Friday, June 7, 2013

[SIQUIJOR] Not a Single Aswang in Sight

Well, well. Whoever was responsible for spreading nasty rumors that Siquijor – along with Capiz usually, but I have never been there – is full of Aswang and the supernatural probably did so to keep everyone away and have the awesome beaches all to himself. My Habal-Habal driver’s upper body did not detach from its lower half; neither did he try to eat me. So no, no single supernatural creature in sight but rather just beaches with the typical trio of azure, turquoise, and dark blue that turns every body of water into a powerful visual spectacle.

There are no direct flights from Manila and I doubt that Siquijor even has its own airport. The best way to go is through Dumaguete via ferry. The travel time is around an hour and the fare is minimal, an amount that your wallet won't really miss. Given the good location of Dumaguete’s ferry port right in front of Silliman University, accessibility isn't really an issue. Even Sibulan Airport is just a 15-minute tricycle ride away. It'd obviously be of more benefit to you to visit Dumaguete and Siquijor in tandem, hitting two birds with one stone.

Is a day tour okay for Siquijor? Well, for most of the attractions, the answer would be Yes but for the sake of enjoying Salagdoong Beach, it is recommended that you stay overnight or at least start early in the morning so you would have enough time to enjoy this underrated beach. There is a ten-peso entrance fee because it is actually a resort, and yes, you can stay there overnight in a hotel called Agripino. As for the rates, go on and discover it by yourself. I did not stay overnight, and I am not Trip Advisor either, you know.

That beach is usually the highlight of the trip and is almost always at the end of the itinerary. So let's bide the excitement for a while and recall the other attractions I saw in the few hours that I was in Siquijor. But first, how do you get around the island? Taxi? Sorry to disappoint you but there are no taxis there. Some locals have cars alright but the common mode of transportation is usually by Habal-Habal or Multicab. A Multicab for the whole day costs around 1,800 pesos, which would be cheap if divided among half a dozen people or so. The more, the merrier, the cheaper.

A tricycle would cost you around a thousand bucks and is good for three to four people. But if you are always on solo flight like me, the Habal-Habal at 700 pesos a day would be your best bet. If you have a license and know how to drive, then you can also rent a motorbike for around 250 a day, if I am not mistaken. Be sure to bring a map.

The first stop is better reached with two cartwheels from the ferry port, like, seriously. The first church in the itinerary, St. Francis of Assisi’s, dates back to 1783. The exterior is kind of small; the interior, simple. If you are not the devout catholic I suspect you to be, then five minutes of obligatory camwhoring activities will suffice, even more so if you are flying solo. The next attractions vary in distance but do not go over fifteen minutes. Capilay’s Spring Park has some sort of lagoon and some swings and seesaws for kids. At first I thought those lagoons were swimming pools, or are they really? I said in the video that you can jump in anytime, if you can tolerate the green water, that is. I think I also saw some fish in there.

The old Balete Tree is 400 years old, more or less, and has a small pool with fish in front of it. Unless you are an illegal logger with a very bad plan, there's really nothing to do there aside from taking a picture. Come to think of it, how often can you pose with a living thing that is how many centuries old? What I found kind of cool about the tree is how the colors vary as your gaze goes down towards the roots. Ten minutes, tops. You have to write your name on the log book, by the way. Another ten minutes or so takes you to the second church of the day: Lazi Church. Now this one is bigger both inside and out but nothing really spectacular in terms of architecture, in fact just the same old brick façade and red roof.

If Salagdoong Beach is the climax, then Cambugahay Falls is definitely the denouement of the trip. You have to go down how many hundreds of concrete steps, which is not that difficult until you realize that you are going to have to climb them later on. I only spent around half an hour but you are definitely welcome to stay longer. In fact, I suggest you spend more than that because there are many things to do here, what more if you are with family. Having a picnic is also a possibility, or a must, if you need some energy for the climb back to civilization.

Of course, swimming should be the main activity. The advantage of this waterfall is that it is not that high and is actually composed of several layers. You are free to choose which of the several pools formed by the flowing stream would be your temporary refuge for the day. Some locals might already be having fun there but when I came to visit there were only a few of them. Tourists stop here for around half an hour before they leave for Salagdoong, which is almost always the last destination in the itinerary.

And now we are back to the beach. Yes, that beach called Salagdoong which is really a looker. Pay the 10-peso entrance fee. I was not able to do so when we came in because no one was manning the entrance so they just collected the fee from me before getting out, as per the gentle reminder of the Habal-Habal driver. That fee is just minimal and you won't complain at all once you get to the beach. There is an overpriced restaurant there. If you ever feel like getting hungry and have no other choice, then by all means, splurge. Most people just bring their own food, though. Having a picnic at one of the many picnic spots is a must for some, especially with that awesome view waiting for them.

There was ongoing construction to the far left when we came, which is also where you'll find the mini cottage thingies facing the beach. To the far right is the lagoon which seems to be the popular photo of the place that always pops up in the Internet when you do a quick Google search. Next to it, to the left, are the two diving platforms and the slide, while to its left is that peaceful part of the beach where the waters are of three different colors, not that deep for you to drown in unless you are an idiot or something.

Now some people would argue that the slide destroys the natural ambiance of the place. Come on! It is colored green and besides, most of the tourists and even the locals enjoy it. It is awesome, really. It lends an air of adventure to an otherwise idyllic beach. If you want a quiet area, then the lagoon provides that for you. As for the diving thing, it is not that high as those at Ariel’s Point in Boracay but just enough to tickle your sense of adventure.

Bring your own swimming paraphernalia! I regret not having done so. If on a day trip, make sure that you come early so you could spend some time to laze at the beach. Mine was less than an hour, and having already bought tickets for the return trip to Dumaguete, I really had no choice but to leave early despite not wanting to.

[SIQUIJOR] Not a Single Aswang in Sight

2 creature(s) gave a damn:

Ian | GoingRoamingWandering said...

Salagdoong Beach is a real charmer. 'Wish to see this province someday. Thanks for sharing this underrated province of the country...

ihcahieh said...

@Ian - No prob. Make sure you put this on your bucket list. Underrated indeed!

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