Showing posts with label island of fire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label island of fire. Show all posts

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Siquijor when it sizzles

To many Filipinos, the name Siquijor conjures up images of witchcraft and bizarre rituals. This tiny island composed of six towns has been unfairly labelled for centuries, but for those who have discovered its hidden beauty and treasures, they make Siquijor as their second home.
For the nth time, my visit to Siquijor last Holy Week (the best time to explore the island) was truly enchanted where magical delights beckon around every corner.
Our group — Butch Bernas and Guilly Quibir-Licayan (of Tagbilaran City Science High School), Arjame Deniega (of Sevilla National High School), fashion mogul Maximiel Tallo, radio personality Edward Guyano, Clarence Pesquira and Michael Lawrence Castillon — was the latest batch to be invited by Fiel Angeli Araoarao-Gabin and her hubby Engr. Jerome John Gabin who, we soon found out, was an Apostoles at14 and he’s serving as Saint Peter for 17 years.  We were together in the boat with Amy Arayan (of the Bohol Chronicle) and balikbayan Alot Bagotchay who had their own itinerary. We stayed at the house of Mrs. Laura “Mommy Lou” Jumawan-Gabin (former Department of Education Supervisor), together with daughters Lanih Lei Flores and Monette May Burgon and their families.
This much the group saw and did:
Siquijor has magic. Often mistaken as “Siqui-horror” and other ghoulish stories, Siquijor reveals so much more enchantment which offers several white-sandy beaches, scenic mountains and other places of interests.  -LPU
On Maundy Thursday, we went to visit the St. Francis de Assisi Church, Capilay Spring (San Juan), the 400-year-old balite tree for fish spa in Lazi (where we chanced to interview actor-singer and Siquijor Vice-Governor  Dingdong Avanzado with his wife Jessa Zaragosa), St. Isidore Church  and Convent  (Lazi) and Mt. Bandilaan for the Healing Festival.  We were able to witness the traditional washing of the feet of the Apostles. The parishioners brought food to be blessed by the priest and shared with the Apostles. According to Mommy Lou, the locals keep the bones of the fish, chicken, pig or cow and hide it atop the “abuhan” in the kitchen with the belief that one will never run out of food for guests in any gathering in one’s house.

On Good Friday, before 12 noon, we dipped ourselves in the sea, as we were told that we will be spared from evil spirit if we did that. Others roamed around the ancient cemetery to collect “things” for
  the ritual.
The next day, Black Saturday, we went to the house of the late Juan Ponce in San Antonio, Siquijor to let Arjame, Maam Guilly, Maximiel and Lawrence see for themselves the ritual of mixing exotic herbs and rather “unusual” ingredients to come up with a potent “sumpa” (antidote) for illnesses and hex. 
Of course, we didn’t leave Siquijor without visiting the Lugnason Falls and namiesta in barangay Tambisan in San Juan! It’s very Boholano that after we ate the tagbalay gave us a bringhouse! Burp! Burp!
We missed the visit to the famous centuries-old Cang-Isok House, which is made of native material like nipa. Maybe next time.
Here are the “must-see’s” and the “must-do’s” in Siquijor:
St. Isidore Church and Convent or Lazi Church and Convent which was constructed in 1884 is the biggest convent in the Philippines and the whole Asia. -LPU
Visita Iglesia. Siquijor is also the home of centuries-old churches. The starting point for the tour is the St. Francis de Assisi Church in Siquijor, Siquijor. It is only a walking distance from the Siquijor port. Few meters from the church, in the middle of a plaza, stands the bell tower that has served as a watch tower for the sea raiders during the Spanish colonial period. In the town of Lazi, you can visit the San Isidro Labrador Church, one of the most outstanding cultural heritage churches in the Philippines, and the San Isidro Labrador Convent which is said to the one of the biggest and oldest convents in the Philippines. In the town of Maria, the Sta. Maria Church houses the statue of Santa Rita de Cascia, an Italian saint touted as the miraculous Black Maria that is dressed in black garb and carrying a human skull on one hand and a cross on the other with staring eyes!
•Giant Balete Tree and Fish spa- The 400 year-old Balete tree is believed to be enchanted because of its eerily hanging roots and vines. Folks believe that it is home to mythical and scary creatures like agta and engkanto. But the balete has real dwellers- the doctor fish or garra rufa!  It is a new and fun alternative health and beauty treatment in Siquijor to safely and gently exfoliate the feet. The fishes clean pores, remove dead skin cells and also serve as a micro massage of the feet and legs, improving blood circulation. The experience is slightly ticklish at first, but skin instantly becomes softer and smoother. WATCH NEWS HERE.
The Cambugahay Falls is the most famous falls in the Island. See its several levels of waterfalls and enjoy its cool and refreshing waters.- LPU
Cambugahay FallsSwing like Tarzan from here! Cambugahay Falls in Lazi is one of the attractions in Siquijor. It has a multi-tiered waterfalls with clear turquoise waters. Look for the swing rope hanging on the tree and do a Tarzan jump. Swimming lagoons are formed downstream where tourists can get a refreshing dip in the cool water. WATCH NEWS HERE.
Capilay Spring Park. This is a natural spring-fed swimming pool located in the town of San Juan. Visitors can have a picnic, dine and swim here. Don’t forget Tating’s creamier ice cream! It can bring delight during hot and humid days! WATCH NEWS HERE.
Mt. Bandilaan National Park. Going up a mountain can be exhausting but not in Siquijor’s highest peak. The Mt. Bandilaan Nature Park has natural springs, hiking trails, caves, and even a butterfly sanctuary. The more spiritual might be moved to reflecting by the Stations of the Cross. Visitors can climb a tower to get a panoramic view of the island and Bohol. 

