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S Had Me At Hello

“Daddy, Daddy, the water is torquoise! Look, the water is torquoise!”

A little girl’s excitement had woken me up. I had fallen asleep although the ferry ride from Dumaguete was only 45 minutes. I looked out the window but couldn’t see much. Delta Fast Craft’s glass windows were tinted. But the little girl, an American, seemed to be so sure of what she was seeing.

“The water is torquoise! It’s torquoise!” the little girl kept saying.

And she was right. The island’s torquoise waters, placid as a lake that day, greeted us. And as I walked away from the port to haggle with enthusiastic habal-habal drivers, I knew that the island had already cast its spell upon me.

The enchanting Siquijor island beckons to the traveler. It can be reached easily from Dumaguete and Cebu by sea. It has six towns: Siquijor (its capital), San Juan, Maria, Lazi, Larena, and Enrique Villanueva. With just a 75-kilometer circumferential road, most of the province’s attractions can be reached in a day by habal-habal or tricycle. You will notice that Siquijor has good cemented roads.

Start your tour by visiting the shores of Siquijor town. Yes, the capital town of the province is also named Siquijor. (But don’t linger if you are only on a day tour.) It is blessed with lovely beaches and coves.

Proceed to the town of San Juan which is about fifteen kilometers from Siquijor. Its main attraction is the Capilay’s Spring Park where a pool with emerald spring waters is located. Try taking a refreshing dip especially if you are not in a hurry to catch the last ferry trip. It’s free anyway 😉

Just a few minutes ride from Capilay’s Spring Park is the centuries-old Balete tree, considered to be the oldest in the province. Beside it is a small natural pool. Some locals were bathing and washing clothes when we arrived.

From San Juan, ask your driver to take you to Cambugahay Falls in the town of Lazi.

To get to the falls, you have to walk down a series of concrete steps.

Cambugahay falls have three levels. The first level, though lacking in stunning cascade and remarkable drop, is the deepest which makes it excellent for swimming. While we were there, locals were having fun jumping off from nearby trees and diving into the waters.

Go up a little more and you’ll find the other two levels. They are not as deep as the first level but they are still good to photograph. Too bad, I didn’t bring a tripod with me and it was so bright (Photographing falls is ideal on overcast days).

Also in Lazi are two National Historical Shrines: the St. Isidore convent and the parish church.

I have read that this convent is one of the largest built in the colonial times. It was intended as a place for rest and recreation of the friars. It has beautiful windows. I couldn’t help but notice the rusty corrugated roof and admire how the edifice has withstood time. I wondered what stories it would tell me if only the walls could talk 🙂

The parish church of St. Isidore stands proudly amidst stately acacia trees. It is already old but it was built to withstand time. It has thick walls and log posts are embedded in them.

By this time, you must be hungry already. So it is best to proceed to Salagdoong Beach Resort where there’s a simple restaurant. It was very hot when we got there so I immediately ordered for a glass of banana shake. No, make that 2 glasses 🙂

Salagdoong Beach is located in the town of Maria. Though it is being maintained by the provincial government, it is a far cry from other government-maintained beaches I’ve been to. It has nice huts and cabanas. It has a pool. And I noticed there was an ongoing construction of beach cottages.

Enjoy swimming in Salagdoong or rent a kayak. Guyito almost went kayaking. Almost 🙂 Perhaps to celebrate his first out-of-town trip.

No rumors about witches, black magic, and deadly potions should keep one from visiting the island. Siquijor is beautiful, peaceful, and enchanting. It will always cast its spell on all its visitors. And as it did to me, it will also have you even at hello.

Posted 5 years, 5 months ago at 7:47 pm.


Where I Belong

On a recent trip to one of my favorite places, I found myself standing in front of the ocean and listening to my heart one early morning.

“I missed this,” I told myself as my eyes traced the to and fro movement of the blue strip of water in front of me and the soothing crashing of the waves put me at ease. The boundless water stretched in glory stood between me and the horizon. Where does the ocean begin? Where does it end? I often wondered about these when I was a child.

As I stood on the wooden bridge watching the graceful unfolding of a new day in the place that raised and nurtured me, I breathed in the familiar salty sea air and said a prayer of gratitude in silence. There is nothing like being in the place that brings memories of summer time, of golden rice stalks, of fishermen arriving at the seashore with smiles on their face, of children giggling during an early morning swim, of days of love and being part of other people’s lives, of being young and life being so simple. I sure miss those days.

This is the place I can always go back to, a place that will always welcome me in its loving embrace, a place that blesses me, a place that is home to the soothing waves that can wash away even my deepest scars, a place where I can hear God’s voice at its loudest.

The light was growing around me and I felt the heat of the sun, signaling it was time to go home and indulge in a hearty breakfast of champorado and daing (I prefer daing over tuyo). Walking back to the town that was slowly stirring from deep slumber, I heard the ocean sing its song once again. I knew it was a farewell song for me.

(Reblogged from June 2009)

Posted 5 years, 6 months ago at 4:09 pm.


The Young, Vibrant, and Colorful Faces of Aliwan Festival 2012

I was looking for a chance to use the 50mm 1.8 lens which I bought second-hand, and the opportunity came last Saturday, in Manila, during the Aliwan Festival 2012 parade. Since it’s a short lens, it requires much leg movements to shoot the subject’s face. So after the parade, my legs were really tired hehe.

The shots I got, though far from being great, make me happy pa rin 🙂 Here are some of the results from my first experiment:

I walked away after the festival with a big smile on my face and a heart hoping that the passion I have sensed while these young people were dancing and chanting during their performances was indication of the pride they have in the place they came from.

Posted 5 years, 6 months ago at 6:09 pm.


Haw, haw the carabao are you? :)

Hello, my dear blogging friends! I hope you are having a great summer. I’ve been busy at work but I am so grateful to have some time to go out and enjoy nature and the company of family and friends. My new travel buddy, Guyito, the carabao, is enjoying the torquoise water and the company of some sea creatures 🙂

We will be back to tell you about our new adventures! Stay tuned 😉

Posted 5 years, 6 months ago at 3:28 pm.