Anhi Ta Diri: Siquijor December 9-10, 2013 Monday morning turned out to be a lazy morning and since I didn’t have a concrete plan for the week, I wasn’t pressured to get up and pack my stuff for Siquijor. Hell, I could have even changed my mind and skip Siquijor, I thought. But then since I was already there, I might as well maximize my Dumaguete flight. So I checked the schedule of ferries crossing to Siquijor at Harold’s lobby (they have schedule of the barges going to Siquijor, and Cebu; they also have the schedule of the buses going to Bacolod, and the ones that cross to Cebu riding barges) and saw that there was a schedule for noon. Lazily, I tried to finish packing after breakfast and asked the ladies at the reception if I can just leave the bigger chunk of my stuff at their lobby, and then just come back for them after, when I leave for Oslob. Backpacker places are usually flexible with things like these. I got to the pier ten minutes before noon. Unfortunately, the lady at the ticket counter said the tickets were sold out hours before, and next one is in the next two hours. So. I had no other choice but to wait for the 2PM ferry. But since I didn’t want to waste my time in the sweltering heat, and probably the noontime shows at the pier, I decided to buy the ticket for the next boat, and went back to Harold’s to chill some more. Besides, Harold’s is just some five minutes away so the only hassle is the 20-peso damage. I asked the lady at the lobby if I could borrow my dorm key again so I could take a nap, and instantly, she handed me the key. Harold’s Mansion and its people are that awesome! TIPS:
- When backpacking for around or more than a week of vacation, bring two bags. The bigger one for everything, and the smaller one you can bring when going on a day trip or an overnighter in a close by places.
- Harold’s have the schedules of the ferries/barges and the buses. But still, be mindful of the schedule of the ferries and try to arrive way earlier. Ticket booths at the Dumaguete pier do not pre-sell tickets, and they might tell you that they usually don’t run out of tickets regardless of the days (in my case, it was Monday the next day and they said that there will be plenty of tix), but really, they sometimes do. Barge fare shouldn’t exceed 150PhP (4USD) one way, I forgot the exact amount.
En route to Siquijor, I had a small chitchat with a local lady I sat with on the barge. She told me that there are mini jeeps going to San Juan, and that is where I was going — to Lorna’s End of the World. That weird-sounding name for a homestay is actually what got me into booking a night at their place. Hah! End of the World! Take me there! Tough luck, because two hours of travel after, I arrived at the Siquijor pier but there was no jeepney going to San Juan; only overpriced tricycles and habal-habals.I rode a tricycle with a fellow traveler who was on his way to JJ’s Backpackers, some ten minutes away from Lorna’s. The ride was 200PhP (5USD). I know it was overpriced, but it would have been much more expensive for the Cauc alone so I thought I should help. Another selling point of Lorna’s was the owner, Miss Lorna, who unfortunately was in Dumaguete that time to look after her husband at the hospital. I booked my stay over the phone and her voice was so gentle and sweet, I was curious how she looked like in person. Anyway, instead, I was greeted by her nephew and sister, Jane who were taking care of the place that day. They gave me a few instructions about the place, where to eat, and other places of interest that I might want to go to the following day.
Lorna’s is just 15 minutes away by foot from the Capilay’s spring Park. A pack of young guys were there that time having a small picnic, but were a bit unwelcoming, only to find out that they couldn’t give me directions when I asked because they weren’t from around. After checking out the place, I found my way to Erik the Viking Meat and Eat, a small store nearby that cooks great meals. It was a bit pricey, but I can tell from their selection that they make the best foods in San Juan. I ordered one of their chicken dishes and was very happy about it. I passed by a few habal-habal drivers and managed to haggle the price of the day tour I planned on taking the next day. I think we agreed at 600PhP (13.50USD) for three locations, inclusive of driver and gas, but exclusive of his lunch, was our arrangement, and he suggested that we start early so we agreed on leaving at 6AM. Six in the morning? Haha! That was a challenge. Tip: Going solo in Siquijor might be a little expensive if you want to go on a tour, especially if you’re a weakling like me who doesn’t know how to drive the motorcycle. Normal rate for all inclusive could range from 600PhP. It’s a different story when you’re traveling with a partner, though. You can rent a motorcycle for a day which will be cheaper, and way way cheaper if you rent the tricycle on a group of at least three people.
