Unlucky On Siquijor

Siquijor (siki-hor) is an island that when mentioned to a Filipino, will always get the same reaction, ‘ohhh Siquijor, witchcraft, be careful!’ Yes it is true, Siquijor has been known as a dwelling for healers, but this is an old tradition fading fast. Filipinos are generally very superstitious people whom believe that spirits should not be provoked in anyway, so what I had been warned about could only be taken with a pinch of salt.

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We opted to camp on the beach around San Juan. We were treated to djembe/didgeridoo jams every night by our free spirited friends camping nearby and welcome to cook our own food on the fire. All was well and we were optimistic about the next few days exploring the island’s beautiful beaches and waterfalls.

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Before doing anything we decided, why come to ‘the Mystique Island’ and not visit a healer. We managed to track down a ‘Mangkukulam’ as they’re known locally, by driving around the hills waving a picture of an old woman to some of the locals until we were pointed in the right direction. Once we arrived at the healers gaff, we took turns to receive a diagnosis. The healing practice ‘bolo-bolo’ involves the mangkukulam blowing on a black ball through a bamboo pipe in a glass of clear water and manoeuvring around ones body until the water turns brown to reveal your ailments. Not the most conventional of treatment, but better than the last time I visited a doctor when the local GP was more concerned about finishing his sudoku and munching a Gregg’s cheese and onion pasty…

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When the diagnosis was complete, the healers son told us we were both fighting fit and off we went. I always go into these things with an open mind so had no real opinion on it at the time. Mind you the experience lost a little of its atmosphere because of the blasting karaoke coming from the healer’s family, I safely say I loathe ‘the power of love’ by Jennifer Rush even more…

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From then on in, things in Siquijor went horribly wrong. First, we got riotously drunk on local rum ‘Tanduay’ which cost 60pence a bottle (the coke cost 70), the weather took a turn for the worst and instead of exploring the island, we were confined to the inside of a cheap Aldi tent. I then had a bout of severe, unexplained fever and a small blister on my foot managed to get infected to the point where it became green, smelly and very painful…

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It was almost time to leave the island when the storms finally started to settle. On our way to the port to buy our boat tickets we got a flat tyre…

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The motorbike was repaired and thankfully, I made it to the port in time before the ticket office closed. On the way back, we were running low on gas after horsing the bike to catch the ticket office, petrol stations can be few and far between. You can guess what happened next…

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So maybe the Filipino’s superstitions are right and we shouldn’t have disturbed the spirits, either that or it was all just one big coincidence. We didn’t get to explore much of the Mysterious island, but everything happens for a reason and we met some great people and lived like like castaways for a while. Ironically, just before we boarded the boat, the sun got out…

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