Thursday, January 21, 2016

Siquijor : Mystical Island of Fire

Welcome to the mystical island of Siquijor  

It took over a  month to finally decide which destination I would spend my birthday.  My heart is yearning for Batanes but considering the limited days off, budget and totally unprepared for it, my options were narrowed down to  Agusan del Sur, Bohol and Davao. But after seeing a few Instagram photos, my curiosity and my hidden urge to explore this so-called "island of fire and magic" was triggered; I knew I had to go to Siquijor. 

An island rich in culture and mystery

Siquijor  is known as Isla del Fuego (Island of Fire)  by the Spaniards who discovered the island hundreds of years ago. This is due to the swarms of fireflies that harbored in the molave trees on the island which gives off an eerie glow from afar, much like a burning island of fire. 

The island is known for magic and mystery;  of witches, supernatural phenomena and known as the source of medicines and herbs prepared by  albularyos and herbalists. They even held Healing Festivals where healers and herbalist from Visayas and Mindanao come together to perform healing and participate in the preparation of concoctions made from a variety of tree barks, herbs, roots, insects and other ingredients.  It has four municipalities and I was happy that I was able to roam in those areas. 





You may click on the link on each featured tourist spot for more stories and photos. More photos on instagram/wander_with_sky. 

 St. Francis of Assisi Church 


St. Francis of Assisi Church in Siquijor, Siquijor greets the tourists when they arrived  in Siquijor Island from Sibulan port. Travelers have at least one photo of this church as a souvenir background upon their arrival. The church according to history was built in 1793 and its bell tower in 1891.   





Capilay Spring Park 




When your coastal tour starts at San Juan (where most of resorts are located), Capilay Spring Park is your first destination. It's a cold spring with a man-made open-to-the-public swimming pool which located at the town plaza.  A grotto was located at the upper part of the cliff, a good vantage point to enjoy the scenery. 

Lugnason Falls 




I enjoyed the road trip from the highway to Lugnason Falls in San Juan. But what was exhausting but fun adventure was the trek from the main road to the waterfall location ; it was steep and rocky with no available guide rails. Local guides are willing to assist you and would act as your lifeguards if you decide to enjoy a dip on the cold water. The waterfall has more than five tiers, but pictured here is the only one open  for the public. 


Old Balete Tree and Fish Spa 

                                    


One of the famous tourist attraction in Siquijor is the century-old Balete Tree in Lazi. It does not look creepy to me as what people said, but it was more like an amazing site to see. The way its vines and roots covered  the  main tree was just amazing to look at while enjoying the tree's cool shade. Cold water from the trees gather up in a man-made mini-pool where tourists enjoy a P5 fish spa experience. It was just amazing how these fishes swim as fast as they can  towards your feet and nibble on your dead skin. It is a must stop.  See more photos of Old Enchanted  Balete Tree

San Isidro Labrador Church 



I have a thing for old churches. Being in Siquijor, visiting old churches like the San Isidro Labrador Church in Lazi is a must. It was built in 1884.  What attracts me was its century-old walls made of sea coral stones with engravings and its old wooden doors. Most church is made up of cement or stone floors but this church is made up of hard wood! The locals managed to preserve the colorful ceiling designs and they even maintained the wooden floors with floor wax. 

Lazi Convent 




Across the century-old church was the Lazi Convent. One of the largest convent during the Spanish  era, I found its beauty mesmerizing and interesting.  Its first floor is made from stone walls while the second floor is made up of hard wood.  See more photos of San Isidro Labrador Church and Convent 


Cambugahay Falls 




Cambugahay Falls is one of the famous tourist  attractions in Siquijor. Situated  about a few meters from San Isidro Church, travelers can first experience the steep walkway without a guardrail from the highway to the  three-tiered waterfalls.  The last tier has a built-in rope where one can swing on their way to the pool of refreshing water. The second tier provides a relaxing massage. It was heaven actually. See more photos of Cambugahay Falls


Kagusuan Beach 



This is one of the highlights of my tour around Siquijor. It's not a typical beach you have in mind. It looks abandoned, the 500-meter path from the highway is uncleared with overgrown weeds and dead leaves.  Travelers had to climb down a steep walkway to enjoy the pristine  white beach with  massive boulders of rocks.  It was such a beauty.  See more photos of Kagusuan Beach



Maria Forest





Siquijor is rich in greens. On our way to Salagdoong Beach, we stopped at this man-made forest with exquisite beauty.  I love the way tall trees bend towards each other along the path and provides cool shade to travelers. Let's stop for a while and do silly things,  after all, life is made to be cherished.  See more photos on  Siquijor  Forests


Sta. Rita of Cascia (Our Lady of the Divine Providence) 



          

Mark and our guide took their time looking for something to eat after a  tiring ride from Maria, Siquijor. I asked to be left alone for a while to check Our Lady of Divine Providence,  to see Saint Rita of Cascia, the patron of impossible  cases. Reviews warned me that seeing this nun dressed in black habit  will send  a creepy feeling, and in a way it did. Her eyes were different from most of the saints I've seen. What's more interesting and very unusual is that she's holding a skull at her right hand and a crucifix at her left. A note pasted on her glass case narrated her life and death. Our guide told me that the original statue was kept away from the public, the replica may not be that creepy but according to him, the original one was haunting. 

