Monday, October 25, 2010

Sojourn in Siquijor

Last Monday, I took my wife and youngest son to Siquijor, the 3rd smallest province in the country. Known as the center of witchcraft and love potions, it also boasts of old church, white sand beaches, caves, and short waterfalls.

From Dumaguete port, we rode the Delta fastcraft at Php 135 fare/pax, arriving in Siquijor port by 11:15 am. The choppy waters on the middle of the 45-min. boat trip may cause seasickness, but nobody vomitted among the passengers.
We proceeded to Das Traum Shop to ask if we can have early check-in at their guest house as arranged through SMS messages. The owner, Ms. Joy De Andrade offered his staff to give us a lift in a motorbike, but we declined as our hired tricycle driver Joam Camingao was already there to take us to the guest house. 

The maternal fan room at Php 350/night was still occupied when we arrived, so Marissa the housekeeper offered the family fan room at the second floor for Php 400/night. Finding the bigger room to our satisfaction, we took it and have had a quick change for the island tour. 

Guests just have to write their name, age, place of origin, and checkout date on the guest house’s logbook to register. Its that simple, no registration card or other forms to fill up, and no receipt as well.

There are 3 double bed mattresses on our room, all in “tatami” style, no leg or box spring. The room has its own wide veranda with view of the trees at the back of the property. Forest fresh air flows inside the room, and there’s no need to turn on the ceiling fan, if the screened window is left open. 

Downstairs there is a living room with cable TV. Only 2 downsides to this place – bathroom fixtures need repair and they don’t serve food to their guests. However, the place is still nice and inexpensive, so I still recommend the place for those looking for budget accommodation. Their contact number is (63)906-9156728.

Joam, our hired tricycle driver and guide, took us first to Siquijor St. Francis church and bell tower, which is just walking distance from Siquijor port. See the post about Siquijor churches here.

Next stop is at Capilay Spring Park in San Juan town, where the water in the pools were fed by a natural spring from the mountains. Capilay is the original name of San Juan, a tribal village before the Spanish era. My son enjoyed the seesaw and swing in the park, near the picnic huts. All these facilities are free to use by the general public. 

Unfortunately, they were dredging the pools for cleaning, hence the water is not clear. I also saw an albino girl in the park, and Joam mentioned that its genetic in one particular clan. There is a plantation in the island where most of the workers are albino.

By the time we’re leaving the spring park, it started to rain. Since the tricycle can’t fully shield us from the heavy rain, I told Joam to take us to nearby Coco Grove resort to see its facilities while avoiding the heavy downpour. 

We have no time to view their guestrooms and restaurants, so we just lingered on their receiving area. Photos were taken with their lifesize “bulol” wood carvings, and their big parrot Macky that would approach people near his perch.

When the rain stopped, we went to the huge balete tree believed to be more than 400 years old. There is a natural spring water that comes out from its base, ensuring water supply for its long roots and at the small pool. Three local kids were swimming at the pool when we arrived, and my son enjoyed throwing leaves to the small fishes at the pool. 

On our way to Lazi town proper, we stopped at an elevated part of the circumferential highway, to enjoy the view of the road and the coastline. Late lunch was on Lazi’s market area with total bill of Php 148 for 3 adults and a small kid.

Lazi is a hilly town with large acacia trees on the road that separates the church and the convent. See the post about Lazi church and convent here.

At past 3:00 pm, we arrived at Cambugahay falls, after negotiating the 130+ steep stone stairs without handrails. Visitors must be very careful when going down, as a wrong step could result to fall on the ravine. 

However, upon arriving at the waterfalls, the relaxing sight and sound is worth it. The cold running water soothes the tired leg muscles. Although not as high as other waterfalls, its the first wide or multi waterfalls I saw in person, and the 2 other waterfalls upstream are added bonus. The water is inviting us for a swim, but we don’t have the time. 

The price of this natural beauty? A Php 20 parking fee for the tricycle and the exhausting walk upstairs, especially as I have to carry my son back. Good thing that Joam has been carrying our backpack of supplies. On the waiting shed upstairs, vendors are selling refreshing cold drinks for tired tourists while resting on the metal bench.

Last destination on our Siquijor tour itinerary is the Salagdoong beach, after passing through their manmade forest. This is a beach resort operated by the local government of Maria. It has a hotel on the hill, bar, cottages, and picnic huts near the beach for reasonable rates. 

