Much has been said about the province of Siquijor, that the mystery and intrigue of its folklore aroused fear during my younger years.
I remember my nanny talking about voodoo and witchcraft being practiced in the place; although I had never been there until just a few weeks ago, all those stories have stuck since I was a child.
Seeing on a friend’s Facebook account a few photos of a resort she stayed in Siquijor left me obsessed with the idea of checking the place out.
So, I booked a flight, packed my bag and went.
There are several routes you can take to Siquijor—from Cebu, Dapitan or Dumaguete. I took the flight to Dumaguete, plus a two-hour ferry ride to the island costing less than P200.
Don’t expect anything fancy or exclusive because Siquijor is a small island that is not as developed as other more-visited tourist spots in the country.
At the Siquijor port, you can get a tricycle for P300 to take you to your chosen resort. It took about 20 minutes to get to U.Story—one of the last resorts in the town of San Juan. This was the reason I wanted to go to Siquijor, and thankfully it did not disappoint.
The resort owners, a French-Filipino couple, have turned this piece of land they bought five years ago into something special.
U.Story started out as a restaurant with one bungalow, which the couple stay in from November to May (the rest of the year they reside in France while the resort is closed). It has now expanded to five bungalows, all made of native materials, with décor sourced from Siquijor and all over Asia.
The common area, where the dining room and bar are, looks like a bohemian’s dream—with lounge beds and a hammock to laze the day away, and dream catchers and art work to enhance the vibe.
Farther down are beach beds overlooking a cliff, and although they don’t have their own beach, there are steps going down to the water for people who like to swim or snorkel.
After a restful sleep in one of the non-air-conditioned bungalows (yes, no television, Wi-Fi or phone signal either!), you can rent a motorbike for the day for only P300. Make sure you have a map in hand (you can borrow the resort’s) before you go off to explore the island.
Choose the route that allows you to drive right by the sea, so you can have a beautiful view on the way to Cambugahay Falls. You really don’t want to miss this—so don’t forget to wear a swimsuit.
Climbing down the steps to the waterfalls, I could already see the beautiful aquamarine water and could not wait to dive in. The bantay at the falls said it was safe to jump off the cliff, so before I could stop myself, off I went!
They also have this rope hanging from a tree where you can swing and jump into the water.
Farther up, you will find more bodies of water and waterfalls. We were lucky to visit on a Monday last January, otherwise the Cambugahay Falls can get quite crowded.
For a quieter experience, you can go to the lesser-known Lugnason Falls on the other side of the island. From here, you can ride up to the mountains and go back down the other side.
Instead, we proceeded to the 400-year-old balete tree in Campalanas. This tree is believed to be enchanted and is both imposing and easy to miss, as it blends completely with its surroundings.
There is a small pond at the foot of the tree where visitors can dip their feet in the fish spa. You have to pay a P5 entrance fee.
For a quick late lunch, you can check out Baha Bar along Circumferential Road.
Seizing the opportunity, I asked someone in the resort about the folklore that Siquijor is known for. She told me that most of the healers lived in the mountains, and that she has never actually seen or heard of anyone being the unlucky victim of kulam. I took her word for it instead of doing my own research.
Besides, the island is so idyllic that it’s hard to see how all these stories started.
If you want something off the beaten track, a place in the country that has still maintained much of its natural beauty, I highly recommend a long weekend in Siquijor.