Thursday, October 25, 2007

isla del fuego

siquijor was christened by the early spanish settlers christened, as the "island of fire," referring to the eerie luminescence generated by swarms of fireflies nestled among the foliage of the molave trees that crowd the island. laid-back, serene, and mystical, the island of siquijor is a haven for the weary soul.

october 22. we rode a slow boat, hoping that we would see some whales on our way to siquijor. we were unlucky. hopefully, on wednesday, when we leave siquijor for dumaguete, we will see some whales. the ride was almost an hour and 10 minutes. it was a lot slower compared to a fast raft which could take only 45 minutes, but it was so much fun. the ride was kind of smooth and it wasn’t bumpy at all. it was my first time to ride a boat, and i can proudly say that i never threw up, hahaha.
seeing siguijor island for the first time was such a thrill. i’ve never seen anything like it before. first stop was the tourist assistance center where we were warmly greeted by its wonderful receptionist, jessie mary buctolan. she was very knowledgeable about the island of siquijor and she was able to answer all of our inquiry. we had a tough time deciding where to stay. based on my research, coral cay beach resort is the nicer and also the more affordable resort. ricky’s doctor friend told him that the dondeezco beach resort would be the better choice. although i’ve never heared of that place, we all took the risk and rode a tricycle all the way to dondeezco.

dondeezco beach resort, brgy. dumanhog, siquijor

over dondeezco, we checked their facilities, rooms, menu, beach, pools, everything. we thought that the place was nice so decided to check in. we all unpack our things and put them in the drawers, turned on the tv, and planned our itinerary. at 4pm, i went out to the beach and started taking pictures. it was fun, although my friends decided to stay in our room. later that afternoon, they swam in the pool while i was filming by the beach. it was a great time for me to explore the beach and look for unknown creatures because there was a low tide and there’d be more things to take pictures of.

we had dinner around 7pm. we ordered pancit canton, sizzling squid with vegetables, and tinolang manok. each order is good for 3-4 persons and they are all served hot and fresh. it was a little pricey but reasonable enough. honestly, my friends were having a tight budget and they would never approve eating at dondeezco. i thought it would be nice to stay for dinner, and so i convinced them to stay for dinner. after our wonderful meal, we stayed at the boulevard. it is like a big platform facing the beach, with coconut trees, and some relaxing lights. james took out his laptop to the boulevard so i can work with my blog. after two hours, it became a little cold, so we decided to head back to our room and have a nice rest.

october 23. i looked at the beach first thing in the morning and hoped that i would see the sunrise. i woke up late so i’ve missed it. it was almost 8:30am and my friends haven’t decided what to do yet. i became impatient so i thought i should explore the island with a local guide. zaldi, the resort’s gym instructor offered to look for a guide to tour me around the island on a motorbike. after 10 minutes, he introduced me to jerome baguio, my guide. he is a 23-year old kid, a native siquijodnon.

jerome, a local guide from brgy. dumanhog

jerome took me to siquijor’s famous landmarks like the century old enchanted balete tree, san juan de capilay spring park, saint isidore labradore church and convent, cambugahay falls, our lady of divine providence church, saint francis de assisi church and bell tower, and many others.

saint isidore labradore church, 1884

lazi convent, 1884

saint isidore labradore church and convent was built by the spaniards in 1884. it is reputed to be the biggest and one of the oldest convents in the philippines. it is believed to have been the vacation house for the diocese’s priests at that time.

cambugahay falls; tigbawan, lazi

cambugahay falls is the only enchanted falls in the island of siquijor. you can see its several levels of waterfalls and enjoy its cool and refreshing waters. upon visiting this falls, i met some unexpected guests, manilyn and james, who are visitors of this falls. we made friends with them and james was so nice to show us some of his diving moves.

century old balete tree is in the campalanas area. many believe that it is enchanted because of its eerie outline created by its roots and vines hanging down. you will also notice that there is water flowing underneath it running straight to the man-made stream which also adds to its mystery. no one can tell me where the water was coming from.

salagdoong beach resort, brgy. maria

salagdoong beach resort is probably the best spot in the island. aside from its vast forest, it also has beautiful beach with pristine cystal-clear waters, powdery white sands, big rock formations and also favorable diving spots which results to frequent visitors. molave trees ushers the visitors to the intramural breadth of the beach. its beachfronts are covered with fine white sands which resulted to hundreds of huts and cottages from different resorts. they all provide a homely ambiance for visitors and swimmers.

church and bell tower of saint francis of assisi, 1870

church and bell tower of saint francis of assisi was built in 1870. it was made mostly of corals and it is located right in the town of siquijor. this might be the first thing you will see once you arrive the island and it would welcome all of the guests and travelers a grand siquijor welcome with blessings and goodwill. the bell tower was built to protect and forewarn the locals of approaching pirates and other adversaries
after touring siquijor with jerome, i realized that the people of siquijor are actually shy, very warm, friendly, and loving people. the tour was long and it was very eventful. my body was aching after carrying all of my heavy equipment. i enjoyed every single minute of it and it was so unforgettable. as the tour ends, jerome gave me a firm handshake, a warm smile, and said “it’s been a pleasure, sir. i will never forget you.”

my friends ate dinner at a restaurant near the port, while uploaded all my pictures to james’ computer. inspired with all i’ve seen, as i close my eyes and think about the entire day, words started to flow, and then i started to write, with a smile on my face. i didn’t want to eat out, so i decided to stay in dondeezco for dinner. while i am sitting on the boulevard and facing the beach, i’ve had sizzling boneless chicken with fries on the side, two bottles of coke, and a glass of ice-cold water. it was the best meal in my entire trip and i felt great satisfaction.

october 24. the sound of the alarm woke us at 4am. we had to prepare our things and take a shower really quick so we can catch the first boat going to dumaguete. it breaks my heart leaving that day for i haven’t taken a picture yet of siquijor’s sunrise. it was still dark outside when we got in the resort’s shuttle service which would take us to the port. at exactly 5:50am, we left siquijor. the view from the boat was so spectacular yet i never photographed it. so again, i closed my eyes and photographed it, in my mind. i just wanted something that i can save in my memory, and not just in a computer’s hard drive. we had to be back to bacolod for our afternoon flight to manila at 5:35pm via cebu pacific. i bought some pasalubong and had burgers for lunch.

it brought tears to my eyes as the plane left bacolod city. i was looking down and i could see the beautiful city of bacolod waving at me, asking me to come back. it was an emotional time for me and my heart was beating so fast, telling me to reconsider. my answer is YES, i would definitely come back.


LAWSTUDE said...

Hello. I have been to Siquijor too and the place is really amazing. Too bad that I have not seen the falls because it was raining for three days so the falls was submerged in the lake.

Anyways, great pic you got in here. Take care.

biyahengpinoy said...

lawstude, thank you for visiting. i could see that we've visited the same spots in siquijor. we're both lucky to see this place.

Anonymous said...

hey,,,,siquijor guide!!! do you realy know what siquijor could offer to tourists? it's very far more great and wonderfull than any siquijodnon except me and 3 other fellows would ever know, a cave in that island features a underwater river that is far more bigger and longer than that underwater river in palawan... it takes a 60mtr drop and a 7mtr dive to get inside that cave,, tell this info, to ur useless tourism officers.... we are the founder of that cave,and we have a map for it...

Cagayan de Oro map said...

Hi.. got interested in going there to take some pictures and for vacation as well.:) can you give me an estimate on how much you'll spend for a 3-day stay there?