Posted by: jinoe | November 22, 2007

Siquijor Demystified

This is the final leg of our November Vacation Trilogy.  Siquijor has been known as the Mystic Island because it is popular for its healer and supernatural stories.  When we planned to go here, we dont have any idea what to do or where to go.  We didn’t even plan to stay here for the night.  Just a day trip to see what the island has to offer.  But in order to maximize our vacation, we decided to leave Apo Island Wednesday afternoon and go to Siquijor in the evening.  We ended up staying here for two nights.  What was supposed to be an unplanned trip to the island became a preview for a longer planned trip back to Siquijor.  I regret not staying longer.

Getting there

After arriving to Dumaguete, we went to the pier to get the next trip to Siquijor.  Siquijor is just an hour ride by a ferry boat.  Our schedule to leave is about 5pm and we were to arrive at 6pm.  We called a few resorts there to make reservations.  Some were already fully booked, especially those that are near the diving sites.

We were able to make a reservation at Larena.  Larena is another town in Siquijor.  This is were we will dock.  Our plan is to find another place to stay aside from the one we called up.

It was already dark when we arrived at Larena.  Immediately, we got a tricycle to get us to a hotel.  The driver suggested to go to Siquijor City and look for a place there.  We agreed.  We got to three hotels.  We got the cheapest one at 500 a night.  We had dinner in the same hotel which served a desperate immitation of Italian pizza and pasta.  Better than nothing.

The road trip

Using The Lonely Planet Guide to the Philippines, we followed its suggested places in Siquijor.  Siquijor is just about 72 kilometers in circumference.  You can easily drive around the coast and complete it with in 2-3 hours.  That is how small the island is.  So we thought we will just go to places, take pictures and leave.  Bad idea.  We missed a lot.

We rented a motorcycle.  Supposed to be, I was to do the driving.  The rent will be around 25-30 pesos per hour.  There were people near the hotel who are willing to have their motorcycles rented.  Unfortunately, I dont have license yet.  So we ended up riding at the back of the owner and paid him more for touring us around the island.

154 The road trip was a smooth glide at the highways.  No traffic.  No speeding trucks and buses.  It was relatively safe.  There are also multicabs for larger groups and mountain bikes for the adventurous one.

We started at Siquijor City and moved to the beaches in the east coast like Sandugan point and Salandoong beach.  We had stops at the old churches and belltowers.  We also visited a small waterfalls near the mountains.

Beaches

018 Siquijor Island had plenty of beaches.  It has a long coastline of white sand.  We went first to Sandugan Point.  This is the northern tip of Siquijor where most of the popular resorts are located.  We went inside Casa de la Playa Resort and Kiwi Resort.  Both provided a good starting point for divers. Island Beach Resort was also within the vicinity. Casa de la Playa is a bit expensive. They have nice room just beside the beach. We were supposed to stay at Kiwi Resort. It was more economical. But when we called up for reservations they were already fully booked for the nexy two days. I can see that a lot of tourist really come to Siquijor for the dives.

098 Further to the east was our favorite, Salandoong Beach.  We arrived here at noon and the sun was beaming.  When I saw the beach, I thought I was in a photograph of a beautiful beach in the pacific.  The beach was just stunning.  There were rocks formations, a very clear beach, and fine white sand.  It was picture perfect.  There was even a tourist lying topless at the beach. We decided not to swim since we have more places to visit at it was noon time and the sun was a bit hot.  We regret that decision. We want to come back again and swim in this beach.

276 To the west were more beaches.  We stopped at the Coco Grove Resort and at Paliton Beach.  Coco Grove looks very inviting.  The ambiance was very Filipino with all the decorations and designs that were placed everywhere.  We didn’t go to the beach because there was an entrance fee.  On the other hand, Paliton Beach was for free.  It is still underdeveloped but the beach was wide and clear.  This was actually our last stop in the island before going back to the city.

Bells and Churches

130 Another attraction in the island are the churches.  Most of them were built in the 19th century.  Not as old as those in Bohol but their designs are almost similar.  We stopped at the following towns to get pictures of thier churches:  Siquijor City, E.  Villanueva, Maria and Lazi. 

The church in Maria has a story of the spooky statue of Sta. Rita which hold a head on her hands.  Too bad, the statue was said to be hidden by the parish priest and hasn’t been seen in a long time.  It has a bell tower where I found the bell was dated 1897.  That’s old. It had inscriptions in Spanish on who donated it and how heavy it was. If it wasn’t that big, I would have kept it in my pocket already.

