Province of Siquijor
Clockwise from the top: Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Lazi Church Convent, Cambugahay Falls, Salagdoong Beach, Saint Francis of Assisi Church Belfry
Flag of Siquijor
Official seal of Siquijor
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 9°11′N 123°35′E / 9.18°N 123.58°E / 9.18; 123.58
RegionCentral Visayas
Founded17 September 1971
and largest municipality
 • TypeSangguniang Panlalawigan
 • GovernorJake Vincent S. Villa (PFP)
 • Vice GovernorMei Ling M. Quezon-Brown (NPC)
 • RepresentativeZaldy Villa (PDPLBN)
 • LegislatureSiquijor Provincial Board
 • Total337.49 km2 (130.31 sq mi)
 • Rank79th out of 81
Highest elevation
(Mount Malabahoc)
628 m (2,060 ft)
 (2020 census)[2]
 • Total103,395
 • Rank79th out of 81
 • Density310/km2 (790/sq mi)
  • Rank29th out of 81
 • Voter (2019)[3]
 • Language
 • Component cities0
 • Municipalities
 • Barangays134
 • DistrictsLegislative district of Siquijor
Time zoneUTC+08:00 (PST)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63 (0)35
ISO 3166 codePH-SIG
Income class5th class

Siquijor (/ˌsɪkiˈhɔːr/ SIK-ee-HOR, Tagalog: [sɪkɪˈhɔɾ]), officially the Province of Siquijor (Cebuano: Lalawigan sa Siquijor; Tagalog: Lalawigan ng Siquijor), is a Philippine island province (the third smallest in the country, in terms of population and land area)[4] located within the Central Visayas region. Its capital is the municipality of Siquijor, Siquijor. The province lies south of Cebu, southeast of Negros Oriental, southwest of Bohol and north of Mindanao.

During the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines, the Spaniards called Siquijor the Isla del Fuego (Island of Fire), likely a reference to the island's location along the Pacific Ring of Fire.[5]


One popular legend says the name "Siquijor" comes from the famed pre-Spanish ruler of the island, King Datu Kihod.[6] Upon the Spaniards' arrival, Kihod introduced himself by saying "si kihod", or "I am Kihod", something which, presumably, the Spanish believed to be in reference to the physical island, thus they named it "Sikihod". Over time, the name eventually morphed into Siquijor.[4]

Another legend says that a priest who visited the island said to the people, in Bohol, "sequor," meaning "to follow the waves"; the people misheard this, and assumed the island's name to be Siquijor.[5]

Siquijor may have also come from the native word quidjod, meaning "the tide is going out".[4]


Early history

According to legend, Siquijor was formed from the sea by a storm and an earthquake in the Visayan region. In modern times, highland farmers have found giant seashells underneath their farm plots to support this legend.[7][8]

Prior to colonization, Siquijor was home to the Kedatuan of Katugasan, named after the tugas, the molave trees which abounded the island. The native dwellers of the island used these trees to build posts (haligi) for their houses because of their strength and durability that could withstand strong typhoons and monsoons. Most of the patriarchs of the island used the tugas to make a wooden plow (tukod) to cultivate the rocky soil for farming using mainly male cattle (toro) to pull it through the sticky and hard rocky soil. However, before the discovery of using tugas as the foundations of their houses, the island natives dwelt in caves as shown by the pottery and old tools like stone grinder excavated from the three caves of Sam-ang.

During this time, the people of the kingdom were already in contact with Chinese traders, as seen through archaeological evidence including Chinese ceramics and other objects. The art of traditional healing and traditional witchcraft belief systems also developed within this period.[7] During the arrival of the Spanish, the monarch of the island was Datu Kihod, as recorded in Legazpi's chronicles.[7][8]

Spanish colonial 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 ("Island of Fire"), because the island gave off an eerie glow, from the great swarms of fireflies that lived in the numerous molave trees on the island.[5] Esteban Rodríguez of the Legazpi expedition 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 Pamilacan, Siquijor, and Negros.

