Tacloban was the place where I spent my first childhood days. I was born in the city, though. Yet three young years is not enough to fully collect the moments in my hometown. My family decided to move out for a purpose l totally understand about. I said to myself, “l’m going back to Tacloban when I grow up.” But it took longer and I forgot everything–my friends, the places l visited, my dear birthplace.
After so many years, I had the courage to be a solo traveler. It gave me a sense of discipline, maturity, and independence. I knew Tacloban was finally within my reach. And now, I’m literally here. Not for long, but I will stay strong.
Tacloban is still full of charms. It’s not the same with the big cities like Manila and Cebu. It’s really different. The vibe of my fellow Waraynons amplify the peaceful language from their speech, and the environment retains nature at its fullest. There are many people now and the landscapes have changed. It felt like l was a complete alien to this place.
And one of the things I was totally foreign about is going out at night…
Personally, I don’t go out that much. However,work or school and special occasions are exceptions. Still, I kept thinking. It was like my hometown, my birthplace is calling out to me. I knew l had to do this. I’m about to chase city nights now.
The city changes its mode from day to night. Daytime in Tacloban is busy. People are going to work; some for school while others like tourists go for galas. But the magic starts at the dusk of sunset.
Students start coming out of schools, employees check out from their offices, and vendors are lining up the streets. We Filipinos love street foods. It just happens that these streets are pretty accessible for everybody. They even turn into a full-fledged Night Market as time goes older. One of the streets is the popular and busy Justice Romualdez where shopping malls, two city plazas, and the City Hall occupy it. Truth be told, it was quite exciting walking down the path. I even found foods that I can’t find in Biliran even in Baguio City’s Night Market.
I also recalled a place called Family Park which in my amazement, is still present today. It was my favorite location for bonding and picnics with family and friends. The park is just a part of the curving Magsaysay Boulevard. I find the road quite satisfying. I mean like the beach nearby, a public amusement ground and the steep hill where the City Hall resides. Everything is refreshing. Also, people love visiting these sites and so do I. There are times when a mob of dancers come over and do some practice, while sometimes lovebirds and night strollers.
And the highlight goes to Downtown Tacloban. It’s the center, the main go-to and acts as a bridge to the lively streets of Burgos, Gomez, Zamora and Avenida Veteranos. Such place brings back many memories. The wet market, port, and metropolitan area balances the overall city vibe. Trekking the streets can be daunting but the reward is worthwhile. Still…
Tacloban can be pretty small for others but promise me, no one can travel the whole city in one night. I like how the city manages to distribute everything equally. I am fond of the restaurants and food stores in every corner and street. At once, I also thought Downtown would congest everything to it. But no, Tacloban shines bright on a unique aspect.
Real Street connects three more roads ahead: one to San Jose, another to Marasbaras and the last to Calanipawan. The atmosphere within these places is phenomenal. I even thought I am still in Downtown. I visited all of them and truth be told, I regretted leaving at all.
Each of them has its own features. San Jose is a gateway to Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport and the most beautiful spot to witness the city sunset and Pacific Ocean in awe. Marasbaras, on the other hand, houses Robinsons Place and serves as connection between Palo and the city, while Calanipawan is like a town itself possessing a flea market, a shopping mall, a huge subdivision and one of Tacloban’s large Catholic churches.
At first, I don’t feel afraid of walking in the streets. Maybe the trust I have and the way people are kind and gentle. The Waray culture embraces other people to the point that even I speak Bisaya and has adapted to Bisdak culture, the Waray in me still prevails.
I will be leaving but not from Tacloban. Yolanda had been such a huge disaster to the city and people. But resiliency paves way for everyone to rise up. So stroll the nights of Tacloban, and you’ll be chasing its lights. Not just because of entertainment and personal pleasure, but the aura of each Taclobanon that lingers to me, for you, and the next traveler in the Pearl of Eastern Visayas.