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Blog - The Filipino Island of Mystery and Magic
Siquijor is a small quiet island province in the center of the Philippines –tranquil and isolated. Known as the enchanted island of the Philippines, it is also the third smallest province of the archipelago. Like many other places in the country, is also very rich with sea corals and its ocean floor is multi-coloured and lively.
A charming sunset seen from Siquijor Island. Source: Tropical Experience Travel Services.
When the Spaniards “discovered” the island in the 16th century, the conquerors might have noticed the wide presence of fireflies that they named it Isla del Fuego (Island of fire). Fireflies are still abundant nowadays as they give night shows to the island’s inhabitants and visitors. “Firefly watching” is actually another astonishing activity that you can experience in the different islands of the Philippines. As probably many of you already know, the presence of fireflies is an indicator of good health status of the environment.
While others say that the name “Island of Fire” was to describe the intense red colour of the sunsets that you can see and admire from the quiet beaches that decorate the coastline of the island.
For a long time Siquijor, which has 90,000 inhabitants, was not in the usual routes of the local and foreign traveler. That’s because the most famous local traditions of “magic” and “healing” kept many visitors – worried of spells – away. At the same time, shamans with their healing powers attracted visitors in the search of a special consult. The locals are known for their kindness and calmness, some still wear their amulets and share some stories about their tradition and medicine.
From a naturalistic point of view, this island is made of rocks originated from the sea and their limestone created spectacular caves and beautiful waterfalls. It is common to find fossils of marine origin, even in the higher elevated parts of Siquijor.
Discovering the caves of Siquijor. Source: Tropical Experience Travel Services.
One of the natural symbols of the island is the Giant Balete Tree which the locals say is over 400 years old. This tree has a particular behavior which is quite aligned with the atmosphere of the place. It is a plant whose seeds enter a previously-existing tree, then further grew and developed within some cracks and available empty spaces and then finally killing the host tree. The plant then let its roots fall down the tree and reach the soil, giving the majestic appearance of the picture below. This exterior ornaments in this way create a suggestive empty “chamber” at the base of the tree, where spirits are said to live. To make the Siquijor Balete Tree more unique, a spring flows out from its center.
A detail of the Giant Balete Tree in Siquijor. Picture: Tropical Experience Travel Services.
We cannot forget to mention Siquijor’s sea, since we are among the marvelous waters of the Philippines. The Island is located in the Bohol Sea and attracts many divers, also thanks to the spread corals and a variegated marine fauna. Even though there are many rocks and cliffs, you can find some beaches of very white sand, where (aside from relaxing), you can easily walk to reach sea gardens populated by tropical fishes.
Around the splendid ocean floors of Siquijor. Source: Tropical Experience Travel Services.
Siquijor is definitely a very interesting destination if you want to learn about traditions, relax on a beach and discover the sea.
(written on January 2015)