The church is relatively old, the belfry caught my attention. The walls were made of stones and wooden panels were exquisitely made.  See more photos on St. Rita of Cascia, Siquijor 


Salagdoong Beach 




The breath-taking view  from the cliff of Salgdoong Beach is something  I cannot  forget. The water is so clear that you could almost see what's beneath it. Thrill-seekers grabbed the chance to do cliff-diving  at 30-ft! Local police and lifeguards are patiently in the area to secure the travelers' safety. Locals are enjoying the cool, pristine waters with  boulders of rocks which adds a relaxing view. See more photos of Salagdoong Beach 


Cang-Isok Old House, the oldest surviving  house





On our way to Larena, I asked our guide to stop at the famous  old house which I saw on my research about Siquijor.  By the time we reached Enrique Villanueva,  we stopped at this fascinating old house built by stilts and sits  quietly along the  shore.  What's amazing is that this abandoned house was about a century-old and surprisingly stood bravely against forces of nature. Creepy? No. Interesting? Yes.   See more photos on Cang-Isok Old House

Cafe Triad, Larena 



Completing the coastal tour, we ended our last stop at Cafe Triad. The function area is like a mushroom-like dome which is ideal for weddings, birthday parties, conventions, etc. Overlooking Larena coastline, travelers can enjoy the magnificent sunset and the cool air it brings. There was a wedding ceremony happening when we were there.  Getting there is a struggle, considering the cafe is situated on top of the mountain.  








Siquijor Island, full of mystery and culture,  has captured by  heart and fed  my hunger for adventure. People are so kind and welcoming that  I did not feel any threat nor that creepy feeling they are talking about. I was amazed at how the people managed to preserved their heritage sites and made it readily available for curious travelers and future generations.  



Actual itinerary Oct-2015 
DAY 1




ETD
ETA
Location/Details
Remarks
Budget
2:30 am
5:30 am
Cebu South Terminal to Liloan, Santander port
Via Ceres Bus
Php 157
5:30 am
6:30 am
Liloan port to Sibulan port
Via Cuadro Alas Navigation Lines
Php 62
6:30 am
7:00 am
Sibulan port to Dumaguete port
Via tricycle
Php 120
7:00 am
10:00 am
Stroll at Dumaguete Boulevard

  -------


Breakfast at Kamalig beside Silliman University

Php 250
10:00 am
11:00 am
Dumaguete port to Siquijor port
Via GL Shipping
Php 170
11:00 am
11:30 am
Siquijor port to San Juan (The Bruce Resort)
Via tricycle
Php 200
11:30 am
1:00 pm
Lunch (carenderia)

Php 200


Groceries (water, cup noodles, etc)

Php 300
1:00 pm

Check-in at the Bruce Luxury Private Cottages
Cottage with bungalow, with ref, non-aircon,
With built-in kitchen, hot/cold shower, fronting the beach

Php 1,200
1:30 pm
6:00 pm 
Swimming / Rest


7:00 pm
8:30 pm
Dinner at Dagsa Restaurant ( across The Bruce)
Pancit Guisado
Tinola
Stir-fried shrimp Inferno (best seller)
Rice and Drinks
Php 585
DAY 2




7:00 am
7:30 am
Capilay Spring Park, San Juan

     ------
7:30 am
8: 30 am
Lugnason Falls, San Juan
(donation only, with local guide)
Php 20
8:30 am
9:30 am
Old Balete Tree Fish Spa, Lazi

Php 45


Shop for souvenirs

Php 200
9:30 am
10:00 am
St. Isidro Labrador Church, Lazi
Old Lazi Convent , Lazi

   -------
10:00 am
12:00 nn
Cambugahay Falls , Lazi (with lifeguard)

Php 50
12:00 nn
1:00 pm
Lunch (carenderia)

Php 250
1:00 pm
3:00 pm
Kagusuan Falls, Maria 

    ------
3:00 pm
4:30 pm
Salagdoong Beach, Maria
Molave Man-made Forest

Php 50


Stop-over at Cang-Isok  Oldest House




Stop-over at Lilibeth's Pan Bisaya
Bought famous Siquijor Torta and
bread with bocayo filling
Php 75
4:30 pm
5:30 pm
Café Triad, Larena

  -------
5:30 pm
7:00 pm
Back to The Bruce (new cottage)

Php 1000


Dinner at The Bruce (take-out Sr.Pedro Chicken)

P 300


Island tour
Via Tricycle
P 1200





DAY 3




10:00 am
12:00 nn
The Bruce to Siquijor port
Via tricycle
Php 200


Lunch (carenderia)

Php 150
1:00 pm
2:00 pm
Siquijor port to Dumaguete port
Via Oceanjet
Php 200
2:00 pm
2:30 pm
Check in at Grand Pensionne
With aircon, TV,wifi, walking distance to Sans Rival

Php 780
5:00 pm
6:30 pm
Dinner at Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries
Spaghetti ala Putanesca (double serve)
Date and Walnut Dacquiose cake
Silvanas
Lipton Tea
Burger (large)
Water
Php 481
6:30 pm
8:00 pm
Stroll at Rizal Blvd




Groceries at Robinsons Suprmarket

Php 300





DAY 4




8:30  am
9: 30 am
Breakfast at the Grand Pensionne

Php 150
9:30 am
10:00 am
Buy Silvanas at Sans Rival (Php 140 per box)

Php 840
10:00 am
11:00 am
Grand Pensionne to Sibulan port
Via Tricycle
Php 100
11:00 am
12:00 nn
Sibulan port to Liloan, Santander
Via Cuadro Alas Navigation Lines
Php 62
12:00 nn
1:00 pm
Lunch the terminal

Php 150
1:00 pm
4:00 pm
Liloan Santander  to Cebu City
Via Ceres Bus
Php 157








TOTAL
Php 8,504

To see more photos and stories  on each featured destination, you may click below for the links : 



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