TACLOBAN CITY is the capital city of Leyte. The famous longest bridge in Asia, San Juanico Bridge is found here and is over two km long which adjoins the islands of Leyte and Samar across the San Juanico Strait. The bridge was a project of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
Tacloban was formerly known as Kankabatok derived from the first Kabatok settlers. Later on other settlers migrated here such as Gumoda, Haranging and Huraw natives; however, the settlement area is still called Kankabatok. In 1770, Augustinian missionaries discovered the place and later on made the settlement a municipality after Samar and Leyte provinces were separated in 1768. Since then Tacloban became a trading point between the two provinces. In 1813, the Franciscan missionaries came and soon thereafter Kankabatok was changed to ‘Tarakluban’ which means the place where the inhabitants used the ‘Taklub’ meaning to cover or a basket-like contraption for catching fish. Eventually the name of the municipality changed to Tacloban.
In the 18th century, trade and commerce in the municipality emerged further. Then on February 26, 1830, Tacloban became the capital of Leyte because of the ideal location of its port. In 1901, Colonel Murray arrived and became the first Military Governor of Leyte. With his governance he opened the Tacloban port to world commerce, especially for copra and abaca, which were exported in large quantities. Then on May 25, 1942, Japanese Forces occupied the municipality improving the airfield and established San Pedro Bay as a port of call and entry for the Japanese Imperial Naval Forces. It was only on October 20, 1944 when General Douglas MacArthur and US Forces landed on the Tacloban-Palo beaches and liberated Leyte from the Japanese Forces. A few days later, President Sergio Osmeña together with General MacArthur made Tacloban the temporary seat and temporary capital of the Commonwealth Government until final liberation of the country.
In June 12, 1953, Tacloban finally became a chartered city by virtue of Republic Act No. 760 signed by then President Elpidio Quirino. The following year, the late Speaker of the House of Representatives Jose B. Laurel did the honor of laying the cornerstone for the Tacloban City Hall at Kanhuraw Hill. The new city further attracted more investors and more people from neighboring towns began migrating in the city as well. Then in mid portion of the 90's, Tacloban City worked out for the acquisition of 237 hectares for its Economic Zone and was approved by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority on April 23, 1998. The city is also known for being the hometown of the former Philippine First Lady. The Romualdez family still commands a large political following in the area.
Now, the city has grown to be the premier city of Eastern Visayas, gateway of the region and the center of trade and industry, culture, education, communication and tourism.
The total land area of Tacloban is 10,856.08 hectares due to the expansion program of the Philippine Ports Authority. According to the DENR records, originally the official land area of the city is only 10,090 hectares.
The current population of Tacloban is 178,639 in 34,758 households. The main language used is ‘Waray-Waray’, but most residents use Tagalog and English as well as their medium of instruction and business communication. Cebuano is also spoken in northwest and southern parts of Leyte.
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
Tacloban has the lowest poverty incidence in the country and is the richest local government unit in Eastern Visayas. The city also has a plan of expanding its Romualdez Airport into an international standard facility underway. The city’s most exported local product is Copra. Other agri-based products are rice, maize, sugar cane and abaca.
One of the major advantages of the city is its Tongonan Geothermal Power Plant which produces power relatively unaffected by global oil prices, and water resources are also abundant. Aside from this Tacloban is also the home of the largest fertilizer factory in Asia, the Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Plant; and the biggest copper processing plant, the Philippine Associated Smelter and Refining Company.
The city temperature ranges from 25 °C to 28.8 °C. The driest month usually occurs in April, and wet season during the rest of the year. Heavy rainfall usually occurs during July to December.
ARTS & CULTURE
Tacloban City also celebrates various festivals and feasts, some of these are:
Balyu-An Rites – This is celebrated annually on June 29 re-enacting the exchange of the images of Señor Santo Niño between the barrios of Buscada and Kankabatok in Basey.
Pamalandong – This showcases the “penitents”, a penitential fraternity of barefooted and hooded members; “Karad Boys”, a group of kids who goes around the town announcing the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services through scrapping sounds by a hand device called “karad”; and the dramatic recollection of Christ’s passion on the cross every Holy Week.
Pintados Festival – This festival showcases interpretative dances with movements depicting folk practices and beliefs by tattooed dancers. The custom of tattooing earned the Leyteños the name of Pintanos. Tattooes began from ankle to groin and chest. It is celebrated every June 29.
Santacruzan – This is celebrated every month of May all over the country in various procession settings.
