Desperately Seeking Siquijor

May 23, 2011 by

Siquijor (Seekehor) is an island with reputation. If there’s real-life Hogwarts where wizards, witches and warlocks are trained, honed and perfected — with spells to cast, potions to drop, curses to inflict pain –then our Hogwarts in the Philippines would be Siquijor. At least that’s what the reputation has told many of us over the years in hush tones. It’s mystery and enchantment interested me more than the much-publicized beaches. Heck, I have Boracay at my disposal. So one day, my friends and I decided to pack our bags and discover Siquijor.

The jetty port view with pristine waters that welcome you.

The grueling 5-hour bus ride from Bacolod plus another hour of ferry to the island worried me at first. Will this be worth the effort? I was on the ferry all tired and sleepy, blasting my ears with Maxwell on my iPod and when the engine stopped, I saw the view of the island. My jaw dropped. This indeed is worth the effort. I could have jumped off the boat straight into the waters of the jettyport and waded myself to celebrate the feeling of achievement. We have officially started our romance with Siquijor.

This is the view from our resort's restaurant.

This is our cottage at Villa Marmarine Paradise Resort

For lack of better adjective to describe our dwelling in Siquijor, we used the word rustic. And sexy.

In those beach beds, we spent our afternoons drinking ice-cold beer feeling like we owned the view (as photographed) below.

Life as we (want to) know it.

Villa Marmarine is not the highest end of the resorts chain in Siquijor. It boasts of its uniquely warm hospitality that made us feel safe and pampered. It has pretty much everything we needed: wifi, great food, hot & cold bath, TV, telephone, and beers. Most of the guests were foreigners (I think we were the only Filipinos during our stay) who bask in their solitude reading books on Kindle, hammock afternoons, no talking and just plain and simple staring out into space. It is so… Eat Pray Love. The quietness made us all giddy at first but we came to appreciate its effect on us eventually. Our resort assistant, Sally, took care of us with unfading smile, fast service, adequate familiarity, and just about everything any tourist would love to have for assistance. We noticed that the warmth is not limited to the staff of Villa Marmarine but is felt among the locales of the island. Our tourist guide, Ipee (pronounced as IP), would say you’re welcome in the most sincere manner it felt like it was unusual for me to hear such phrase. Even the vendors in town smiled at us with a subtle sense of appreciation.

We strolled around the quaint little town and the first stop would be the St. Francis of Assisi church

The Capilay Spring Park has an odd location for a swimming park. It is right in the middle of a town plaza!

The highest-end resort in Siquijor is Coco-Grove and it shows in their resort structure, the English-only policy among the staff and its amenities (pool, billiards, spa, etc). The beach is also divine so we conquered that part as well.

The Lazi Convent is declared as one of the historical landmarks of the Philippines by the Philippine National Historical Commission. It has a museum of religious relics on the second floor and a school on the ground floor.

A quaint lunch means eating in a carinderia with very minimal light. We had a feast of vegetables and soup! And it cost the six of us 350 pesos! Recession has not reached this paradise island at all!

Cambughay Falls on a regular sunny day is really flowing with blue, clear water. But during our visit, it rained in the mountains and the water turned a bit murky. In fact we were not supposed to swim because the current can get stronger unpredictably due to bad weather. But look at us. All soaked and no-care-in-this-world. We spent about a whole hour and 30 minutes making love to the falls.

The Government Beach is called as such because it is one resort that is really open to the public. I guess this is a local government move to contain its locales in one (still beautiful) beach whenever they want to swim so that the other areas that are preserved do not get maxed out by the people.

Spending two nights in Siquijor did not feel like two nights. Time flew because we had so much fun. The kind of fun that you don’t get anywhere, really. It is the kind of fun that stays with you after you have left and spent hours and hours on the road trying to recover from an experience I’d like to tag as a grandeur of simplicity. And what do I say about those rumors that involved the super-secret society of spell-casters? I don’t know. I asked our guide and he said it used to be true, the rumors. About witches and stuff. But now it has changed and the only remaining group on the island are the ‘healers’. They are an attraction in themselves because people from all over the world come to the island to ask for healing. They attribute their mystical powers to the nature and the unseen dwellers. We were too mental to actually go chasing around for stories. We did not have to haunt. It haunted us. On our first night, Moniq saw something in the washroom. We did not panic, but it made us wonder: what could it be? We were all in the veranda of the cottage, drinking and laughing, when a shadow from behind the washroom curtain appeared. Moniq saw the figure getting something from the sink and went back to the shower tub. Later, Ew also saw something in the same spot but he refused to elaborate. He probably did not want us to be more scared than we already are, but keeping the story from us did not help either. But with so many beautiful things surrounding us in the cold of night, with thunderstorm looming from the horizon of the sea, we chatted the night away with nothing but gushes of what God designed for humanity: beauty.

Siquijor is an honest island. It does not have any pretense. It lives the way it knows how to live and you get to feel its soul at your most quiet moment. When you lie on a hammock under the coconut tree with a placard that says ‘coconut fruits can fall anytime, watch out’  you realize it’s all about taking chances. And by God, taking that chance to experience Siquijor is just the perfect thing to do to say that summers can be special even if it’s not in Boracay. You have got to visit Siquijor before the world ends.

The complete cast of our Siquijor invasion: Moniq Muyargas, Gab Chance, Cristabel Parcon, Ew Magbanua and myself. Ipee is the one behind the lense.

COST QUICKIE:

Villa Marmarine accommodation Php 2,000/night (4 pax), extra  bed is Php 200/pax

Ceres Bus (aircon) from Bacolod to Dumaguete Php 310/pax ***best time to leave Bacolod is 12 MN so you arrive in Dumaguete at 5 AM. You can get breakfast and wait for 9.40 ferry to Siquijor)

Ferry from Dumaguete to Siquijor depends on what ferry you would want to take. Jaylann (non-aircon) is Php 120/pax while Delta (aircon) is Php 160/pax. Php 15/pax terminal fee is also added on top of the ticket cost.

Tricycle rides in Siquijor is regularly at Php 8/pax but it can vary depending on destination.

A day-tour of Siquijor island if you take the tricycle (good for 5 -6 pax) is Php 1,200/day, while the multicab (good for 8-10 pax) is Php 1,800/day. Just include your driver to lunch. I highly recommend our own tour guide, Ipee. You can contact him through 0927-263-3983. Just inform him that you got his number from the Iloilo group that he toured. Be kind enough to give him a reasonably generous tip.

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2 Comments

  1. eman

    fowtaks!!! super hisa ko!!! :O

  2. resy

    EXCITED! :)) thanks dear!

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