Sunday, May 29, 2011


One popular resort among the locals found along the western part of Leyte is called the “El Prisco Xyber Resort.” It is found between the new city of Baybay and the town of Albuera in Brgy. Bunga, Baybay City. Although found near the beach, the resort features fresh water swimming pools coming from an abundant spring in the area. I heard that the waters in pools are changed everyday. It has very affordable entrance fees, hence its popularity, classified into two classes. For the Class B which is just right near the entrance and the use of limited number of pools, the entrance fee is ten pesos only and the cottage rental is 100 pesos. For Class A which is in the inner part, the entrance is twenty pesos and the cottages go for 150 pesos. One can use all the swimming pools if you pay the higher fee. There are also a few cottages by the beach for those who would prefer to swim in the sea which is not that enticing as the beach is made up of big round stones with shallow waters that one has to wade further into the sea in order to swim.
Contact number is 0910-3949834. Look for Macai Macariola.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Sammy Matoza just wanted to build a rest house for his family whenever they vacation in the country. Having retired as a nurse in the U.K. he wanted to take life at a slower pace. However, with the passing away of his wife and his two grown up children having their own careers already, the resolve to stay more permanently in his hometown became a brighter option. Upon the prodding of friends, since the lot that he owned was big enough, he was persuaded to open his place to the public to cater to the needs of the people as there are no other resorts in the town yet. He started to build an open air pavilion where groups can gather for meetings or reunions. The pavilion can accommodate about 200 persons. Then he built up a smaller building on the side with four fan rooms with single beds for overnight stay. He also made available two rooms in his house for guests who would like to have a fully air-conditioned room. The rooms have a queen size bed with flat TV with cable and private bath.
The plan is to slowly develop the whole place to become a resort for tourists to enjoy the breathtaking scenery around. More rooms will be constructed to provide accommodations for overnight stay. Trees are now being planted on the sides so that aside from giving shade they can serve also as bird sanctuary. A mini-golf course is also being planned on the area. This indeed is a very welcome development in the quiet town of MacArthur.
At present the place is popularly known as Matoza Beach Resort, but Sammy wants it known by another name. The name Monbon, a Waray term for a delta cropped up. The place is actually not just a delta but more of an island since it is surrounded by water on four sides: the Balocawe river to the south, Seguinon river on the west, Bocog River on north and sea to the east. Hence there is a bridge and the only one for the whole town, that has to be crossed first before reaching the beach. The resort is situated just after crossing the bridge to the right.

The resort has recently been rented out to a mining company, hence the place is no longer available for use to the public. 

The beach in MacArthur, Leyte. The sand is fine and dark brown in color. Unlike in the western part of Leyte where the sea is most of the time calm, here there are always plenty of waves.

The retirement home of Sammy Matoza that has now become a part of the Monbon Resort.

There are a few native cottages beside the beach house.

The resort has a wide sprawling open space.

The veranda is a perfect place to watch the beautiful sunrise.

In the afternoon, it is also nice to laze around watching the serene landscape of the beach.

With tainted glass panels, one still has a commanding view of the beach even when one faces the house.

The chapel where the urn of Sammy's wife is kept.

There is a pingpong table and boxing apparatus for anybody who might want to do some sweating exercise.

The guest room at the main house.

A flat screen television set with cable is available.

The pavilion which is open to the public for meetings and reunions.

After 38 years, our elementary class of 1973 from the MacArthur Central School for the first time held a reunion in this beach resort. Out of 50 identified batchmates, 26 were able to attend. It was a good number already and it was such a joyous occasion for all.

With the owner of the resort, Sammy Matoza.

At the perimeter of the property, four rooms with single beds with fans are at present available for rent. The plan is to expand this building to accommodate more guests.

A peak inside one of the rooms.

At the beach front are some cottages for rent for day picnics.

The bridge crossing the Seguinon river leading to the beach.

A view of the Seguinon river.

Saturday, May 07, 2011


My trip to Surigao to attend the Annual Convention of the Canon Law Society of the Philippines brought me for the first time to take the ferry trip from the port of San Ricardo, S. Leyte which is the southernmost tip of the island of Leyte, specifically the island of Panaon. (Panaon island is connected by a bridge to the mainland Leyte and is composed of four towns: Liloan, San Francisco, Pintuyan and San Ricardo). The older port going to Lipata in Surigao is situated in Liloan which is at the northernmost tip of the island of Panaon and it takes more than four hours ferry boat ride to Surigao. With the opening of the San Ricardo port, the ride has been lessened to just a little more than an hour. However, the San Ricardo port is accessible only to smaller vehicles as one has to pass through very sharp zigzag roads known as the Saddle Pass between the towns of San Francisco and Pintuyan that long trucks can hardly maneuver.

Got the chance also to see the newly opened zipline over the Agas-agas bridge which is the tallest bridge in the country.

Coming back from Surigao, I took the last trip leaving in the evening at eight from Surigao and stayed overnight at the parish of San Francisco, S. Leyte. This gave me the chance to go snorkeling at the much touted Napantao Reef in San Francisco. The last time we were in San Francisco we were in a different beach in Napantao and were not able to go swimming by the reef. This time I took the chance of seeing for myself the house reef at Napantao. There was indeed a good coral growth in this part. They were saying that the cliff wall nearby which drops to forty meters has one of the best diving sites around. That has to come the next time I visit the place.

Some of the corals at the Napantao Fish Sanctuary

The port in San Ricardo. There are four ferry trips daily to Lipata in Surigao leaving at two and six o'clock in the morning and in the afternoon. It takes just a little more than a hour to reach Surigao from San Ricardo. From Lipata in Surigao there are also four trips leaving at four and eight o'clock in the morning and in the afternoon. Fare is 140 pesos per person and the private car is 2,100.

Just newly opened last April is the zipline over the Agas-agas bridge, which is the tallest bridge in the Philippines. The zipline cost 280 pesos per person.

They are now advertising San Francisco as the diving capital of the Visayas.

The Napantao Fish Sanctuary.

Napantao is one of the areas being mapped out by the Coral Cay Conservation, a UK based nonprofit organization with international volunteers whose aim is to help alleviate poverty by providing countries with the information they desperately need to protect and sustainably use their tropical forests and coral reefs. Here, volunteers just got off from a scuba dive expedition while another (top) is on the way to a scuba trip.

The parish church of San Francisco, S. Leyte

The parish priest, Fr. Joy Catubig, is an amateur wood carver and he has plenty of wood carvings inside the church and the convento. Here, he used driftwood to decorate parts of the church.

The confessional box is also a piece of driftwood he discovered within his parish.

The Adoration Chapel is at a separate building at the back of the parish church.

This root of a large madre de cacao tree serves as the tabernacle in the Adoration Chapel.

The top of the root serves as the repository for the sacred hosts.