Wednesday, November 21, 2012

10 Must-Visit Places in Siquijor

I have a confession and a stupid one... just before I went to Siquijor, my limited knowledge of that place had been nothing more than an island where "barang," shamans, and love potions are everywhere.

It was no surprise that when I told my friends about my trip, I got a few rolling eyes and brows raised, as if asking me "Why Siquijor, of all places?" 

I was wrong, my friends were wrong, way too wrong. True to what I always say, one of the perks of traveling is learning -- age-old stereotypes and unfounded notions get to be corrected.

Having spent an amazing weekend there, exploring all its six municipalities, I was left baffled with how this small island could offer infinite fun and adventure. From white sand beaches, to charming seaside cliffs, to historical churches and bell towers, to clear and gentle cascades, and to eco-tourism destinations and enchanting trees.  They have it all. 

More than these beautiful sights, though, the thing that struck me was the warmth and kind smiles the people there. It would be ridiculous to avoid their gaze and smiles (having been warned not to look straight in the eyes of strangers to avoid trouble). I thought, those genuine kindness need to be reciprocated.

This one thing is true: Siquijor is as mystical as it is already known. It is raw, remote, and quite a revelation. An unspoiled and perfect destination for those gunning for some peace and quiet. 

This island is located in Central Visayas Region, about one hour ferry ride from Dumaguete. The most common means of transportation within the province are jeepneys and trikes. For those wanting to explore the whole island, trikes are available for hire. My friend and I, however, chose to rent a  motorcycle to drive around to our desired destinations. 

Here are my top 10 must-visit places in Siquijor:

1. Siquijor Port/Beach - I've seen a lot of ports but nothing compares to the panoramic view at Siquijor Port. Just adjacent to it is a wide stretch of white sand beach with clear blue water which is a perfect visual treat to visitors coming in to the island. 

2. Kagusuan Beach (Maria) - After passing through a thick forest, it was a pleasant surprise to see a beach securely hidden  to most tourists. Taking into consideration the seascape, fine sands and nice rock formations, Kagusuan made it to my favorite beaches in the country. I enjoyed swimming  there!

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Surreal Weekend with a Stranger

Their story goes along the line “A boy with a broken soul meets a girl with a broken heart.”  A kitsch and sentimental theme torn straight from the script of a local teleserye.

But it happened for real. To her, to him. In the mystical island of Siquijor.

And here’s their story:

Breaking a nine-year relationship with her ex was far from difficult... it was devastating, and to cope with the occasional bites of sadness, she had to do what she loves doing most -- traveling. As one of her post break-up trips, she planned a weekend trip to Siquijor and Dumaguete City. 

She was prepared to pushing through with the trip alone until she got a message from this person saying that he's impressed with her blog, and that he’s interested tagging along to some of her future trips. Casually, she told him about her upcoming Visayas getaway. And much to her surprise, he did book a round trip ticket to Dumaguete -- with the dates same as hers. 

“Where would he sleep?”, “What are we going to talk about?” were the first two questions that popped the minute she learned about him joining the trip. Yes, she knows him by name, but technically, he’s a stranger.

Then after giving it some thought, she realized that she needed a travel buddy to share financial damages with, and someone to break bread in the breakfast table with.

They had a couple of pre-trip meet-ups to discuss the "itinerary." She learned that he's the kind who likes to stick with outlined itineraries, while she’s the type who enjoys a good dose of spontaneity. 

She learned that he is also going through a difficult Saturn Return akin to hers. The past months were beating down on him, having to face huge endings and limping through small beginnings. And just like her, he is also working his way to recovery one day at a time. 

Despite the odds, they both felt that they needed this getaway. They needed a short break from their spiraling downhill lives. So they looked forward to the trip with so much gusto. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

My 2012 Playlist

This year became a pendulum of blissful highs and extreme lows in my life. For the most part, it was shaped by fortuitous events and irrevocable choices. And the one thing that had kept me company through the difficult times is music.

Music is a beautiful art that heals. Its dynamics - the beats, harmony, the lyrics, and melody -became my daily source of happiness. Music wakes me up in the morning, teaches me to push forward, allows me to let go, makes me appreciate the tiny beautiful things around, and more than anything, it allows me to breathe through life's challenges and promises.  It urges me to just live, and to live no matter how life sucks sometimes.

Music is everywhere -- inside my room, in my workplace, while waiting in the airport, while aboard a fast craft in the middle of a wild sea, in a bus while on long night trip, and while catching a magnificent sunset beside a beach. Music needs no space and time. It travels with me. 

I know it's a little too early to list my 2012 favorites but this one can't wait.  Here are some of my personal picks straight from my own playlist. Enjoy!

1. M. Ward - Here Comes The Sun Again

"The leaves on the trees they all call out your name,
Chrome on the freight line shines the same
And the stars in their cars roll their tops down for you singing,
Here comes the sun again."

2. Jason Mraz - Living in the Moment

"Living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
I got peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home
I'm living in the moment."

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