Connected to the Samar Island mainland in the town of Guiuan by a long concrete bridge, the approach to Calicoan Island is nothing but scenic.
The ebbing of the tides, mangroves, “natural” pools present picturesque views during the day and the tranquility of the clear evening — sometimes pierced by chatting friends and passing vehicles — is perfect for star-gazing.
However, hidden behind the natural beauty of this island is the role it played during the Second World War.
When the Japanese forces were defeated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944, the United States (US) forces constructed military facilities in Guiuan collectively called the Guiuan Airfield and Naval Base.
These facilities are located in the Guiuan mainland and the islands of Manicani, Tubabao and Calicoan.
In Calicoan, the US forces established the Advance Base Construction Depot (ABCD) in the central part of the island.
The ABCD was a naval supply depot covering about 32 hectares with facilities for storing dry provisions, perishable goods, oxygen tanks, cement among other materials plus it served as a spare parts distribution center for the US fleet and the Guiuan military base in general.
Today, only concrete pavements and the flag pole remain from its military past and the years prior to the onslaught of super typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) in 2013, became a popular surfing destination among local and international surfers.
Six years after that devastating storm and the town fully rehabilitated, Guiuan hosted the second leg of the Philippine Surfing Championship Tour (PSCT) which included 60 surfers from all over the country competing in both long board and short board categories.
In the recent surfing event held at the famed ABDC Beach, Guiuan mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan expressed her elation that Guiuan is back on the surfing map.
“Guiuan is known as the surfing capital of the Visayas, and it’s been a while since we had a national surfing competition,” she said.
“There’s immense potential in Guiuan for surfing, and we’re so happy that we’re back!” she added.
Kwan also explained “the place might have changed, but waves and the friendliness of the locals remain the same.”
It was in 2005 that surfing started in the town known for its waves created by the natural features east of Calicoan Island with deep waters, wide reefs, and beach breaks facing the Philippine Sea and then the vast Pacific Ocean.