INOPACAN, LEYTE – At least 200 tourists from France and Australia have experienced the island life on Himokilan Island in Hindang, Leyte and en-joyed the powdery white sand beach on Mahaba Is-land here, during the visit of a luxury French cruise ship recently.
The tourists from L’austral Cruise Ship which came from Australia for a two-week cruise were entertained by festive dances from the school children and Sam-leyaw Dance Company, as local delicacies such as suman, biko and empanada paired with fresh tanglad and buko juice quenched their hunger and thirst in their first stop at Himokilan Island.
They were led by the local guides to five stations where they witnessed how banig products are made from harvesting Romblon, the plant used for mat weaving to making wine bags, accessories, purse and table mats.
The tourists were also eager to try the locals’ other source of livelihood such as tuba gathering, fishing, boat making and fishnet weaving.
They were able to experience how the local coconut wine was made and have tasted it them-selves; while others opted to pair them with freshly grilled fish and soda like what the locals do after a long day’s work.
Souvenirs were also made available for them to purchase, as they were able to change their currencies to Philippine Peso in a foreign exchange booth.
In Mahaba Island, the island vibes were completed by Kuhahig’s (local ethnic band) music from instruments made of indigenous materials.
The tourists had ample time to relax and get a nice tan under the sun, or in shades under the Talisay trees while reading a book or taking a nap. Some went for a swim on the beach and snorkeled.
Others who simply could not get enough of the gastronomic experience binged on tropical fruits and native delicacies here.
Justin Friend, the consultant of the cruise company shared that Cuatro Islas is their first entry point in the Philippines, then they will be heading to Romblon, Palawan and Manila before they go home.
“This expedition cruise wants our clients to experience the true Philippines. Most people only see Manila, Boracay and Puerto Princesa. They could be anywhere in the world. This one is a true genuine experience for them,” he said when asked why they chose Cuatro Islas in Leyte as one of their destinations for the cruise.
He happily announced that it will not their first and last visit since they will be back on June 20 of this year.
Rina Apostol, Department of Tourism’s accreditation officer and TDA Manager for Leyte, Biliran and Southern Leyte shared that they have only received positive feedbacks from the crew, tourists and handler, which is a good point for cruise tourism in Eastern Visayas.
She added that for this year alone, four more cruise ships will visit Limasawa Island in Southern Leyte, Capul Island in Northern Samar and Cuatro Islas in Leyte.