•Beaches – Siquijor has a postcard-perfect scoop of pristine 
white-sand beaches.  Salagdoong Beach in Maria town is famous for its climb jump and rock formations. The town of San Juan has the best resorts in Siquijor. The undeveloped Paliton Beach in San Juan has sugar-fine, white sand that could very well match Panglao’s white-sand.  You can enjoy Paliton beach without the noise of overdevelopment and the nightlife. It's a place where you can relax and enjoy the beach...and to catch beautiful sunsets!
The fish spa is a new and fun alternative health
and beauty treatment in Siquijor to safely and
gently exfoliate the feet. 
•Oging- They are not foreigners but many of them can be found in Siquijor. People who have very white hair to the point of being snow-white, flour-like freckled white skin and very white eyes are called “Oging” in native Siquijor. Since, the island is associated with magick and mysticism, most of the people believe that “ogings” are children of engkantos. In medicine, "Ogings" are known as albino, people who lack color pigmentation in thei bodies. Albinism as a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to the absence or defect of an enzyme involved in the production of melanin.

•See a
 mananambal- In spite of the long presence of Christianity, Siquijor is noted for herbal medicine, witchcraft, magick and superstition, with San Antonio as the center of shamanism. There are many mananambals in San Antonio, most prominent is the Ponce family. The province of Siquijor has gathered the mananambals who practice several styles of healing for tourism through a Healing Festival during Holy Week. For seven Fridays, the herbalists and sorcerers roam the forests, seas, caves and cemeteries to gather medicinal herbs and roots to make amulets, charms, love potions and other concoctions. They cook their concoctions on Black Saturday.  If you’re still craving a taste of Siquijor’s mystical side, ask a local to point you to a faith healer or sorcerer. The famous Bolo-Bolo folk healing method is a must try.
Siquijor is noted for herbal medicine, witchcraft, magick and superstition, with San Antonio as the center of shamanism.- LPU

How to get there:
Sea- Travel to Siquijor by fastcraft from Cebu (five hours) or Dumaguete (45 minutes) and Lite Shipping from Tagbilaran to Larena, Siquijor (three hours) every Monday, Wednesday and Sunday at 7 p.m.
Thanks for your letters, all will be answered. Comments welcome at, follow leoudtohan at Twitter /Facebook.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Birthday parties and Siquijor Island

• Memorable birthday parties in California
Exploring the mystic island of Siquijor
Scene: Again, there is no Miss Tagbilaran 2013. “Miss Tagbi will not be staged this year,” reports a Very Reliable Source (VRS). “Then, there will be no Miss Teen Tagbilaran 2013. The City failed to stage the pageant in 1987, 1995, 2011 and 2012, one of the major activities leading to the fiesta celebration. In 2012, the Miss Tagbi was replaced by Miss Teen Tagbilaran. Trivia: Zosita Caliao Clarin was the first Miss Tagbilaran in April 1986. Twenty years after, her daughter Margo Adelaiz Clarin Manigque became Miss Tagbilaran 2006. Miss Tagbilaran beauties who won the Miss Bohol Sandugo title were Vanessa Joyce Matuod Evardone in 1994, Socorro d'Marie Tallo Inting in 1997 and Daisy Jean Quilicot in 2009.
Seen: Spotted in Bohol last Friday was Asia’s Pop Idol Christian Bautista. His last visit to Bohol was in April 2012.Also spotted in Bohol last Holy Week were Kim Chiu and Xian Lim.

