I learned to appreciate a lot of things because of being informed. I appreciate things if and only if it is possible to have a direct experience with it. When I started to learn appreciating music, it was not enough for me to just listen and watch concerts and see the bands play their stuffs. To satisfy my ‘appreciation’, I needed to learn music by playing and making them by myself using a musical instruments. Same goes with other things, like going to a place and exploring it. Before trying to be in a new place or location, I really try to have bits and pieces of information to really appreciate and ‘understand’ what is going on (well, my point here is for me to have a ‘feel of the place’). As for me, appreciation is more of setting expectations for myself than others trying to set expectations for me. It is like throwing questions to the tour guide than have the tour lead have it all the way. As for now I would like to discuss some facts about Leyte. I would be acting as a virtual ‘tour guide’.
A Bit of a History
Leyte had been actively trading with merchants from neighboring nations particularly with the Chinese until Spanish set foot to Limasawa in 1521. The local chieftains had been amicable in accepting the Portuguese navigator none other than Ferdinand Magellan. Since then the rural place had taken transition from simple rural living to a relatively modern lifestyle. However, some asserted that it was Ruy Lopez de Villabos was the first Spanish conquistador to be in the island in 1543 and coined it Las Islas Felipinas. One of the most significant historical events that took place in the surrounding seas of the island was the ‘Battle of Leyte Gulf’. The event occurred on October 1944. Its historical significance was the reclamation of the Allied forces of the island that spelled a crucial element for the victory of both Americans and Filipinos against the invading Japanese in the Philippines during the Second World War.
Leyte as of Today
The island of Leyte is composed of three (3) cities and forty (40) municipalities. The municipalities had been gathered into six (6) legislative or congressional districts. Tacloban City, the island’s main city had been declared highly-urbanized city way back 2008. However, the city of Ormoc is an independent component city. These two (2) cities have independent administration from the island itself meaning residents of these cities do not participate in electing provincial officials. The other city (technically speaking) is Baybay City.
The main commerce or business in Leyte is mainly depends on agriculture. Planting rice is the main thing especially in the lower flatter areas like in Tacloban. Another economic drive for the island is coconut farming and making coconut oil has been an income generating trade for the island as well. Fishing is another main source of income among locals. Having the largest geothermal plant in Asia, Leyte has become one of the Philippines’ resource-rich provinces
Experiencing it Live
The Festival of Festivals which is the ‘Kasadya-an’ showcases the uniqueness and colorful history of Leyte. The word ‘Kasadya-an’ itself means gaiety, merrymaking or fun. The festivity is defined by lively, lovely and colorful parade that everybody would enjoy to see! The natives, in honoring the miraculous Señor Sto.Niño de Leyte, have their bodies painted (as Pintados). This has been a practice since the early times of the locals’ conversion to Christianity. This festivity has become one of the landmark occasions in Leyte. It only happens annually on the month end of June.
Leyte Island’s significance can never be completed without understanding or being aware of its history. I honestly had some goose bumps before getting to the island as I read the complete account of the battle of Leyte. I even pushed a simple tour around some safe locations in the Leyte Gulf just to fully understand and at least be one with those who had fought and offered their lives for the sake of freedom and this island. As for me, experiencing is ‘experiencing as’.