Saturday, June 11, 2011

Siquijor: the enchanted island

Your first view of Siquijor from Dumaguete. Get ready to feel robbed.

If there’s anything enchanted about Siquijor, those are the price tags. Everything is so expensive you wonder what magic made them come up with those prices.

Everywhere you go, you get the feeling that people are robbing you. I guess it’s because many people there rely on tourism and so they try to squeeze the most out of every tourist they get in contact with.

One of the island’s main attraction is the Cantabon Cave. There are two things they don’t tell you on their “tourist guide” maps: (1) there is a tariff fee of 500 pesos to get inside the cave; (2) they will give you a manang tour guide who wants the tour to get over with the moment you step in the cave. And another thing, the helmet they give you stinks. So keep them on top of your head to avoid asphyxia or anything as undesirable.

cantabon cave siquijor The entrance to Cantabon Cave. Squeeze yourself in.

cantabon cave siquijorThese are apparitions

Manang was walking so fast and about 15 minutes inside the cave we turned around a huge rock. (Not a cave rock, just one of those ordinary rocks). It’s when I noticed that the water is already going the opposite way. I asked manang why it is and that’s when she said we made a U-turn because we can’t get to the end because it rained the day before and the water would be so high. Signing a credit card is better than hooking up with those people. Because at least in credit cards, there are fine prints that you can read before you sign. In Cantabon, there are fine prints that you know nothing about and are presented to you only after you pay.

cantabon cave siquijorWish for an earthquake and for these ugly stallactites to fall into you

It was so unlike my trips to Binuthan Cave in Bonbon and Balay sa Agta in Argao where our tour guides were the ones who encouraged us to see the other end. Such fine local tour guides and I feel sorry that we only gave them 300pesos those times.

cantabon cave siquijorIt's mostly up and down inside the cave. There's only a 2% chance of drowning while in there. Just be careful, you don't want to be in the 2%

cantabon cave siquijorDrinkable water. Actually, all water is drinkable, the fact that they are water and not stones. But some of them don't agree with your body quite well.

cantabon cave siquijorThe leaning tower of Pisa, Siquijor cave version

cantabon cave siquijorThese are ugly, cloud-looking rocks

cantabon cave siquijorThis is a nose. A big nose.

cantabon cave siquijorKeep your head down or lose it

cantabon cave siquijorMolten stuffs

cantabon cave siquijorThis is what the locals call "water bed." Um, right..

cantabon cave siquijorCantabon cave ceiling

cantabon cave siquijorThey close the cave so nobody can enter without paying.

cantabon cave siquijorGoing home feeling short-changed
How to get there:
Cantabon is not a cave that I would recommend. Nothing too special about it. The best that I’ve been to so far is the Balay sa Agta in Argao. But if you insist on wasting your time and money, here is how you get to Cantabon Cave. That’s a map made by yours truly. Rent a motorcycle at Dastraum. It’s located near the pier. 350 pesos for 24 hours. Just read the map, it’s easy. If you don’t feel like driving (because you can’t), get a habal-habal. A tricycle is not what I would suggest.

The drive from Canhaling junction to Cantabon is about 40 minutes (asking and bugging the locals for direction included). I made a bit of a mistake during our trip. We had a trip to Lugnason Falls before the cave. From there in Napo (where the falls is), I could have just driven to Cansayang and then straight to San Antonio then Cantabon.

Instead, I went down to Tag-ibo then made my way to Cantabon Cave through Canhaling. Of course none of these make sense to you if you don’t have a map with you. So better check on the map while reading this. If you plan to get around Siquijor it is best that you have a map. Get one free at the provincial capitol. They will also give you a list of accomodations with their rates and contact numbers.

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