Siquijor did not come up short to my expectations; It has beaches, waterfalls, places for snorkeling and diving. Although in comparison to other islands, it is quite laid-back and still off the beaten path as tourists destination in the Philippines; that is alluring for me.
What added to its mystique, had been the stories we heard growing up about witches and warlocks, mangkukulam or healers and an occasional folklore about wak-wak (Philippine’s kind of monster). I was hoping to find some card readers (just for fun), or buy y’all lovely single people and me some love potions. But then I realized that I just could not afford it. Sorry.
However, some of my friends are reluctant to go to Siquijor, wondering if it is safe to travel there, still believing the old tale. As a female solo traveler, I can say that Siquijor is indeed relatively safe for travels.
I took the opportunity during the semestral break to do some traveling of my own: planning to do Siquijor, Apo Island, and Sipalay. It would have been fun to go there with A, but he was busy. And I suck at waiting. As much as I adore him, immensely, sometimes, a woman has got to do what she has got to do; especially this one. He has always been supportive of my itchy feet and restless spirit, so he sent mon derrière off with a whacking push.
So if you plan to do some soul searching, which I don’t (some people might say I’m soulless; but isn’t it logical for me to do some soul searching if I don’t have one?), then this might be the place for you. Although from what I have observed, it is best to travel Siquijor with a group of friends or as a couple. It’s kind of quiet at night time.
Like most of my travel in the Philippines, I rented a motorbike and went around the island. I luckily ended up renting from a policeman, who was quite helpful and fair. (Contact No. Alvin Ponce: 09267912368)
My first day there, Brenda, a childhood friend, decided to join me at the last minute, but she left me the next day, so I ventured out solo the rest of my days.
I was a bit hesitant at first to go out at night alone, but I got bored with myself plus I wanted to try this restaurant 19-km away from my resort. While driving in the dark road, deserted for the most part, I could not help but imagine that some supernatural being might jump on my bike and ride with me. Plus I saw some little monster faces on the side of the road, which startled me; I almost fell down on the bike only to remember it was Halloween. Despite my cynicism, it is still hard to get rid of the scary childhood stories, out of my head.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Manila or Cebu, you could take a direct flight to Dumaguete. It’s too costly to fly out from Cebu, so I took the bus. From the airport or Sibulan port, you go to Dumaguete port. There are several boat schedules in the morning for Siquijor; 7:00, 8:00 and 10:30 A.M. and a fast craft at 12:50 P.M. It costs P130 for the cargo boat, then P210 for Oceanjet.
PLACES TO SEE
There are plenty more places to see. I barely even scratch the surface, that’s why I plan to go back there and explore the not so popular ones.
1. Cambugahay Falls
I was floored when I saw this place. In this case, the expectation fits the reality. I was just content to take some pictures or take a swim, but some of the locals asked me if I liked to jump or swing. I was itching to try, but hesitant because I have a tendency to panic when the water is higher than me. Plus A is not there to hold my hand. However one of the guides in the waterfall offered to wait for me at the bottom to drag me to the shallow part. It was an awesome experience. Although it was a struggle to go back up to the road with more than a hundred steps to climb to.
2. Old Enchanted Balete Tree
This tree is quite enormous and old. One of the must-sees in Siquijor. And you could also let the fish eat some calluses in your feet. I tried to let the fish have a go, but I’ve noticed that some fish are as big as my feet, so I chickened out when they came near me. Oh, there was also a cute monkey wearing a diaper and some puppies.
3. Lazi Church and Maria Church
Lots of people stopped here to pay homage. Brenda wanted to light some candles, and also to get back her bearing after a slight accident on a motorcycle. I lit too because I ended up with lots of candles because I could not say no to the vendors. I insisted on stopping in Maria to check the statue of the saint with a weird skull on her hand.
4. Salagdoong Beach Resort
It was a bit far, but I pushed through. I wanted to try cliff jumping. By the time I arrived, it was almost dark. I was a bit relieved because it meant I would not be able to jump. But a part of me aims to try, unfortunately, even if I get the courage to jump, the problem would be the landing. I could not swim, and this time, no one is waiting for me at the bottom. But someday I’ll be back.
5. Beaches, Places to Stay and Eat
I stayed a bit far from the busy area, in Islandia resort and yet near the attractions. I had a beach front cottage. There are only two, so it felt like I have the resort all to myself. I planned to stay longer, but I just can’t take the silent at night, anymore. Islandia has good food, but you should check out Baha Bar. The food is delicious and affordable.
6. Larena Triad Coffee Shop
The locals warned me to be careful. Some even offered to guide me going there. I understood why. It wasn’t a smooth ride going up to the steep, winding and rocky road since some parts are unpaved. I’ve noticed that most people who went there were in groups and riding a van. I was the only one, at that time, brave or stupid (whichever way you see it) enough to venture out there in a pink scooter.
Balinsasayao Twin Lakes
After Siquijor, I was gearing to go back to Dumaguete then head out to Apo Island, but I heard that I might end up renting the whole boat to go to the island. I was not in the mood to ask some strangers if I could join and split the cost. So I put Apo at the back corner, for the next travel.
However, I have always been curious about the Twin Lakes up in the mountain of Sibulan: Balinsasayao and Danao. It was quite far, but it’s worth to see these amazing and serene wonders located on top of the mountain, nestled within the thick rainforest. If you find yourself there, though, please don’t forget to give a small tip to your boat rower. They don’t earn much. I tried to help him row, and it was very tiring, and to think I was doing it for fun.