Calbayog City | Samar’s Brightest Waray Sunshine
Calbayog City is one town I am honestly having a hard time describing. I am groping for the best word that perfectly fits that feeling of being in a hustling urban setting yet it secretly traps you with whimsical charm & dawdling velocity.
I have visited Calbayog City quite a number of times since I first came in 2012. But back then, I was only there for work & barely had the time to experience it. Other than snippets of the plaza, the church, tinapa & seafood, everything else was all about business meetings.
I haven’t been back since typhoon Yolanda struck Samar & Leyte in late 2013. But I have always been in contact with some local friends on social media. Seeing their posts about how lovely it has become after the tragedy made me yearn to visit it again.
Playing tourist in Calbayog City
Finally, after 4 years I have visited Calbayog City again as a stopover in my recent Luzon to Mindanao solo roadtrip. And this time I was able to experience it as a tourist on a real holiday! No work—-just loads of fun exploring its sights & yes, feasting on local food.
Spanish heritage towns litter around the country. And Calbayog City being one of the Spanish settlements established in 17th century by Jesuit missionaries is home to many memories of its colonial past.
The Spanish Quarter, tucked right at the heart of the city is a small district filled with rows of heritage buildings. It is laid out in quadricula where the church of Sts. Peter & Paul stands as the town’s focal point since the 1800s.
Around it are houses architectured after principalia mansions & bahay-na-bato, the old square now called Sacred Heart Plaza, the school, the city hall & the first Spanish structure that now houses the City Tourism Office & museum.
Calbayog Zipline & Malajog Ridge Nature Park
No doubt, Calbayog City has the most scenic zipline spots in the country. At 750 meters, it may not be the longest but the view over the turquoise waters of Samar Sea is absolutely fantastic.
The adventure begins with a 915-meter trek along the steep ridges of Malajog. From its scenic summit, a cable connects it to Daraga Islet below. And if you fancy those James Bond-ish maneuvers, this one’s a sure delight.
Malajog Beach is where everyone goes especially during weekends. Its shore isn’t swathed with white sand but it definitely has sparkling blue sea perfect for your beach bumming adventure under the Waray sunshine.
Bolongto River Cruise
If you prefer the serene scene, take a cruise down Bolongto River. This 45-minute trip takes you along the hardly seen side of Calbayog City. It is fringed with mangroves, nipa & a massive marble wall. With all of its pretty stillness, this river makes it a wonderful spot for stand-up paddle boarding.
City Forest & Malopalo Marble Park
Framed by lush emerald forest, the Malopalo Marble Park is a sight to behold. The stark palettes of glistening marble walls against the deep hues of greens & blues make it a real standout especially from afar. If spelunking is your game, this place offers a real good caving experience too.
Isla Pawikan & Biyatungan Island
Just across Malajog Beach are Isla Pawikan & Biyatungan Island currently being explored for snorkeling & diving. Initial underwater surveys showed a luminescent underworld teeming with corals & other exotic marine life.
Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Grotto
Since it came about in 2010, the grotto of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary in Malajog is one of the most visited sights in Calbayog City. This Marian center is a retreat site with a chapel & a simple accommodation for guests.
Named after a local hero, Benedicto Nijaga, this riverside park comes to life at night. As dusk falls, everyone gathers here for streetfood. What one thing beautiful about it is they put order & sanitation facilities ensuring a safe venue to enjoy streetfood-dining experience.
Calbayog City is also known as a waterfall city with lots of cascades to chase. Among the most popular falls are Bangon, Tarangban & Pan-as. Bangon Falls in Brgy. San Joaquin is the most visited because of its accessibility & multi-tiered chutes.
Surely, no one goes hungry in Calbayog City. Being a coastal town, expect an overload of seafood dishes to fill your gastronomic wanderings. But above its famed Waray cuisine, the city is known for having the best tinapa or smoked fish in the country.
Another must-try here too is Humba de Calbayog, a sweet-salty pork stew uniquely prepared with peanuts.
Calbayog City is the center of trade, commerce, education & tourism in Samar Province. It has a small domestic airport servicing daily flights from Manila & Cebu. It also boasts of premium hotels like Ciriaco & Baypark.
For its secret trappings of quaintness, adventure, convenience & gentility, Calbayog City is truly one town I will never grow tired visiting over & over.
For an easy-breezy tour of Calbayog City, contact the City Tourism Office.
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