What makes Siquijor Island a great Place to retire
It comes third as the smallest province in the Philippines when it comes to land area as well as population. This province was a part of Negros Oriental before. Its capital city is Siquijor City. To most Filipinos, Siquijor brings about mystery and witchcraft. In fact the island is popular as the “Island of Fire”.
Its total land area is 213.4 square miles with a coastline stretching up to 63.4 miles. You will observe that its land is mostly made up of limestone rocks and coral reefs making it impossible for vegetation to grow. Its coastal plains usually stretch from San Juan to Lazi and the rest are mostly mountainous and hilly. You will observe that most of its soil is kind of clays which have originated from the coralline limestone.
The island enjoys two seasons, wet and dry. Generally, most area there enjoys dry season from January until May. The rest of the month falls to the wet season. In the southern section of the island, dry season usually starts November until April and the remaining is rainy or wet season. Its average temperature is 82 degree Fahrenheit.
There is no need to worry with overcrowding since they are not over populated. Based on the 2000 census, its total population is 81,598. In addition it has 17,351 households and every household averages to 4.70 persons.
The local dialect is Cebuano but most locals speak English and Tagalog as well.
You will be surprised because this island is one of the country’s prides when it comes to literacy rate since the island is one of the highest with a literacy rate of 92.5%. They have educational institutions both from private and public from Day care centers, Elementary, Secondary and of course Tertiary Schools.
Health Care Services
Health Care is something could be improved there. There are only two hospitals in the island – the Siquijor Provincial Hospital and Lazi Medicare. They also have six Municipal Health Centers and one hundred thirty-four Barangay Health Centers. There are also several private medical, dental and optical clinic but they only have one medical laboratory.
The island has three kinds of road surface namely concrete, asphalt and gravel. Most National road is asphalt although a small percentage about 15% is concrete and 5% gravel. Provincial road is not yet concrete but 80% gravel and 20% asphalt. Municipal Road is 74% Asphalt, 25% Gravel and only 1% Concrete. Soma parts of their Barangay road are concrete and asphalt but majority is gravel.
It is just a small island. In fact you can tour the whole island for just a day. Despite its size the island has three major seaports at Siquijor city, Lazi and Larena. Among the three, Larena port is the major entry point. This port can hold big ships.
International calls services are provided by BUTEL or Bureau of Telecommunications, TMSI-PLDT Telephone Management System, Inc, and Globe lines Inc. Major cell phone service provider like Smart and Globe Telecommunications are available in the province. There are also eight postal services as well as eight radio telegraphic stations. Computer shops or internet café is also available in Siquijor, Lazi and Larena. Cable TV is also available in Siquijor and Larena via the Siquijor Cable TV Network.
Lazi, Maria, San Juan and Siquijor are catered by the Metro Siquijor Water District while Enrique Villanueva and Larena are by the Municipal Water Systems. Some parts of the province still use artesian wells.
Power is distributed by PROSIELCO or Province of Siquijor Electric Cooperative, Inc. Eighty-four percent of the total Barangays in the province is being service with PROSIELCO. They have three generators and have the capability to distribute up to 15,382 households. To date current connections only comprise about fifty percent of the household. Despite this fact, electricity is still not stable in the island due to incompetent generators since the generators are old already.
To date, there are four banks in the island – Rural Bank of Larena, Land Bank of the Philippines, First Consolidated Bank and Allied Banking Corporation. You can also find Cooperatives which assist small businesses in the island.
What to do in Siquijor Island
The island is blessed with so much natural attractions. You will enjoy exploring their many waterfalls, springs, caves all over the island. Some of the known attractions popular to locals as well as foreign tourist are Bandilaan Natural Park, Salagdoong Man-made Forest, San Antonio Village and many more. You will be surprise at the many caves you will find all over the island. Caving is definitely a must when you are there.
Another attraction is their various natural water attractions. They have white sand beaches, several dive sites and a very rich marine life. Most of these white sand beaches are already developed dotted with resorts. Diving enthusiast would really enjoy exploring their waters for it is teemed with different species of fishes, sea grasses, coral and many other marine lives.
Accommodations are not a problem when visiting that place. There are a large number of resorts present in the six municipalities of the island especially in San Juan where you can find most of the beachfront properties. You will find one hotel you in the port area and another one the Hotel Agripino in Olang Maria. For budget travelers, you can find Pensions and Lodging Houses mostly in Larena, Siquijor, San Juan and Enrique Villanueva. If you want to have comfort and want to stay by the beach then you can choose from the twenty-five resorts you will find all over the Island. You will find most of these resorts in the municipality of San Juan and several in Maria, Siquijor, Larena, Lazi, and Enrique Villanueva.
Just like other provinces in the Philippines, the island has its own sets of festivals too to celebrate and that includes their popular Solili Festival and Siquijor Charter day. All the people applaude their famous Solili dance very much during their grand celebrations of the Charter Day. Another festival which they celebrate every first week of October is the Dilaab Festival. This festival shows the unique hospitality of the locals and it is also celebrated in honor of their patron saint – Saint Francis of Assisi.
Other festivals that they celebrate includes the Bugwas Festival celebrated every last week of August in the municipality of San Juan; the Saging Festival every second week of May in the municipality of Lazi; Lubi Festival every third week of May in the municipality of Maria; Pamukad Festival every second week of July in the municipality of Enrique Villanueva; and the Canoan Festival of Larena.
How to get to Siquijor Island
You can choose from several routes to go to there. If you are from Manila, you can take a flight going to Cebu or Dumaguete. Then from Cebu or Dumaguete, you can take a fast ferry or regular roro boat to Larena. The best route to take so far is Dumaguete since Dumaguete to Siquijor or Larena port takes only an hour. If you take the Cebu route, it takes several hours travel time from Cebu to Larena.
What People like in Siquijor Island
Indeed Siquijor is a beautiful island full of mystery. Most local tourists have mix emotions when they come to the island. It is a mixture of excitement as well as fear because of those stories of witchcraft they hear and the village where you can find most of spiritual healers. Yet, the moment you step in the land of Siquijor, all this fear will surely be forgotten for you will fall in love with the beauty of this island. Not only will you fall in love with the place but you will fall in love with the people too.
You will be surprised at a great number of foreigners settled down in the island to make it their place for retiring in Philippines. In fact most of the resort owners are foreigners. They started just having their residence in their beachfront properties. Then later on they developed it into resorts where they invite their friends back home.
Indeed Siquijor Island is an ideal place for those who decided planning their retirement in the Philippines for good. Cost of living in the island is definitely cheaper compared to Metro Manila or other major cities in the Philippines. Sea foods are definitely abundant and cheap, the only thing that is a bit expensive is their fruits and vegetables since most of it they still get from Cebu or Mindanao. But all in all, Siquijor is one of the best places to retire in the Philippines.