Scene: It's goodbye time for Lion and media colleague Priscilla Richards who is finally leaving for US this week. Priscilla will go back to US (for good?) with daughter Cathy. Priscilla will be surely — and sorely — missed by her friends.
Scene: The short film Bells Ring, Mr. King (BRMK) directed by Ted Ramasola is included in the 2013 The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. BRMK is one of the three films representing the Philippines. There are 140 films from all over the Asia Pacific region. “It is an honor to represent not only our country but our province, Bohol. I hope this will inspire our young film makers back home to pursue their dreams,” said Ted.
Scene: A daughter of a high ranking official in town was immediately rushed to the hospital. According to VRS, the daughter, who is the rose of the family, was broken hearted. “Her labidab left her and the strain was too much for her,” revealed VRS. “She attempted suicide by slashing her wrists and was rushed to a nearby hospital where she soon recovered.”  
Come in formal attire.
That was the “strict” reminder from Boholano socialite Mikey Gatal when we would attend birthday parties during my recent trip to California.
It’s the Boholano unity in the foreign land. Even if they live miles away, our paisanos still have time to celebrate or remember important milestones in life.  

In America, they like to celebrate, and rarely more so than on their birthdays. “Expect cake, balloons and presents at any birthday party you attend in America,” said Mikey. “More fun if they have hit a significant milestone in their lives.”
Cases in point:
Dr. Yvonne Tutor-Uy celebrated the golden year of her life with a big bang at the famous Golf Mountain Meadows Golf Course in Pomona, California.
The function room of the Golf Mountain Meadows was decked with more than just the usual American birthday decor; it was literally turned into a floral paradise, with tables nicely set up just outside the social hall deemed too small to accommodate the well-wishers.
“Turning 50 is overwhelming for some people but not for Yvonne Tutor Uy for it was the most glamorous thing I've ever seen on this eventful party and right on a course,” said Mikey Gatal.  “If you were there, you'd swear you were on candid camera.”
Mikey added: Kind of nostalgic by taking a walk down memory lane. Created a quiet dinner party and gathered friends who took pictures of her and at times, more sparks of gladness when the music played at the right time and place where host Poca Rafael entertained the guests and the performance of Divo Mayer capped the birthday bash with high remarks on his performance.  Played music from the teenage years and it brought some memory lane.
“She celebrated her 50th birthday with special gifts and giveaways for family and friends. The food was just right for everyone don't want to be filled up for everyone was expected to line dance all night and we did!” said Mikey.
On the other hand, Dindo Tallo, the eldest son of Dr. Prisco Tallo and the late provincial board member Dra. Socorro Buslon-Tallo celebrated his birthday on March 9 at Dancetime in Carson City, California with family and friends.
When the birthday boy arrived at the venue, what greeted him were blinding flashbulbs and the singing of “Happy Birthday” punctuated by applause.
As the guests (a mix of Filipinos and Americans) shared a hearty buffet dinner, Dindo’s wife, Rose (Miss Tagbilaran 1987 first runner-up) prepared a short film clips of photos showing Dindo from little boy to teenager to a fulfilled husband were flashed on the monitor, eliciting applause and affectionate laughter.
Rose thanked the people who attended the party and she even narrated their love story. What made the night so meaningful when she sang “Through the Years” to Dindo.  That’s when the Cry Baby in Dindo came out, forcing a smile and vainly trying to hold back tears, he watched obviously thrilled, like the whole house, as his wife dedicated the song for him. And what a show it was!
Dindo’s eldest son Dale rendered a song, while Josh showed his dance prowess.
Also spotted in the crowed were Dindo’s sister Dr. Aida Tallo and ex-PBA star Bernard Fabiosa.
Mikey Gatal set the energy that rose until midnight when the show was capped by a line dancing marathon participated in by the guests and Tallo kids.
We had so much fun, the food was overflowing, had a special bartender from Las Vegas who had the best mixes of alcohol, wine and even some non alcoholic beverages and surprise numbers.
As birthday boy Dindo moved around the venue greeting his overflowing well-wishers, I asked him about his birthday wish.
“Good health and long life,” said Dindo.
Then, another memorable birthday party was of Rey "Bodo" Reformina who celebrated his birthday on February 3 in West Hollywood. 
The tummy-filling goodies served for Rey’s guests were prepared by his friends.
Everyone had so much fun and many familiar faces came to attend his special day.
Rey is a registered nurse and a certified make-up artist in New York before moving to LA last year.
His friends took some time for some photo shoot, they have supermodel skills especially the catwalk, cobra walk, fish and tsunami walk.
Well, Rey doesn’t look 50.
Nobody revealed what the secret is behind his youthful look.
Can you guess what?
If turning 50 is as painlessly celebratory as Yvonne, Dindo and Rey did, everybody must welcome their half-century mark with an open heart.
As the invitation said, “Nifty at 50!”
Whether it be for internalizing spirituality by fulfilling Lenten religious practices, observing folk healing activities, and simply communing with nature in one whole package, Holy Week is still the best time to go to Siquijor.
When passengers jampacked the ticketing booths for tickets to other destinations to spend Holy Week, we’re thankful for the help of Edgar Gineta and Ann Cajilog for facilitating us at the Lite Shipping office so that we could cross the island.