A new slide was constructed on a small islet separating the 2 beach areas. Entrance fee is Php 15 per adult plus Php 15 parking fee.

It was low tide and the southwest monsoon brings more waves than usual, so I was not able to see the cyan blue color of the water, that I was expecting from the internet photos. Afraid of rocky seaweed depths, I was contented to wade in the waist-deep waters where small fishes swim between my legs. 

After 30 minutes, it was  getting dark so I decided to shower before we leave. Unfortunately, the shower heads on their washroom are not working, so I just rinsed from a water faucet outside the washrooms.

From Maria town, we traversed the seaside road of Enrique Villanueva (formerly Talingting) with nice views of the beaches, mangroves, and a few fishermen angling fishes on low tide waters.

Joam showed to us the oldest house on the province, the Cang-Isok house in Bgy. Libo, built on mid 1800s. Its still inhabited by a family of fisherman, and that tiny white dot in the lower roof is actually a compact fluorescent light on the main staircase.

We passed the Larena port and the province’s most commercially developed town, before having dinner at Das Traum restaurant in Larena, without Joam who had to bring dinner food to his family at the same town. When he came back, he took us to a small peanut processing factory to buy peanut candies, before taking us back to the nearby Das Traum guest house. 

I gave him the tour fee of Php 800 plus Php 100 tip for very good service. His mobile number is (63) 927-6932095 for those interested to get his services.
Below is a colorful multicab in the island.

That ends our 7-hour tour of the island, covering all the 6 towns of the island province, after traversing the estimated 90 km circumferential road of the island province. The photos below are taken at the Siquijor port prior to our 5:55 am boat trip back to Dumaguete.

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  1. Joam,the best tour guide in Siquijor.

  2. Fully agree, plus his tour rate is very competitive. He is very helpful and trustworthy, highly recommended!

  3. he was my tour guide last june..i agree with you..very reliable and trustworthy..especially to me since im a solo traveler

  4. hello, I chanced upon your blog while determining our itinerary for our upcoming Siquijor trip. Would you mind giving me Joam's number and rate? Thank you!

  5. Hi, Charureu. As I've indicated on the last portion of the post, Joam Camingao's mobile number is 0927-6932095. His standard tour rate is Php 800 for the whole island tour, regardless if it would take half day or whole day.

    He could also get a bigger tricycle that could sit 8 persons, but the rental cost would be lower than hiring a multicab or jeepney. Tell him that you were referred by a couple with a 3-yr old kid who stayed in Das Traum last month.

    Enjoy Siquijor!

  6. Thank you for the information, Sir!

  7. thanks for this, i am going to siquijor in less than two weeks! cheers man!

  8. Hi Sir. Thanks for this very helpful post. Will be going to Siquijor with my 2-year old kid next month. I hope working pa rin yung phone number ni Manong Joam. Thanks again!

  9. I saw a recent post in Pinoy Exchange wherein the traveller was able to get Joam's services from his mobile phone number posted here. So I guess his number is still working.

    Enjoy Siquijor!

  10. Hello! I'm going to Siquijor with my friend next month - and I'm also planning to stay at Das Straum. I'd like to know if Joam was also the one who brought you to the port? How much did you pay for the ride from the guesthouse to the port? I'd appreciate any info you can give me. :)

  11. Hi, Ayezbee. We did not contracted Joam to take us back to the port. We just walked from Das Traum to the port at 5:30 am for about 15-20 minutes, taking the route that passes the hospital. We wanted to get a trike to the port but we can't find one at that early hour.

    If you have luggages, I suggest you ask Das Traum to arrange a trike for you if you're catching the first trip to Dumaguete. Enjoy your travel.

  12. Thanks so much for the info.:) We won't leave Siquijor that early so I guess it won't be a problem. Thanks so much!!! Have a wonderful Ber season. :)

  13. Great post! just what I needed for my Duma-Siquijor solo trip. Thanks for sharing. :)

  14. Hi, Nathalie. I hope you enjoy your Dumaguete-Siquijor trip!

  15. Greetings Noel,

    First of all, great blog.
    By the way, I am Joam's older brother, and I really appreciate your kind words towards my younger bro :)

    Thanks again.

    All the best!

  16. Mrs. Joy new number 09173662704

    For reservations or any inquiries about das traim guest house.