The island has a deep-seated history of stories and tales, yet the truth can sometimes be just as fascinating as what many believe is fiction, and to those that believe that what is truth is simply a statement told by those that do not see through a mystic’s eye. The duality of the island is present in everyday life.
A place where everyone smiles and waves, where everyone asks if there is anything you need, and where the islands romance is present as a way of life and not simply as a marketing ploy!
From the moment you step foot on the island you know you are in a special place. A Siquijor legend tells of a great storm which once engulfed the region. Then there came a strong earthquake that shook the earth and sea. Amidst the lightning and thunder arose an island from the depths of the ocean’s womb which came to be known as the island. Despite being a legend, modern times highland farmers have unraveled giant shell casings under farm plots, supporting the theory that Siquijor is indeed an island that rose from the sea.
The view from the shorelines and from the centralized mountain tops are breath taking. Spending the day motoring on a rented scoter can take you around the island and tempt you with waterfalls and historic sites. There is not much in the way of road traffic and tourism is localized around the larger resorts that will dot the lush beaches around the island.
So enchanted is the island that even the Spanish Colonists viewed with a mystic aura. The island was first sighted by the Spaniards in 1565 during Miguel López de Legazpi’s expedition. The Spaniards called the island Isla del Fuego (“Island of Fire”), because the island gave off an eerie glow, from the great swarms of fireflies that lived in the numerous molave trees on the island. Esteban Rodríguez of the Legazpi expedition led the first Spaniards to discover the island. He was captain of a small party that left Legazpi’s camp in Bohol to explore the nearby islands, which are now called Pamilican, Siquijor, and Negros.
The highland area is home to the country’s only holistic and herbal medicine symposium. Located directly in the middle of the island and at the highest point, the park in which the symposium is conducted hosts several viewing towers that makes for some great viewing. Just south of the park, towards the town of San Antonio, a wild troop of Macaque Monkeys reside in the forest line.
Visiting the 400-year-old Baete tree is a must. As with many sites on Siquijor, the Balete Tree has a mystical and spiritual reputation that is supported in local folklore. This 400-year old tree is often used for sacred rituals by the local shamen. It is very unlikely that you will come upon any mystic rituals during your visit, however. Instead, you’ll be dipping your toes into the fishpond at the base of the tree. Have a seat and let the tilapia fish eat the dead skin off the soles of your feet, which is a common local practice to keep the feet healthy and rejuvenated. As you sit, look up and you can gawk at the size of this majestic Balete Tree with hundreds of thick vines hanging all around.
Lugnason Falls is idyllic, with clear rushing water that spills out into a turquoise basin below. The depth of the pool is perfect for swimming and the pressure from the falls is usually ideal for getting an aqua back massage. The fall’s water comes from a steam up above that is fed by a natural spring. For a few years, the spring was totally dried up and there were no falls. Then, it is said that local shaman blessed the springs and water came back to life.
The over all mystique and wonder of the island has dazzled many travelers over the years. The island is focused on conservation and environmentally sustainable tourism, so you can be assured that there are efforts to preserve its beauty for years to come.