The island, along with the rest 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 arrived in Siquijor in 1794. Several years later, a priest of the same order founded the parishes of Larena (initially called Can‑oan), Lazi (formerly Tigbawan), San Juan (Makalipay), and Maria (Cang‑meniao). With the exception of Enrique Villanueva, the other five municipalities were established as parishes in 1877. From 1854 to 1892, Siquijor was administered by the politico-military province of Bohol. Later in 1892, it was transferred to Negros Oriental and became its sub-province in 1901.[9]

American invasion era

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 some time. The American Military Governor in Manila appointed James Fugate, a scout with the California Volunteers of the U.S. Infantry, to oversee and implement the organization and development programs in Siquijor Island. Governor Fugate stayed for 16 years as lieutenant governor of Siquijor.[a]

Japanese occupation era

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, 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 caused 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.[11] On February 21, 1945, the destroyer USS Renshaw (DD-499) was escorting a convoy of about 50 landing ships with 12 other escorts, when it was attacked by a Japanese midget submarine off the coast of Siquijor, which caused extensive damage to the ship and killed 19 of the crew.[12]

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

Philippine independence

St. Isidore the Laborer Church

For a time Siquijor was a subprovince of Negros Oriental, but it became an independent province on September 17, 1971, under Republic Act 6398. The move was supported by the people of Siquijor as they have a distinct culture from those of Negros Oriental, while Marcos used the movement as a means to secure support from the people of the island to pave martial law acceptance the following year.[13] The capital, formerly Larena, was transferred to the municipality of Siquijor in 1972 by Proclamation No. 1075, under martial law.[14]


In 2006, the Lazi Church was added by the government as an extension to the Baroque Churches of the Philippines UNESCO World Heritage Site. The inscription of the church has been pending since.[15]


Satellite image of Siquijor Island
Average annual temperature in Siquijor is 27·6°C
Humidity 75–85%

Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Climate: Siquijor
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

Siquijor is an island province in Central Visayas. It is located in the Bohol Sea and lies south of Cebu across the Cebu Strait, southeast of Negros, southwest of Bohol, and north of Mindanao. Panglao Island, which is part of Bohol, has a similar soil composition found throughout Siquijor.

With a land area of 343.5 square kilometres (132.6 sq mi) and a coastline 102 kilometres (63 mi) long, Siquijor is the third-smallest province of the Philippines, both in terms of population and land area, after Camiguin and Batanes.[4]


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 del Norte in 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 Bandila‑an) reaches about 628 metres (2,060 ft) in elevation, the highest point on the island. Three marine terraces can be roughly traced around Tag‑ibo, San Juan, on the southwestern part of the island.

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, Bohol, and Mindanao are around 640 metres (350 fathoms; 2,100 feet).


Siquijor has two different climates, dominated by a tropical monsoon climate. All climate is within Coronas climate type IV,[16] characterised by not very pronounced maximum rainfall with a short dry season from one to three months and a wet season of nine to ten months. The dry season starts in February and lasts through April sometimes extending to mid‑May.

Five of the municipalities have significant rainfall most months of the year, with a short dry season that has little effect. This location is classified as a tropical monsoon climate. The average annual temperature in Siquijor is 27.6 °C (81.7 °F), with variation throughout the year less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 deg F). The precipitation varies 165 millimetres (6 in) between the driest month and the wettest month, with the average rainfall 1,600 millimetres (63 in) or less.

The municipality of Lazi has a significant amount of rainfall during the year. This climate is classified as a tropical rainforest climate. In a year, the average rainfall is 1,655 millimetres (65 in).

Administrative division

Siquijor comprises six municipalities. Siquijor, Siquijor is the provincial capital.

Political divisions
PSGC City or Municipality Population ±% p.a. Area PD2020
2020[2] 2010[17] km2 sq mi /km2 /sq mi
076101000 Enrique Villanueva 6.6% 6,790 5,972 1.29% 28.60 11.04 240 610
076102000 Larena 14.0% 14,454 12,931 1.12% 49.81 19.23 290 750
076103000 Lazi 21.7% 22,488 20,024 1.17% 70.64 27.27 320 820
076104000 Maria 13.9% 14,385 13,383 0.72% 53.37 20.61 270 700
076105000 San Juan 15.8% 16,363 13,525 1.92% 44.37 17.13 370 960
076106000 Siquijor  † 28.0% 28,915 25,231 1.37% 90.70 35.02 320 830
TOTAL 103,395 91,066 1.28% 337.49 130.30 310 800
 Provincial capital     Municipality
19th Congress of the Philippines

The lone legislative district of Siquijor is the representation of the province in various national legislatures. The current representative is Zaldy S. Villa of PDP-Laban.


