For students and historians of the Pacific and WWII, the word ‘Leyte’ conjures up images of bloody naval battles and the site of MacArthur’s famous return. For Filipinos it’s equally associated with the rags-to-riches rise of Imelda Marcos and the nostalgic, romanticised portrait she painted of her birthplace after she made good in the capital. For travellers, Southern Leyte, wrapped around the deep-water Sogod Bay, is one of the Philippines’ many diving hot spots; there are sites with rich reefs and drop-offs. Wall and cave diving is possible at Lungsodaan in Padre Burgos. The Cebuano-speaking Leyteños live in the south, and their Waray-speaking neighbours live in the cattle ranching country of northern Leyte.