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Date > 2023 > April
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Shaman Chronicles

Siquijor Healing Festival April 5-8, 2023

Siquijor Healing Festival

Location Google Map: Mount Bandilaan National Park, Siquijor Island, Philippines

Where Angels Fear to Thread
Siquijor has always been known as the foreboding island where sorcerers and witches cook up their powerful potions and cast spells to wreak havoc on their hapless victims. This is where elementals run wild and free.

When I was a kid, no one from Manila nor any part of the Philippines would dare go to Siquijor. That mentality persists to this day. It was the non-believing foreigners who took advantage of this and bought land for cheap. Now, nearly all posh resorts are owned by foreigners.

In a brilliant marketing move, the authorities demystified Siquijor with a rebranded name, "Mystic Island". Now, tourists come to buy love potions and tricycle drivers have found a lucrative sideline bringing out-of-province locals in search of a "sorcerer" - for a commission, of course!

Pahi Uli (Healing Festival)
During Holy Week, Siquijor hosts a healing festival where shamans from near and far congregate to celebrate and share their special gifts. This year's event was named, Pahi Uli.

Not only the shamans from Siquijor will be in attendance but shamans throughout the country, most notably, from Mindanao, where sorcery is allegedly practiced as well.

Shamans and Yogis
As a practicing yogi where siddhi or supernatural power is part of the landscape, I'm equally curious about this mystic occult practice. My understanding is that this occult power is harnessed externally (passed on by a dying shaman, acquiring a talisman, etc.) while the yogis develop this siddhi unintentionally (as an inevitable by-product of meditation) and it is sourced from within. While shamans capitalize on their powers, yogis are supposed to ignore whatever siddhi they inadvertently developed.

Siquijor Healing Festival
herbal concoction for love, protection and prosperity

Tourists and Potion Seekers
I was surprised to learn that people from outside Siquijor cross the seas to be here for this occasion to buy the renowned potions - to have someone fall in love with you, to protect you from evil spells (especially if you know you have enemies), or for good luck (popular with business people).

A boatload of people descended into Siquijor for this occasion. In my residence alone, a group of 20 people from Iligan, crowded themselves into a small room just to be a part of the celebration.

Ground Zero
It was an uphill climb on my motorbike until I reached the highest point in Siquijor - Mount Bandilaan. It was around 2pm. I prepared to sleep in the park on my jungle hammock. A few people were in attendance. A few booths were selling magical oils, potions and talismanic bric-a-brak. There was a singer and guitarist on the makeshift 'stage'. Unfortunately, I missed the main event for the day - wood chopping at 10am as ingredients for the potions. There was one who was still chopping wood, but it was hardly a spectacle. I even climbed up the tower. But after an hour, everything felt repetitive. I didn't want to wait til the wee hours just for me to be able to sleep on my hammock. Shortly after arriving, I felt the need to go back home. Perhaps I expected too much of the event.

Viewing Tower
Even if not for the Shamanic event, it's still worthwhile coming to Bandilaan Nature Park for its viewing tower. A 15m tower was constructed on the highest point in Siquijor to afford a 360° view of the surrounding waters and the neighboring islands. The breeze is also refreshing...even on a hot day.

I was first taken there by Marlon (affectionately referred to by locals as, "nice guy but drinks too much"). Kris joined us. Best to bring binoculars since everything else seems too far away...even the waters, since you're practically in the middle of the island.

Ending Thoughts
I had misplaced expectations that this event is somewhat similar to India's Kumbh Mela where yogis gather from all over India to celebrate, commune and show their super human skills. Well, at least in spirit, maybe.

Mysticism is normally shrouded in secrecy where you have to know someone who knows someone who can give you a general direction on sourcing a healer who needs to be searched deep in the forest (Hansel & Gretel style). This healer is supposed to be obscured in myth, folklore and other-unworldliness.

It was a surprise for me to see healers having their associations, being registered with the Local Government Units and parading their wares, not unlike a fish monger selling fish in the market. I guess they have come out of their 'caves' to co-mingle with the mainstream (in fairness, the healers are very much a part of the local population who live side by side with everyone else and look like everyone else).

