 27 years after the 1622 uprising, another revolt hit Leyte - an offshoot of the Sumoroy rebellion then simmering in Samar. And in the center of the disturbances, the village of Bacor, rebels burned the church and its convent.

By 1768, Leyte, now separated from Samar, became a politico-military province. The set up continued until the end of Spanish rule, when Gen. Vicente Lukban took over Leyte and Samar in the name of the Revolutionary Government.

It was WWII, however, which placed Leyte on the world map. On October 20, 1944, Gen. Mac Arthur, at the head of the largest US fleet of transport and warships, and accompanied by Commonwealth President Sergio Osmeña and Gen Carlos P. Romulo, landed on Palo, Leyte to reclaim the Philippines from the Japanese.

On May 22, 1959, the province was divided into Leyte and southern Leyte.

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"Waray" is generally spoken by the people of Leyte except those who live in the western side who generally speak Cebuano.


The plains and valleys are fertile, producing hemp, copra, corn, rice, tobacco, bananas, papayas and pineapple. The swamps teem with nipa and mangrove, and the mountains yield rattan and timber. There are thousands of hectares of virgin forests with wealth just waiting to be tapped.


Leyte Provincial Capitol
Located on Sen. Eñage Street fronting Plaza Libertad and the University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban. Built in 1907, it is the seat of the provincial government of Leyte. Historic viewing of mural depicting the First Mass in Limasawa in the Orient and Gen Douglas Mac Arthur´s landing; became the seat of the commonwealth Government of the Philippines when President Sergio Osmeña, Sr. came in 1944 with the Liberation Forces of General Mac Arthur.

Price Mansion
Located on Justice Romualdez St., Tacloban City. An example of the American colonial home built in 1990. Sturdy mansion where Gen. Mac Arthur put up his official headquarters and residence when he came with the Liberation forces in October 20, 1944.

Redona Residence

Located on T. Claudio St., Tacloban City. Official residence of President Osmeña, Sr. when he came with the Liberation Forces in October 1944 until the Philippine commonwealth was re-established in Manila.

Mac Arthur Leyte Landing Memorial
Located on Red Beach, Palo Leyte can be reached by public transport or any private vehicle. Monument marking the spot where Gen. Mac Arthur landed with the Liberation Forces; lagoon where the statues of the life-size stand; beautiful beach; panoramic view of Leyte Gulf and Samar Island.

Hill 522
Located in Palo 12 km., plus a little trekking 522 feet up. Commonly called Guinhangdan Hill, this was the entrance to the first liberated town (Palo) in 1944 after having been heavily bombarded to destroy the garrisons built by the Japanese; foxholes marker built by Mie Prefecture.
Mac Arthur Beach Resort - It has 45 first-class rooms, a cafe, beach kiosk, picnic tables, nipa house, a children's playground and swimming pool.

Hill 120
Located in Dulag. Hill where the first American flag was raised by the Liberation Forces of the U.S. Army on October 20, 1944 after the fall of Bataan; Panoramic view of Leyte Gulf and surrounding coastal towns.

Battle of Baluarte Marker
Located at Baluarte, Bgy. Minuhang Barugo. Site of the historic battle between Filipino guerrillas and Japanese Imperial Forces at dawn of August 24, 1944. Significant because there was no Filipino casualty while all the Japanese except one were killed in the encounter; beautiful and symbolic monument made up of three stairs: at the topmost stand 3 rifles each crowned by a helmet: measuring 3.5 x 3.5 meters. This concrete structure is fenced by big silver-colored chains; on one side area 3 flagpoles which look like bayonets.

Hilongos Bell Tower
Located in Hilongos, it is the highest existing bell built during the Spanish era; historic viewing.

Japanese War Memorial Cemetery
Located at Bgy. San Diego (Buraueun) Site of one of the fiercest battles fought in Leyte for the liberation; Japanese cemetery frequently visited by memorial tour groups.

Buga-Buga Hills
Located in Villaba - Mountain stronghold of General Suzuki where thousands of Japanese soldiers died defending the area and hundreds of American lives were sacrificed in the assault to capture this hill during World War II; frequently by big Japanese memorial tour groups and bone hunting expedition and object of pilgrimage by domestic and foreign tourists.

Philippine-Japan Peace Memorial
Located on Carlota Hills, Ormoc City. An impressive memorial marker put up by relatives of Japanese WW II veterans from Nagoya and Gifu Prefectures; one of the city's picturesque hills overlooking Ormoc Bay.

