We had one so many attempts to visit Siquijor for months already and all the time, our efforts only proved futile. It wasn’t because of all the horror stories hunting the island itself (we are pretty much sure about that) or the rumors about sorcery and witchcraft that’s been going on and around the country for centuries, it so happens that every time we map out a weekend visit, unknown reasons unexpectedly pop out. Every. Darn. Time.
• It was year 1565, Miguel López de Legazpi and his Expedition arrived and landed in the Philippines.
• Legazpi gave orders to search for nearby islands. And while afloat, two of his men found a land gleaming and glowing from afar, hence they named the island, “Isla De Fuego” or Island of Fire. That’s why Siquijor is also known as “Isla De Fuego”, why it is called as an “Island of Fire”.
• Such phenomenon is caused by a number of fireflies hovering around molave trees used to proliferate in the area
But then, nothing can escape an aggressive travel duo no matter how elusive the sought for destination is in our travel list. So one day, one holiday, we booked a tour for 2, though only planned haphazardly.
There are so many available options for would-be-tourists of Siquijor coming from Cebu. For budget conscious travelers, there is that time consuming route yet the cheapest of all. But for us who value time more than money we chose the most convenient mode of transport, lesser travel time but relatively pricey.
From Cebu City Pier 1, we booked two tickets in Ocean Jet that traverse Cebu-Tagbilaran-Larena, Siquijor route. Cebu to Tagbilaran usually takes 2 hours of travel time while Tagbilaran to Larena has 1 and a half. Ticket Cost? 4k for 2 pax, one way, business class.
One Day Itinerary
Siquijor is a little island in the southern part of the country and is usually divided into two tours: (1) Island Tour and (2) Mountain Tour. Since we only had a day to spare and roam around the province, we chose the former instead of the latter or both. At least, in our minds, we can cover almost all of the tourist spots readily available and still have one more reason to return to this beautiful isla.
(As I don’t want to bore you with the minute details of this trip, I’ll just narrate the highlights of our entire tour. We can assure you that this post contains nothing about the tittle-tattle tale of the witches of Siquijor as locals even deny the truth of their existence. A minimal reference won’t hurt, I guess.)
A little side trip, the moment we disembarked from the fast craft, we only had Larena Triad Coffee Shop in mind for a sumptuous afternoon lunch. This dome shaped coffee shop/restaurant is strategically built in a high elevation with a 180 degree overlooking view of the island of Siquijor and the neighboring provinces of Cebu, Bohol and Negros Oriental, hence “Triad”.
Day 1 starts the following day and we began our tour with I Love Siquijor and Welcome Siquijor Sign, taking several photos for documentation (evidentiary, really) purposes. Hey, best evidence rules!
We then made our way up towards Kanheron Ranch which according to our tour guide got its name from the combined Visayan Words “Kanhe” ug “Karon” translated as “the past and the present”. It’s a private museum of American Artifacts collected and made available for public viewing for the generation of today.
Thereafter, we proceeded to Lilibeth’s Pan Bisaya which is famous for their freshly baked, soft and sweet-tasting varieties of native bread.
They call it “native bread” as they adopt a traditional Filipino method of using fire-ignited corn husks placed on top and below an assembled structure resembling an oven. Yes, instead of a regular convection oven run by electricity or gasoline which are commonly used in ordinary bakeries these days, Lilibeth’s bakes their goodies in their own fabricated oven using no yeast as a leavening agent but coconut wine (tuba) instead.
To complete the experience, we paired their native bread with a cup of “corn coffee” which is a famous drink in this country and could actually pass off as a Filipino native delicacy. Yum!
Our next stop was Salagdoong Beach, our absolute favorite. I cannot particularly recall what “Salag” means but “Doong” refers to a kind of birds. Salagdoong is a government managed public beach opened to the public for a minimal fee. We stayed in Salagdoong for a few minutes before proceeding to our next destination after we fell in love with its crystal clear waters of differing hues, the calming sea breeze and its magnificent views. Salagdoong offers the most beautiful view there is in the entire province of Siquijor (at least in our own perception) and it has the best ambience for relaxation.
• Cliff diving and the slide are only available and open during high tides.
After lunch, we went directly to Cambugahay Falls, trekked, survived and conquered 135 steps just to witness its majestic beauty (expect muscle pain thereafter lol). Cambugahay remains a three-tier falls (almost of the same appearance) since the other levels are not yet open to the public for safety reasons.
San Isidro Labrador Church and San Isidro Labrador Convent were our next items in the itinerary. These religious structures were established as early as 1880s, managed and run by the Augustinian friars.
Like kids, we had fun in Hapitanan Broomshot trying their flying broom challenge. Since we cannot divulge their secret, you’ve got to see it to experience the magic and discover the trick.
We then rewarded our selves with a foot massage-fish spa in Enchanted Balete Tree and bought some souvenirs and pasalubongs in the area. Balete trees are said to be home of kapre, diwata, and other malignos, at least according to Philippine folklores and myths but this Balete Tree is so majestic we forgot how it is a home of entities not entirely our own.
We waited for sunset in Paliton Beach, Siquijor’s Mini Boracay, to cap off one of the best days in our lives.
We we were able to pass through Smile Talingting and Olang Molave Man-Made Forest but we didn’t take a photo because we just didn’t want to. We also passed by Capilay Spring Park, a natural spring made into a public pool in the middle of a public park. Well that’s an attraction.
Planning to stay another night?
If you want to have peace and privacy at a lower cost then Replica Manor is a good choice. For just Php950.00 a night, you get yourself a good night sleep in an air-conditioned room complete with toiletries, cabled tv, wi-fi and a hot and cold shower. Plus, their doggy “King” is a good tour guide as well. He can navigate you towards the ins and outs of the nearby beach. If that’s not much of a steal, this humble inn is equipped with generator sets for power interruptions.
By the way, Siquijor got its name from a simple misunderstanding due to language barrier. When the Spaniards arrived and asked what the place is called, they were speaking in Spanish. King Kihod, thinking that they were asking for his name, he answered “Si Kihod”. Later on the Spaniards adopted SiKihod and changed the last letter “d” to “r” for easier pronunciation. Hence “Siquijor”.
• King Kihod was the legendary ruler of the province before the Spaniards came and discovered the Philippines.
We proclaim so much love and adoration for this not-so-hidden yet less traveled island in the Visayas. Admittedly, some are still apprehensive of Siquijor owing to its feared reputation as homes of ungodly creatures. But fearing the unknown only made them miss out what this charming little island could offer ~ animal-loving, courteous, kind and helpful people and a paradise like no other. Wherever King Kihod is right now, we know he is beaming with so much pride seeing the beauty of his mystical island and the hospitality of the people living in it.
For the best Siquijor experience, we highly recommend the services of Johnry Maglangit Ina-an as your driver/tour guide/photographer. You may contact him through his facebook account or his number 09368347510.
Kuya Hermie Tan-awon is an excellent driver as well, you may contact him through his number 09169626941.
Please note: Some areas in Siquijor have no signal, so please patiently wait for their reply.