Given all the hype, is this mysticism valid? In my humble opinion, given my limited knowledge, yes, it's true, but rapidly declining. Why? Mysticism is largely eclipsed now by urbanism and increasing materialism. The remaining shamans are getting older and there's hardly anyone willing to take their place. It's a tradition that's sliding off the slippery slope. Maybe another generation and they would be gone...except for the neo-shamans who make a living on Facebook or Youtube plying their trade to the vulnerable, the desperate, and the gullible.

I remember the stories back in the day during my grandparents that the countryside is rife with elementals, fairies and spirits who practically co-existed with the population. The locals talk about their day-to-day with mention of this elemental and that elemental. It was really part of their landscape.

But with the growing human population and shift in thinking, encroachment infringed on the existence of these other worldly creatures. Similar to the final scene in Lord of the Rings when the fairies, the elves and the dwarves left Middle Earth saying the humans have already taken over...that the ensuing time and era is that of the humans.

Like the rapid decline of animals and plants due to loss of habitat, the shamans are facing that extinction death knell as well - this is now the age of apps, A.I., Tik Tok and social media.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

Leave a comment?

Reader Comments:

(Jan 7, 2024) Thank you for taking the long journey, and documenting your experience. We know just how difficult it can be to find the shamans hansel + gretel style, unless a known local is available. We're going to travel to Philippines for a few weeks from the UK in search for the healers, mangahilot, tawas in particular in hopes if there are any still out there unscathed by the development of the urbanisation of mainstream. You wouldn't happen to know from your travels of any locals you may have encountered that would be able to guide?

(Jan 9, 2024) Your best bet is to inquire with the organizers of the annual festival, Siquijor Healing Festival (you can look them up). Good luck!

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More on Siquijor Island:

Siquijor Island Local Info

Jeeps - there are only 2 routes for jeeps within Siquijor Island - and they are rare. Most people have their own motorcycle transport.

  1. Siquijor Port to Lazi - last trip leaves at 3pm from station near market
  2. Lazi to Siquijor Port - jeeps depart from the Lazi Port area. 5 jeeps, the last trip at 12:30 pm. Lazi to San Juan, P50.
  3. Larena Port to Lazi - jeeps are unpredictable. As of this writing, there is only 1 jeep plying the Larena-Lazi route. This jeep leaves Larena for Lazi at 9:50am. After that, no more jeep. You'll have to take a tricycle to Siquijor Pob for jeeps going to Lazi
  4. Lazi to Larena Port - 6am (daily) and 9 am (M-Th)

Food - these were suggested by a local to me

  1. Lechon manok & liempo - roasted pork belly and chicken at Joel's in Siquijor Poblacion. I've tried this myself...yummy, even if the chicken was no longer hot
  2. Bibingka - sweetened rice cake by Fidy's Bibingka (P30) in Sawang, Maria. I've come back for this and I buy for other people as well as 'pasalubong' - they love this
  3. Siopao - at the Rosita store near Thrifty (P25) in Siquijor Poblacion
  4. Peanut butter - by Rene. Just ask around in Siquijor Poblacion. It's popular
  5. Torta - sweet cakish bread at the Thrifty story in Siquijor Poblacion
Siquijor Island Map
Siquijor - Dumaguete Boat Trips (as of Jan 2023)
  1. Montenegro Lines - at Siquijor Port, P234.00/pax, P169/bicycle, 7:30am/10:00am/2:00pm/4:30pm

  2. Montenegro Lines, Siquijor to Dumaguete

  3. Aleson Shipping - at Siquijor Port, 6 am and 6 pm daily, 1:30 pm M-Sat, Regular P200.00/pax, Aircon P250.00/pax

  4. Aleson Shipping, Dumaguete to Siquijor

  5. Ocean Jet - 40 mins,at Siquijor Port, 0919.066.5964,,, 6:00am/6:00pm, P350/pax (tourist/open air), P580/pax (business class)

    Ocean Jet

Siquijor - Tagbilaran - Cebu City Boat Trips (as of Jan 2023)

En route to Cebu City, the ferries usually make a stop-over to Tagbilaran (Bohol) to pick-up more passengers or unload.