Boy Scout Monument
Located on Rotonda at Fatima Village, Tacloban City. The first Boy Scout monument in the world in human form; erected in 1941. Monument of the Filipino soldier - Located at Bgy. Pawing (entrance) Leyte Government Center Palo. A tribute to the Pilipino World War II soldiers and veterans who offered their supreme sacrifice for the sake of freedom.

Palo Metropolitan Cathedral
Located in Palo, 12 km. westwards along national highway. Converted into an evacuation hospital of the Allied Forces of Liberation and refuge of civilians during World War II in 1944; founded in 1596 by Augustinian friars; viewing of the famous Hill 522 overlooking Palo. Breakneck Ridge - Located at Bgy, Limon, Capoocan. Site of one of the bloodiest battles in Liberation of the battle areas, nearby hills and valleys.

Dio Mainland Resort
Located at Bgy. San Jose, Tacloban City, 7 km. from city proper. Commonly called Baluarte San Jose where remnants of World War II - 2 Japanese pill boxes and a cannon still exist and preserved for viewing; panoramic view of Leyte Gulf and Samar Island.

Tacloban City Hall
Atop Kanhuraw Hill in front of Sto. Niño Church, Tacloban City. Seat of the city government of Tacloban City. Offers a panoramic view of Cancabato Bay, San Pedro Bay, San Juanico Strait, Cataisan Point and Samar Island.

Divine Word University
Located on Avenida Veteranos, Tacloban City. Repository of relics and artifacts from Samar and Leyte; burial jars that date back to 1582; porcelain relics that show early trade with China and even relics of the Stone Age; diggings from Sohoton Caves.

People's Center and Library for Samar and Leyte
Equipped with a social hall, gymnasium and a reading room. Historical documents of the rich cultural heritage of the people of Samar and Leyte; a collection of dioramas of the 82 ethnic tribes of the Philippines, a collection of books on the humanities.

Sto. Niño Shrine & Heritage Museum
Located adjacent to People's Center, Tacloban City. Paintings of the 14 Stations of the Cross done by Filipino artist, wooden bas-relief of the legend of the First Filipino man-woman (si malakas at si maganda); tastefully decorated guestrooms of varied Filipino motifs; spacious ballroom; priceless collectors items.

SOS Children Village Milagrosa & Youth Village
Located at Bgy. Diit, Tacloban City. Well maintained villages; a beautiful school building and cottages housing orphans donated by an Austrian Philanthropist, the late Dr. Herman Gmeiner.

National Maritime Polytechnic
Located at Bgy. Babalawan, Tacloban City 10 km, (right at the foot of San Juanico Bridge). A multi- million training complex which stands in a 15-hectare campus along picturesque San Juanico Strait. With technical and financial assistance from the Japanese Government, this graduate academic institution was set up to upgrade the skills and knowledge of Filipino merchant seamen. Enjoy a tour and briefing on the latest ship navigation technology.

Visayas State College of Agriculture (VISCA)
Located in Baybay. Standing on an 80-hectare campus on the foothills of Baybay mountains, VISCA has emerged as premier agricultural college in the South. With a total area of 1,000 hectares, the college has established a reputation in root crop farming: beautiful landscape; long stretched beaches for swimming and boat riding; panoramic view of Camotes Sea; breathtakingly beautiful sunset on summer evenings; museum for specimen on wildlife.

Mahagnao National Park
Located in Burauen. Established notional park since 1937; offers inspiring craters, hot spring, multi-colored mud and rocks, lakes, virgin forest with giant ferns and orchids, lagoon with colorful carps, and temperate climate.

Kaupnit Balinsasayaw Park
Located on Mahaplag - Baybay road, favorite campsite, view of the highest peak in Leyte; aesthetic, panoramic and invigorating climate. Tongonan Hotsprings National Park - Located at Ormoc City. A valley of geothermal power source that can supply power to the whole region when fully developed; cool and relaxing climate; first geothermal power giant to operate in the Philippines.

San Juanico Bridge
Located at crossing over San Juanico Strait, Bgy. Cabalawan, Tacloban City; 10 km. from the city proper, accessible by passenger jeeps, buses, motorcabs, and private vehicles. Longest and most beautifully designed bridge in the Philippines; picturesque of San Juanico Strait with a thousand whirlpools.

Farmer's Training Center
For Rural Development Sab-a Basin. Located at Sab-a Basin (situated with the towns of Tacloban, Palo, Sta. Barugo, Jaro, San Miguel, Alang-alang and Babatngon). Virgin forest; lovely hills.

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Lake Danao
Located at Ormoc City, 125 km. from Tacloban City; 2,100 feet above sea level and 3 km. long undetermined dept; wild animals roaming its surrounding forest; hunter's paradise; lake said to be the habitat for giant eel.

