You must have heard how beautiful the island of Siquijor is but I bet you have also been forewarned not to go. Isn’t it? A sorcerer’s lair, the land of the bad witches, home for “tikbalangs” (werehorse) and “mananangals, wakwak, and aswang” (vampire-like creatures; malevolent, man-eating and blood-sucking monsters) – how true are these claims? If you’re still reading this, let me tell you, you’ve been wronged!
True enough, Siquijor is still the 3rd least populated in the country, and since it is situated remotely, most parts are still “virgin,” i.e., untouched or mystic as they call it. It is rich in culture, unique beliefs, folklores and old tales you thought can only be read in books. As you explore Siquijor, you will realize that there are more beautiful places to see than creepy ones.
Bolo-bolo is what they call “healing” in bisaya (Siquijor’s local language). In the Island of Siquijor, Bolo-bolo is popular not only among the local people but surprisingly for the tourists too. As we asked around, Bolo-bolo Healing was discovered by Juan Magsalay, who first performed this local healing method. So how it is done? A bolo-bolo healer would need a small jar filled with water, a straw and a black stone. The healer will place the black stone inside a water-filled jar, place a straw and just blow the water until small bubbles are created. What is it for? It is believed that small particles will appear in the glass, which are the bacteria removed from a person’s body, signaling he is healed. Urban legend? Maybe, or maybe not. A lot of people still attest to its unexplainable results and if you want to witness it yourself, head to Sandugan, Larena, Siquijor, and look for Genelou Sumalpong, 30 years old, descendant of Bolo-Bolo Healing founder Juan Magsalay.
Love potions or Gayuma, as people in the Philippines call it, are widely available in Siquijor. They are made of different kinds of plants and herbs, old roots and tree barks soaked in bizarre looking liquids, placed in clear bottles and sold in every Siquijor local market.
They vary in application: some are mixed with drinks, some are inhaled, spread, and so on. It is believed that merely a bottle or less of Siquijor’s love magic potion could turn the eyes of your most loved person set on you. Strange? or interesting? Spiritual or psychological? We cannot tell.
Massage Oil and Local “Hilot“
Siquijor is also known as haven for faith healers, herbal oils and “hilot” (local massage). Wanna try it? San Antonio, Siqujor is home to many folk healers in the island. You can find one too in Tulapos, Enrique Villanueva, Siquijor. Look for Carmen Maglangit, 82 years old. She started “hilot” when she was 7 years old. Locals testify she can also cure illness by simply using an herbal coconut oil, which she prepares herself in bottles using a combination of essential oils, different kinds of roots and dry leaves. Oil has to be applied on the part of the body where there is a pain, combined with a prayer, a few whispers and a traditional massage.
Still curious? I dare you to come, see and feel Siquijor. If you still think these are all tittle-tattle and they won’t work for you, feel free to travel somewhere else. But if you want to testify yourself, take the plunge by all means! After all, the only trip you are bound to regret is the one you do not take.