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Province of Siquijor
Nickname(s): The Mystic Island
Region Central Visayas (Region VII)
Capital Siquijor
 • Mayor Zaldy Villa (LP)
 • Vice mayor Fernando Avanzado
 • Total 337.49 km2 (130.31 sq mi)
Area rank 79th of 81
 • Independent cities 0
 • Component cities 0
 • Districts Lone district of Siquijor
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)

Siquijor (Tagalog pronunciation: , Cebuano: Lalawigan sa Siquijor, Tagalog: Lalawigan ng Siquijor) is an island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region. Its capital is the municipality also named Siquijor. To the northwest of Siquijor are Cebu and Negros, to the northeast is Bohol and to the south, across the Bohol Sea, is the island of Mindanao.

Siquijor is the third smallest province in the country, in terms of population as well as land area (after Camiguin and Batanes). For a time it was part of Negros Oriental.

During the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines, the Spaniards called the island Island of Fire (Spanish: Isla del Fuego). Siquijor is commonly associated with mystic traditions that the island's growing tourism industry capitalizes on.


  • Geography 1
  • History 2
    • Spanish era 2.1
    • American rule and World War II 2.2
    • As a province 2.3
  • Political subdivisions 3
  • Demographics 4
    • Languages 4.1
    • Religion 4.2
  • Education 5
  • Tourism 6
  • Transportation 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Siquijor is an island province in the Visayas. It lies southeast from Cebu and Negros across Cebu Strait (also called Bohol Strait) and southwest from Bohol. Panglao Island which is part of Bohol province has a similar composition of the soil which is found throughout the whole island of Siquijor.

Salagdoong Beach in Maria, Siquijor

The island lies about 19 kilometres (12 mi) east of the nearest point on southern Negros, 25 kilometres (16 mi) southeast of Cebu, 30 kilometres (19 mi) southwest of Bohol, and 45 kilometres (28 mi) north of Zamboanga Peninsula of Mindanao. It is predominantly hilly and in many places the hills reach the sea, producing precipitous cliffs. At the center, Mount Malabahoc (locally known as Mount Bandilaan) reaches about 628 metres (2,060 ft) in elevation, the highest point on the island. Three marine terraces can be roughly traced especially in the vicinity of Tag-ibo on the southwestern part of the island, a barrio of San Juan municipality from the seacoast up into the central part.

Siquijor is a coralline island, and fossils of the giant clam tridacna are often encountered in the plowed inland fields. On the hilltops there are numerous shells of the molluscan species presently living in the seas around the island. Siquijor was probably formed quite recently, geologically speaking. The ocean depths between Siquijor and Bohol and Mindanao are in the neighborhood of 640 metres (350 fathoms; 2,100 feet).

With a land area of 338.5 square kilometres (130.7 sq mi) and a coastline 102 kilometres (63 mi) long, Siquijor is the 3rd smallest province of the Philippines.

The climate in Siquijor, like most of the Philippines, is [2]


Spanish era

The island was first sighted by the Spaniards in 1565 during Miguel López de Legazpi's expedition. The Spaniards called the island Isla del Fuego or "Island of Fire", because the island gave off an eerie glow, which came from the great swarms of fireflies that gathered in the numerous molave trees on the island.[1]

Esteban Rodríguez of the Legazpi Expedition in 1565 led the first Spaniards to discover the island. He was captain of a small party that left Legazpi's camp in Bohol to explore the nearby islands which are now called Pamilican, Siquijor, and Negros.

The island, along with other parts of the archipelago, was subsequently annexed to the Spanish Empire. Founded in 1783 under the administration of secular clergymen, Siquijor became the first municipality as well as the first parish to be established on the island. Siquijor was, from the beginning, administered by the Diocese of Cebu. As for civil administration, Siquijor was under Bohol since the province had its own governor. The first Augustinian Recollect priest, Father Vicente García, arrived in Siquijor in 1794. Several years thereafter, a priest of the same order founded the parishes of Larena (initially called Can-oan), Lazi (formerly Tigbawan), San Juan (Makalipay), and María (Cang-meniao). With the exception of Enrique Villanueva, all of the present six municipalities were established as parishes in 1877. From 1854 to 1892, Siqiujor became part of the province of Negros Oriental, and became a sub-province in 1901.

American rule and World War II

At the turn of the century, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States of America with the Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish–American War. Siquijor island felt the presence of American rule when a unit of the American Cavalry Division came and stayed for sometime. The American Military Governor in Manila appointed James Fugate, a scout with the California Volunteers of the U.S. Infantry, to oversee and to implement the organization and development programs in Siquijor Island. Governor Fugate stayed for 16 years as lieutenant governor of Siquijor.

While it was not at the center of military action, Siquijor was not spared by World War II. Imperial Japanese detachments occupied the island between 1942 and 1943, announcing their arrival on the island with heavy shelling. At the outbreak of the war, Siquijor was a sub-province of Negros Oriental, headed by Lieutenant Governor Nicolas Parami. Refusing to pledge allegiance to the Japanese forces, Lt. Governor Parami was taken by Japanese soldiers from his residence at Poo, Lazi one evening and brought to the military headquarters in Larena. He was never heard from again. On November 10, 1942, Japanese warships started shelling Lazi from Cang-abas Point. In Lazi, a garrison was established in the old Home Economics Building of the Central School. Filipino guerrillas engaged in sabotage and the interaction during this time to cause havoc on the Japanese lives and properties.

