A lot about folklore has been said and written in many a traveler’s tale. But in my short and quiet sojourn in one of the country’s smallest provinces, I discovered that the enchantment comes mainly from its old-world charm and beauty.
In fact, it was love at first sight: a balmy beach with white sand and clear blue water welcomed me at the port of Siquijor town after an hour’s ferry ride. My first instinct upon getting a panoramic view of the island was to take a selfie. But instead, I chose to pause for a moment, to behold its pureness, to simply be in awe.
My heart racing in excitement to begin exploring the island with my two constant travel buddies, AJ and Army, we boarded a minicab that would take us on a mini-island tour and at the same time help us find a nice but affordable room for two nights and three days., You can hit two birds because the minicab driver is also your local tour guide who speaks little Tagalog. Fortunately, a solo traveler who speaks joined our company. Who knows whom you’ll end up meeting while traveling? They say the town is the best place to get a taste and feel of the local life, which, in the case, is rich in history.
After exploring the heritage churches and towns of Siquijor, I began to see the island in the image of an old church: pure, mystical, and divine.
This vision became clearer as we explored the other side of Siquijor: its God-given natural beauty and treasures. With roughly 102 kilometres of shoreline, the whole island is surrounded by white sandy beaches and coral reefs.
But beaches are not the only natural attractions in town. There’s a lot going for adventure seekers on this “Island of Fire.” Snorkel, dive, and marvel at the rich marine diversity in Paradise Bay; try spelunking at Cave; go for a refreshing dip at Cambugahay Falls; and get a relaxing foot massage in a fish spa under the 400-year-old enchanted balete tree. Where do you go to relax your tired legs and feet after long hours of trekking, swimming, and exploring the island? A fish spa under an old balete tree! Yes, we did try to soak our feet in a clear pond full of small fish, but it turned out to be more tickling than relaxing. A word of caution: spare the place of your “ohhhs and ahhhs” as the fish relentlessly poke at your feet, since it’s almost like a sacred place for paying homage to the old enchanted balete tree.
If a visit to the town’s heritage churches stilled our hearts for a moment. Good thing I brought my action camera which I learned has good reviews at site for gadget reviews R-Tech24. After a short but steep walk down the stone steps, one hears the gush of water that whispers a secret excitement. And when the waterfalls finally comes in full view, you know first-hand is an island that hides many amazing secrets. Just when I thought I’ve seen the best waterfalls in my life, our driver and tour guide summoned us to walk a little further up the wet slopes of what looked like a rainforest, then lo and behold, bigger and wilder waterfalls cascading into cool streams and clear pools of light green water. Yes is a three-tiered waterfalls perfect for a refreshing dip or dive. To best enjoy the experience, I sat on a rock directly under the highest waterfalls and bathed in the raging but soothing waters of Cambugahay Falls. I was drowning yet soaring in pure sensation of the moment.
A Separate Peace
Although there are beach resorts in every town, you will never feel like you are vacationing in a commercial or touristy destination. It’s because there’s no big crowd of tourists. Or are we just lucky? In Dondeezco Beach Resort (in Dumanhog, Siquijor), where we chose to stay, we felt as if we were in a private beach house because we were the only guests, except for a couple and a child. Yes, we had almost the entire resort to ourselves: a standard room good for three people (for P1200 a night) on the beachfront, a veranda by the beach, a large swimming pool, a restaurant, a sprawling lush green backyard, and of course, the white sandy beach lined with coconut trees. It was the best resort that our budget could afford, but we had more than we bargained for. It was serenity in seclusion. A separate peace that brings healing of body, mind, and spirit. After all, Siquijor is not called the “Healing Paradise” for nothing.