Himokilan Island
Located in Hindang, largest island of the Cuatro Islas where the big delicious coconut-cracking crabs called "tatus" are found.

White Beach
Located at Bgy. San Jose, Tacloban City. Ideal site for fishing, swimming, boating, skiing, and picnicking. Beautiful fine sand that sparkle gives you a good feeling by just walking on it; makes excellent body rub.

San Juanico Strait
Located at Bgy. Cabalawan, Tacloban City between the islands of Leyte and Samar - the South entrance at Tacloban and the entrance at Babatngon. Beautiful islets and infinite whirlpools; rushing waters, scenic viewing; water skiing, fishing, guano caves.

Red Beach
Located at Bgy. Baras & Candahug, Palo. Landing site of the allied forces headed by Gen Douglas Mc. Arthur during the Liberation of the Philippines in 1944; panoramic view of Leyte Gulf and Samar Island; ideal place for promenading, picnicking, swimming and windsurfing.

Balugo Falls
Located 10 km. north of Tacloban; can be reached by hired vehicles and private cars. Developed area with beautiful tropical trees, flowers and shrubs; two swimming pools and dressing rooms; nursery for vegetables and trees.

Mt. Kankahanay
Located in Jaro, region of scenic grandeur with virgin forests, very cool climate, almost 4,000 ft. above sea level; hunter's paradise.

Daguitan Rapids and Danao Lake
Located in Burauen. Hiking or horseback riding to the lake; swimming and picnicking on Danao Lake; riding the Daguitan Rapids in makeshift rafts of banana trunks or the steadier, softer rubber tires fashioned into rafts; 2-hour exciting ride; beautiful scenery, lovely tropical plants.

Leyte Mountain Trail
An outstanding trekking area which starts from the Mahagnao National Park, Burauen, to Danao Lake and Tongonan National Park in Ormoc, a distance of approximately 40 km. Rainforest tour, beautiful lakes - Mahagnao, Malagsum, Casudsuran and Danao; the spectacular Guinaniban Falls, breathtaking view of mountains, forest, plains and the small islands of Samar and Leyte from the crest of the central Amandiwing Mountain Range; the profusion of tropical flora and fauna including colorful insects, butterflies, dragonflies, and bugs and giant millipedes, deer, wild boar, monkeys, birds, orchids and giant ferns.

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Bislig Bay Fishing Village.
Located in Tanauan. Rich fishing grounds, sandy beach, colorful fishing boats are among the attractions the village can offer.


Madonna of Peace
Located at Foot of Kanhuraw Hill near the City Hall, Tacloban City. Landscaped garden with statue of the goddess of Peace called Maria Kannon by Japanese people who donated it; ornamental plants, view of Magsaysay Boulevard and Kankabato Bay.

Santo Niño Church
Located in front of Rizal Park, corner Real and Zamora Streets, Tacloban City; Image of Santo Niño, patron of Leyte; also known as the Church of Liberation.

Stations of the Cross
Located on top of the hill above Serin District overlooking Tacloban City. The 14 stations of the Cross in more than life-size concrete forms leading the 18- foot statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Buddhist Temple
Located at Anibong Dist., Tacloban City at the foot of the hill, 100 meters away from Leyte Progressive High School. A beautiful 2-storey pagoda where monks and Buddhists make their worship, prayers and offerings; overlooking the city and Samar Island.

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Tacloban Festival (Last week of June)
The Tacloban Festival kicks off with the Subiran Regatta, an annual sailboat race held at the eastern entrance of the San Juanico Strait.

The Balyu- an / Pintados Festival
A pageant re-enacting the historical exchange of images between Barrio Buscada of Basey, Samar, and Tacloban City, which highlights the annual fiesta of the Sto. Niño in Leyte. Also there is the Pintados Festival, which revives the tradition of painting the body and dancing to the rhythm of bamboo sticks. On the last day is the Tacloban City Festival-celebrating the homecoming of its Sto. Niño image marked by much merrymaking in the usual grand fiesta tradition.

Subiran Regatta (June)
An annual contest held along the eastern portion of Leyte Gulf. The regatta is participated in by different fishermen living along the fishermen's villages of Leyte and Samar. "Suviran" is a native sailboat with outriggers used in small scale fishing. The race is done without using a paddle but only skill and technique to maneuver the sail. The race is held within the Cancabato Bay Area.

Torugpo (Black Saturday)
An exciting traditional jousts of native carabaos (pasungay) and horses (paaway) at Bgy. Camansi, Carigara. It was held 300 years ago in defiance to the rigid regulations of the Spanish friars. The yearly carnival offers a complimentary treat to foreign tourists.