Siquijor Provincial Capitol in the town of Siquijor, Siquijor
Population census of Siquijor
YearPop.±% p.a.
1903 50,156—    
1918 56,774+0.83%
1939 59,507+0.22%
1948 57,258−0.43%
1960 59,555+0.33%
1970 62,976+0.56%
1975 69,077+1.87%
1980 70,360+0.37%
1990 73,932+0.50%
1995 73,756−0.04%
2000 81,598+2.19%
2007 87,695+1.00%
2010 91,066+1.38%
2015 95,984+1.01%
2020 103,395+1.47%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[18][17][17]

According to the 2020 census, Siquijor has a population of 103,395.[2] The average annual growth rate between 2000 and 2015 was 1.09%, lower than the national growth rate of 1.87% for the same period.[2]


The main language spoken in Siquijor is Cebuano, with Tagalog and English often used as second languages. Tagalog is understood and used as the national lingua franca, but it is rarely used in everyday conversation among locals.


95% of the island's residents belong to the Catholic Church, while the remainder belong to various other Christian churches. Despite the province's Catholic affinities, almost all of the residents continue to adhere to traditional practices that were used prior to the 15th century, albeit these practices have also adopted Christian belief systems as well. Due to the ingrained and indispensable traditional belief systems, the majority of residents have continued to possess a high respect for the natural environment which was revered by the ancestors of the people. Siquijor is known for its unique Philippine culture of blending Catholicism with traditional religious practices – a major part of its people's cultural heritage and identity.


The literacy rate of 92.5% is one of the highest in the country.[19] The Siquijor State College located in Larena is the only state college in the province.


Poverty Incidence of Siquijor


Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]


Siquijor has long been associated with pre-Spanish traditions centered around self-help, mysticism, shamanism, and natural healing rituals, something the island's growing tourism industry thoroughly capitalizes on; for example, there is the "Healing and Wellness Tour",[28] an officially-guided ceremony and experience for (paying) visitors to experience ancient meditative and cleansing procedures, ridding themselves of negative energies. Despite any negative reviews, the experience is reportedly harmless, and simply involves the application of herbs, with smoke and incense being burned, while meditating and being guided by a shamanic healer. There are also a number of other options for spiritual retreats for wealthy tourists looking to "escape" from the day-to-day, or to purify themselves of negativity in a non-medical, non-mainstream way.

Nonetheless, official signage is placed around the island, upon which a portrait of the governor is seen, assuring visitors that "magic" and "witchcraft" does not exist, nor has it ever existed, on Soquijor. It is reported that certain elderly or superstitious individuals, even to this day, view the island as cursed and will not set foot there or utter its name for fear of bad luck. The island's enduring reputation as a site of pre-colonial "magic" and "sorcery" has attracted its fair share of interested visitors, and also has earned it the scorn and condemnation of others, primarily very religious (Catholic and other Christian) groups, who view self-help and "natural" healing to be "blasphemous", as it may be seen as a human attempt to "become" or imitate the works of God.[29]

Besides the mystical attractions, nature abounds on Siquijor, and the many ecological and geographical attractions include pristine beaches, waterfalls, coral reef diving, caves, plant and animal life. 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 the formats of PADI, CMAS*, and NAUI. Two of the most popular natural attractions are Cambugahay Falls and the centuries-old Balete, a species of endemic Ficus tree, both located in Lazi.[30] Mount Bandila-an, Siquijor's highest mountain, has a natural park and butterfly sanctuary located at the center of the island in Barangay Cantabon.[31][32][33][34]


Siquijor has two public seaports: the Port of Siquijor and the Port of Larena. These seaports are capable of servicing cargo and passenger seacrafts daily. Destinations include Dumaguete in Negros Oriental, Tagbilaran in Bohol, Cebu City, and Plaridel in Misamis Occidental.

Siquijor also has an airfield, Siquijor Airport, located near Siquijor capable of handling smaller and mostly privately-owned airplanes. It does not serve commercial flights.


