By James Barcelona
|Bandilaan Butterfly Farm|
Category: Man-Made Attraction
Type: Special Interest
Location: Mount Bandilaan, Lazi, Siquijor
Category: Natural Attraction
|San Juan de Capilay Lake|
Location: Siquijor, Siquijor
San Juan de Capilay Lake
Category: Natural Attraction
Type: Lake Location: San Juan, Siquijor
Siquijor is an island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region. The provincial capital is the municipality also named Siquijor. It is the third smallest province in the country both in terms of population and land area, after Camiguin and Batanes. Siquijor is composed of six municipalities, namely: Enrique Villanueva, Larena, Lazi, Maria, Siquijor and San Juan. Siquijor used to be a sub-province of Negros Oriental. The province is considered by many Filipinos to be a mystical island, full of witches and other supernatural phenomena.
To the northwest of Siquijor are Cebu and Negros, to the northeast is Bohol and to the south, across Bohol Sea is Mindanao. The province is predominantly hilly and in many places the hills reach the sea, producing steep cliffs. At the center of the island province is Mount Malabahoc, locally known as Mount Bandilaan, which is the highest point in the island. Siquijor is a coralline island, and fossils of the giant clam, Tridacna, are often encountered in the plowed inland fields. On the hilltops, there are numerous shells of molluscan species, which are presently living in the seas around the island.
The island of Siquijor, like most of the Philippines, is very tropical. It is dry from January to May and wet during the rest of the year with November having the heaviest rainfall and April having the least. The main languages spoken in the province is Cebuano. English and Tagalog are also spoken by many of the residents.
The island of Siquijor was first sighted by the Spaniards in 1565 during Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s expedition. The Spaniards called the island as Isla del Fuego or “Island of Fire” because the island gave off an eerie glow. This glow came from the swarms of fireflies that harbored in the numerous molave trees in the island. When the Spanish sovereignty in the Philippines came to an end, Spain surrendered the Philippines to United States. Siquijor was also not spared by World War II; Japanese detachments occupied the island between 1942 and 1943. On September 17, 1971, Siquijor became an independent province by virtue of Republic Act No. 6396. The capital which was formerly Larena, was transferred to the municipality of Siquijor in 1972 by Proclamation No. 1075.
Siquijor’s long ago reputation as a place of magic and sorcery both attracts and keeps visitors away. The province is well-known for its festivals that focus on primitive healing rituals where incantations are sung while the old folks make potions out of herbs, roots, insects and tree barks. Among the other attractions in the island are the beaches, caves, waterfalls, Bandilaan Natural Park, and butterfly sanctuary. White sand beaches make up most of the 102-kilometer coastline of the island. Most visitors proclaim that the true “magic” of Siquijor is that once you experience the island’s beauty and wonder, you’re hooked for life and never want to leave.