Normal Activity 1 - Paranormal Activity 0

Trip Start Dec 03, 2012
Trip End Jan 09, 2013

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Where I stayed
Casa Merinda

Flag of Philippines  , Central Visayas,
Thursday, January 3, 2013

San Juan Town
It was a wet morning today for me unfortunately. My original plan was to explore the idyllic island on a rented motorbike. The rather unkind weather and a still uneasy stomach meant that I will be on public transport instead. San Juan town proper was the first stop on the public tricycle. A beautiful but sleepy town, San Juan's main feature is the playful Calipay's Spring Park - a landscaped pool topped with spring water streaming down from the hills. Children were having a soak - what a perfect morning activity as opposed to switching on a playstation. How life could be so different.
400 Year Old Balete Tree
My plans took a turn when I chatted with a stall vendor about Siquijor's mysterious healers. I would require local knowledge to seek them out so I negotiated with a motorbike driver to take me to the interior villages of Siquijor for a fee of 620 php on a condition that I would be brought to a village healer. He was hesitant at first, worried that he might not find the healer's home but after some confirmations with his mates, we shook hands and we had a deal. The first stop, not too far from San Juan, is the mystical 400 years old Balete tree. Legend has it that the tree is bewitched and its roots sprout spring water from the ground. The villagers then built a pool containing the spring water for people to dip in. Any ill and evil notions about this tree were effectively squashed when children splashed about in the pool. I wondered if they knew about its legend?Nevertheless the tree still looked creepy to me. 
Healer Hunt
We rode to Cang Asa village to the home of a healer on a trail under the cover of rainforests. Reminiscing of a B-grade thriller hollywood film, we solemnly approached the weary looking hut in the drizzle (imagine haunting and eerie soundtrack in the background). In my mind, all I was thinking about was This is going to be a scoop! Then my suspense broke when the occupants told us that he went out to town for house visits. What?! It started raining heavily as we left for the hilltop barangay Cantabon where we stopped an hour for shelter. Cantabon although tiny in size, is actually a rather serene place to be in. 

I learnt from chatting with Cantabon residents that many had previously worked in Singapore in the 90s as domestic helpers and nurses. They were pleasantly surprised to meet a Singaporean in their barangay and they shook my hands as though I was a  dignified diplomat. It was great chatting to them about places in Singapore and they reminisced about where they used to hang out during their free time. It was really a wonderful feeling talking about experiences that we both shared. After leaving Cantabon, we paused at a second healer's abode but he was out and about too. I asked permission to go in and saw some herbal portions. I wondered how easily available were those snake oils? 
A Misty Mt Bandila-an
On the way to Mt Bandila-an, the route cut through beautiful rainforests in the drizzle and fog, creating this medieval like atmosphere. But the fog meant zero visibility when I scaled up to the observation deck at Mt Bandila-an - the highest point of Siquijor. I was told, on a clear day, one could look out to Mindanao, Cebu and sometimes even Bohol. Curses! This must be black magic at work. At about noon time, the sky cleared suddenly as we descended from the hills. Talk about magic! As we rode downhill towards Lazi, the views toward Mindanao were as clear as mud. A prominent mountain stood out princely in the distance, forming most of the gorgeous views to Mindanao as we rolled down out of Mt Bandila-an. 
Pig's Blood for Lunch
Visited Cambugahay Falls on the way, and watched some kids swung themselves into the spring pool. Life is indeed carefree here in Siquijor. Also dropped by at San Isidro Labrador Church to admire her time worn coral stone/timber facade. Lunch at Lazi with my driver was awkward. I ordered too much food. My driver was abit shy about sharing lunch with me. One of the dishes was a muddy pig's blood stew which was too intense for me to stomach. As usual the dishes were cold and heavily coated with salt especially the eggplant. I suspect this practice is to prevent food from turning bad as they sit out in the hot weather all day.
Paliton Beach
My stomach was playing up again, so I made a beeline back to Casa Merinda for the dunny. It was not long before I made my way to Paliton Beach searching for my sunset shots. Paliton beach which is located about 5 kilometres from San Juan is best accessed on a tricycle. I dropped off from the main road and walked my way in for more than a kilometre. The beach itself is absolutely beautiful. Its isolation means less visitors. Although only a small beach, her white sands and clear waters rival those at Boracay. 

The sunset over Apo Island in the horizon currently ranks number 2 in my top 3 beach sunsets. The only drawback was that I had to make my way out on a dirt track in poor light. At the main road, no tricycles appeared to head in my direction so I started walking and appreciating the revealing cosmic display of constellations in the night sky. The stars shone so bright that I can make out the silhouettes of coconut trees so abundant in Siquijor
Haunting Island
Tonight we had electricity. This meant the villagers were belting out videoke tunes. A Katy Perry number followed by some dance tunes and pinoy pop songs. Probably as a deterrent to the many spiritual demons the island occupants often whispered about. Legend has it that many villagers were haunted by sightings of a ghastly floating body with no legs. Another popular tale is the murder of an elderly faith healer when her child subject (supposedly possessed) died in a ritual gone wryly. I think these are all ploys to scare visitors and developers away from Siquijor so that it will not be bastardised into a party island like Boracay. So clever. I realised only a few days later when I wrote this diary entry that my room at Casa Merinda had no mirrors at all. How creepy...
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