Black Saturday on the eve of the blood moon, we went to Bandilaan to attend a potion brewing festival on top of the mountain. Every Good Friday local and international healers, herbalist, witches and warlocks convene to make concoctions in Siquijor. It is a tiny island located south of the Philippines.
Minerals, herbs, trees barks, plant roots and “other” ingredients are prepared and gathered together. Then a base brew for potions and herbal medicine with healing powers is cooked in a gigantic communal wok. This Holy Week tradition started in the 1930’s by the famous faith healers from the villages of Cantabon and San Antonio. Today the Philippine Tourism Department organizes the festival with different food stalls, healing and charms booths.
took a day trip to Siquijor Island. From Dumaguete port a ferry costs P120 or USD$3. It was a pleasant sea crossing that took about an hour and a half. Then we rented a tricycle for P 1,300 –P1,500 for a guided tour of the island. New infrastructure like roads and telecommunication now make the place accessible.
In the past I was told not stare or make eye contact with the locals, not to say anything offensive, and not to let anyone touch my hair. All of that turned out to be absurd! Siquijor is an enchanting island of warm people, pristine beaches, five star dive sites and captivating waterfalls. Perhaps the scary stories were used to ward off travelers to preserve its unspoiled beauty. Until today the memory of this magical “Healing Paradise” haunts me..
THINGS TO DO IN SIQUIJOR:
- Go to Mount Bandilaan to visit the faith healers
- Swing like Tarzan in Cambugahay Falls
- Check out the mystical 400 hundred year old Balete tree
- In the municipality of San Juan – stay in the many dive resorts, snorkeling at Paradise bay
- Spelunking at Cantabon Cave
- Beaches : Kagusuan, Salandoong, Tulapos Marine sanctuary
- Visit the old churches: San Isidro, Saint Francis, Saint Augustine, Our Lady of Providence