#SharePH: 4 amazing places to see in Laoang, Northern Samar
NORTHERN SAMAR, Philipines – When my supervisor told me that we will be conducting a disaster communication workshop in Laoang, Northern Samar, I only had one question in mind: "Where is that?"
A 2nd class municipality in Northern Samar province, Laoang is not your typical travel destination. You wouldn't go out of your way just to visit this group of islands facing the Pacific Ocean.
After we conducted our workshop, we went around the islands with some locals to see what the town has to offer. We weren't disappointed. We realized how easy it is to fall in love with Laoang – as these Ateneo doctors did – because of the simple way of life and the breathtaking places you can see that are only a motorbike or a boat ride a way.
Here are 4 amazing places you can visit in Laoang:
1) Onay Beach
"When Super Typhoon Yolanda was battering the Philippines," recalled Leo Serrona, Municipal Development chief of Laoang, "this place was really calm. In fact, some children were playing here."
Onay Beach is a long stretch of golden coast that is Laoang's foremost beach attraction. The cove is a perfect spot to while away and relax. While "onay" means suicide in the local language, the beach really is safe according to locals.
The best thing about Onay Beach? It's free! There are no resorts and fees to be paid because the locals wanted to maintain the natural beauty of the area. Hence, they didn't allow resorts to develop the beach. So you can just go and walk around as long as you want.
It's easy to get here, too! Just take a tricycle from the town proper and asked to be dropped off in Onay Beach. It should cost around P10 per person.
What we did here was to see the sunset while enjoying some grilled fresh fish. What a way to cap off a long day!
2) Batag Lighthouse
This is one historic building that the town is really proud about. The Batag Island Lighthouse was built during the American period, in 1906, to serve as a guide to ships coming from the Pacific. It stands 100 feet high and can be seen as you approach the island of Batag.
Sadly, the century-old structure is dilapidated. There's also a lot of vandalism in the structures. I didn't climb up the steps – and I don't suggest doing so – because the material holding the stairs together don't look safe.
The locals we talked to said the tourism office is looking for funds to maintain the lighthouse. I really hope they are able to restore and improve the historic site.
Getting there is tricky. You have to take a boat to Batag Island from Laoang Island, and from there, rent a motorbike up the muddy terrain. The view is totally worth it though. Besides, how often can you see a century-old lighthouse?
3) Saint Michael Archanghel Parish
Laoang is a "hardcore" Catholic town, as described by the officials, and this church is one of the reasons why. The evangelization of the island started as early as October 1596, according to historical accounts. This church, through the centuries, has been at the heart of spirituality in the town.
"Other religions find it hard to establish local chapters here, because Catholicism has really been engrained in the locals," Serrona said candidly.
Saint Michael Archangel is right in the town center, beside the municipal health office and town hall. We didn't enter the church because we didn't have time, but make sure you do when you visit!
4) Baitan Beach
Located in the same island as the lighthouse, Baitan beach is another hidden jewel in Barangay Cabadiangan. The beach has a lot of interesting stone formations and the rocky coast run for a few hundred meters.
There's a small cave nearby as well as hidden sand coves perfect for swimming. It's best to visit this beach during low tide because the sea floor is rocky.
The best thing about this beach is that it's fairly hidden. When we went there on a Friday morning, there weren't any other tourists in the area. There were only a few locals catching sea cucumbers.
Baitan can be reached by a short motorcycle ride from the dock of the barangay. Riders ask for P50 for a one-way ride. Like Onay, there aren't any fees in Baitan.
Getting to Laoang
Convinced that you should go to Laoang? Getting there is fairly easy.
You can fly in from Manila to Catarman. From Catarman, you can take a van to Laoang port. The land trip takes only around 1 hour because the roads leading there are already well-paved.
Laoang is divided into 3 parts – the lowlands which are part of Samar island, Laoang island, where the town proper is, and Batag Island. You have to take a 5-minute boat ride to cross to the town proper from the lowlands.
After our day trip around Laoang's hidden gems, I'm sure I'll be back again in this Northern Samar town. – Rappler.com
For more information on traveling to Laoang, inquire at the Laoang Tourism Office.
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