May 22, 2014

My Rainy Birthday in Siquijor


My boat ticket flew away when I was about to show it to the crew. I stared at it mesmerized by the fresh air of Dumaguete City – so far my favorite city in the Visayas. Cool breeze courtesy of the dark clouds threatened my summer escapades in Siquijor the island of fire. But I was determined to make an everlasting moment into this mystic island.


Sooner the roar of the engine pulled away the metal-wooden boat. Raindrops met the lens of my camera but I was hopeful that the angels of the sky would stop the clouds from crying out loud. It did stop in the middle of the ocean. I was looking afar thinking of my 26 years of existence in the face of this planet. This birthday trip of mine is monumental for me because I am not use to celebrating birthday after my 7th year.



The uproar of the heavens conceded to my prayers to the angels of the sky. But I am not convinced. The sky was still dark, cool breeze that promises a lonesome day, the might of the sun did not welcomed me, I was a little sad of the timing of the season. Its March my birthday summer month and the sun was shy. Thanks to the climate change. 

I hailed a motorcycle going south to End of the World and the big guy was charging me Php100. Google Map told me that it’s just 12 kilometers from downtown. So I turned his overpriced living and walk further to the city. 


I saw the famous church of Siquijor and my hand had an automatic pulse to take a shot of it. St. Francis de Assisi Church is one of a kind. It has a distinct stone wall made of corals that makes it unique among other old churches in the Philippines. The 17th Century church is not as grandiose like the ones in Cebu and Bohol but it has its own aura that makes it a must stop in Siquijor.




I called ate Lorna of End of the World and she suggested that I walk down to the market and catch a tricycle going to San Juan. I didn’t find it hard to locate the station. So for Php18 I arrived in ate Lorna’s backpackers place in just 20 minutes. Not bad as compared to the butt numbing motorcycle ride that charges Php100.


Before my arrival I already arrange with ate Lorna my tour in Siquijor. I just planned to do a day tour because I have limited time as I also wanted to hop in the southern towns of Cebu. Ate Lorna recommended her brother-in-law who has a tricycle. She told me to pay Php800 for the whole day tour. Almost every tricycle and motorcycle in Siquijor offers tours so it won’t be hard to look for transportation. The challenge is the price.  Depending on your haggling skills, you can get a tricycle, good for 3-4 persons for Php800 from Php1000 while a single motorcycle will charge you Php1,500. Ironic right? Considering safety, comfort, price and recommendation of ate Lorna I chose to take the tricycle for my day tour.

When I arrived at End of the World which I found very “budgeted” I you know what I mean. I met ate Lorna and her husband. I have a separate entry for End of the World. I immediately told her that I want to start my tour while the tears of the cloud is still intact and not yet showering the fields of masses. 


Technically I did a half day tour because I started at around 1pm. We started in San Juan where I had my lunch with my driver/tour guide. We went to Capilay Spring Park in the center of the town. 


It is a natural spring that was converted into a swimming pool. At the time of visit there were no people available but this park is usually filled with locals who wants an escape to the hot weather.


At the side of the main road we passed by the 400 years old Giant Balete Tree which is believed to be enchanted. The peculiar look of the tree with roots and stems that could number to hundreds to a thousand makes it a mystic site for non-locals. But this natural source of water for the locals also gives pampering fish massage to its enthusiasts.  


The cloud was still dark and thunder was trying to blow me away. But I just cannot be blown away in front of San Isidro Labrador Church. This 18th Century Church is made of coral stones and the best part of it is its flooring made not of stone but of hard wood. Unlike St. Francis de Assisi Church in Siquijor, this one is spacious and could accommodate more devotees. 



There was no one inside the church except me and some birds nesting on the windows. I had the freedom to go up to the bell tower, no one to ask permission too. I went up and delight myself in the choir stall. But I am afraid the place is no longer of use evident by dilapidated flooring. My purpose then was the bell tower found on the east side of San Isidro Labrador Church. From the bell tower the large vivid green patio of the church can be seen. I can’t help to admire how rich and beautiful house of worships because of this kind of scenery. 


In front of the San Isidro Labrador Church is the Lazi Convent that is now I believe converted into an elementary or high school. While I was approaching the entrance of the convent, rain started to fall. If I were just alone and without my camera I would have soaked my body to the rain and continue to stroll around. I run to my tricycle and shelter my camera and proceed to our next stop: Cambugahay Falls.



Luckily I bought a waterproof camera bag the night before my trip. I went down the tricycle not minding the rain touching my body. Before I triumph the slippery stairs and trail down to the water falls the rain suddenly stopped as if pitied my plea while on the road. 


The birthday boy was amazed by the gushing of the water from layer 1, 2 and 3. As always, I loved it. The sound is like a therapy to my ear hearing the everyday madness of the metro. I took pictures, a lot of it. I braved myself to the shallow parts down to the deep area. I got three cameras. On my neck was my heavy Nikon companion, on my right hand was the underground cam for the underground selfie and lastly my smart phone for instant instagraming. One by one I used it. Vain though one of it got soaked (my smart phone) and the other, the battery was drained. Circumstances played me a favor; I was left with one camera - the underground camera I borrowed from Paula.   


Cambugahay Falls has blue cold water in all of its 3 layers. Each layer is easily accessible by all ages and can also be dip in.


