Our Hometown of Lawaan, Eastern Samar — Where, exactly, is it?

I’ve been getting questions from Americans who are following Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) and its aftermath, both in the regular news and here, and are interested in and curious about Rena’s hometown of Lawaan (thus “our” hometown), but confused by references to both Lawaan and Guinob-an as her home town — plus other references to places like Bolusao, Betaog, and Maslog in connection with Lawaan.  I can’t imagine why this would be at all confusing…….just kidding.  So, herewith: “Lawaan 101” for interested non-Filipinos. (And the “comments” section is there for any corrections that might be necessary from Pinoy brethren if I botch any of this. I won’t be pikun about it if you correct me, and I realize the potential for hilarity and mayhem when one foreigner tries to explain all of this to other foreigners.)

The Philippines
The following map shows generally where the Philippines is located.
(Click on any map to enlarge.)
Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 12.36.59 PM

Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao

The Philippines is about 1,300 miles from top to bottom and consists of 7,200 islands, more or less, depending on whether it’s high tide or low tide (that’s a joke, sort of), and these are broken into three main groups — Luzon, the big island in the North that includes Manila; Visayas which includes a whole bunch of islands in the middle but most notably Samar, Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, Panay, and Negros (I’m sure I have offended someone with the ones I didn’t mention by name but there are too many….); and Mindanao, the big island in the south.
Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 12.54.17 PM

Samar

First of all, we are talking about the island of Samar and the province of Eastern Samar.  Here s a map of the track of Typhoon Haiyan, showing Samar Island.  The island of Samar is roughly 200 miles from north to south, and fifty miles across (these are rough figures for general orientation). 

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 6.22.28 PMNow, zooming in, here is a closer view of Samar and Leyte (the rest of these will be Google Maps).  On this map, Lawaan is marked — and you can also see Guiuan (where the storm made landfall) and Tacloban, the Capital of Leyte which has been the main focus of the news coverage.  (You can click on any of these maps and enlarge them.)

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 8.38.38 PM

Lawaan is a “municipality”. In the Philippines there are “Cities”, “Municipalities”, and “Barangays”. A  municipality like Lawaan  is a bit like a town and county combined.  It consists of the Town Proper (Filipinos refer to this as the “poblacion” — an old Spanish term) and outlying villages within a defined geographic area (like a county).

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 7.49.51 PM

The Municipality of Lawaan  is divided into 16 “barangays”, which used to be called “barrios’ (Spanish again), and which are the smallest government unit.  Here are the sixteen barangays of the Municipality of Lawaan, along with population figures for each, taken from the 2007 Census — the most recent.  You will note that the “Poblacion” barangays in the town proper are designated by a number (like a precinct?) while the coastal barangays each have a name.    So here is a closer map showing Lawaan and the named Barangays (the other ones are in the city proper).

Our barangay is Guinob-an and Rena’s cousin Rose Sagales Neely is from Bolusao. You can see both of them on the map…

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 9.02.30 PM

Name (population)
LAWAAN (11,612)
Betaog (729)
Bolusao (1,620)
Guinob-an (946)
Maslog (1,459)
Barangay Poblacion 1 (1,165)
Barangay Poblacion 2 (120)
Barangay Poblacion 3 (159)
Barangay Poblacion 4 (182)
Barangay Poblacion 5 (271)
Barangay Poblacion 6 (232)
Barangay Poblacion 7 (352)
Barangay Poblacion 8 (1,155)
Barangay Poblacion 9 (543)
Barangay Poblacion 10 (916)
San Isidro (164)
Taguite (1,599)

So …. for those who’ve been asking about Lawaan and where it is situated — hope that helps. There is a lot more to say about Rena’s hometown — we’ll do that separately. But for now, I’ll end with this …. Lawaan has it’s own sweetly beautiful theme song …..  If ever there was a song that captures a sense of pure, innocent, unaffected, unadorned beauty and the yearning for home — this is it. The song is presented by BLUE — Binibining Lawaan Unified Enthusiasts.

Words by Norberto Gacho and Neil Tenefrancia
Music by Neil Tenefrancia
Instrumentation by JR Elacion
Performed by Liezl Elipe

And here are pictures of Guinob-an taken yesterday, after the storm. The man in the blue tank top is Rena’s brother Sunny, who was unaware his picture was being taken (we got this from Facebook, from someone who took pictures passing through).
Guinoban 1

Guinoban 2

Guinoban 3

Guinoban 4

Guinoban 5

Guinoban 7

Guinoban 6

Guinoban 8

Guinoban 9

Guinoban 10

Guinoban 11

 

And here is a beautiful picture of Bolusao from Rose Sagales Neely showing how it used to be — and hopefully will be again one day (or better).

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 11.13.19 PM

And here are the waterfalls of Lawaan…..
Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 9.17.52 PM

3 thoughts on “Our Hometown of Lawaan, Eastern Samar — Where, exactly, is it?

  1. Hello Michael!
    Very happy I found your site! My wife’s family (Esquierdo) are mainly in Bolusao with some living in Lawaan. Are you living in Lawaan now? We live in Ohio. I visit Bolusao for a week or two every year so hopefully we can chat sometime. Very interested in how it’s like for you to live there. I met a Canadian that lives in Guinob-an, he’s related to us somehow by marriage; and the NZer that has the CC Market. He wasn’t there last time and his SUVs tires were all flat in the parking lot so not sure what happened with him.

    I have many pictures of Bolusao and some of Lawaan after Yolanda but imagine you might have access also on FB.

    Anyway, hope you survived and your relatives are ok.

    Regards,
    Dennis

    1. Hello Michael!
      Very happy I found your site! My wife’s family (Esquierdo) are mainly in Bolusao with some living in Lawaan. Are you living in Lawaan now? We live in Ohio. I visit Bolusao for a week or two every year so hopefully we can chat sometime. Very interested in how it’s like for you to live there. I met a Canadian that lives in Guinob-an, he’s related to us somehow by marriage; and the NZer that has the CC Market. He wasn’t there last time and his SUVs tires were all flat in the parking lot so not sure what happened with him.

      I have many pictures of Bolusao and some of Lawaan after Yolanda but imagine you might have access also on FB.

      Anyway, hope you survived and your relatives are ok.

      Regards,
      Dennis

      “Anyway, hope you survived and your relatives are ok.” That was a stupid thing to say, of course you did. Good luck with your fundraising, we are trying the same for Bolusao.

      1. Hi Dennis…thanks for reachign out and sorry I missed your comment. Rena and I live in Los Angeles ….Your wife sounds like a possible relative as there are definitely Esquierdos in the mix of family members. I will ask Rena …..

        Would love to see any pictures you have — please share however is convenient for you to do so. You can email me at michaeldsellers@gmail.com any time. Thanks!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *