Siquijor. Island in Philippines, Asia

Siquijor

Island in Philippines, Asia

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Siquijor

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Also known as Lalawigan sa Siquijor (pronounced as ‘see-kee-hore’), or Isla del Fuego (Fire Island) – the name given to it by the Spaniards, this island has a bizarre history, diverse terrain, and some great beach resorts to remember.

History

According to the legend, the current name of the island was a simple misunderstanding and mispronunciation on the part of the Spanish, when they first arrived here, the legendary King Kihod introduced himself as ‘Si Kihod’, which they misinterpreted as the name of this wondrous land. Phonetical rhotacism eventually converted the final -d into -r, although the locals still call themselves ‘Siquijodnons’. However, for many centuries, the Spanish simply called the island ‘Isla del Fuego’ for its mysterious glow during the dark due to large amounts of fireflies during spring and summer seasons.

The Spaniards passed the island on to America along with the rest of the Philippines, and during the World War II, the island was occupied by the Japanese for a few years, until all the population was evacuated in 1943. Siquijor was liberated in 1945, and in the early 1970s, it became a separate province of the Philippines. The language of all the native inhabitants is Cebuano, although Tagalog and English are understood and widely used.

What to See and Do

Beach bumming, snorkeling, or diving. Salagdoong beach, San Juan beach, Kagusuan beach, Siquijor beach – wherever you stay on the island, the coast will always be within your reach. There are several dive centers on the island, and almost every beach resort has diving and snorkeling equipment and good instructors.

Watching fireflies at night is one of the most magical things to do in Philippines.
  • Rent a motorbike ( ₱250 ($5.50) for a day), fill it up with petrol (stuff sold in plastic Coke bottles along the road), and embark on the ultimate island adventure. Who knows what you will discover? Siquijor is pretty wild.
  • See the mystical century-old Balete tree, covered with lianas and old branches.
  • Cantabon Cave requires registration and a guide to enter, but well worth a visit.
  • Cambugahay Falls are very scenic and allow visitors to jump into the lagoon from the top.
  • San Isidro Labrador Convent was built in the end of 19th century and is one of the oldest in the Philippines.
  • Buttefly Sanctuary outside Cang-apa is a great park full of colorful butterflies.

Magic is Here

Siquijor has a certain reputation among the Philippine population: many locals on the island as well as outsiders will tell you that Siquijor is the island of Aswangs (Wikipedia Article) (Philipino version of vampires) and the homeland of witchcraft. Some of the older residents of the island still practice traditional healing magic, bolo bolo. An old lady healer on Siquijor uses bolo bolo magic to help local villagers with their wounds. The technique is complicated: bolo bolo bubbles are placed in the glass of water and then stirred by blowing through a straw over an infected or injured place until the water becomes clean.

There is also a shop on the island where one can buy love potions. The real deal.

Places to Stay and Eat

  • JJ Backpackers is your best budget option, with tents or dormitories available (from ₱300 ($6.60)).
  • Czars Place in San Juan offers relatively cheap accommodation, a great bar, and live music on Fridays.
  • Tori Backpacker's Paradise has a great bar and cheap accommodation.
  • Kiwi Dive Resort offers you full diving packages, excellent food, massage – all at affordable price.
  • Philipino rhum, Tanduay, is widely available day and night and probably sells better than water on the beach.
  • JoyJoy's Restaurant is a place favorited both among the locals and among visitors for its great food and drinks.
  • Villa Marmarie between Siquijor and Larena offers some of the best food on the island: for those who would prefer quality over budget.

Getting There

Ferries run to Siquijor from Dumaguete, Tagbilaran, and Cebu. Schedules change from season to season and are subject to weather conditions.

Siquijor also has an airport – if you are willing to hire a private jet to fly you to the island and out.

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Author: wilhelminamurray. Last updated: Nov 17, 2014

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