Out of Cebu: Discovering Ormoc and My Love for Piña

Last month, I got invited to cover a very special event in the city of Ormoc. As part of the city’s move to promote its exciting new project, the local government flew in members of the media from various parts of the country. Most well-known local publications and news agencies were asked to send in representatives to cover the said event. And although I am not in any way connected with any news agency, I received an invite from the amazing team that also invited me to other amazing events and destinations. So, yay!

Before the trip was finalized, I thought that we would all be going to Ormoc City on a ship. (Because, you know, that’s how people from Cebu normally travel to Leyte.) But I later learned that Cebu Pacific now regularly flies directly to Ormoc City. How conveniently cool!

So we arrived in Ormoc City on the 24th of July. The major event was happening the following day and we had one whole day to have a quick tour of the city’s most important historical and cultural landmarks.

Our very first stop was a food place. Of course. It was called Jo’s Chicken Inato – Milagrina, and I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with this name. Jo’s Chicken Inato Milagrina is one of Ormoc City’s most-visited and most well-loved dining destinations. If you find yourself one day roaming the streets of Ormoc, don’t forget to check out Jo’s! You will not regret.

As expected, the chicken that they served was glorious. It was tender, juicy, and very flavorful.

Here is the whole team smiling for the camera (because we are all extremely full.)

After our amazing breakfast, it was time to visit Ormoc City’s famous pineapple farms. For those who aren’t too familiar, Ormoc has vast fields that grow some of the sweetest pineapples in the region.

And of course, the visit would never be complete without a taste of Ormoc’s very sweet pineapple. I’m not a big pineapple eater. In fact, I usually stay away from pineapples. But believe it or not, I think I finished one whole pineapple during our visit there. Their pineapples are just so sweet and juicy!

The pineapple fields of Ormoc (click photo for bigger size.)

I had to pose. Haha.

Next, we stopped at the viewing deck of the EDC Geothermal Plant in Tongonan. The plant was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. The photo doesn’t look so appealing. But when you see all the smoke coming from the ground, in person, you will be mesmerized.

Our fourth stop was the Danao Lake. The Danao Lake is one of the city’s most famous natural attractions. Each year, thousands travel to Ormoc to experience the beauty of this guitar-shaped lake.

Colorful boats docked on the beach of Lake Danao

At the main entrance, you will see a small market selling different farm produce and souvenirs.

Hand-made bracelets sold at the main entrance

Our next stop was the Philippine-Japan Peace Memorial Park in Ormoc City’s Carlota Hills. Each year, thousands of Japanese visit this marker to honor their beloved countrymen who died during the second world war.

Then, we were off to another important marker. Now, this one is a bit different as I have vivid memories of this disaster. In 1991, a devastating flashflood ravaged the city of Ormoc and killed at least six thousand people. I remember watching on the news how greatly affected Ormoc was and how the city suffered afterwards. Today, the marker serves as a symbol of Ormoc’s resilience and unity in times of difficulties.

After our tour, it was time to go back to the city proper. We visited several important structures in the city. Our last stop was one of the city’s most important cultural points – the Ormoc City Plaza.

That evening, for dinner, the group returned to the plaza. The plaza had transformed into a really fun and exciting food bazaar. It’s pretty clear that the Ormocanons loved this nighty event.

The next day, it was finally time for the first every Pina Festival. Before heading to the start of the parade, we first visited the Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church.

The church’s exteriors looked lovely. The interiors, however, looked fantastic.

After the quick church visit, we were off to one of Ormoc’s most beloved restaurants — Big Roy’s Resto.

There, we met the main man himself Mr. Roy Pangilinan and his lovely wife.

After our truly filling lunch, we were on our way to the Piña Festival. How exciting!

Although this is the festival’s first year, they organizers and the city of Ormoc managed to create something truly spectacular! Congratulations, Ormoc!

Ormoc’s movers and shakers – Vice Mayor Toto Locsin, Mayor Richard Gomez, and Congresswoman Lucy Torres – Gomez.

Piña Festival contingents performing their ritual presentation in front of the plaza stage.

The Mayor and Congresswoman of Ormoc with their only daughter Juliana.

After a full day of dancing and street parties, it was time to visit IKEA, one of Ormoc’s favorite snack shops. Their palabok was to die for! Satchmo totally loved it!

The next day, since we still had enough time before our flight back to Cebu, we traveled all the way to the town of Palompon. There, we got on a boat which took us to Leyte’s top tourist destination – Kalanggaman Island.

The unexpected trip to the island made everyone happy. I’m pretty sure even Satchmo was ecstatic.

Check out my shots of the mesmerizing Kalanggaman Island.

Thank you Ormoc City for having us. It was a truly memorable experience. Congratulations on the successful staging of the first ever Piña Festival. Will definitely go back one day!

And, of course, to Cebu Pacific for taking all of us safely to and from Ormoc. 🙂