The Mystic Island of Siquijor: How I Got it for Free!

What is it for me NOW?
I had been staring at the monitor for a couple of minutes to compose this line. Empty and apathetic. I thought I had a lot in my mind but every time I keyed in words in this composition nothing would come out. So, I had to start with this boggling self-imposed question. 
"How far have I achieved in life? Am I still following what I love doing and making most of this life?"

My younger brother is in Brazil, who by the way, just finished his trip in Europe and Africa. My sister just won a Eurasian beauty pageant. My other older brothers are traveling in China and the other one just completed another winning marathon. So, what happened to me? What happened to this wanderer who left work four months ago because she wanted to pursue her masters degree in London? 

"Cartwheeling in Tulapos Marine Sanctuary"

I became a vagabond. I became a nomad. I left home and decided to make most of my life away from home. Without a stable job to rely on but only my skills and my strong determination that I could make things happen the way I wanted it. It is the very word of resilience that reverberates in my system lest I won't survive being alone and away from home.  

Four months. I saw how I slept to one hotel because I was hired as a documenter. I accompanied my friends for a biking trip which saved me another place to sleep and a food to eat. I got paid for writing a script and hosting. I got paid for covering an event. And what was the most rewarding? I had the chance to visit another island for free. 

To Siquijor, the Mystic Island of Central Visayas
With this long introduction, I had gone to the Mystic Island of Siquijor for free. It was my second visit in Siquijor Island after four years. I was both feeling excited and ambivalent before the trip. Without much cash, I couldn't fathom how I would survive if ever I would be left alone.without the Manila guy (I wrote about him before). It was him who invited me for this trip. 

I was vocal about my current situation with him. I told him I didn't have the budget for the trip but then he gave me just one phrase that changed my mind. 
"Just be there at the bus terminal at 5am."

My phone rang before 5am on that day. He sent me a message on messenger. He even sent me the very first text message after I left Manila last March. I couldn't refuse and I didn't want to. With my things already packed, I rode towards the South Bus Terminal while looking forward on seeing him again. 

The Journey to the Island of Fire
After staying in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, my friend and I set our journey to Siquijor. I was not expecting anything on this trip. I was not feeling as excited as much as I felt years back. Maybe because I was together with his friends that my me aloof and silent. But then, I was thankful somehow that most of the time he was with me throughout the journey.

The group had our first stop at Kanheron Ranch in Olo, Siquijor. The majestic entrance took my breathe away. I was transported in the American Wild, Wild West era. Pranced with stallions, decorated with Western American antiquities, well-thought and all-American-inspired pieces. It was the first time I had heard about Kanheron Ranch. A portmanteau of two Visayan words of "Kanhi" and "Karon" which when translated in English means, "Then and Now". 

"The Then and Now - Kanheron Ranch at Olo"

Our second stop was the Larena Triad Coffee Shop. Honestly, I am not a fan of hanging out in a coffee shop when traveling to a different place. But this one got me so overwhelmed. I was both in a world surrounded by my most favorite places - the sea and the mountain. Literally, I was at the top of the hill overlooking the blue sea and the green mountain. I breathed both their breezes. My heart leaped with joy seeing these two natural beauties. I was drunk with contentment seeing both of them.

"When the mountain meets the sea"

We had a short stopover to taste their "Pan Bisaya" - a locally made bread which is considered as one of the delicacies of Siquijor before we proceeded to Tulapos Marine Sanctuary. I had learned that snorkeling for barracuda was the main activity in the sanctuary. It was only the Manila guy and his friends went snorkeling whilst the rest of the group waited for them at the beach. 

I enjoyed a moment of solitude. The view was relaxing and it gave me time to reflect about my feelings with the Manila guy. For years and months, my emotion never changed only how I should be acting with him around. I felt comfortable and at ease with him more and more but still vigilant about my feelings. The love was still there only how I should love changed. Well, while they were snorkeling, I also took the pleasure to take photos of myself before we had our next stop. 

Voila! I gathered my brave spirit for our next stop. The Salagdoong Beach and its almost 40 feet cliff jump sent my adrenaline to its peak. I love the rush of calculated risk in my system. It made me more alive and livelier. The queue at the stand point was long with men. I looked at those who were hesitant in jumping and my inner self couldn't wait to try. 

"The different shades of blue at Salagdoong Beach"

I saw those men jumping. Some with scared expressions and others trying to gulp in big air while one made the sign of the cross. They looked funny with those expressions. When it was my turn, the only thing I was thinking was to care nothing for a few seconds before landing for a splash. And it did me a great boost of my self while I came in wading in the water after cliff jumping. 

"Refreshing and cool water at Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor"

We then stopped at Cambuhagay Falls. I was surprised by its development. There were already huts and tables for the tourists and some ropes for jumping. It was something I anticipated. Though feeling sad in a moment, I diverted my thoughts to the Cambugahay Falls I had gone to years ago. Silent and untouched where only locals knew about the place. I sat down at the bench waiting for my friends to finish jumping and swimming. 

This was true with the Old Balete Tree as our last stop before heading back to Dumaguete. The silent and mystic century-old Balete Tree is now a destination for tourist who wished to have a fish spa. The spring surrounding the place is filled with fish. While beside it is a souvenir shop. The group stayed at the area for only a short time then went back to Dumaguete.

Reflection
While the Manila guy and I were at the bus somewhere in Carcar, we talked about how I was feeling at recent event in my life. 
I told him these lines: "I am happy with what I become now. I am nomadic but able to sustain my self. I guess this is what I really want."

Then he replied, "I can see you happy now. I know you are enjoying your life. As for this travel, I don't mean you to pay back the trip immediately. Pay me if you have enough to spare. I admire your personality. I always believe you have ways to get what you want. Just know that I am always here."

With those words, I become stronger and happier of what and who I become. Without regrets and without hesitation to go on living my life the way I want it. 
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About Marie Angelique Villamor

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