Field notes from Siquijor

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My story for the Gear S3 launch is out! So now I can share more of my personal photos and notes for this blog. 🙂 (You can read my piece on Rappler here)

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Siquijor is a very small province with a very long coastline (200km). Since its LGU formalized its tourism efforts in the late 2000s, it has been attracting tourists not just for its beaches, but also for its diving spots. Though it’s a fishing / agricultural island, 80 percent of its GDP now comes from tourism (resorts, amenities, activities).

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It’s actually a very ideal getaway because you can explore the entire island with a multi-stop itinerary in a day or two, and it’s not packed with tourists! Aside from beaches, you can explore Cambugahay Falls, mangrove parks, and caves. Perhaps the only caveat is that you need to take an hour-long ferry ride from Dumaguete to reach it; so it’s not that easy to get to.

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Outsiders associate Siquijor with mysticism and folklore. Locals like making jokes about having aswang relatives. White-magic healers are still present and locals still go to them for things like painful backs, headaches, “namatanda,” and so on. Their summer healing festival coincides with the Catholic Holy Week.

Another tourist draw is the annual Longboard Challenge that takes place along the main highway. There’s hardly any traffic in the higher areas so it’s perfect. There are also a couple of skilled woodcarvers; their shops make for an excellent side trip before you head home.

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For our trip, we stayed at the Coco Grove Resort, where we had a truly luxurious and relaxing experience. It was pretty A-Grade and everything we ate there was fresh and delicious! If you have the budget, I would recommend it.

If backpacking is more your thing, there are many home stays in the island (inquire with your boat or tour guide). The LGU encourages tourists to do home stays, as it’s a means of livelihood for the residents!

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It is a MUST to go spelunking in Siquijor. Cantabon cave, which has a 7/10 difficulty rating, compares with Sagada’s famous 2-feet crawls, wading pools, and limestone formations (and did I mention there are no tourist crowds in Siquijor)? Just keep these things in mind while doing the 1-hour journey:

  • The cave’s entrance is a literal hole that you’d miss if there were no signs or guides in front of it. This was why this cave was a hiding place for locals during the Japanese Occupation.
  • One of our guides shared that she and her friends grew up actually going inside the cave the swim and drink (with lanterns in tow) – it was like a local tambayan! When it was officially declared a tourist spot in 2008, this was discontinued.
  • Don’t wear sunblock on your arms and legs as its ingredients, if mixed with the water and the soil, harm the stalactites.
  • The cave rises up to 557masl
  • DON’T LEAVE TRASH
  • DON’T TOUCH THE STALACTITES (bad photo, I know, but these limestones only grow a few inches every year and they turn brown + stop growing when touched or damaged.)

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Another spot worth visiting is the Guiwanon Mangrove Park. The mangroves here are JUST HUGE – the view looks so sci-fi. The park offers accommodations in stilts too!

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Eat at Triad Coffee, which is the highest restaurant in Siquijor. The cafe has a 360-degree view of the sea and mountains, and 3 nearby islands would be visible from this spot (hence the name).

In my story I wrote: “Adventures are worth seeking because they push your limits. Your mind grows as you take in new experiences. Any adventure is always a welcome break from the mundane, or a catalyst for you to know what you’re truly capable of doing.”

Looking forward to more and more and more adventures, in whatever shape or size, this year!

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