Part III. Why You Will Love Siquijor — The Towns of San Juan and Maria

Capilay Spring Park, San Juan. When Roland Borja (Mobile: 0926-8061594) and I reach Sta. Cruz in the town of San Juan, we park right next to a big pool of clear water where children dive and adults swim. I am surprised that I am right at the Capilay Spring Park. As soon as Roland parks, I prepare to get my backpack when he assures me to trust the townspeople.

Children dive into the cool spring waters of Capilay Spring Park to escape from the summer heat. Photo by: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Children dive into the cool spring waters of Capilay Spring Park to escape from the summer heat. Photo by: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Church of St. Augustine of Hippo, San Juan, Siquijor. From the park, I can see a flight of stairs to a grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. It leads to the Parish Church of St. Augustine of Hippo.

I love the old bell tower of the St. Augustine of Hippo Parish, San Juan, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

I love the old bell tower of the St. Augustine of Hippo Parish, San Juan, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

When I get to the church, the entrance and side doors are locked. A passer-by tells me that the priests and church staff are on their day off. It is a Tuesday. I am surprised because I know that in most parts of the country, church personnel take the Monday off. So I pray at the door instead. I take my camera and then zoom in on a crack to photograph its interior.

The interior of the Parish of St. Augustine of Hippo, San Juan, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The interior of the Parish of St. Augustine of Hippo, San Juan, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Just outside of the church is this small concrete shack with images of the saints and metal candleholders. Two devotees are deep in prayer, perhaps whispering their deepest desires to the Lord, or asking for a saint’s intercession. Piety is alive in San Juan, and I am edified by their faith life.

The religious piety of the townspeople of San Juan, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The religious piety of the townspeople of San Juan, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The Capilay Spring Park, viewed from the Parish grounds. San Juan, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

The Capilay Spring Park, viewed from the Parish grounds. San Juan, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

Our Lady of Divine Providence, Maria, Siquijor. The town of Maria has its own allure. When we arrive there, it is late noon. The church is quiet and it seems that the townsfolk are taking their afternoon siesta. Roland parks the tricycle inside the church grounds, and this is what I am seeing. I take some time to photograph the church and its bell tower.

The belltower of the Parish of Our Lady of Providence, Maria, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The belltower of the Parish of Our Lady of Providence, Maria, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Afterwards, I approach the entrance. Luckily, the door is open. I enter and then suddenly I am transported back to my hometown. Maria’s church reminds me of the Franciscan church of St. John the Baptist in Camalig, Albay. This is what I see.

The Nave of the Parish of Our Lady of Divine Providence, Maria, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The Nave of the Parish of Our Lady of Divine Providence, Maria, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

One of the intriguing images in the church is this statue of Santa Rita de Casia, the patron of impossible cases. Here, she holds a skull. A long write-up tells us about her life to “dispel the myth.” What myth they are dispelling is unclear.

The note below the image says, "Dispelling the Myth" of Sta. Rita de Cascia. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The note below the image says, “Dispelling the Myth” of Sta. Rita de Cascia. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

This is one of the side doors. Side exits are often a feature in old cruciform churches. I take this photo, looking from the inside to the outside community that the faith nurtures.

One of the side doors of the Parish of Our Lady of Providence, Maria, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

One of the side doors of the Parish of Our Lady of Providence, Maria, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The Salagdoong Forest Reserve in Brgy. Olang, Maria, Siquijor. After a moment of prayer, we head to the Salagdoong Beach, passing through this man-made forest.

Molave trees populate more than 80 hectares of land as part of the National Greening Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). DENR-Siquijor has contracted the Olang Farmers Association (OFA) to plant 16,000 rattan seedlings in November 2013.

Roland says that the molave and rattan trees supply furniture makers in Siquijor. He says that furniture-making is one of their sources of livelihood. We enter this man-made forest, and the trees form a canopy to travelers to the public Salagdoong Resort.

Molave trees form a canopy to those going to the Salagdoong Beach Resort. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Molave trees form a canopy to those going to the Salagdoong Beach Resort. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The Salagdoong Beach Resort is a public area. Vacationers usually arrive at lunch because the mid-point of coastal tours is this beach. You can order your food at the cafeteria, but do not expect a fully-developed cuisine. The food is simple and affordable.

Salagdoong Beach Resort, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Salagdoong Beach Resort, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Behind this concrete stairs are small cottages that you can rent. But I decide not to take too much time here.

The rock formation at this side of the Salagdoong Beach is far more picturesque than that side with concrete stairs. I find many beachgoers frolicking in this part for obvious reasons: the shade and the clear waters. The not-too-fine-not-too-white sand is not attractive to me, but the beach is picture-worthy.

The side of Salagdoong Beach Resort, Siquijor with rock formations. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

The side of Salagdoong Beach Resort, Siquijor with rock formations. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

There are many who would take the treacherous dive like the guy above (feature photo) or kayak like these friends. After all, the Salagdoong Beach Resort is known for cliff diving as well as kayaking.

Kayaking is one of the attractions in Salagdoong Beach Resort, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Kayaking is one of the attractions in Salagdoong Beach Resort, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

I take some more photographs and then return to the cafeteria. I find Roland and we resume our journey to Enrique Villanueva where mangrove reserves abound. When we get there, let me tell you, I am not disappointed.

Note: Our next stop will be the towns of Enrique Villanueva, Larena and Siquijor. See you in the next post. Here are the links to the other parts of the story.

Part I: Why You Will Love Siquijor

Part II: Why You Will Love Siquijor: The Town of Lazi

Part III: Why You Will Love Siquijor: The Towns of San Juan and Maria

Part IV: Why You Will Love Siquijor: The Towns of Enrique Villanueva, Larena and Siquijor

 

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