One of my favorite places in the Philippines is Siquijor. It is located in the Visayas. Otherwise known as Isla del Fuego (Island of Fire), it got the monicker because there used to be an abundance of fireflies in the area, making the island look lit. Though the island is truly captivating, it gained notoriety as the sorcerers’/witches’ island. There lay the attraction for me. I miss Siquijor. I’ve always felt at home there. I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.
The best beaches are at Coco Grove Beach Resort, Blue Wave Inn, Paliton Beach & Salagdoong Beach. If you want to splurge, go to Coco Grove. It’s the best in the island, trust me on this. The resort has big pools. I didn’t have many pictures of Coco Grove because I was too dazed & happy. Internet & mobile signals suck, but if you’re on vacation, ditch the gadgets. The beach huts in Charisma’s Beach Resort are pretty & inexpensive, but beach itself isn’t that great. Good thing they have a pool. Blue Wave Inn has a nice beach, strong wi-fi signal & good food. It is the nearest to the pier too (around 10 minutes?). The prices were reasonable, but the rooms need improvement. There are other cheap accommodations but I’m only doing a review about the resorts I’ve been to.
Up & About
Why People Are Really Here
When I first went there, the first thing I asked was where the witches & sorcerers were. The usual reply would be there weren’t any or the stories weren’t true. I kept going back to the island, and made friends with the locals. One time, when we were drinking, they told me all the juicy stuff. Most of them are in barangay San Antonio. The “scary” ones are in a place I will not say here, somewhere deep in the mountains of Siquijor. Are the rumors true? Yes. Have I witnessed any Harry Potter-like happenings? Yes. Are there any aswangs? I don’t know. I hoped there was, I would have loved to meet one.
There are the sorcerers for tourists, and there are the real ones. The latter don’t really go around announcing who they are. I was introduced to an extraordinary guy. He looked ordinary, I wouldn’t have guessed he was Voldemort. Befriend locals, and they will point you to the right direction. They are healers too. If they can hex you, they can also reverse it.
I don’t want to say anything more, I might get into trouble (ooops, too late!). The people of the island are friendly. Just be respectful at all times when going to new place. You don’t want to go home with an extra appendage growing on you, do you?
How to Get There
There are no flights to Siquijor. One has to go through Dumaguete first.
Manila-Dumaguete & Cebu-Dumaguete flights:
Cebu-Siquijor via Oceanjet
This route is for lazy people like me. It makes short stopovers (15 minutes) in Tagbilaran & Dumaguete, but you don’t have to disembark. The fare is about 1000+. Best time to leave is through the 6 am trip. You arrive in Siquijor around 2pm or 230 pm. You have the option to disembark in Dumaguete & ride the smaller boats instead. Oceanjet fare would be around 950. I don’t recommend taking the smaller boats if you easily get sea sick or afraid. The seas can be rough when crossing to the island. It takes almost two hours to reach the island from Dumaguete.
Cebu- Dumaguete via Liloan, Santander port
This is the cheapest option, and shorter than the Oceanjet route. Take a Ceres bus or van in Cebu South Terminal. Bus travel is around 3.5 hours to Liloan port. Van is probably lesser. Take the ferry for Sibulan port. The fare is around 40 I think. Travel time is 20–25 minutes. Upon reaching Sibulan port, look for a tricycle to take you to Dumaguete City. Travel time is around 15–20 minutes. Pay 100 if you are in a hurry and can’t wait for other passengers to fill the tricycle.
Best Time to Go
The best time to go is when Siquijor hosts the Healing Festival. It happens during the Holy Week. People flock to the island to well, get healed, that’s one, buy herbal concoctions, magic oils, talismans. The center of activity is usually at Bandilaan Mountain View Park. During the festival, you will witness how the herbs are gathered, cooked and prepared. If you think this would be the time they give away their secret oraciones (prayers, usually in Latin) or ingredients, you will be disappointed—they don’t. Go there on a Holy Tuesday, or Holy Wednesday at the latest. There is a surge of tourists during those times. But if you ask me, any time is the best time to go.