I have long postponed this visit to Siquijor. Blame them tales about sorcerers and voodoo magic. Poor Siquijor. The urban legend spun by the locals themselves worked to dispel evil forces represented by pirates then, but somehow the “horror stories” stuck through the years. Obviously, the residents of this tiny island were good storytellers. Good enough to scare off the sea pirates who used to pillage the former Isla de Fuego. The island was then called Isla de Fuego or Island of Fire by the Spaniards in the 16th century because of the glow created by the swarms of fireflies found on the island. Who would have thought it would later earn notoriety as a haven for witchcraft and nest for sorcerers?
From Dumaguete Pier at the end of Rizal Boulevard, an Ocean Jet can whisk you in 45 minutes to the tiny island province of Siquijor!
We left the Dumaguete Wharf just before 8am and our Ocean Jet
reached the “voodoo capital of the country” some 45 minutes later. A hired van fetched us from the pier and we were soon on our way to visit the top island attractions after a brief stop at the 18th century Saint Francis Church. The church doors were adorned with rope curtains to keep the birds off. Ingenious.
The Saint Francis Church is the first island attraction to welcome you in this island. Nearby is a centuries-old belfry.
We likewise visited the Capilay Spring Park at the base of another church. Then the ancient balete tree (teeming with more urban legends) where a local vendor has on display various bottles of “herbal medicine”. I bought one not exactly knowing what it was for. Inside the tiny bottles were tree barks soaked in coconut oil which oil can be anointed on any ailing part of the body. Or so I thought. Until my friend read the label : the oil is used to drive away bad elements much like what “evil eyes” in Turkey do for you.
The Balete Tree of Siquijor. More urban legends here. Listen up!
The Lovely Saint Isidore Church. Siquijor.
Soon we reached the Lazi Church (St. Isidore Church) and Convent, allegedly the biggest convent in Asia. Lovely centuries-old structures facing each other across a road lined with acacia trees. The church interiors and the 2nd floor Museum in the Convent can do with some repairs, but it’s fascinating to find such treasures in this tiny island of just over 80,000 residents. Browsing through the Museum collections, I was reminded of Baclayon Church. Great treasures. Hardly a museum guard. In great need of repair in the name of preservation for future generations to appreciate. :-(
Inside the Lazi (Saint Isidore) Church in Siquijor.
Lazi Convent. R & R of men from clergy then?
I wonder who painted this Last Supper mural inside Lazi Convent.
My eyes were drawn to a mural of the Last Supper. Painter unknown. Then
to this piece of art that told of a sad story. Sent for restoration, replaced with a fake reproduction. Such crime only thrives where there are unconscionable peddlers and willing, just as dishonest if not outright criminal moneyed buyers disguised as art collectors. A sob tale. But we know it happens everywhere to a point I wonder over the pleasure of buyers keeping such treasures off-display, hidden, for their personal, exclusive viewing. Sucks, right?
The FAKE Tabernacle. Siquijor’s Lazi Convent-Museum.
Cambugahay Falls. 135 Steps. Up and Down. 270 in all.
Cambugahay Falls is just 2 kilometers north of Lazi and is a great prelude to our next stop: Salagdoog Beach Resort where we had lunch. Cambugahay requires a bit of hard work though as one goes down 135 steps, then climbs them back up. As for Salagdoog, some of the areas damaged by Typhoon Sendong were since restored but paved. I’m not a big fan of cemented walkways, but I’m awed by a couple of slides I spotted ending right into the sea!
Care to slide straight on to the sea? Salagdoong Beach Resort.
Salagdoong Beach Resort after Typhoon Sendong. Siquijor.
Finally, our meeting with JennyLou. This young shaman got her “gift” from her late grandfather who passed on his “gift” (and stone) to his grandchild. Still under 30, Jennylou typically has busy days when visitors and “patients” drop in for a session of faith healing. Armed only with a black stone dropped into a clear mason jar and a straw-like cylinder, Jennylou promptly went to work. She put water to submerge the black stone in the jar and then moved the jar all over the patient’s body where there are ailments, aches and pain. All that while blowing into the straw-like cylinder to make bubbles. ( Bula Bula or Bulo Bulo? ) Jennylou replaces the water as it turns murky and continues making bubbles, as many times, till the water stays “clear”. Three of us tried it. The first “patient” didn’t find any improvement in her condition. The 2nd felt her body “warm up” but the back pain remained. The 3rd claimed his knee joint pains are completely gone. One out of 3? Not bad. Good score! We left Jennylou to get back to our wharf to take the ferry back to Dumaguete. We spent our time well in Siquijor. Easy circling the whole province in just a few hours. Do it as a daytrip next time you visit Dumaguete!
Bulo Bulo is a faith healing method where the shaman puts a stone into a jar filled with water and bubbles through the ailing parts of one’s body.
You can take the 5:30pm RORO (roll on, roll off) ferry if you want to spend more time in this mystical island province. Or take the Ocean Jet!