Sunduan Ha Carigara ( Easter Sunday)
An annual homecoming of Holy Cross Academy alumni of Carigara, Leyte. The celebration consists of cultural, social and religious activities-float parade & contest depicting the rich history of Carigara; cockfighting, songs, dances and drama contests; barrio fiesta; and observance of Lent.

Pamalandong (Holy Week in Palo Pilgrimage) - Good Friday
A re-enactment of the Lord's Passion celebrated in Palo, a municipality 11 km. away from Tacloban City. It consists of the religious rituals which starts 12:00 at noon at the grounds of the Palo Cathedral. The Good Friday rites include "The seven Last Words" during which the crucified image of Christ (a wooden antique image probably hundred of years old and ingeniously provided with a mechanism by its unknown artist) reacts to each word, until the final death and removal from the cross.

A quaint Good Friday local custom is the gathering of the leaves from the mock-forest where the three crosses stand by the people believing they bring luck, cure illness and other attributes.

This is followed by the procession that includes all the biblical characters of the Passion Play and this caps the rituals for the Good Friday.

Balyuan (June 29)
A pageant re-enacting the historical exchange of images between Barrio Buscada of Basey, Samar and Sitio Kankabatok now Tacloban City. It is held in the afternoon and highlights the annual fiesta of Santo Niño de Leyte.

Pintados De Leyte Festival (June)
The custom of tattooing earned for the Leyteños the name of Pintados. From ancient history, Roman conquests also made mention of tattooed people in Britons, Saitas, Oriental Tartar, Macasar and other parts of the world. The origin of the practice is different to determine but the strongest contention is that an ancient priestess instigated it and through the members of her cult, began the custom.

The tattoos, however, became distinctive marks of courage and generally made the origin, orientation and livelihood of the bearer identifiable. The most basic design of tattoos began from ankle to groin and consisted of two bonds a finger or almost two in width. The tattoo in the chest were made like breastplates. When the tattooers did their work more artistically, they left between the bond (which were colored blue) and white designs.

When the missionaries from Spain arrived in Leyte, they found the Pintados gruesome but later learned to appreciate the happy contentment and beauty of the people. With the coming of the Spaniards, the people learned new ways of life and blended this with neo-pagan ways of the Pintados.

Even today, the happy blend exists in the customs and practices of Leyte. The Leyteños have retained their cultural roots while assimilating the changes that progress brings.

Leyte Landing Anniversary (October20)
A commemorative program which marks the anniversary of the October 20, 1944 landing on Leyte of the Allied Forces of Liberation. Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur and his men waded ashore at "Red Beach" in the town of Palo where statues of the liberations now stand. The historic event is usually attended by high ranking government officials and the ambassadors of the United States, Japan and Australia. World War II veterans come on sentimental journey.

Grand Santa Cruzan (May)
A parade and contest of "parol" (lantern) with beautiful "sagalas" participated in by the different barangays of Tacloban. It starts at the historic Leyte Provincial Capitol terrace and ends at Plaza Rizal (one and a half-hour procession) where the winners are proclaimed. Criteria include greatest number of sagalas and participants, most artistic lantern, best lighting and most disciplined group. The Search for Reyna Elena is the culmination of the Grand Santa Cruzan. The selection's criteria includes beauty, poise, social graces, talent and intelligence. After the proclamation of the winners, the coronation and the giving of awards and prizes follows.

Pahoy-Pahoy (May) - Barugo Leyte. Scarecrow festival.

Fourth Provincial Inter-High School Tourism Quiz (August) - Region-wide
A tourism quiz covering regional, national and international topic.

Pasaka Festival (August) - Tanauan, Leyte
A dance parade and cultural presentation (comparza) "Pasaka" connotes warm welcome, progress, and religious homage.

Third Regional Tourism Quiz (September) - Tacloban City
A tourism quiz covering regional, national, and international topic.

Lubi - Lubi Festival (August 15) - Calubian, Leyte. A festival showing various uses of the coconut tree and its by-products thru dances and street revelry.

Kaadlawan Han Samar (November) - Catbalogan, Samar
Foundation Day celebrated with socio-cultural activities.

Calbayog Grand Karakol (October) - Calbayog City
Joyous street pageantry of dancing devotees.

Christmas Festival in Palo (December) - Palo, Leyte
A week-long celebration of Christmas which includes Simbang Gabi, Drum and Bugle Corps Competition. Christmas Cultural Show and a contest for Best Lighted Barangay, Best Belen, and Lantern Contest.

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