Summers Garden Pensionne

img_0338.jpgSummers Garden Pensionne – Catbologan

Mrs. Pacoli’s green thumb is evident by all the exotic plants growing on the grounds of this neat little pension house near the St. Mary’s College in Catbologan.

The house itself is over 50 years old and she proudly says it was designed by the same architect, Gabrial Manalac, that drew up the plans for the San Sebastion Church in Manila.

Summers Garden

img_0335.jpgThere is off street parking available. phone (055) 251-5735 .

Some people that are driving their own cars between Manila and the southern provinces stop here and stay the night with the Pacolis.

The street out front of Summers Gardne PensionMrs. Pacoli is a retired school teacher with lots of local stories to share. She tells the tale of the flood in Ormoc in nearby Leyte that took 5000 lives.

Both Mr and Mrs Pacoli have some interesting stories – some going back as far as WW2.

The hotel – formerly St Bartholomew’s was originally used as a Japanese headquarters and then taken by the Americans and used for their command center towards the end of the war.

Catbalogan fish market – great youtube video of the local fish market

img_0333.jpgMrs Pacoli has some captivating tales about hiding out in the caves near Guiuan during the Japanese occupation in WW2.

She also told the tale of the Dona Paz, a Manila bound ferry, that sunk and over 5,000 local people perished.

It was nearing the Christmas holiday and the ship was packed with holiday makers planning to spend time with relatives in Manila.

She remembers that the decks on that ship were always overcrowded and there never was room to stretch out and lie down on the cots.

img_0354.jpg Everyone just sat there side by side crowding the stairwells and companion ways as well. It was a hazardous situation even in calm weather.

Unfortunately it collided with an oil tanker of the island of Mindoro and was lost.

She tells of a friend that got pickpocketed while getting on board and had to go back to shore to get money from her friends so she could continue onwards.

img_0347.jpg Unfortunately her friends helped her out with loans and that was the last they ever saw of her as she went down with the ship. Not many survivors lived through that disaster

Just about everyone that lives in Catbalogan has lost a relative or an entire family in that sinking in Dec 1987.

There are no longer any ferries that make the trip between Manila and Catbologan.

plants at this pension house

Roble Shipping ferry Catbalogan to Cebu City – youtube video

img_7687.jpgupdate: Roble shipping makes a trip between Cebu City and Catbalogan once a week. It leaves from Cebu Thurs nite and returns Friday night. Fare – 650 pesos per person

The Pacolis have a few rooms out back that are available for long term stays. It is probably one of the best options if you plan to stick around for a while.

Summers Garden Pension has cable tv, security, wi-fi and gated off street parking.

Joey’s Cafe is open 24 hours across the street by the park if you wake up in the middle of the night looking for a snack.

Charitos Restaurant in Catbalogan SamarCharitos Restaurant in Catbalogan

fish-market-001.jpgCatbalogan is a fairly compact city and a good deal of it is within walking distance. If it’s hot, take one of the foot powered tricycles for 4 pesos.

There is a lack of good restaurants in Catbalogan but you can get all the vegetables and fruits that you like in the market.

tricycle taxis in Catbalogan

An assortment of fresh seafood is available at the fish market but get there early because they sell everything before it gets too hot.

summers garden pension house in samarSummers Garden has a nice family atmosphere and the Pacolis are great hosts!

Samar – Catbalogan

buying shoes – funny video of the local shoestore

Update Sept 2008

Summers Gardens has become my home. Mr. and Mrs Pacoli have rented me a small flat behind the main pension house. The picture below is of one of the budget room out back. The main rooms in the house are quite a bit bigger, but i was satisfied with the smaller ones – they do come with a loft which gives the place a lot more room.

pension house room

I have been here 3 months now and really enjoy the ambiance.

rooms out back upstairs

Mrs. Pacoli is a ball room dancer and has a pretty good sound system set up on the ground floor, where she hosts parties from time to time.

samar-pension-001.jpg We set up cable tv and I put together a nice kitchen on the upper floor. I am kind of a plant freak myself and enjoy being surrounded by all the exotic plants. They really have a knack for growing things.

It’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive to Tacloban and the road is getting better every time I drive it. There is a serious road rebuilding project going on in Samar right now.

Catbalogan is a rather strange place for a traveler to land up, but it has been a good experience for me.

samar-pension-003.jpg I plan to stay at least until March of 2009 when my girlfriend graduates from college.

My time is filled with exploring Samar, often with my friend Joni Bonifacio who has a guide service in town.

