Siquijor: Isla del Fuego – no seriously.

Siquijor – home of witchcraft in the Philippines. Because of this we obviously had to visit. We arrived at our resort and started looking for tours that would take us to a faith healer. The hotel’s tour was very rigid (as things tend to be here) and included a bunch of things that we weren’t interested in. I took to the internet and found our very own tour guide. He used to do his tours in a tricycle for a much better price but now he does them in a jeepney – a vehicle that is used for public transport and can fit as many as 20 people sitting, but when used in transit can fit easily 40. So we had plently of room in the back of the jeepney as there was just two of us.

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10 minutes away from our hotel the tour guide mentioned that we would start the tour at a cliff diving venue. Right away I said, “We won’t be doing any cliff diving, We don’t have bathing suits.” He was devastated, and insisted we HAD to stop since it was just off the side of the road. So we pulled into the cliff diving place – paid entry of $2 and climbed up to the cliff. I partially disrobed to keep my shorts dry and stood on the cliff for about 10 minutes before repeating that no – cliff diving would not be taking place. He was pretty disappointed since “all foreigners love this.” Jen also didn’t have the guts to make the jump so we moved on to our next stop. We again tried to let him know that we are maybe the kind of foreigners that like to look at churches and see a faith healer.

We made our tour guides dreams come true by agreeing to splash around in a waterfall while he took some photos for us. The guide took us through several very old churches (thank you Spaniards) and FINALLY to the healer!

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The healer. We pulled up and 3 Slovenian girls were finishing their treatment. As soon as they were done they were ushered out quickly and we were up. I was first. It was part ritual and part massage, and the massage part was very painful. A pot with burning herbs was under the seat. All in all it lasted about 15 minutes with the lady finishing by touching my head and chanting something. Jen was next. Jen got the special treatment of annointment of holy water from a Virgin Mary action figure. Her treatment was different – more annointment. Less pain.

After we both were done we were served a very earthy tea. Jen didn’t look super pleased to be drinking it. Later I found out that from her vantage point she could see right into the kitchen. The kitchen was host to a variety of animals, one of whom, a dog, was drinking and eating from everything on the stove. The lady tried to sell us a variety of treatments – one was a love potion, there were also some herbs that were good for, “kidneys, itching, tummy trouble, acne, the liver and headache.” So everything. I bought a bracelet that keeps evil spirits away. Good for one year.

The healer then brought a baby over to us. She kept showing us the baby and telling the baby not to be shy. We said yes the baby was very cute. It really liked Jen. I was going to ask to hold it, but I thought that might be a bit pushy. As we were leaving the mother of the baby said, “Take me to Canada!” After we left, we looked at each other and both said – “were they just trying to give us that baby?”

After the healer I was feeling very tired. We finished up our tour and headed back to the hotel.

We shared a meal in the restaurant, and by this time we were both completely exhausted. It was 7 pm. We both were dead to the world asleep by 8 pm.

At 1 am the wind woke me up. I went onto our balcony to round up the bathing suits and anything else that might blow away. The property next door had a tree. It was glowing. I was super excited – “Jen! Come see the glow bugs!” She came out, inspected it and stated – “Dani, the tree is on fire.”

I went to investigate, this involved walking along the sea wall and jumping a fence. I walked up to the tree and found – yes the entire tree from trunk to branches was in fact burning.

We decided we should put the tree out.

Luckily all bathrooms in the Philippines come with a bucked and a scoop. Presumably this is for people with an aversion to toilet paper. Jen filled ours and passed it to me over the fence.

And this is how, high as a kite from the healer tea, I came to be throwing scoops of water at a burning tree in the middle of the night.

After the fire was mostly out we climbed back to our beach hut and went back to bed.

In the morning while we were enjoying our Nescafe creamy and brown instant coffee Jen turned to me and asked, “Dani in the middle of the night did we put out a fire?”

Yes. Yes we did.

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4 thoughts on “Siquijor: Isla del Fuego – no seriously.”

  1. Re: Toilet
    Every household has a bucket and dipper. It’s “water culture”. I know of some Filipinos who have moved to North America who still have dippers in their bathrooms.

    Re: Faith Healing
    My experience with faith healing growing up was holding a candle and allowing the melted wax drip on to a basin with water. After a few minutes, the wax will form a shape. The faith healer will figure out what the shape is, kinda like reading tea leaves, and s/he would know ails you from there.

    The diagnosis I got for an allergy was that I stepped on a tree when I shouldn’t have, and that angered the spirit that lived in the tree. Apologizing would cure me of my allergy. (Coincidentally my allergies were gone a day after I apologized.)

    There is this eclectic mix of animist beliefs and Catholic/Christian beliefs, and a lot of people still subscribe to those.

  2. This is the best, most bizarre experience I have ever read. The poor food hygiene, the baby, the tree… how did that all happen in a single day??

  3. Ha ha ha ha… it was good to read some more good stories from you two (well at least Dani anyways). Brought back some good memories for us and made us chuckle more than a few times.

    A word of advice in most of SE Asia… don’t EVER look in the kitchen, nothing good will come of that. Just enjoy your meal and assume that the Dukoral you took before traveling does what it is supposed to.

    J&C in Mustafapas, Turkey

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