Tacloban City is the largest city and regional center of the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines. It is also the capital city of Leyte. It is the center of commerce, tourism, education, culture, and government in the region. Tacloban is located on Cancabato Bay, in the San Juanico Strait which divides the islands of Leyte and Samar.
The longest bridge in the Philippines connects Tacloban to the third largest island of the Philippines, Samar. The 2.1 kilometer bridge is one of the major tourist spots in the city. Other attractions include the Palo Cathedral, Imelda Marcos’s Versailles-inspired palatial mansion, the MacArthur National Park, World War II sites and memorials, and several black sand beaches around the city and nearby localities.
The Sto. Niño Church houses a miraculous image of the Child Jesus that reportedly saved the city in the 19th century from a diarrhea epidemic. A religious festival, called “Pintados” (meaning painted all over) and celebrated every June 30, commemorates the said event. A day before the festival is held, a ceremony is conducted wherein the image housed in the church is exchanged with that of the image of the Child Jesus belonging to the coastal municipality of Basey, Samar in a fluvial procession. The ceremony is called the “Balyuan” (Waray word meaning “exchange”). The image that belongs to the city is returned to the church after the ceremony. The faithful who cannot join the fluvial procession watch the proceedings from a tower located near the church.