I got back at Lorna’s for a nap and got up by sunset. The calm waters of the beachfront complemented the glorious colors of the setting sun in the horizon. It was like the sunset in Bali, only that no one else was around except for a family of three who’ve been staying in one of the rooms for a week already. No distraction. I guess this was the normal scene in Siquijor during off peak season, especially that it was a Monday. I think Siquijor is also a lesser favorite place because there aren’t much to see in the island. Tourists can even do a day trip and see everything. But! I have to admit, I would have loved to stay a little longer and explore the island and talk to more people about the mambabarangs. I tried striking a conversation with Jane and my habal-habal driver about the mangkukulams and both of them sounded a little off with the topic, especially Jane who sounded alarmed when I mentioned that I wanted to befriend them. The beautiful sunsets, too, seemed to have been taken for granted. When I told Jane how beautiful the sunset in Siquijor was, she grunted and said, “Ano naman ang gagawin mo sa sunset?” (What useful thing can you do with that sunset?). But it was actually one of my favorite experiences in Siquijor. The sunset was really beautiful. At nighttime, I realized that there was no close by place to eat at. Fortunately, Jane who NEVER ran out of stories offered me a ride at JJ’s Backpackers because it was the closest to have a restaurant. We went there, and I realized that I should have stayed there instead because the place was much nicer and there was no one else around except for the Cauc guy whom I rode the trike with going to San Juan earlier. I had a burger at JJ’s which was nice because they make their own buns and it had a different feel to it. Aside from the ambiance, JJ’s also has a mini-library, and even though I’m not a wide reader, I still appreciate that they try to make the place very welcoming and tourist-friendly. Tent accommodations are available, too, by the beach area, which I thought would have been my choice for an overnight accommodation. DECEMBER 10, TUESDAY: SIQUIJOR DAY TOUR
The sunrise in the San Juan area was just as beautiful as its sunset. I had to drag myself out of bed just so I can set my camera and shoot for a timelapse timelapse. And as expected, the 6AM arrangement was moved to an hour later. I thought I had to soak my feet into the calm waters at Lorna’s beachfront one last time before I left. Unfortunately, Miss Lorna didn’t come so I never got the chance to meet her. Bad timing, I guess. The lineup for the day was:
- The 400-year old Balete tree
- Cambugahay Falls
- Salagdoong Beach Resort
In the Philippines, Balete trees are said to be home of spirits. Since Siquijor was formerly known as a province where mythical/mystical creatures dwell, this specific Balete tree, aside from being centuries-old, had to be extra special, I thought. And it kinda was because it was only big, it was HUGE! And it had a small freshwater pool with a lot of fish in it. People would dip their feet for free fish spa and it was my first time to try it. I was the first and only person to drop by the Balete tree and it was the normal and simple provincial life feel and I liked it a lot. The Cambugahay Falls was around 30 minutes away. I think we arrived at 8AM and it seemed that it was too early because there weren’t people to collect parking fees for the motorcycles yet. So we went straight ahead to the falls and a few steps down, we were greeted by the turquoise waters of the Cambugahay Falls. There were three levels to it, the topmost was where i took my selfie and timelapse photos. I expected more from Salagdoong Beach because it was a commercial place and I heard that it was the biggest white sanded beach in the island. But when I got there, I thought of it as a normal small-scale resort like the ones that we have in Batangas. The place was clean and decent, but there was nothing much to do. So to kill time, I ordered for lunch and took a nap under the sun after. I bumped into a small group of German middle-aged guys playing The Killers tracks. Well, there’s a first time to everything.
My habal-habal driver had a contact person at the pier and he told us that there was a 2PM ferry going back to Dumaguete so we aimed for that schedule. Having 30 more minutes extra time, I decided that we drop by the Guiwanon Spring Park which was 10-15 minutes away. I figured that since there was not much to see there, it wouldn’t hurt to pass by and take a peek. Giwanaon Spring Park had small huts ready for accommodation for tourists. The rooms range from as low as 250PhP (6USD) per night. There are no bathrooms/toilet inside the rooms though, but who cares about the toilets when you can do your business under the thick area of mangroves outside. Ha ha! We got back to the pier but we were five minutes late for the Montonegro Ferry. So I decided to ask my driver to bring me to the nearest white beach where we can chill and take another nap. The next ferry was scheduled at 2PM so I had enough time for a nap, but really, I just took another timelapse video at the beach. Siquijor has a very laid back feel and despite its reputation being the home of healers or (their euphemism for) mambabarangs, I think its potential for tourism can be improved a lot. I say, sensationalize all they can, bring out the mythical creatures, and let’s see if it attract more tourists. I know I would love to see legit ones!