Salagdoong Beach in Maria, Siquijor
Siquijor is an 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.
Called Isla del Fuego or the "Island of Fire" during the Spanish colonial period, Siquijor is commonly associated with mystic traditions that the island's growing tourism industry capitalizes on.
The whole island of Siquijor was declared a marine reserve and tourist zone in 1978 by virtue of Proclamation No. 1810. As such, the island-province will be developed into a major tourist destination under the supervision of the Philippine Tourism Authority.
Known for its scenic beauty and archaic churches, Siquijor is also blessed with natural and historical attractions. Its unspoiled environment and the warm hospitality of its people never fail to beckon visitors from all over. The serenity of the whole province makes it ideal for a perfect getaway.
It lures nature lovers and adventurers to explore its numerous caves, springs and rivers, and to climb up Mount Bandilaan, the highest peak at the center of the island. Being a coral island, it also invites diving enthusiasts to explore the reefs surrounding the island, teeming with marine life which have been remarkably left untouched. For tourists who just want to lay back and relax, the island offers a never-ending stretch of white sand beaches, all 102 kilometers of shorelines surrounding the island. It also provides a trip to the past with the old Cang-Isok house, St. Francis de Assisi Church, St. Isidore Labrador Parish and Convent which is reputed to be one of the country's largest convents.
With such varied tourist attractions, Siquijor looms as the playground of the Central Visayas region.
Very little is known about Siquijor and its inhabitants before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. During its occupation, however, caves in the island yielded old China wares which could mean Chinese traders had arrived earlier. It is thought that the island was once thickly covered with molave or “tugas”, thus the island was called Katugasan by early folks. The lush vegetation in the hilly lands attracted great swarms of fireflies, thus trees were all lit up with the luminous creatures. Perplexed by the trees aglow with fireflies, the Spaniards called the place Isla del Fuego or Island of Fire. The inhabitants on the other hand, believed that the island rose from the sea amid fire, thunder and lightning, thus the name Isla del Fuego.
Esteban Rodriguez of the Legazpi Expedition in 1565 led the first Spaniards to officially “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 Pamilacan, Siquijor and Negros.
Founded in 1783 under the administration of secular clergymen, Siquijor became the first municipality as well as the first parish to be established on the island. Siquijor was from the begining administered by the diocese of Cebu. As for civil administration, Siquijor was under Bohol since this province had its own governor. The first Agustinian Recollect priest, Father Vicente Garcia, arrived in Siquijor in 1794. Several years thereafter, priests of the same order founded the parishes of Larena (initially called Can-oan), Lazi (formerly Tigbawan), San Juan (Makalipay) and Maria (Cang-meniao). With the exception of Enrique Villanueva, all of the present six municipalities had been established as parishes by 1877. From 1854 to 1892, Siquijor became part of the province of Negros Oriental, and became a sub-province in 1901.
In 1971, Siquijor became an independent province by virtue of Republic Act No. 6398. The capital was officially transferred from Larena to Siquijor in 1972 through a plebiscite held on November 8, 1971 and confirmed through Proclamation No. 1075.
Siquijor's old reputation as a place of magic and sorcery both attracts visitors and keeps them away. Siquijor is also well known for its festivals that focus on primitive healing rituals where incantations are sung while the old folk make potions out of herbs, roots, insects and tree barks. In hushed talks, locals would share a story or two about folk legends pointing to the existence of witchcraft and witches in the island.
Among the many attractions are the beaches, caves, waterfalls, Bandilaan Natural Park, and butterfly sanctuary. White sand beaches make up most of the 102-kilometer coastline of Siquijor.
The coral reefs ringing the island offer some of the best diving in the Philippines for snorkelers and scuba divers. Dive courses are conducted by several dive operators on the island in version of PADI, CMAS and NAUI. Siquijor was declared a marine reserve in 1978.
During 2007, data from the Philippine Department of Tourism showed that Siquijor posted the highest growth in visitor arrivals among the four provinces in Region VII.
White Sand Beaches
The island is dotted with beautiful white sand beaches. There are kilometers of beaches and bays. Some of these have already been developed into resorts.
There are 10 declared marine sanctuaries and one marine reserve that contain abundant species of fishes, corals, seagrasses and other waterlife. These are excellent attractions for diving enthusiasts.
