Small, laidback Siquijor lies between the Cebu, Negros and Bohol islands and makes a worthwhile stop on a southern itinerary. Very little is known about the island and its inhabitants before the arrival of the Spanish in the sixteenth century who named it the Isla del Fuego (“Island of Fire”) because of the eerie luminescence generated by swarms of fireflies. This sense of mystery still persists today, with many Filipinos believing Siquijor to be a centre of witchcraft. Shamans aside, Siquijor is peaceful, picturesque and a pleasure to tour, whether by bike, tricycle, motorbike or jeepney. The beaches alone make it worth a visit, but there are also mountain trails, waterfalls and old churches to explore as well as decent scuba diving.
Most places to stay are within half an hour of the port towns of Siquijor and Larena, notably around San Juan, south of Siquijor, and at Sandugan, north of Larena. A number of resorts have certified dive operators who will take you on trips to places such as Sandugan Point and Tambisan Point, both known for their coral and abundant marine life. At Paliton Beach there are three submarine caves where you can see sleeping reef sharks and at Salag-Doong Beach on the eastern side of the island divers have occasionally reported seeing manta rays and shoals of barracuda. Further afield but still within easy reach, Apo Island is another dive favourite, and is worth a visit even if you stay above water.Read More
Sorcerors on Siquijor
Sorcerors on Siquijor
Every Good Friday herbalists from around Siquijor and from the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao gather in San Antonio, in Siquijor’s pea-green hinterlands, to prepare potions made from tree bark, roots, herbs and insects. The culmination of this annual Conference of Sorcerers and Healers – now rebranded the Folk Healing Festival because it sounds less menacing – is the mixing of a mother-of-all potions in a large cauldron. As the mixture is stirred, participants gather in a circle and mumble incantations said to imbue it with extraordinary healing powers (the ceremony takes place on Good Friday in the belief that on Christ’s day of death, supernatural forces are free to wander the earth). It’s evidently a strong brew, with wide-ranging powers that include provoking a good harvest, securing a spouse or getting rid of that troublesome zit.