Notable personalities

See also


  1. ^ After Siquijor, Fugate became governor of Sulu province, where he was murdered in 1938.[10]


  1. ^ "2015 Census of Population, Report No. 3 – Population, Land Area, and Population Density" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. Quezon City, Philippines. August 2016. ISSN 0117-1453. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 25, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Census of Population (2020). "Region VII (Central Visayas)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  3. ^ "Number of Registered Voters by Sex : 2019 National and Local Elections" (PDF). Commission on Elections. 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "Siquijor Island". Marine Conservation Philippines. Retrieved February 5, 2024.
  5. ^ a b c "About Siquijor - Siquijor Province". December 9, 2020. Retrieved February 5, 2024.
  6. ^ "Siquijor Island". Marine Conservation Philippines. Retrieved April 29, 2024. The island's present name, is claimed to be after King Kihod, a legendary ruler in power when the Spanish explorers arrived. When the Spaniards discovered the island they were alledgedly greeted by this King Kihod, who presented himself with these words 'si Kihod' (I am Kihod) The spaniards mistakingly thinking that he was talking about the island adopted the name Sikihod which later changed to Siquijor, as it was easier to pronounce. A more down to earth explanation of the name, is that it comes from the native term quidjod which means the tide is going out.
  7. ^ a b c "Siquijor History | Dumaguete Info".
  8. ^ a b "Information gather from the island of Siquijor".
  9. ^ "About Siquijor - Brief History". Government of Siquijor Province. December 1, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2022.
  10. ^ Hayden 1937.
  11. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur "Bowfin (SS-287)" Allied Warships
  12. ^ Hackett & Kingsepp 2006.
  13. ^ Republic Act No. 6398 (September 17, 1971), An Act separating the subprovince of Siquijor from the province of Oriental Negros and establishing it as an independent province, archived from the original on May 29, 2008, retrieved February 8, 2016((citation)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  14. ^ Presidential Proclamation No. 1075 (September 12, 1972), Proclaiming the municipality of Siquijor as the capital of the province of Siquijor (s.1972), retrieved February 8, 2016
  15. ^ "Baroque Churches of the Philippines (Extension)".
  16. ^ Coronas 1920.
  17. ^ a b c Census of Population and Housing (2010). "Region VII (Central Visayas)" (PDF). Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. National Statistics Office. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  18. ^ Census of Population (2015). "Region VII (Central Visayas)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  19. ^ Provincial Government of Siquijor 2012
  20. ^ "Poverty incidence (PI):". Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  21. ^ "Estimation of Local Poverty in the Philippines" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. November 29, 2005.
  22. ^ "2009 Official Poverty Statistics of the Philippines" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. February 8, 2011.
  23. ^ "Annual Per Capita Poverty Threshold, Poverty Incidence and Magnitude of Poor Population, by Region and Province: 1991, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015". Philippine Statistics Authority. August 27, 2016.
  24. ^ "Annual Per Capita Poverty Threshold, Poverty Incidence and Magnitude of Poor Population, by Region and Province: 1991, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015". Philippine Statistics Authority. August 27, 2016.
  25. ^ "Annual Per Capita Poverty Threshold, Poverty Incidence and Magnitude of Poor Population, by Region and Province: 1991, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015". Philippine Statistics Authority. August 27, 2016.
  26. ^ "Updated Annual Per Capita Poverty Threshold, Poverty Incidence and Magnitude of Poor Population with Measures of Precision, by Region and Province: 2015 and 2018". Philippine Statistics Authority. June 4, 2020.
  27. ^ "2021 Full Year Official Poverty Statistics of the Philippines" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. August 15, 2022. Retrieved April 28, 2024.
  28. ^ "Siquijor Healing and Wellness Tour - Siquijor Province". Siquijor Province (Tourism). March 6, 2021. Retrieved April 29, 2024.
  29. ^ Philippine Daily Inquirer 2004
  30. ^ "5 Day Itinerary for Cebu – Siquijor – Bohol". April 15, 2017.
  31. ^ Map "Tourist Spots: Province of Siquijor" Archived February 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine GEOPLAN Cebu Foundation
  32. ^ Visayan Daily Star 2009
  33. ^ DOST 2008
  34. ^ "Butterfly sanctuary inaugurated in Siquijor". GMA News Online. October 10, 2008.