Engr. Jerome Gabin, almost 15 years as Saint Peter and apostle since 1983, with Fiel, Cielo and Renji after the Easter Sunday mass...and (left to right) Butch, Edward and myself with two matriarchs – Mommy Lou Gabin and Ma’am Wincie Araoarao.
For almost seven years already, I have gone to Siquijor at this time of the year and stayed at the house of Mrs. Laura Jumawan Gabin (former Department of Education Supervisor), together with daughters Lanih Lei Flores and Monette May Burgon and their families. Her son, Engr. Jerome John Gabin (married to Fiel Angeli Araoarao), now based in Bohol, would go home to dutifully attend to his “tinuig nga tulumanon” as apostle of the Saint Francis of Assisi Parish since he was 13 (as passed on by his father, Engelberto). Now, he has been serving as Saint Peter for almost 15 years.

For my travel to the “Isla del Fuego” or “Mystic Island” this year, Butch Bernas (Tagbilaran City Science High School MAPEH teacher), Edward Guyano aka Inday Charity (my Bohol Tri-Media Association colleague) and Jhelmar Jala (my nephew) joined me. We were together in the boat with Mrs. Wincesa Araoarao (retired Bohol National High School PE teacher and Bukang Liwayway Dance Troupe founder) for her first Holy Week observance in the island, who was with her daughter, Fiel, and grandchildren, Cielo and Renji.
On Maundy Thursday, we went to the church for the traditional washing of the feet of the Apostles re-enacted by Msgr. Candelario “Larry” Catubig, followed by the last supper at the Assisi High School stage, an activity fully supported by parishioners who bring food to be blessed by the priest and shared with the Apostles. The locals keep the bones of the fish, chicken, pig or cow and hide it atop the “abuhan” in the kitchen with the belief that one will never run out of food for guests in any gathering in one’s house.

As early as 4 a.m. of Good Friday, the five (5) - kilometer via crucis started, participated in by a thousand devotees. Before 12 noon, we dipped ourselves in the sea, as we were told that we will be spared from evil spirit if we did that. In the afternoon, we witnessed the veneration of the cross.
While waiting for the procession arrive, we chanced on former Siquijor Mayor Ling Avanzado and his son, Dingdong with his wife, Jessa Zaragosa, at their residence just across the church. After the photo opportunity, we did an interview with Dingdong, a vice-gubernatorial candidate, who bared his plans on how to better promote the island’s tourism industry.
The next day, Black Saturday, our goal was to trek to Camp Bandilaan and the house of Juan Ponce in San Antonio, Siquijor to let Butch, Edward and Mawmaw see for themselves the ritual of mixing exotic herbs and rather “unusual” ingredients to come up with a potent love potion (“lumay”) or “tambal” for illnesses.

Cambugahay Falls in the town of Lazi is one of the famous Siquijor’s tourist attractions.
We then proceeded to Capilay Spring Park (San Juan), Saint Isidore Parish and biggest convent in Asia and Cambugahay Falls (Lazi), then visited a friend’s house in Larena and Salagdoong Beach (Maria). Of the six municipalities of Siquijor, we failed to make a stopover in Enrique Villanueva (Talingting) because we had to go back to Tagbilaran taking the 7 p.m. Sunday trip from Larena.
Anyway, there’s always a next time - next year – and, maybe, with new people.
Though it would still be the same mystic island, but, hopefully, another sight to behold, another Holy Week experience to capture. But, while Bohol’s little neighbor has been maligned with things associated with black magic or “barang,” the fact remains that the people there are friendly, hospitable and above all, have strong faith in God.
I warn you: There are no witches but beautiful beaches!