  1. Ocean Jet - 8:20 am, at Siquijor Port
    To Tagbilaran: P800/tourist & open air, 2 hours (arrive 10:20 am), P1200/business class
    To Cebu (Pier 1): P1600/tourist & open air, 4 hours (arrive 12:40 am), P2400/business class
  2. Lite Ferries - at Larena Port, no Senior Citizen discount for online ticket purchase
    To Tagbilaran: T-Th-Sun, 3 hours, depart 7 pm - arrive 10 pm, P475/standard (Tourist, PHP 750)
    To Cebu: T-Th-Sun, 10 hours, depart 7 pm - arrive 5 am, PHP 605/standard (Senior P484), Tourist, PHP 770
  3. Apekoptravel - at Larena Port to Tagbilaran: 1:00 pm, xxx hours, P750
    Reserve through call or text: Cleare - 0938 283 4760 | Grace - 0936 534 6564 | Jessel - 0961 759 6711, Pay via G-Cash: +63-917-880-1464, Email:, Facebook messenger: Apekoptravel. Enter your birthday and nationality to get discounts: 0 to 3 years old free, 4 to 9 years old will have 20% discount, 10 years old and above full price, Filipino Senior Citizens will also have 20% discount

Siquijor - Plaridel Boat Trips (as of Jan 2023)
  1. Lite Ferries - at Larena Port, T-Th-Sun, 2:00 am, 5 hours, PHP?

Siquijor - Cebu (Liloan) - Cebu City BUS Trip (as of Jan 2023)

There is only one bus plying this route - Sugbo Urban. Tourist class coach, a/c, comfortable, Sun-Fri (these dates keep changing). P420 for bus, P275 for ferry to Liloan. Larena Port around 5 am, makes a clockwise roundtrip around Siquijor Island - Larena, Enrique Villanueva, Maria, Lazi (stops at Lazi market for breakfast and leaves 6:50 am), San Juan, Siquijor (arrives 8am, P50 from Lazi to Siquijor Poblacion) and catches the 1pm ferry at Larena Port (Sundays at 3 pm) for Liloan, Cebu and resumes its land route. Arrives Cebu City (South Bus Terminal) 10 pm.

Sugbo Urban is the cheapest and most convenient way because it goes around the island (clockwise) along the circumferential road, passing through - Enrique Villanueva, Maria, Lazi, San Juan, Siquijor...and back to Larena where it takes the ferry at 1 pm. This saves you the hassle and high transport cost of a tricycle. Besides, it's a long trip from the other side of the island to be taking by tricycle.

Sugbo Urban

Sugbo Urban

Suggested Destinations After Siquijor Island

These are the nearest popular destinations from Siquijor by boat

  1. Bohol - Bohol is an island northeast Siquijor. Tourist attractions are Chocolate Hills, Tarsier Monkey, Loboc River Cruise, Beaches of Panglao, whale sharks (recent offering), freediving (recent offering)
  2. Cebu - Cebu City is the usual gateway into the Visayas. But in Cebu Island itself, there are many offerings - Whale Sharks of Oslob, sardine run at Moalboal,Thresher Shark of Malapascua
  3. Dapitan (Zamboanga del Norte) - I haven't been there but a lot of island ferries ply this port. There must be something here.
  4. Dumaguete - Dumaguete is a small charming progressive coastal town in Negros Oriental. Cafe and restaurants line the famous Boulevard Boardwalk. Tourist attractions include Japanese Shrine, Casaroro Falls, snorkeling along the southern coastline (Dauin, Masaplod Norte, etc), Balinsasayao Twin Lakes
  5. Plaridel (Misamis Occidental, Mindanao) - I haven't been there but a lot of island ferries ply this port. There must be something here.


