Friday, August 26, 2016

The Misunderstood Magical Island of Siquijor

Day 1: August 18 2016

Siquijor /sɪkɪˈhɔː/ (Cebuano: Lalawigan sa Siquijor, Filipino: Lalawigan ng Siquijor) is a fifth income class island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region. Its capital is the municipality also named Siquijor. To the northwest of Siquijor are Cebu and Negros, to the northeast is Bohol and to the south, across the Bohol Sea, is Mindanao. 

Siquijor is the third smallest province in the country, in terms of population as well as land area (after Camiguin and Batanes). For a time it was part of Negros Oriental.
During the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines, the Spaniards called the island Island of Fire (Spanish: Isla del Fuego). Siquijor is commonly associated with mystic traditions that the island's growing tourism industry capitalizes on.
- Says Wikipedia
Growing up as a kid, I’ve known Siquijor as home of creatures I don't want to see in my dreams nor in real life. Creatures that awakens the scaredy cat in me. This trip would really help me overcome that fear. I have friends that went home okay after a tour in this island that's why I thought that maybe the rumors aren't true at all or if they were, maybe they're not really that bad. We'll figure that out at the end of this trip.

Woke up early, I am already doubting waze that's why I will be testing the accuracy of google maps instead.

6:15 AM We started our town tour proper

6:28 AM Our first stop was Lugnason falls unfortunately there is No water to the falls due to El Nino.

Decided to eat our breakfast on a nearby eatery and head to Tubod marine sanctuary

7:00 Tubod Marine sanctuary was epic fail, it is closed
Data connection in the island is weak that's why we had to trust the locals since we find waze and google maps useless. Every journey is indeed a learning.

We refilled our water bottle on a refilling station along the way and the owner did not charge us anything. How sweet of her.

Next was Capilay Spring park - Took few photos of it.
I spotted many fish on the area, I guess some locals place them there to breed.

I almost slip on this area even though I am using a trek sandals so be very careful.

Entrance fee: None

Paliton Marine Sanctuary - No staff on the information area. Took photos and head to our next destination as we are the only people on the area and we do not want to get involve to any trouble.

Entrance fee: None

St Francis De Assisi - Obligatory selfie @ I love Siquijor

Entrance fee: None

Siquijor is a smoke free island which is good since I do not smoke, well I smoke. Secondhand smoke.

Guiwanon spring park - Closed
Our next destination is quite a challenge. We left the island's circumferential road to reach Barangay Cantabon. We went straight to their Barangay hall to register and pay the dues.

It was a long and winding Slippery road but with the help of the locals we found our way to the right location.

Cantabon Cave main entrance
Before reaching the cave opening, you have to go on a slight trek. It would only probably take your 5 - 10 minutes from the cave entrance all the way to the mouth of the cave.

We need to go through a small opening for us to enter the cave.

The ceiling is very low on the first portion so make sure to be extra careful. Now I understand why helmets and light is provided.

It was a slippery and wet tour. It just amazes me that our tour guides are on flip-flops while we are already wearing trekking sandals and we still find it hard.

I was really mesmerized to what I saw inside. This place is a treasure. No wonder that it is hard to find because all good things don't come easily.

This was probably the biggest cave I've been to.

A coral like stalagmite
OH! I'M surprised that there were cat fish living inside the cave.

We ended the tour on this mini pool, they said that there's more to see in the heart of it but since we are not professionals in this field, we decided to go back above ground. According to the guides majority of the tourist stop their tour on this area as well since the further is only for the brave heart.

Back in one piece.

Entrance fee: PHP 10/pax
Guide fee: PHP 500 for 2pax
Light rental: PHP 30/pax

I know it's pricey but I think the fee is reasonable enough as the government is properly maintaining the place.

Guiwanon spring park - Open now YAY! By the way their cottages is up for rental.

If you want to immerse yourself in nature then this is the perfect place for you.

I really thought it's a spring but it's like a Mangrove park with wooden pathway.

The end of the trail will lead you to this wooden cottage, I bet they do their seminars about marine life here.