I met him in 2007 when we went exploring Jiabong ond Calbiga caves. We have since examined Guimit cave and others. He has been a good friend.

samar-pension-007.jpg The people here speak Waray Waray, a language that I am trying to pick up but I haven’t found any phrase books or anything yet. This language is used by around 3 million people in Samar and Leyte.

I have explored some of the interior rivers and the wilderness there to be very special to me. There is a lot of rainforest destruction going on but there is no oversight of these forests by the govt because it is a bit unstable politically.

samar-pension-002.jpg For now i have no big plans but enjoy swinging in my hammock with my sweetheart on starlit nights.

Take care.

If you are passing through town give me a call 09205553686 and I will be happy to show you around Catbalogan.


pacolis-dance-003Mr and Mrs Pacoli tear up the dance floor.

feb 2009

Meg dances

Summers Garden Pension – Samar Philippines

Update late Sept 2008

samar-pension-004.jpg It’s interesting to sit at a table and listen to Mr. and Mrs Pacoli tell tales about the war.

Mr. Pacoli tells me the story about how he learned to drive – After the Japanese were routed at the end of WW2 by the Americans some of the officers set up their headquarters at the Pacoli residence.

Mr. Pacoli would push the Americans jeeps out into the street and go joyriding for the night. Military jeeps didn’t need a key.

He says that they were never short on chocolate bars and cigarettes but that got him hooked on smoking at the tender age of 16. It took him years to quit, but he finally did, and is in robust health at the age of 83 now.

summers-summers-002summers-summers-0012009 graduate

summers-summers-004Mrs. Pacoli tries out a new recipie!


update Oct 2010

outside the Flaming Hot RestaurantMr. and Mrs Pacoli outside the Flaming Hot Restaurant

catbalogan tricycle taxiUsing the local tricycle taxi to get aound town – the cost is now 4 pesos in town.

Pacolis with tricycle driverFriendly tricycle operator.

Tricycle ride in CatbaloganTricycle ride.


History – St. Bartholomew’s Hotel

philippines-sum-003.jpgThis is the site of the original Summers Garden Pension house. In the 30’s it was right on the sea but the city filled in a few hundred meters of shallow water so it is now a long ways from the sea.

Then it was the St. Bartholomew’s Hotel, named after the patron saint of Catbalogan.

philippines-sum-010.jpg During WW2 the Japanese took over the second floor for their officers.

philippines-sum-007.jpgThere were 2 gates with guards stationed at each entrance. Mr. Pacoli laughs when he tells how they would smack him in the head if he did not bow properly when he came home.

The family stayed in the lower level.

philippines-sum-009.jpgMr. Pacoli kept a small fishing boat under the house at that time because they were right on the water. He and his friend would go out fishing every day.

He says at that time the waters were rich with fish and is was easy to catch up to 80 in one day.

It wasn’t until after WW2 that dynamite was introduced as a fishing tool and it had a very serious effect on the reef.

Mrs. Pacoli says that you could see schools of fish swimming along at night because they would stir up the luminescent plankton as they went by.

philippines-sum-008.jpgAfter the Japanese were driven out the Americans took over the hotel and used it as an administrative post.

The hotel caught fire in 1967 and the present building was then constructed to take it’s place.

Original photo by Sudario Studio

Summers Garden Pensionne – now with wi-fi

Oct 3, 2007

2 responses to “Summers Garden Pensionne”

  1. My brother and I had the great pleasure of meeting Mrs. Pacoli’s and her husband. What a lovely couple, we enjoyed their company during a nice meal at Eldorados cafe in town. Same night they invited us to their pension house for what we expected would be a light lunch….Well what a surprise, more like a feast fit for kings, shrimps, veges, fish, egg rolls and on and on it goes…..Sitting outside in the beautiful flowery garden was simply amazing. Lunch lasted some two plus hours…

    Joining us was also yours truly DP and that adventurous caver Joni…. Fabulous food and great company, good mixture, once Mr. Pacoli’s gets to telling us stories about his experiences during the Japanese occupation its fascinating to say the least, he is one hell of of guy, his wife’s love for life and her activities with ball room dancing plus hands on gardening make this couple unique.

    We made a mistake of not staying here, the grounds, rooms are all the best in the city….just wonderful. Anybody considering caving look up Joni….he has an awesome knowledge of Samar and I plan on returning next month to do some caving with him. A hell of a guy.

Leave a Reply

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *