Cuatros Islas, the Undiscovered Gems of Hindang, Leyte

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In a rural town called Hindang Leyte just an hour away from Ormoc City, you can find the sublime Cuatros Islas which mean the “Four Islands.” Yet to be discovered by travel corporations, the islands are relatively unheard of in the Philippine tourism sphere. The Cuatros Islas can be found in Hindang and Inopocan town Leyte. The nearest airport to these towns is  Ormoc International Airport roughly 79 kilometers away.

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I had the opportunity to visit the town of Hindang on a trip to Leyte a few years ago. Hindang is the hometown of my best friend’s mother who was visiting from abroad and they invited me over. Hindang, Leyte is a perfect example of small town Philippines.  Several homes were still made of bamboo stilts and thatch roofs (the traditional Nipa Hut), anywhere you go there was always a crowing rooster in the background, town folks knew each other by first name and because my friends and I were from Manila, we were treated like celebrities wherever we went.

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A terminal for sidecars also known as “Padyak” in Hindang, Leyte. (Photo Courtesy of Phyllis Abrasaldo)

Fishing is the typical livelihood of the men. Every morning, as early as 4:00 AM, they have already cast their nets out in the open sea.  By 9:00 AM they’d be back at shore inspecting the day’s catch and discussing among themselves whether it was a good or a bad day. They ride on small narrow boats called (bangkas) and their equipment is crude. None of the fancy fishing technology and equipment you’d see on tv.

On the morning of our visit to the islands I watched how the fishermen worked together in an almost mechanical and synchronized manner to collect the fish and retrieve their nets. When the men were done, the women would sort the fish and afterwards carry them off to sell at the market. Shortly after watching these scenes take place, we were able to employ the services of two fishermen to take us to Cuatros Islas.

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Fishermen hauling the nets on the shores of Hindang.
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An early morning scene at the shore of Hindang, Leyte.

Hindang, Leyte has a long way to go before it can be called a tourist hot spot. But, with the existence of the Cuatros Islas, there is promise. So on that day we rode on a non-traditional tourist boat and braved the oceans “mangingisda style.” This entailed balancing ourselves on a flat, narrow piece of wood laid on top of the bangka while getting bleached under the sharp mid-day sun on our roofless ocean vessel.

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Braving the ocean fishermen style.

Each island of Cuatros Islas is visible from the shores of Hindang, they may look close from the shore but they actually are quite distant. The boat trip took longer than I expected and we weren’t too slow. All four islands we visited were so untouched and isolated. The two islands within the coast of Hindang Town are Himokilan and Digyo. While the other two, Apid and Mahaba Island are within the coast of Inopacan Town.

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Digyo Island

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As we explored the deserted beaches, my thoughts lingered on the possibility of being a cast away on one of these seldom frequented islands so quiet and far off. I wondered – What would you eat? Would it be easy to catch fish? What about fresh drinking water? Could you possibly swim the distance between these islands and the shores of Hindang before a shark gets to you? Probably not.

We wandered around Cuatros Islas for a whole day marveling at the beauty of these undiscovered gems. My hope is that in the coming years tourism would pick-up pace, which would result in boosting the livelihood of the communities in these area.  Especially after the Yolanda tragedy which has economically crippled the province of Leyte.

PHOTO SLIDESHOW OF CUATROS ISLAS

“A TRIBUTE TO LEYTE”

On November 08, 2013, the province of Leyte was hard-hit by one of the strongest typhoons in Philippine history, Typhoon Yolanda also known as Typhoon Haiyan. Around 6,000 thousand people have lost their lives and thousands more have been displaced. Many Leyte residents are still struggling to rebuild their lives as their towns and villages were completely wiped-out by powerful waves during the peak of the storm. Below are links to philanthropic organizations that continue the work of helping these communities start over. Please follow the links for more information on how to help and donate. Thank you.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cross Societies.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Habitat for Humanity Rebuild Philippines Project

UNICEF Philippines Typhoon Haiyan Project

World Vision Philippines

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Testing the waters at Himokilan Island
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Iza Sanchez

Iza Sanchez is a freelance ESL Teacher, adventurer and moderator of Take The Travel. She writes about solo-backpacking, travel saving tips and other awesome travel resources.

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