St. Niño De Leyte Fiesta – The fiesta is celebrated every June 30 in honor of the patron saint Señor Sto. Niño. It was believed that in the 18th century, an epidemic in the town started when the image of the patron saint was sent to Manila for restoration but upon Señor Sto. Niño’s return to the city, the epidemic was miraculously healed.
Subiran Regatta – This is a race of sailboats locally called “subiran” and is celebrated annually on June 28.
Various handicrafts such as the popular item “sip-hid” or soft broom because of its sturdiness and it lasts longer; marine products such as dried fish, squid and preserved shellfish meat; mat or “banig” made out of weed and weaved into various styles and designs.
The city offers a wide array of dishes and cuisines from local to international specialties.
LIST OF “BARANGAYS” (or communities)
Tacloban City has 138 barangays or communities:
Nula-tula (Bgys. 3 & 3A)
Libertad (Barangays 1 & 4)
Barangay 100 (San Roque)
Barangay 101 (New Kawayan)
Barangay 102 (Old Kawayan)
Barangay 103 (Palanog)
Barangay 103-A (San Paglaum)
Barangay 104 (Salvacion)
Barangay 105 (Suhi)
Barangay 106 (Santo Niño)
Barangay 107 (Santa Elena)
Barangay 108 (Tagapuro)
Barangay 36-A (Imelda Village)
El Reposo (Barangays 55 & 55
Barangay 78 (Marasbaras)
Barangay 79 (Marasbaras)
Barangay 80 (Marasbaras)
Barangay 81 (Marasbaras)
Barangay 82 (Marasbaras)
Barangay 83 (San Jose)
Barangay 83-A (San Jose)
Barangay 84 (San Jose)
Barangay 85 (San Jose)
Barangay 88 (San Jose)
Barangay 90 (San Jose)
Barangay 91 (Abucay)
Barangay 92 (Apitong)
Barangay 93 (Bagacay)
Barangay 94 (Tigbao)
Barangay 95 (Caibaan)
Barangay 96 (Calanipawan)
Barangay 97 (Cabalawan)
Barangay 98 (Camansinay)
Barangay 99 (Diit)
Barangay 109 (V & G Subd.)
Barangay 110 (Utap)
Barangay 83-C (San Jose)
Barangay 95-A (Caibaan)
This is situated in the Balyuan Park which has an amphitheater and is often used as a show or sporting events venue.
This is where many people died during the World War II battle.
LA PURISIMA SHRINE
The shrine is placed at the foot of an old bridge. The Mama Mary image dates back to pre-Spanish time.
MACARTHUR PARK BEACH RESORT
Visitors can see the enlarged authentic photos of General MaCarthur during his arrival in Leyte and be captivated with the scenic view of the Leyte Gulf.
MARIA KANNON GARDEN
Tourists can find the Asian Madonna statue here which was donated by the Japanese people as a symbol of peace.
PALO METROPOLITAN CATHEDRAL
The cathedral was once used as an evacuation hospital by the US Armed Forces and later on became a chapel in 1596.
PHILIPPINE-JAPANESE PEACE COMMEMORATIVE MONUMENT AND PAR
This park overlooks the Cancabato Bay and was built in honor of the soldiers and other military personnel who died during World War II.
This mansion was used as the headquarters of Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the Philippine Liberation in World War II.
SAN JUANICO BRIDGE
The bridge is 2.16 kilometers long and it links the Island provinces of Leyte and Samar.
STO. NIÑO SHRINE AND HERITAGE MUSEUM
The museum houses antique collections, furnitures, porcelains and ivory.
THE LEYTE PARK RESORT
Tourists can enjoy swimming here and a perfect view of the Samar Island and Kankabatok Bay.
Philippine Airlines, Air Philippines, and Cebu Pacific Air serve Tacloban with daily 1-hour flights from Manila and half-an-hour flight from Cebu.
Several bus companies ply between the city and Manila. Travel time is 22 hours. Tacloban is also connected to Davao via a 16-hour land trip. Buses, jeepneys and tricycles are readily available to ferry the tourists to the various attractions in and around Leyte.
Tacloban and Manila route is serviced by WG&A Super Ferry and Sulpicio Lines. The Cebu-Tacloban sea route is serviced by K&T Shipping Lines. Travelers also has the option to pass through Ormoc City via a 2-hour Super Cat or Water Jet cruise from Cebu and then take another 2-hour trip to Tacloban via Ormoc.