Entrance fee: PHP 10/pax

Tulapos Marine sanctuary - We went on snorkeling but didn't go further because sea grass creeps me out. Did not spot any fish but according to the locals its best to go there during low tide so we won't need to rent a PHP 500 boat to bring us to the deeper portion of the water.

If you have strong guts you can snorkel all the way. From there you will see different kinds of fish, corals, giant clams and sometimes baby sharks.

I was very curious about this odd looking rocks and they said that it is an artificial coral that they will soon install for the fish to have additional houses.
Snorkeling fee: PHP 50/pax
Life vest rental: PHP 50/pax
Snorkel rental: PHP 50/pax

Cang isok house - Along the way we passed by the oldest standing house in the island.

This century old house is abandoned and considered as one of the tourist spots. There's nothing much to do except having a selfie and move forward to our next destination.

Entrance fee: None

Salagdoong Forest Reserve - Before you reach Salagdoong beach, you have to pass this Man-made Molave forest.

It's around a kilometer long, a picturesque view that you will wish that would never end.

Salagdoong beach resort 

This was probably the main attraction of the island because of it's diving ledge. No, I didn't jumped simply because I let my fear control me.

I am such a coward. I was looking forward to feel the adrenaline rush since day one but I was more scared than I expected.

Entrance fee: PHP 25/pax
Parking fee: PHP 10

Skipped Kangusuan beach due to time constraints

Cambugahay Falls is a 3-layer falls blessed with turquoise water where you can still feel the adrenaline rush on a lower level.

If you're too afraid like me to take higher risks you can start by jumping 1 layer at a time. I am happy to let you know that I jumped, not once but twice.

I cannot let this once in a lifetime chance to slip from my fingers.
Entrance fee: Donation only

Rushed to Balete tree - clock is ticking very fast that's why we have to be very quick.
Tested the fish spa for few minutes.

WTH? where this huge fish came from?? (Honestly it bit me but it was not painful at all!)
We Bought voodoo dolls as pasalubongs - for our office mates na akala mo may patago!

Entrance fee: Donation only

3:45 PM Back to Casa Miranda
No water when we arrived that's why we just changed our clothes and head straight to the Siquijor port to catch the 6:00 PM boat back to Dumaguete City.

4:30 PM Siquijor port - this was probably the most beautiful port I've seen. The place was gifted with fine white sand and clear waters. I could actually consider staying near the port.

Here we go again, we are already waiting for our ship to arrive.

I am beyond euphoric! Our trip to siquijor was filled with nothing but sunshine. I was really praying for a perfect weather since it was raining really bad in manila few days before this trip.

On our way back to the hustle and bustle of dumaguete city, the island unwrapped a very wonderful present. I might have missed the sunset on our first night but this time I am leaving the island life as the sun sets perfectly with matching rainbow on the side.

This time our ship was smoothly sailing.
7:40 PM Checked In at Harold's mansion. I half heartedly paid for PHP 1000 air-conditioned room. Tomorrow we'll look for more affordable place to stay that's why I made adjustments on our itinerary.

8:00 PM Ate at Harold's rooftop. We are the only pinoy here, most of the guest are foreigners. Dinner with candlelight is their peg. Food is great especially the lechon kawali.. very crunchy 

We ordered lechon kawali and adobong manok

To wrap this up, Siquijor is more enchanting than you think.
This place is indeed blessed with gems that people should see by their naked eyes.

Old stories doesn't seem to be true because I met the most sweetest locals (well, probably second sweetest because my first will always be baler locals) but yeah they are very welcoming.

Watch the summary of our trip here

Related Links:
Siquijor-Dumaguete-Apo Island-Manjuyod Sample Itinerary
Home of gentle people - Dumaguete to Siquijor 
* The Misunderstood Magical Island of Siquijor <----- YOU ARE HERE
Exploring Dumaguete 
Chasing turtles - Apo Island
Sinuyod ang Manjuyod
Negros Oriental - Siquijor Expenses

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