Tacloban City

Though it hosts a number of festivals, Tacloban’s biggest are the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival and the Sangyaw Festival, both in June. These vibrant affairs celebrate the city’s cultural and religious traditions and showcase local talent, creativity and fun. The line-up of activities includes parades, street dancing and contests.

Food-tripping is also a growing leisure activity here, given the number of restaurants and mouth-watering fare begging to be sampled. Guiseppe’s serves traditional Italian cuisine such as homemade pasta and crispy, thin-crust pizzas.

Ocho Seafood & Grill is arguably the city’s best seafood restaurant, where you can have everything from tuna belly to crab cooked to your liking. Their baked mussels, adobo oysters and fried fish skin go great with ice-cold local beer.

Between bites, go for a sampling of Tacloban’s other attractions.

Tee off at the San Juanico Park Golf and Country Club. It’s an 18-hole golf course with a beautiful clubhouse, an impressive swimming pool, hotel, and other amenities.

On its outskirts lies the winding San Juanico Bridge, the longest bridge in the Philippines, snaking over two kilometers to connect the islands of Leyte and Samar.

The ostentatious Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum, built by former First Lady Imelda Marcos, has more than a dozen rooms full of treasures such as European chandeliers, Chinese ivory carvings and classical Filipino paintings.

Nestled in a park, the Madonna of Japan is a post-World War II token friendship from Japan that depicts an unusual Buddhist-syle Virgin Mary.

The stately Leyte Provincial Capital Building, built in 1924, boasts a striking neoclassical design. And though not quite as well-kept, Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s former headquarters and residence, the Price Mansion, still remains in the city.