Christmas starts in September in the Philippines. They decorate all during the “BER” months (SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, DecemBER) and the decorations are pretty nice… it’s almost ridiculous how beautiful the Christmas decorations are when you remember that the Philippines is a developing country! And during the second week of January they start to take down the decorations. So, for a third of the year Christmas is “celebrated” in the Philippines with music and decorations!
There are over a million people who live in downtown Manila. During December that number increases as oversea workers return to the Philippines for the holidays. And then the number decreases as all of the Manila residents and oversea workers return home to their provinces for the holidays. We decided to go to “our province” as well for Christmas…that being Siquijor island where my grandfather left around 1925 to go work on a sugar cane plantation in Hawaii. However, he also left a wife and 2 children in Siquijor, whose descendants we recently made contact with.
We spent 5 days on the island with family. We rented a car and our cousin drove us around. There were no presents, no Christmas trees, not even cold weather. But, we all had a wonderful time enjoying the company of our family and seeing the beauty of the land. God must really love us to have blessed us with wonderful family members.
Enjoying a picnic prepared by our cousins and spending time at the beach
Tia and Mason getting ready to jump off the water slide. Water doesn’t run down the slide unless you pay extra for it…and after Typhoon Pablo many areas of this water park got destroyed
The kids loved playing on the beach, exploring the area and finding sea shells
Village volleyball tournament held at least yearly. (Cousin Judith Grado #18)
While the village volleyball game was going on, our kids were introducing the local kids to an iPad. Not sure if more people were watching the volleyball game or the kids with the iPad.
Cambugahay Falls – We had a rope swing to use and swam in the water…we all loved being here.
Butterfly Sanctuary – Sadly Typhoon Pablo destroyed a good portion of this…and we discovered that there is a local fee “donation” and a foreign fee “donation”.
Capilay Springs – swimming and relaxing … parts of this area was also damaged by Typhoon Pablo.
Enchanted Tree – 400 year old Balete tree.
Cantabon Cave – Exploring where there really were not any rules (swimming and breaking off a stalactite for a souvenir) and our cousin carried Mason the whole time.
Matt and Robbie watched this cockfighting where our cousin had a rooster competing. That rooster lost and I’m sure ended up as dinner for someone.
Our cousin’s finance invited us to his village disco (a yearly celebration) where ages ranged from toddlers to elderly.
Christmas dinner at our cousin’s house warming party. Family was put into a separate room while neighbors ate in the living room area. There was also a “brown out” during dinner so we ate by candle light.
We spent time doing family history. Our cousin would point out a relative while driving who was sitting on the side of the road and we would pull over and Tia would interview them. This old lady is my grandfather’s niece.
Our cousins introduced us to Julie’s Bakeshop and we love it. When our ferry boat got cancelled to leave the island, we hung out here to figure out what to do since we had plane tickets to reschedule.
We were able to leave Siquijor the next morning at 5am and some cousins went back to Dumaguete with us and made sure we got to the airport.
Siquijor isn’t a tourist trap but more of a hidden treasure. We look forward to visiting again and spending more time with family and enjoying the beauty of the island.
More Siquijor photos here.