Revisiting Siquijor: A Visit to my Father’s Hometown
My father is a native of the mystic island of Siquijor and, while we my family and I have made several trips there when I was younger, we never really had a chance to visit all the tourist spots back then. Then again, I could not remember the island being so touristy. In fact, the most number of people I saw going there was a group of mountain bikers who biked the entire island.
One weekend, my friends and I, along with my partner and our daughter, finally had the chance to visit the place and it was nothing short of spectacular.
We were immediately greeted by my uncle who got up very early and waited for us at the Siquijor port. We had also asked for his services to tour us around the best attractions in the island.
We first fetched a few more friends in a resort in San Juan and ate a huge breakfast then we were ready to set off on an adventure.
First we marveled on the Old Enchanted Balete Tree which had already been flocked with a lot of tourists. The bottom of the tree had a small pond where schools of fish who would nibble on your feet. I would have loved trying out the fish spa but, honestly, it was just not for me.
We drove further ahead until we finally reached the town of Lazi, which was my father’s hometown. We saw their old house in such a dilapidated state (no one lives there anymore) and I so wish I could do something to bring it back to its former glory. It would definitely provide a great local experience for those coming to the island.
We just passed by the house and saw an uncle then we made our way to the Lazi Church and Convent. It is said that the Lazi Convent (or the San Isidro Labrador Convent) is the oldest and biggest convent in the entire country and probably in Asia.
We made sure to visit the bell tower in the Church. Before the trip, my dad showed us pictures and told was to make sure to drop by the place. He said that during his childhood, he would climb the ceiling of the church and play there.
The convent was closed…but we opened it anyway. Haha. We had the place all to ourselves until a group of foreigners made their way inside as well.
Our next stop was Cambugahay Falls which was just the perfect timing because we had been feeling sweaty from the nonstop trip all day. We were happy that they did not ask for fees but the trip definitely took a toll on our knees. The locals said it was around 300 steps below…which means just as many steps going back up when you leave. Argh.
We had a refreshing dip but unfortunately, only two in our group really knew how to swim and it was only my partner who was brave enough to jump to the deeper part of the falls.
It wasn’t long until we decided to pack up and go to our next stop which was Salagdoong Beach. According to my uncle, the name of the place refers to the “doong” bird creating a nest there, or to “salag”. I hope I got that right. Haha.
On your way there, you get to pass by a long stretch of road passing through a manmade Molave forest.
One of the main highlights of the beach, aside from the most beautiful shore, is the cliff where you are allowed to jump from during high tide. It was already low tide so the partner was not able to grab that opportunity.
After a few hours of swimming, we decided to go home to our homestay in Lazi and freshen up.
We had to go back to San Juan to catch dinner and we met my former nanny on our way there.
The restaurant we ate at was definitely cozy and very rustic but I wish there were more of these kinds of places here that were owned by the locals. Perhaps in a few years I could join them?
We had to end our day slightly earlier than we usually do in the city because the only transportation we had was through my uncle’s multicab. He drove us back to our homestay (I was half asleep from being so full and also from exhaustion) and I had among the best sleep in weeks.
Ahh…it was so sad to say goodbye to the island early the next day. Perhaps we will come back again and stay for a week or maybe a month or maybe even more. Maybe we will find a way to fix up the old house and offer a local experience there, too? It would be nice to share a piece of my father’s hometown to people who visit the place.