Approximately over 45 caves have been identified throughout the island, the most famous of which is Cantabon Cave located within the municipality of Siquijor that contains huge chambers with abundant deposits of stalactites and a subterranean stream. Other caves that have already been assessed by researchers include Eugenia Cave in Luzong, Siquijor; Boljo Cave in Ponong, Siquijor; Cangmatnog cave in Cangmatnog, Siquijor; Mt. Bandilaan Cave in Bandilaan, Siquijor and Sam-ang Cave, Caipilan, Siquijor.
Springs and Waterfalls
Include the Capilay Spring Park in San Juan and Cambugahay falls in Lazi with a series of low-level waterfalls and descending cool pools of water.
Natural Park and Forest
Includes Bandilaan Natural Park located at the center of the island with an average elevation of 300 masl with the highest peak of 557 meters. Bulalakaw Forest Reservation in San Juan is one of the islands remaining virgin forests with caves and small springs. It is the habitat of several endangered plants and animal species.
- Solili Festival
Siquijor Charter Day(Siquijor)
Being a traditional marriage ritual practiced by the Siquijor people since before, the Solili dance gained recognition and is well-applauled in the country's tourism showcase. Solili is also the dominant festival in the showdown of festivals highlighting the celebration of the “Araw ng Siquijor” on September 17 every year.
- Dilaab Festival
1st Week of October(Siquijor, Siquijor)
Dilaab’ suggests the distinct hospitality that the Siquijodnons are popularly known for, and the name the island was once-known for “Isla de Fuego” because of the swarm of fireflies nestled in the island at night. The festival also gives due recognition to the natural assets of Siquijor and in honor of the town’s patron saint, St. Francis of Asisi, who is known as a lover of nature.
- Bugwas Festival
Last Week of August(San Juan, Siquijor)
The festival is San Juan’s way of celebrating a bountiful and abundant harvest in honor of their patron saint, St. Augustine. Bugwas means a spurt of water coming from an underground source, which flows freely in the open ground. Since San Juan is blessed with abundant spring waters, these waters give the farmers bountiful harvest, the fisherfolk with an abundant catch and making the life of the people of San Juan happier and fruitful because of a good and bountiful harvest each year.
- Saging Festival
2nd Week of May (Lazi, Siquijor)
Recognizing the importance of saging (banana) in the lives of the people with its many uses, the story of how this plant came to exist is being depicted in dances during the town's fiesta on May 15. The Saging Festival is also done to showcase the variety of bananas and a way of praising for the abundance of the harvest.
- Lubi Festival
3rd Week of May (Maria, Siquijor)
A joyful expression of thanksgiving in honor of the patron Saint Our Lady of the Divine Providence for a bountiful harvest and blessings received from the tree of life locally known as “Lubi” (coconut). Held every 21st of May, the dance contest portraying the festival is one of the highlights of the town's fiesta celebration.
- Pamukad Festival
2nd Week of July (Enrique Villanueva, Siquijor)
Expressing greatness, joy and thanksgiving of the bountiful catch of fish through the intercession of Divine power, the Pamukad demonstrated the different fishing routines and rituals of the fisherfolks. The festival is held s couple of days before July 16 every year, which is the town's fiesta celebration.
- Canoan Festival
One of the highlights of their town Fiesta.
What to See
- Salagdoong Beach 6 kms northeast of Maria. Favourite with the locals and great for swimming and snorkelling. There are also water slides and places to dive into the sea.
- Kagusuan Beach Noted for its picturesque seascape and rock formation, it is situated below a cliff and accessible by concrete staircase.
- Siquijor Beach Several white sand beach resorts dot the coastal areas.
- San Juan Beach Lots of beach resorts and great for snorkelling and scuba diving.
- Cambugahay Falls Impressive 3 tiered waterfalls just outside Lazi. Great for swimming.
- Lugnason Falls Nice waterfall close to San Juan.
- Capilay Spring Park A natural spring fed swimming pool in the centre of San Juan. A favourite with the locals at weekends.
- Cantabon Cave Takes 1.5 hrs to walk through and you need to register in the town before venturing inside. Local guide required (they hang around the cave) as the cave is locked up.
- San Isidro Labrador Convent Reputed to be the biggest and one of the oldest convents in the Philippines, the Spaniards started construction in 1887 and was completed in 1894. Declared as a historical landmark by the Philippine Historical Commission.
