Hidden Stories of Siquijor – (SIQUIJOR, The Mystic Island, Philippines ) by: rhum sellers, thehutownerblog
Land of witchcraft, sorcery, occultism, vodooism, exorcism, etc. are just some of the words that used to describe Siquijor island. True or not, these unfavorable representation of this place makes it more challenging than threatening to pay a visit to this amazing island in Central Visayas.
From Dumaguete City a ferry awaits visitors bound for the island known to most people as a mystic island. Thoughts of morbid stories about witches, sorcerers, people vomiting worms, cockroaches, and lizards, defecations of tree barks nails, and other inexplicable, mysterious and mystifying folklore came into my mind while I was on the ferry.
Disembarking from the ferry was a hodgepodge of emotions as I felt the rush of excitement and apprehension all over me. Believe me or not, a man with eyes so big and bulging as if jumping out of its sockets, walked me out from the premises of the port up to his tricycle and made an arrangement to drive me to a motel or a cheap lodging house where I could stay for the duration of my visit. He was forcing a setup not acceptable to me. Besides, I was scared by his looks. When he took his focus away from me I hurriedly departed and got away in another tricycle and sped off.
Acting like a straggler more than a tourist, we ( my guide/driver and me ) priced hop for a room to stay. Having chosen one near the beachfront for a modest price was a citation well deserved. And the prize…I was always the first human to make a stroll, run, and sight see the beach’s early morning golden sun rise. The first one to play hide and seek with an army of purple crustaceans and the first one to be barked by some unfriendly dogs that strayed along the shoreline for their morning excretion of the day’s accumulation of whatever they have eaten and digested which they considered as food.
Those black sea orchins didn’t have the opportunity to hide themselves from my preying eyes. Owning blue tips on their spines and moving back and fort, they looked like legged Christmas lanterns on parade. I had some speculative thoughts if the orchin population area was considered as a marine sanctuary because not far away was a signboard that says that it is so. Furthermore, it said that fishermen were forbidden to catch fish in the said area and a penalty was imposed on whoever is caught not following the order. This was to revive marine lives which had been depleted due to over fishing.
I had one observation that drew me a conclusive support of my findings that Siquijor’s white sands are finer than that of Boracay, Samal, and Panglao islands. Siquijor’s sands turn to dusts when it dries up. It’s just a little bit coarser than a baby powder but almost feel like milk powder.
Town hopping by motorcycle was an exciting experience. To be immersed into the Spanish style of church building was an architecture worth seeing and feeling the olden churches’ fashion. These aged structures transported me back in time. The churches of Siquijor, Lazi, Larena and Maria were build between the years 1700 – 1850. They were made of limestone rocks and fashioned like garrisons as protection from pirates who attacked the towns. Some have wooden floors, wooden roof supports and rusty roofings that needs immediate rehabilitation.
A two-tiered Cambugahay Falls was a sight worth your effort. Salagdoong, Dondeezco, and Marmarine white sands beach resorts, caves and mangroves will add to your excitement while here in the island. You could dine at Triad restaurant on top of a hill in Larena and view the town proper.
As the folklore began to creep into my mind, an inclusion of something weird to complete my itinerary and visit was obviously brewing. What if I’ll see a “mangbabarang”. I was thinking that would be fun if I did. So, off we sped for some devillish idea.
My guide told me that he knew someone who does that kind of acts. Passing thru kilometers of rickety paths, downhill and uphill, zigzagging our way to a semi concrete house was something scary as we arrived on the twilight hours of the day. The dark was fast wrapping the golden rays of the setting sun. In a few hours darkness will rule our way back. I was expecting that the place where we were was some kind of witchy, but it was not. Although that was the only house I saw standing on a high ground, there was a piggery nearby with a sow and some piglets that continued to make sounds that further made some palpitation and “heartquake” in me. My guide called her name and she went out just a feet from the door. I was a little bit surprised that she knew my purpose of coming to her place. She called me into the house and straight into her room I slowly tiptoed for a sneak. “Come in”, the voice said. “Don’t be afraid”, the voice continued as my head was already halfway inside the room. I turned my head left and right just to be sure she was there. Really, I was scared. If I heared only her voice and she wasn’t there, I would run outside and together with my guide, we’ll return back. But I saw the Sto. Nino image with unlighted candles so, I was a little bit relieved. She lighted the candles as she instructed me to take my shirt off. “Oh my God”, I said to myself. “She’s going to rape me”, my mind continued scaring me. As soon as I put my shirt on my lap she began to say some prayers and some “oracion” while putting her palm on my head. That might be in Latin language. I didn’t understand a word. Then she asked when was the last time I saw my doctor. “What was his advice?”. Before I could deliver an answer to her inquisitive approach she replied with certainty, saying, “So, it was an artery blockage of the heart”. I was surprisingly perturbed by what she said. It puzzled me no end.
She recommended some heated “buyo” leaves to be patched on the chest for a week and some “calachuchi” flower soak in a glass of water for six hours in an open air overnight. The solution of which should be taken three times a day also for a week. The “calachuchi” solution will expand the veins of the heart while the “buyo” leaves would act as pain reliever. That was her explanation. I’ve done it for two days but I’ve stop doing it for there was scarcity of “buyo” when I got back to Manila. So, we ended with an herbalist not a “mangbabarang”.
My last day was a “reveal” day. A “despidida” was celebrated in my honor by the owner of the place I was staying. Over some bottles of beer, our conversation went onto how mystic Siquijor was or is it? He has his own hair raising story about the Acacia tree in their backyard that refuses to die. The tree was cut at the trunk to make sure of its death. They discontinued chopping the tree down for they heard cries. Every time they cut it, cries reverberated from sources they don’t know where. Every time an axe was dug at its trunk a baby’s cry was heard. They repeated and repeated the cutting on different occasions but the same thing happened. A baby’s cry in pain was always heard. For fear that some spirits or other supernatural beings would retaliate for their action, they dismissed downing the Acacia tree.
He continued telling unbelievable stories but this one was a set back for Siquijor. Years back, there was a plan to build an airport on the island. Tractors and other big machineries needed for the project were shipped in preparation for the project to start. Leveling the place was a machines’ job. They were the front liners of every first stage leveling tasks. The project was ready for a jump off. Laborers were ready. Machines started to grind when suddenly all of them just stopped for no reasons. Laborers and drivers of the machines could not tell what caused the breakdown. They simply just malfunctioned for unknown reasons even how hard they tried to fix them. Mechanics were brought in to fix them but failed. Every time a malfunctioned machine was exchanged with a newly repaired one it got damaged. A cycle was formed in the process. Due to this unexplainable occurrence, the plan was shelved and discontinued.
Appreciating the natural beauty of Siquijor and mingling with its gentle people would negate what believers and performers of black magic, witcheries and other acts of enticement, allurement, enchantment, or bewitchment have implanted to people’s minds. True or not, it’s yours to discover. Visit Siquijor and be immersed in the youthfulness of the natural beauty of the island and swim in the richness of the old day’s folklore.