179 The Lazi Church is a historial landmark.  It is one of the oldest churches and has the oldest and biggest convent just across the street.  It is so old that you can smell the wood and hear the creaking of the floors.  I invited myself in and found  myself going up the bell tower again.  The bells were dated 1928.  There was another layer of bells at the top but the stairs looks very old.  I didn’t bother going up.

Just across the church was the San Isidro Labrador Convent.  It is the oldest and biggest convent in the country.  It is no longer being used.  It has now been transformed into a museum.  By looking at the facade, you can really tell that it has been there for a long time.  We went inside and there were old chairs and furnitures.  The interior seems to be in its original state.  Just how it was in the late 19th century.  No repairs and retouches.  The capiz windows are still there, the old rickety wooden floor, and the spooky dark corners.

Falls and the Cemetery

223 Going up to the mountains was a small waterfalls called Gambughay Falls.  Unlike the waterfalls I see in Negros, Gambughay falls was just a few meters high.  It flows through a small river.  No much to see actually.  I thought there’d be bigger falls up ahead. So I was a bit disappointed by how it looked liked. We didn’t stay long here.

We also stopped at the town of San Jose.  The was a cemetery along the road.  I read that there were bones kept at the end part of the cemetery.  I went in to take a look.  I already found the idea spooky.  Trekking a cemetery?  Getting through was no walk in the park.  The tombs were just place one over the other.  There were a lot of dead ends.  I had to jump over the tombs, walk on top and  crawl under some roofs that protects them.  In the end, I never found the bones.  What a bummer.

Observations in the city

554It was almost sunset when we went back to the hotel at Siquijor City and made a short walk around the city.  There were no big buildings.  Some houses were already old.  But some are like mansions you would see in exclusive villages in Manila.  They were Really big and grand.  We passed by the church and the bell tower.  We went to the pier to ask about the trip back to Dumaguete the next day.  Just right beside the pier is a beach.  The sands are finer than the other beaches we have been.  The shoreline is littered with starfish, sea urchins and birds.  I hurriedly took pictures before the sunsets.

We went back as it gets dark.  The urban legends about aswangs and mangkukulam doesnt seem to exist here even at dark.  The place was just as peaceful as any other provinces I have been to.  The house have their TVs turned off at prime time.  But the dinner table will be complete with the whole family chatting.

Food is hard to find at night.  We spotted a restaurant cooking lechon manok an hour earlier.  When we got back to order, they told us, everything is already taken and that was all of it.  No more additional orders.  That surpised us since it was only a few minutes past 6.  But I guess, that’s how they do it here in Siquijor.

I have to be back

We were able to go around the island in about 8 hours.  All we did was point to the map, go there, take pictures and leave.  I can say I have seen Siquijor but I cannot truly say that I have experienced it.  I didn’t swim in its beautiful beaches.  I still regret the fact the I just strolled on the sands of Salandoong Beach and not dipping myself into its clear waters.  I missed the caves.  There were caves in the mountains but we were not dressed to get dirty.  And were didn’t reach the healers at Mt.  Bandila-an.  I short, I have to be back.  They say that it gets more exciting if you visit the place during Holy Week.  That will be a good time to go back and see if can still leave the island in one piece.

Click here for more of our photos in Siquijor

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Responses

  1. […] Read more on the places we’ve visited from our November Vacation Trilogy Dumaguete Trip – The City Next Door:  Dumaguete City Apo Island – Nothing Small About Apo Siquijor Island – Siquijor Demystified […]

  2. […] Next Stop:  Siquijor […]

  3. jinoe, medyo hassle but you might want to try to put some proprietary mark on the bottom-right part of your photos (i.e. your name). Come on pre, pictures like this

    http://jgavan101.multiply.com/photos/photo/9/58

    some magazine or any publication might need your photos!

    I see some wisdom in that suggestion. I’ll try to update the pics by next week. Hassle nga yan. 😦 Pero tama yan.

  4. Di ma open ang pics sa akon? 😦 Like ko tani makita. huhu..

  5. oh i saw it na thanks sa comment ni dprinz i clicked on the link 😀

    http://jgavan101.multiply.com/photos

  6. […] Read more on the places we’ve visited from our November Vacation Trilogy Dumaguete Trip – The City Next Door:  Dumaguete City Apo Island – Nothing Small About Apo Siquijor Island – Siquijor Demystified […]

  7. nice write-up! very helpful for my siquijor trip on dec 2009.

  8. […] Read more on the places we’ve visited from our November Vacation Trilogy Dumaguete Trip – The City Next Door:  Dumaguete City Apo Island – Nothing Small About Apo Siquijor Island – Siquijor Demystified […]

  9. […] Next Stop:  Siquijor […]

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