- Buterfly Sanctuary Just outside Cang-apa. Sign posted from the main road.
- Balete Tree Supposedly enchanted old tree covered in hundreds of roots and vines.
Where to Dine
- Joyjoy's Restaurant, at the beginning of the Pier of Siquijor town.
- Sakura Restaurant, in the center of town. They have a variety of dishes. P 40 and up. Great chicken curry and soups.
- Sammy's Pizza, right in the center.
- Villa Marmarine, three kilometers north of Siquijor going towards Larena. Good food, maybe the best on the island.
- Crosspoint, in center of town in Larena.
- Al Capone's Pizzeria, Marjunnix Building (Corner Logarta and Legaspi Streets), Open 10AM-midnight. Great pizza using 100% imported meats and cheeses. Awesome sandwiches on French baguettes.
- Hollyette's Restaurant & Bar, North Poblacion Larena (in the City of Larena, close to Larena Pier), From 9AM. International restaurant, very clean and always well stocked. Guaranteed best food on the Island of Siquijor. Imported and local drinks. Sports bar with 32" Cable TV. Alternate room reservations at local rate. Domestic flight bookings. Aberration Dive Club. Free WiFi Internet DSL-Connection.
- Kawayan Holiday Resort - Luxury Boutique Style Resort, Cangmunag - Siquijor, Open from 12 noon to 10 pm. The Kawayan Holiday Resort has two restaurants in top location. The main restaurant serves you international cuisine and it is located directly next to the swimming pool with "Infinity" look that gives you also direct views to the sunset and "Apo Island". The Restaurant provides also a big lounge area around the pool. We offer our guests a varied menu with selected international and national courts. Mainly from Europe, Japan and the Philippines. On the daily menu card is offered special creations from the kitchen as well as the fresh catch of local fishermen (Catch Of The Day). Our internationally experienced kitchen staff puts emphasis on high standards of preparation and presentation of various dishes. It almost exclusively fresh ingredients are used.
There are quite a number of resorts distributed in the six municipalities. Here is a list of resorts/lodging houses/pensionne houses, which are privately owned and managed that are operational on Siquijor Island. Or you can download the updated list of accommodations in the island with their contact number here.
- Web’s Legacy Inn - Pier Area, Siquijor (temporarily closed)
- Hotel Agripino - Olang, Maria
- Salagdoong Beach Resort - Olang, Maria
- Coco Grove Beach Resort - Tubod, San Juan
- Blue Wave Inn - Dumanhog, Siquijor
- Casa dela Playa Beach Resort - Sandugan, Larena
- Charisma Beach Resort & Restaurant - Solangon, San Juan
- Cliff Side Beach Resort & Cottages - Sandugan, Larena
- Coral Cay Resort & Dive Shop - Solangon, San Juan
- Danish Lagoon Luxury Beach Resort - Paliton, San Juan
- Dondeezco Beach Resort - Dumanhog, Siquijor
- Eastside Cottages - Maite, San Juan
Lodging and Pensionne Houses
- Angel’s Little Backpackers - Helen, Larena
- Buhisan Lodge - Poblacion, Siquijor
- Chell’s Guest House - Paliton, San Juan
- Czar’s Place - Maite, San Juan
- Das Traum Guest House - Pangi, Siquijor
- DepEd Training Center - Solangon, San Juan
- Diamond de Siquijor - Calalinan, Siquijor
- Guiwanon Spring Park - Luyang, Siquijor
- Hard Rock Cottages - Bitaug, Enrique Villanueva
- Karlson Guest House - Sandugan, Larena
The province has three big seaports strategically located in Larena, Lazi, and Siquijor. The port in Larena is the main entry point of the province. It can accommodate ships of up to 500 tons. With the recent entry of the fast craft to Siquijor, Larena port is becoming a hub of travelers in the province. The port links Siquijor to Iligan and Plaridel in Mindanao, and the cities of Cebu, Dumaguete, and Tagbilaran. The port is up for expansion, increasing its capacity by 200 tons.
There is a frequent passenger boat traffic from Dumaguete and ships from Cebu. There are also direct boats to/from Tagbilaran on Bohol.
- Hire a motorbike for around 350 pesos per day (cheaper for long term). Available from Siquijor town and many resorts.
- Hire a tricycle.
- Jump on a Jeepney.