Tales from the Philippines: Siquijor

My new local friends in Bohol get nervous when I tell them my next destination: Siquijor.

The island has got a reputation for paranormal phenomena such as voodoo, black magic, witchcraft, shamanism and the existence of special creatures and spirits living among the local people on the island. I should avoid looking people in the eyes, as they can hypnotize me quickly. People can put spells on me. If a white, beautiful woman with golden hair suddenly appears to me I should run.

It is also a beautiful island. I want to go there.

map siquijor, drawn by Greg Rodgers

When I board my ferry the next day, I am filled with excitement over my new, mysterious destination. Until my ferry stops at Negros and does not run any further. A new storm will be coming.

A warning from above?

It does not prevent me from going. Three days later I am, again, on my way to Siquijor.

Later that day I arrive at a lost resort on an isolated beach, that, according to my old Lonely Planet, ever was a lively place for backpackers to stay. Not so much anymore.

Greg and me are the only guests.

The evening falls, and we have some drinks on the terrace. The staff goes home around nine o clock, when the bar closes. We have the place to ourselves now.

Sequijor beach

In the distance a dog barks every now and then. The sound of the waves breaking on the beach. We listen to our own voices. There are no traces of any other people nearby. A small candle lights our table. It is the only light around us and makes our shadows look huge and surreal, like we are different creatures.

Maybe it is all the stories I heard, maybe it is the silence around me, or our shadows, but something starts to spook me out. Just a feeling. I scan my surroundings carefully for any abnormal actions taking place around me. Nothing unusual. I tell myself to relax and distract myself with drinks and easy conversation.

spider, by Greg Rodgers

Greg leaves to get a sweater.

Now there is just the waves and the silence around me. No distractions. I feel restless and think of the function of silence in movies, where always something really scary happens after all the background sounds have disappeared. I try to ignore myself and relax.

“Whooaaashhhhh”

A sudden sound. A light flash. On my left. My heart is racing. I look right in the green eyes of a cat I have never seen before. Maybe he caught something. I nervously tell myself it was nothing, and I tell the spirits, if they exist, to leave me alone. My new mantra. I am freaked out. Completely.

Greg comes back. I pretend to be all cool and tell him in my most unconcerned voice that there was something up with a cat. Inside I feel still terrified. I try to distract myself with a sip of rum, and suck on a piece of dried corn.

amulet, Greg Rodgers

Two hours later. I am in bed, and still recovering from the earlier event. Suddenly, just after I have switched of the light I hear footsteps. They are approaching , getting closer and closer to my bungalow. I am listening, eyes wide open, shaky hands. A man’s voice: “Hello? , hello?” He sounds like a normal person. He talks to someone else in a language that I don’t understand. I wonder how they have found this place, that is even at daytime difficult to reach, and why they got here this late.

Then I remember again that the guesthouse was listed in the Lonely Planet. They must have taken a late ferry or something. Greg responds: “Hello”. We hear their footsteps now in the distance. I open the door, look outside my room if I see anyone. No one is there.

They probably decided to turn around when they did not see anyone.

The silence is restored. As I try to sleep, all I can think of is how badly I want the night to turn into day again. Surely, the fear was just within me, nothing real has happened.

It was all just a feeling. And some scary legends.

Daytime beach, Laura Mayer

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