Siquijor Blogs
Siquijor Island
  1. Goodbye Siquijor April 18, 2024
  2. January Chronicles: Bandilaan Meditation January 2024
  3. My January Yoga Practice: A Journal January 31, 2024
  4. Jan 2024: Squid, Balangawan, Margarita Pizza January 2024
  5. December Chronicles: Yuletide Season December 30, 2023
  6. December Snapshots: Bolo Bolo Dip, Christmas Lunch, Tuba Denizens, Friends Forever, Men Working, Cow / Crow December 1-30, 2023
  7. Eggplant Bulad Pizza December 20, 2023
  8. Canghaling Cave November 14, 2023
  9. Kings and Queens November 13, 2023
  10. Barangay Vote-Buying October 22, 2023
  11. Real Estate Mapping October 1, 2023
  12. Learning Cebuano: Oct October 1-31, 2023
  13. Oct Food Hack: Pizza, Kinilaw, Coconut Bread, Fish Okuy, Carrot Omelette,Lemon-Grass Tea October 2023
  14. Sep Snapshots: Fisherman, Granny, Pedicure, Big Fish, Garbage September 1-30, 2023
  15. Sep Food Hack: Fish Tinola, Ratatouille, Chayote Omelette, Flat Bread September 2023
  16. Together Forever Sep 11, 2023
  17. The Cigarette Talk Sep 1, 2023
  18. Siquijor Star Meditation Center Aug 31, 2023
  19. The Lost Dogs of Siquijor Aug 27, 2023
  20. Moving to a Bungalow! Aug 22, 2023
  21. Aug Chronicles: CDO produce August 31, 2023
  22. Aug Snapshots: Pan de Sal, Palpitate, Taho, Tuna, Pineapple August 1-31, 2023
  23. [an error occurred while processing this directive]
  24. July Chronicles July 31, 2023
  25. July Snapshots July 1-31, 2023
  26. Learning Cebuano: July July 1-31, 2023
  27. June Chronicles June 31, 2023
  28. June Snapshots June 1-31, 2023
  29. Learning Cebuano: June June 1-31, 2023
  30. May Chronicles May 31, 2023
  31. May Snapshots May 1-31, 2023
  32. Learning Cebuano May 1-31, 2023
  33. In Search of a Cool Climate May 25, 2023
  34. The 64 km Bike Ride May 16, 2023
  35. Lazi Fiesta May 15, 2023
  36. The Boulevard Opening May 5, 2023
  37. April Snapshots April 1-30, 2023
  38. Learning Cebuano...Again! April 1-30, 2023
  39. Kris Visits Siquijor Mar 17 - Apr 15, 2023
  40. Exploring Siquijor with Marky Mar 25 - Apr 11, 2023
  41. Siquijor Healing Festival April 5-8, 2023
  42. The Talk at United Church of Christ April 2, 2023
  43. Mar Snapshots Mar 1-31, 2023
  44. Vigil for the Ghost Ship of Siquijor March 31, 2023
  45. Judging an Essay on Gender Equality Mar 29, 2023
  46. The Thief, the Shaman, the Elves and the Police Mar 20, 2023
  47. Finally Acquiring the Motorbike Mar 18, 2023
  48. Bitcoin Blunder Mar 15, 2023
  49. Maria's Unsung Beaches Mar 11, 2023
  50. Lagaan Falls Mar 9, 2023
  51. Tibhong Spring Water Source Mar 8, 2023
  52. Bolo-Bolo Natural Spring Mar 2, 2023
  53. Reasons to Get a Wife March 1, 2023
  54. Feb Snapshots Feb 28, 2023
  55. Camagung-Ong Natural Spring Feb 28, 2023
  56. Heeeere's Johnnie! Feb 26, 2023
  57. Manifesting a Motorbike from Thin Air? Feb 18, 2023
  58. The 'Bad Guy' of Siquijor Feb 15, 2023
  59. Amazement from Drivers License Renewal in Siquijor Feb 15, 2023
  60. Locong Falls Feb 9, 2023
  61. Inguinal Hernia? Goodbye ABS! Feb 4, 2023
  62. Jan Snapshots January 31, 2023
  63. In Search of Tubod Cold Spring Jan 27, 2023
  64. 1:4:2:3 Nadi Shodana Jan 26, 2023
  65. Lazi's Boulevard Jan 22, 2023
  66. Lazi: A Monthly Stay Jan 21, 2023
  67. 7 Days in Maria, Siquijor Jan 14-21, 2023
  68. Capilay Spring Jan 17, 2023
  69. Siquijor: In Search of Resonance Jan 9-14, 2023
  70. Riding Around Siquijor's 86km Coastal Road Apr 3, 2012
  71. Exploring the Cantabon Cave of Siquijor Feb 23, 2012
  72. Jovee and Missy's Excellent Adventure Nov 6-7, 2010
  73. Freediving in Siquijor's Marine Sancturaries Apr 23-24, 2010
  74. Island Tour of Siquijor Apr 22, 2010
  75. Kram's Siquijor Wedding Apr 21, 2010

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