Saturday, February 23, 2008

Legend of Siquijor Island

Long, long time ago, Siquijor was not among the islands in the Philippine Archipelago. One evening a strong earthquake and a thunderstorm occurred. Flashes of blinding lightning laced the sky in white fire. Deafening thunder roared. The earth shuddered. The sea raged. From the churning waters of the ocean's womb was birthed an island. Until today farmers up in the mountains still find empty giant shells beneath the surface of their farms. Does this suggest some truth to the theory that Siquijor rose out of the sea?

Soon the place was covered with varieties of trees, the greater number of which were tugas (molave) trees. Because of the preponderance of tugas in the area, old people called the place "katugasan."

At night fireflies covered these trees. Spanish soldiers and missionaries aboard galleons plying the Visayan area at night noticed the sparkling nocturnal scene. They called the island "Isla de Fuegos" or Island of Fire, referring to the eerie glow the island gave at night as Spanish galleons passed by.

Wishing to know more about the mysterious island, the Spaniards visited the place. Upon their arrival, they met a native who was fishing. They asked him in Spanish what the name of the place was. The native thought he was asked his name and responded "Si Kihod," limping around to demonstrate how he got his name. Because Spaniards found it difficult to pronounce the "d" eventually "Si Kihod" was changed to Siquijor.

Others maintained that King Kihod was the island's legendary ruler. Still others claimed that "Kihod" is the beginning of low tide when the seawater is drawn from the shore to the open sea. The Spaniards arrived at the place when the sea was ebbing.

Very little is known about Siquijor and its inhabitants before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. The original inhabitants came as farmers and fishermen from Cebu, Bohol and the adjacent islands.