The island province of Siquijor is the third smallest province in the Philippines in terms of land area and also one of the least populated. Located in the Central Visayas part, this island has been underrated in terms of tourism unlike its neighboring provinces of Bohol, Cebu and Negros. A legend might one of the reason why Siquijor is being left behind in the bucket list destination of some travelers. Land of sorcery, witchcraft, hexes and mythical creatures – these are the trademarks of the island. It is also called as the magical island full of mysteries. However, despite of the not-so-good reputation of Siquijor, a secret paradise is hidden in this small and remote island.
It was five years ago when me and my friends backpacked to this province. The reason why we decided to choose this place was for one reason – curiosity. We just wanted to know if the legend about this island is true, and also to discover the hidden beauty of the place. From Tagbilaran City port of Bohol province, we took a ferry for one and a half hour trip bound to the port of Siquijor. As the ferry docked in to the port, we suddenly felt very unusual. The place was not crowded and we were the only local tourists who arrived that time, and yet, there were some group of foreign tourists.
We didn’t have an itinerary nor a prebooked accommodaton. So, we asked some local tricycle drivers where we can get an affordable accommodation for just a night. Fortunately, there was one who helped and brought us to a guest house just twenty minutes drive from the port. The owner of the guest house is kind and accommodating. She even suggested some tourist destinations we can go to. She also gave us a lot of reminders while staying in the island, which a bit creepy. We should not looked straight in the eyes when we meet some locals there, we shouldn’t stay late at night outside and we must be careful where and what to eat. Her reminders were sound much of concerned but kind of scary. She was very pleased in our presence in the island because according to her, there were very few local tourists are visiting Siquijor, most of their visitors were foreigners.
Since we arrived afternoon, we got a chance to roam and visit some nearby tourist spots. We hired a motorcycle because there are no other public transportation available aside from tricycle. Driving a motorcycle is much better as we didn’t plan to go far. As we drive around, we noticed that there were only few residents outside, the vehicles on the road were not that much, and the whole area was very quiet. There were no malls, no movie houses, no big fastfood chains and amusement park. Siquijor is indeed lacking in terms of progression and development. There are hotels, resorts and restaurants in the island, but mostly owned by foreigners married to Filipino women.
Our night in Siquijor was a bit creepy because it was very quiet and the only sound we heard were from crickets. We were all scared to sleep for some reasons, or maybe it’s just in our mind, the things we knew about the island. Though we didn’t have a good night sleep, we were all energized when we woke up very early in the morning because it’s the day of our real journey in Siquijor. A mixed of excitement and nervousness – that’s how I described how I felt that day.
We hired a tricycle driver to bring us to our destinations. Along the way, the driver told us about the truth behind the legend of their place. According to him, what we already heard about sorcery and witchcraft are true. There are two kinds of witches exist in the island – the sorcerers who seek to destroy or inflict harm and the shamans who heal and save lives. But these practices in the island are limited to some places only. Most of the residents of Siquijor are already adapting the modern living similar to those in other provinces.
The island is starting to build their reputation by promoting their beautiful tourist spots – clear water beaches, stunning falls, cliff diving spots, historical places and old churches. Still, Siquijor will remain as the magical island paradise.