Thursday, November 25, 2010

Siquijor:Enchanted by a Visayan Island

I did not have any expectations with Siquijor, knowing that it boasts of white sand beach is enough for me just like a contented little girl with a lollipop. Until I disembarked in Siquijor’s port, my initial decision is just to stay at the resort since I am not comfortable of hiring a multicab (trike) countryside tour considering that I’m a lone female traveler. Talk about a serious case of paranoia – I just kept on remembering the incident of a US peace corps volunteer who got murdered in the Mountain Province. I was among the last passenger to approach the exit gate of the port which explains that there seems to be a lesser crowd of multi cab driver offering their services. I walked along without any eye contact with any of the multicab drivers (in Pinoy slang, dedma lang). One persistent driver, followed me and continued to ask if I need a service going to
the resort. He quoted 200 Php, I’m not sure if this is a good enough rate but it is cheaper compared to getting the resort’s own pickup transport. I agreed and told him the name of the resort and when I was about to get into his multicab, he told me to get the ferry ticket first for tomorrow’s return trip to Dumaguete (Note: It is advisable to get your return ticket once you reached the island, there is a small ticketing booth just outside the Siquijor port’s gate. If you can’t find it just ask around). After purchasing my return ferry ticket, the driver offered me my ‘dreaded’ countryside tour and he quoted 1000 Php for the whole package inclusive of dropping me first in the resort so I can leave my backpack and returning me back to the resort at around 4-5pm. I don’t know why or how, but i just found myself agreeing and even haggling for the rate (Blogger’s Note: The rate seems to be reasonable since during my trip research it is around 1000 for the tour package with multicabs).But I remember uttering a simple prayer before I reach the island that may the good Lord provide me with a trusty and good multicab driver since I also want to see the other places of interest in the Island instead of getting holed up in the resort. Answered Prayer? for sure.
Kuya Romeo (multi-cab driver) toured me in the following places:
  • 400 years old Balete Tree – spend a few minutes to snap some photos.
  • Crocodile Point – An elevated point where the sky, road, trees and sea meets. Considered as an overlooking point in the Island. Don’t expect much, it is just a shabby cottage like structure nestled between two private houses.
  • Lazi Convent – Old convent building that uses the design principle of Bahay na Bato. There is a small museum inside the convent but I personally did not went into the museum.There is a minimal entrance fee into the museum.
  • Cambughay Falls – This is one of the reason why I want to go back, I want to take a dip here. The water looks inviting and clean. There is a group of guys that were having the time of their life swimming and diving into the falls during the time I was there. But before you can see this work of nature – you have to trek down 135 steps. No problem going down but it’s definitely tough going back up. There is a parking fee of Php15 (parking fees are not included in the tour package rate quoted)
  • Salagdoong Beach – This is the government owned beach property. The beach is very picturesque but the shore is littered with coral like stones. There is a Php 15 entrance fee and Php 15 parking fee. Before you reach the beach you will traverse a road that is canopied with trees creating a rainforest like ambiance.
  • Souvenir shop – I personally requested to drop me off in a Souvenir shop so I can get some souvenirs/pasalubongs. I overheard one customer looking for the ‘love potion’ – apparently this is a well known souvenir item to get when you are in Siquijor.
Clockwise: Balete tree, Crocodile Pt. view, Lazi Convent, Cambughay Falls

It was a good enough calculated risk of hiring a multicab tour, if I have opted to just remain in the resort there is so much that I could have missed and I wouldn’t have encountered the real Siquijor which lies outside the confines of the resort.
Siquijor is truly a well kept hidden travel gem which remains uncorrupted by capitalistic tourism. It does get its fair share of tourists but it still retains the charm and mysticism that it is well known for. There are no malls or even fastfood outlets that I saw during my countryside tour but there are a lot of green fields, canopy of trees and postcard perfect beaches.It made up with its deficiency in size (considered as the third smallest province of the country) with its big heart and winsome charm. I started out as a girl happily contented with a miniscule lollipop but Siquijor gave me a feast beyond what I expected.
Salagdoong beach
How To Get There: Take a fast craft ferry from Dumaguete Port. Most popular ferry is the Delta Fast Ferry. Fare (as of May 2010) is Php 160 one way. Ferry schedule changes, you may request the latest schedule from your resort. Travel time from Dumaguete to Siquijor is about 45 minutes – 1 hour.


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