The province of Eastern Samar was created by Republic Act no. 4221 which was approved by Congress on June 19, 1965 dividing the whole island of Samar into three independent provinces namely; Northern Samar, Western Samar (subsequently renamed Samar) and Eastern Samar. As embodied in this Act, the eastern province is composed of 23 municipalites with Borongan as the capital.
In the 1967 general elections, the newly independent province elected its first set of officials. The provincial board has its inaugural session on January 2, 1968 at the Borongan Town Hall. But it was not until September 7 of the same year when the new province was inaugurated in a simple but impressive ceremony at Borongan town plaza.
Before it existence as an independent province, places which now form part of Eastern Samar played important roles in the history of our country.
On March 16, 1521, Magellan first set foot on Philippine soil on the island of Homonhon on his way to rediscover the Philippines for the western world.
An American garrison of occupation troops was annihilated by the townspeople of Balangiga on September 28, 1901. Now known in history as the “Balangiga Massacre”, this incident triggered a wave of reprisal against the people of the whole island of Samar.
On October 17, 1944, rangers of the U.S. Army landed on the tiny island of Suluan, Guiuan and had their first encounter on territory three days before Gen. Douglas Macarthur landed on the beaches of Leyte.
Earliest known chronicles reveal that further contact with Western civilization aside from the Magellan landing occurred as early as 1596 when Jesuit missionaries worked their way from the western coast of the island of Samar and established mission centers and established mission centers in what is now as Eastern Sam territory. It is most probable that the populated existing settlement were created pueblos shortly after this time. The eastern part of the island was known as Ibabao and distinct from Samar which was the name of the western part. Magellan called the place where he landed at Homonhon Island “The Watering Place of Good Signs”.
Eastern Samar is bounded on the east by the Philippine Sea, which forms part of a greater body of water, the Pacific Ocean. To the north lies Northern Samar; to the west, the province of Samar; and to the south, the Leyte Gulf. Eastern Samar has 23 municipalities. Borongan, the provincial capital, lies some 550-air kilometers southeast of Manila and roughly 65-air kilometers northwest of Tacloban City, the capital of Eastern Visayas. AREA Eastern Samar has a total land area of 4,339.60 square kilometers. It measures approximately 150 kms. From northern boundaries of Jipapad where it abuts Northern Samar to the tip of Sungi point in Guiuan, the southernmost point of it lands body. It is approximately 40 kms. at its widest point. Borongan, the capital, is the largest municipality in terms of area. The largest island is Homonhon in Guiuan with approximate land area of 105 sq. kms.
Much of the province of Eastern Samar lies along the Pacific coastline from North to South and to the West, the rolling hills and low mountains of Samar Province. Homonhon Island off the coast of Guiuan at the southern-most tip of the Island was the FIRST Island visited by the Magellan expedition in 1521 where they replenished supplies of water and food before proceeding to the neighboring Limasawa Island south of Leyte Island. To this day, a marker stands as a reminder of the event in Philippine History. The province has preserved much of its natural resources and the heritage of its place. It makes Eastern Samar a very interesting place to visit – from its islands to its grounds.
The 1999 edition of the Elf Authentic Adventure opened the natural wonders of the Province of the world – from its hinterlands, vast rivers, and to its outlaying islands – offering high adventure activities that thrilled the 66 teams coming from all over Europe, the Americas, Australia and Asia. With the capital town of Borongan as jump-off point, one can go north to explore the Can-avid Watershed area, the natural habitat of the elusive PHILIPPINE EAGLE. The towns along the coast have their own specialty resorts where one can take much needed rest and nourishment. If one opts to go south, the trip will take you towns where surfing resorts abound. Worthy of note is Calicoan Island in Guiuan, the surfing capital of the whole Visayas. An added fringe benefit is for one to experience the way of life of the people known for their zest for life and sumptuous cuisine coming from the bounty of the sea.
- Going there
A trip to Eastern Samar usually will start in Borongan, the provincial capital of the province.
Bus from Manila:
Various bus companies like Philtranco and Eagle Star provide both air-conditioned and ordinary buses from Manila, using the Philippine National Highway, directly to Borongan, Oras and Guiuan. The P 1150+ bus fare (ordinary, aircon P 1400+) includes the ticket for the ferry from Luzon to Samar.The trip takes over 24 hours, depending on the transfer time at the ferry.
Bus from Leyte:
From the new Tacloban Bus Terminal there are large buses departing every one or two hours to Borongan (P 150) . The trip takes about 5+ hours with some buses continuing to Guiuan. Even though these bigger buses take longer going via Buray/Wright in Western Samar they are the best choice if you are traveling with a lot of luggage. There are also air-conditioned mini buses which stop along the way dropping off passengers where they want departing in the morning about 4:30 a.m. up until afternoon.
The mini buses (P 180) are faster using the road along Samar’s southern coast via Lawaan taking only 3+ hours. You will not find these mini buses at the main bus terminal in Tacloban but at various different places like gasoline stations so be sure to ask some local people where you can catch them. Duptours has ther own small terminal.
From the new terminal in Tacloban there are also medium sized ordinary buses going to Guiuan via Lawaan.
On September 1, 2008 Seair started to fly the route Manila – Borongan – Manila but for economical reason the airline stopped serving the route. It’s unclear if the service will continue one day.
The best alternative are the flights with either Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific from Manila to Tacloban. From there continue by bus as explained above. Currently Philippine Airlines has 3 flights daily, Cebu Pacific flies four times a day.
Travelling by sea to Eastern Samar is via Cebu City. Superferry is serving the route Manila – Cebu City. From Cebu City you can can take either Cebu Ferries or the Supercat to Ormoc, from there on to Tacloban and Borongan.