A folk legend also has it that many nights ago when the magical island of Siquijor was still nowhere in the face of the earth, a great storm engulfed the Visayan region. Then there came a strong earthquake that shook the earth and sea. Amidst the lightning and thunder arose an island from the depths of the ocean’s womb which came to be known as the island of Siquijor.
Oddly enough in the modern times highland farmers have unraveled giant shell casings under their farm plots, supporting the theory that Siquijor is indeed an island that rose from the sea.
The remarkable island of Siquijor, though one of the smallest in the country, immediately caught the attention of sea faring Spanish explorers and missionaries. As they sailed by the island under the night sky, an eerie glow could be seen emanating from the mountains hence prompting the name Isla del Fuego (Island of Fire).
Upon closer inspection, the light was said to have come from the hordes of fireflies seeking respite under Siquijor’s thick forestry generally made up of an abundance of Molave trees, and in the night these nocturnal creatures appear to set the whole forest on fire. The Spaniards were drawn by the vision and as one version of the legend relays, they met the island’s ruler – the legendary King Kihod while they were docking their ship at one of Siquijor’s bays.
When asked his name, the king replied “si Kihod” (I am Kihod). The Spaniards, thinking he meant it as the name of the island, adopted the name Sikihod which was later changed to Siquijor because the Spaniards found it too difficult to pronounce.
Spaniards in Siquijor
The arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century led to many improvements especially in farming and fishing implementations. Little is chronicled of Siquijor prior to the Spanish exploration but it is told that at one of the excavations in the island, the diggers yielded Chinese porcelain and other Chinese wares proving that, settlers or traders had actually arrived ahead of the Spaniards.
Siquijor was officially discovered in 1565 by a crew of Spanish explorers named the Legazpi Expedition led by Esteban Rodriguez. From Bohol, the team set sail to survey the nearby islands.
In the late 1800s, Siquijor fell under the governance of Bohol before becoming part of Negros Oriental. During the World War II, Siquijor was occupied by the Japanese Imperial Forces but American influence still prevailed. Finally in 1971, Siquijor became an independent province.