Siquijor, the third smallest province in the country in terms of land area after Camiguin and Batanes, was originally called Isla del Fuego or Island of Fire by the Spaniards because of the eerie glow the place gives – which surprisingly doesn’t even come from brewing cauldrons or burnt houses - but from the massive swarms of fireflies that live off the molave trees in this province. Used to be part of Negros Oriental and lying southeast from Cebu and Negros across Cebu Strait and located north of Mindanao, Siquijor is divided into six municipalities (Enrique Villanueva, Larena, Lazi, Maria, San Juan, Siquijor) with Siquijor as its capital.
Among the tourist attractions found in Siquijor are the plentiful beaches, the caves, a butterfly sanctuary, the Bandilaan Natural Park and a host of other exotic areas. There are also a wide range of beach resorts, and lodging choices. Natural inland appeals such as the waterfalls, tree parks, and flowing springs – most of which are uncharted – also add a captivating lure to the island. (ZestAir Inflight Magazine)
As for our group, here are the places that we've went to during our first time journey in Siquijor.
Siquijor, Siquijor Port
Capilay Spring Park
The Capilay Spring Park, located in SanJuan, consists of pools with three chambers: the first one is the “springs” pool, the second one is the “swimming” pool and the last one is the “laundry” pool or the river which is found by the road. Huge trees with massive leaves also line up the place, protecting the visitors from the intense heat of the sun during summer days. Kiosks are also located in strategic points for souvenirs and snacks. It is a natural spring-fed swimming pool situated in the town proper. No entrance fees! ^_^
The Old Balete Tree
A popular landmark in Lazi, Siquijor where you can enjoy a little dip and avail of nature's fish spa all for free. Usually called as "The Enchanted Balete Tree" and believed to be the home of supernatural beings, this is one place you should not miss. :)
|Free fish spa! :D|
St. Isidore de Labrador Church (Lazi, Siquijor)
As per Wikipedia, St Isidore the Labourer, also known as Isidore the Farmer, was a Spanish day laborer known for his piety toward the poor and animals. He is the Catholic patron saint of farmers and of Madrid and of La Ceiba, Honduras. His feast day is celebrated on 15 May.
It was our first time personally experiencing going inside a church with wooden floors, and we guessed, a wedding was scheduled at that time considering the decorations on the aisle.
Lazi Convent (Lazi, Siquijor)
"For historical findings, the Lazi Convent, or better known as the St. Isidore Labradore Church and Convent, is the place to be as this is touted to be the oldest and the biggest church in Asia. Hand-crafted illustrations of the Station of the Cross adorn every window sill, a complicated ceiling vault and a rustic wooden floor all contribute to this old-age atmosphere. The convent meanwhile stands as a stone house with a daunting U structure."
- ZestAir Inflight Magazine
Right in front of the St Isidore Church is the Lazi Convent, which we've heard is considered as one of the largest and oldest convent in whole Asia. It was also declared as a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine Historical Commission.
The also have a museum inside for a meager entrance fee of 20 pesos only. Unfortunately, it was locked when we arrived.
Salagdoong Beach (Maria, Siquijor)
Before we can reach the resort, we had to pass thru a forest forming tree canopies along the road. The tree tunnel is part of the Salagdoong Forest Reserve, a reforestation project of the local government.
And voila! The Salagdoong Beach Proper!
The water was very clear, and not crowded. One can opt to jump from the resort's several cliffs and slides, and high rock formations. Not for the acrophobic though. :D
I'm pleased to say that despite being a government-owned resort, the Salagdoong Beach Resort is quite well-maintained and in fact, offers affordable accommodation thru its Hotel Agripino (Php800-1500/room), and its cozy beach houses which can fit 4+ people for only Php1,400.
Lady of Divine Providence Church (Maria, Siquijor)
This church houses the statue of Santa Rita de Cascia, who is popularly known as the saint of trials and hardship. But her demeanor kind of reflects Siquijor's reputation of black magic, as she is wearing a black garb while carrying a human skull on one hand and a cross on the other (which actually puzzled me). People usually misconstrue her as the saint to whom the "mambabarangs" pray to answer their dark wishes.
But course, we know that in truth, she was actually bestowed the title of Patroness of Impossible Causes while in many pious Catholic countries, Rita came to be known to be as patroness for abused wives and heartbroken women.
"Another attraction that would enthrall guests is the Cambugahay Falls, a smaller waterfall with a short drop. Located in Lazi, the falls spurts fresh, clean and warm water which cascades down three smaller waterfalls and finally slithers into little lagoons and swimming rapids below. A well-paved trail leading to the first falls would be a refreshing walk for the visitors but to get to the succeeding falls, they need to climb over rocks and boulders. There are also some street vendors in the area which sell snacks."
-ZestAir Inflight Magazine
Located in Tigbawan, Lazi, visitors may choose from either a river or forest trek to get to the waterfalls. Secluded and relatively unexplored, the waterfalls beckon trekkers for a refreshing trek.
Mt Bandilaan Natural Park
"The Mount Bandilaan is considered to be the highest crest in the province with a total of 1,394 feet in height, and can be compared to Mount Mayon because of its almost near-perfect cone. A nature park, at its very foot is also home to a number of flora and fauna and a fresh butterfly sanctuary known as Bandilaan Butterfly Range and Breeding Farm. For whimsical and mystical adventurers, healing amulets, charms, potions, and oils (which are concocted by resident faith healers) are also located at the foot of Mount Bandilaan Natural Park, a nature park designed for religious pilgrims. Other things to explore here: caves and springs." -ZestAir Inflight Magazine
The Park which covers an entire area of the former Siquijor Reforestation Project, is home to numerous endemic flora and fauna. Other attractions in the area include a shrine of our Lady of Lourdes, the Way of the Cross, five natural springs and caves.
Blue Wave Beach Resort
One of the greatest advantages in choosing to spend your vacation in Siquijor is the fact that you get to escape from the crowded beaches. Indeed, there are a lot of such places in Siquijor. Many are even without entrance fees. In our case, we got to enjoy the beach all to ourselves! There were no other humans in sight. It was like having our own exclusive resort. And as if that wasn't enough, we got to stay in the beach cottages for free! hahaha! T'was such a blessed day! :D
This is what happens when there are no other people around. Tripping! haha :D
St. Francis de Assisi Church
And what was usually the first stop for tourists became our last, prior to embarking upon our vessel home. Located near the Siquijor, Siquijor Port, the St. Francis Church was the first parish to be established in the island. Built in 1781, the church is made of coral stone and has its own bell tower located meters away.
St Francis de Assisi Bell Tower