During this period, Siquijor was briefly governed by Shunzo Suzuki, a Japanese civilian appointed by the Japanese forces until he was assassinated in October 1942 by the guerrilla forces led by Iluminado Jumawanin, of Caipilan, Siquijor. Mamor Fukuda took control of Siquijor from June 1943 until the Japanese forces abandoned the island when the liberation forces came in 1944. In 1943, the Japanese puppet government appointed Sebastian Monera of San Juan as Governor of Siquijor. His administration however was cut short when he was executed, presumably by Filipino guerrillas operating in the mountains of Siquijor.

On September 30, 1943, the United States submarine USS Bowfin SS-287 delivered supplies to the people of Siquijor and evacuated people from the island.[4] On February 21, 1945, the destroyer USS Renshaw (DD-499), part of Task Unit 78. 7. 6, was escorting a convoy of about 50 various Landing Ship types (LSTs, LSMs, LCTs) with 12 other escorts. At 1059, Renshaw‍ '​s lookouts sighted a torpedo wake, then a submarine's periscope and part of a conning tower. The Renshaw was attacked by a Japanese midget submarine off the coast of Siquijor, which caused extensive damage to the ship and killed nineteen of the crew.[5]

In mid-1945, local Filipino soldiers and officers under the 7th, 71st, 75th and 76th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army arrived, and alongside recognized guerrilla fighter groups, liberated Siquijor.

As a province

Siquijor became an independent province on September 17, 1971, by virtue of Republic Act 6398.[6] The capital, formerly Larena, was transferred to the municipality of Siquijor in 1972 with Proclamation no. 1075.

Political subdivisions

Siquijor comprises 6 municipalities. Siquijor is the capital and most important port:


According to the ? , it has a population of . The same census also states that Siquijor has 17,351 households with an average household size of persons. The average annual growth rate between 2000 and 2010 was 1.10%, lower than the national growth rate of 1.90% for the same period.[7]

In the 2013 election, it had registered voters, meaning that % of the population are aged 18 and over.[9]


The main spoken language in the island province is Cebuano, with English often used as a second language. Filipino is understood and used only in response to one who speaks it, but it is rarely used in everyday conversation. Some Spanish words are spoken and understood.


95% of the island's residents belong to the Catholic Church, while the remainder belong to various Mainline Protestant churches.


The literacy rate of 92.5% is one of the highest in the country.[2]


Cambugahay Falls in Lazi, Siquijor

Siquijor's long-time reputation as a place of magic and sorcery both attracts and repulses visitors.[10][11] Siquijor is also well known for its festivals that focus on healing rituals where incantations are sung while the old folks make potions out of herbs, roots, insects and tree barks. In hushed talks, locals would share a story or two about folk legends pointing to the existence of witchcraft and witches in the island.

Among the many attractions are the beaches, caves, waterfalls, Bandilaan Natural Park, and butterfly sanctuary.[12][13][14][15] White sand beaches make up most of the 102-kilometer coastline of Siquijor.

The coral reefs ringing the island offer some of the best diving in the Philippines for snorkelers and scuba divers. Dive courses are conducted by several dive operators on the island in version of PADI, CMAS and NAUI. Siquijor was declared a marine visitor arrivals among the four provinces in Region VII.[16]


The island of Siquijor has 3 seaports capable of servicing cargo and passenger sea crafts, and an airport capable of handling smaller and mostly privately owned airplanes.


  1. ^ Lore – A folk legend also has it that many years ago, when the magical island of Siquijor was still nowhere on the face of the earth, a great storm engulfed the Visayan region, and a strong earthquake shook the earth and sea. Amidst the lightning and thunder arose an island from the depths of the ocean's womb which came to be known as the island of Siquijor, hence the name Isla del Fuego, or "Island of Fire." Oddly enough, in modern times, highland farmers have found giant shells under their farm plots, supporting the theory that Siquijor is indeed an island that rose from the sea.[3]


  1. ^ "List of Provinces". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Geography". Provincial Government of Siquijor Province. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved 2012-10-15. 
  3. ^ "Siquijor History" Dumaguete Info
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur "Bowfin (SS-287)" Allied Warships
  5. ^ Hackett. Bob and Kingsepp, Sander (2006) "Midget Submarines Based in the Philippines 1944-1945" Sensuikan! Operational histories of Japanese submarines in WW II
  7. ^ a b "Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay: as of May 1, 2010" (PDF). 2010 Census of Population and Housing. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 1 April. 
  8. ^ "Population and Annual Growth Rates by Province, City and Municipality: Central Visayas: 1995, 2000 and 2007" (PDF). National Statistics Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "2013 National and Local Elections Statistics". Commission on Elections. 2013. 
  10. ^ Who's afraid of Siquijor column
  11. ^ "Shamans of Siquijor:" A documentary film series about shamanistic folk practitioners on Siquijor."
  12. ^ Map "Tourist Spots: Province of Siquijor" GEOPLAN Cebu Foundation
  13. ^, Butterfly sanctuary launched in Siquijor Archived October 13, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^, Island butterfly sanctuary now open for tourists
  15. ^, Butterfly sanctuary inaugurated in Siquijor
  16. ^ Lato, Cris Evert and Tagalog, Jun P. (17 October 2007) "Neda: Tourism drove economy" Cebu Daily News

External links

Siquijor island - information

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