My favorite though was the first layer where you can jump like Tarzan in a not so deep part of the falls. First, I was afraid because I thought it was deep. I asked the caretaker to assist me when I get drowned. I was praying while reaching the vine. I build my momentum for 3 seconds then I released my feet on the ground and give in to the power of Newton’s science. I did not close my eyes. I was high enough of the usual height. I closed my eyes when I released the vine only to stumble on chest deep water. Joke time! I jokingly shouted the caretaker “Kuya ang babaw pala!” I did it 100 times until I got a good shot which I really didn’t had because the guide cannot get the right timing while I was jumping with the vine. 


Though the rain has stopped, the heavens did not give me a fairly good weather for beachin. Even though, I push through with Salagdoong Beach in Maria. Tucked in a cove with fine white sand Salagdoong is your perfect beach experience in Siquijor. 


I took of my shirt and dipped in the bluish water. I settled on the cave like area in the east side and found shelter on the stones with the aqua marine smell. I swam myself to the shallow down to the deep parts. There is a slide to the open sea but that did not entice me for an unknown reason. Maybe next time, I’ll try to slid and push my limits there. Buy my Salagdoong moment didn’t permit me.



Friends, family and lovers can camp and stay in Salagdoong Beach. These are the rates of the resort:

Standard Room (Twin Sharing 2 Single Bed for 2pax) – Php900
Superior Room (Double Sized Bed w/ Veranda for 2pax) – Php1300
Deluxe (One Queen Size Bed for 3pax) – Php1400

Superior Deluxe (One King Sized Bed w/ Single Bed for 3pax) – Php1600 


Our next stop was an old house – not just an old house but the Oldest Old House in Siquijor. According to the locals Cang-Isok House is standing for more than 100 years already. 

I was a little bit sad and disappointed when I saw the state of the house. Made of native wood such as Molave, the house is abandoned and there was no one to ask for more details about the house. 


There is a marker saying that going inside/upstairs Cang-Isok House is dangerous. It is really dangerous. I could just imagine how glorious the house is during its heydays. I hope the house will be restored and for sure this will be another popular destination in the island of Siquijor. 


The sun blocked by dark clouds was beginning to set. I was a little tired and wanted to kiss my bed. But the scenery stopped me. I asked the driver to park the tricycle while I feel the mangroves in white sand. Tulapos Marine Sanctuary in Enrique Villanueva was an accidental discovery! The driver/tour guide didn’t know that either.       




The last stop planned by my guide/driver was the Guiwanon Spring Park in Larena. I didn’t have an idea what this place is. I thought it is some sort of a resort where you can dip and relaxed. If that so I would have wanted to skip it because I was so tired. Good thing we proceed. 


I paid Php10 entrance to the place I am not sure what to see. When I opened the door the wooden elevated walkway boosted my adrenaline and made me run inside. Below I saw a lot of Mangroves seedlings for sale. I was informed that Guiwanon Spring Park is a resort/ nature hotel owned by a cooperative that sells mangrove seedlings. I will do a separate post for this for proper guidance. 



My day ended with the sun showing its glory to the birthday boy. I rushed to the beach area of End of the World to witness the sun waving goodbye to the day. Though not that perfect ball of flame, at lease I saw the sky burning in yellow and orange canvas in a dark purposeful clouds. I grabbed a mono blocked chair and set my butt. I was staring afar looking at the clouds, studying its formation, asking why it betrayed me that day. The latter left unanswered – maybe better that way. 


I wasn’t able to eat that night because after the sunset the dark clouds showed its might. The serene sunset in the calm sea was replaced by heavy pouring of rain. I just slept and hope for the best the next morning. 


I was ready to go back to Dumaguete but ate Lorna greeted my morning with a sad news - the boats bound to Dumaguete were all cancelled due to typhoon signal warning. I was still determined and preceded to the port. Trips were indeed canceled in both Siquijor and Larena Ports. I was clueless. I don’t know what to do. I ate lunch and stroll around town to capture some old houses. I went back to the port hoping the signal warning will lifted. There was no rain; the sun was shining bright which I hope it happened the day before. I was watching the locals enjoying the white Siquijor Beach beside the port which by the way reminds me of Cuyo. 






I went to a canteen outside the close port. I was just there sitting and clueless. Then people were coming, who like me wanted to go back to Dumaguete. I met two Czech national who has a flight to Cebu early next morning. They really have to go back to Dumaguete for that matter. If ever the signal warning will be lifted they won’t make it to their flight given the schedule of Siquijor-Dumaguete Trips. 



There was a guy; a tricycle driver came to me offering a boat for Dumaguete for Php3000. Of course departure must not be in the port but somewhere far from authorities. I snubbed him because I cannot pay that much – Php1000 each with my two Czech friends.  



Then another couple came; a Filipina with her Australian boyfriend. Ate Marie was the one eager to go back, I don’t know why. I told her about the boat man and she’s persistent enough to convince me to hire the guy. Well I was convincing for Php600 per head. Another thing the wind was heading to Central Visayas thus the weather will not get better anytime sooner. 







We were in a port in San Juan and the 10pax capacity boat was out of site. We waited and convinced ourselves that it was safe to travel.

A blue boat champion of the sea was beginning to be of sight and I started laughing. Then I quoted my mantra “Kung oras mo na oras mo na”


We embark in calm sea. For the first hour it was my kind of sea voyage then a 180 degrees turn on the 2nd hour. We were all wet. The current higher than my jump in Cambugahay Falls was the reward of our bravery. I was afraid and thrilled. I knew we will make it when I saw Cuernos de Negros smiling at us.


I’m alive! I shouted. Thank God!

Black sand and strong wind hosted our wet body then we decided to have a drink that night and cherish an unforgettable meet up.