BACK then, I only knew a few things about Siquijor. One, it’s the hometown of my late grandfather Teofisto Padayhag.
Also, I’ve heard stories about potions and folk healers associated with it. Still, the island province has fascinated me for the longest time, and I vowed to visit Siquijor after college.
Year 2015, and I saw friends’ photos of Siquijor on Facebook—its white sand beaches, giant balete tree, scenic waterfalls, sunrise and sunset. At that moment, I made plans to go. Alas, I couldn’t find company so I had to push back my travel plans.
Siquijor continued to appear in my news feed until recently; and finally, I found three other people who were up for the trip—Miguel David dela Paz from Rizal, Mik Panganiban from Batangas, and Dr. Xavier Solis from Cebu.
We left Cebu on a Friday. It was a four-hour bus ride from Cebu South Bus Terminal to Liloan port in the town of Santander. Since we failed to catch
the 10 a.m. vessel from Liloan port to Larena, Siquijor, we decided to take the 40-minute barge ride to Dumaguete City where we decided to stop by for lunch at Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries, a famous restaurant there.
At 2 p.m. we were on the boat bound for Siquijor.
At the port, we were met by kuya Isidore Ates, a tricycle driver and our tour guide. First stop for our obligatory group shot was in front of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Siquijor, Siquijor.
We also passed by Paliton beach in San Juan, Siquijor for the beautiful beach, then headed to Blue Wave Inn resort to catch the sunset.
Waterfalls, and a balete On our second day, we traveled to Lazi to catch a glimpse of the 400-plus year-old balete tree. After taking photos of the gnarled tree, we opted to try the fish spa in the stream undeneath its roots. It felt weird to feel the fish biting, but after the initial laughter, I got used to the sensation.
Having had enough of the tickling spa, I walked across the area where souvenir stalls are situated. But instead of the usual key chains and refrigerator magnets, I found bottles of love potions, voodoo doll souvenirs, strange looking leaves and roots—which are in keeping with the magic and
sorcery this place is known for.
I skimmed through the label on the bottle, which said the concoction is infused with at least 20 herbal medicines.
At P200, it’s supposed to attract love, good fortune, and is ideally used with perfume or cologne.
We then proceeded to Cambugahay Falls in the town of Lazi, 16 kilometers away. It’s important to bring water with you since you have to walk more than 100 steps to get to the falls. There is a rope swing, and if you’re brave enough you can swing around before diving into the cold waters.
Before leaving the town of Lazi, we made a stopover at San Isidro Labrador Parish Church, the oldest in Siquijor.
Our group then proceeded to Salagdoong Beach Resort in the town of Maria. This a popular destination for foreign and local visitiors.Thrill-seeking tourists dive off the 20-foot cliff here.
On our way back to the Blue Wave Inn resort, we passed by Padayhag Street. Of course, I posed for posterity on the steet sign post.
Bewitching firefly display
Our last night in Siquijor was spent in Hambilica Ecolodge, with a firefly hatchery by the sea experience. I read up about it and contacted Fines, the owner of the place.
Fines gave us an insight about Siquijor also being called the “Magical Island of Fire”— because of the glow coming from the fireflies, which we saw for ourselves near the area.
While enjoying our continental breakfast the following day, we could hear the chirping of the birds. Apparently, her lush garden
is also a bird sanctuary. In full bloom were bougainvilleas and gumamelas.
Truly, Siquijor is an island of magical beauty that offers the perfect setting for a relaxing getaway. Personally, it was a welcome break from the daily grind of city life.
And because we traveled as a group, I only spent close to P4,000 for our entire trip, to include bus fare, boat tickets (Cebu to Dumaguete and Dumaguete to Siquijor), food, accommodation and the tricycle rent for our stay.