Island of Fire History
Very little is known about Siquijor and its inhabitants before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th Century. During its occupation, however, caves in the island yielded old China wares that imply earlier encounters with Chinese traders. The original inhabitants called "Siquijodnons" came from Cebu, Bohol and other adjacent islands. The native name was "Katugasan" derived from the molave tree that covers the hills. The Spaniards, however, called it Isla de Fuego or Island of Fire because of the swarms of fireflies found in the island.
Esteban Rodriguez of the Legazpi Expedition in 1565 led the first Spaniards who first landed on the island. He was captain of a small party that left Legazpi's camp in Bohol to explore the nearby islands that are now known as Pamilacan, Siquijor and Negros.
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 under the Cebu Diocese. Administratively, however, Siquijor was under the Bohol province. The first Augustinian Recollect priest, Father Vicente Garcia arrived in Siquijor in 1794 who was later followed by other priests of the same order and 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, all of the other five municipalities had been established as parishes by 1877. In 1854, Siquijor was constituted as a politico-militar province with Bohol by royal decree. On January 19, 1892, the island was joined to the province of Negros Oriental through Decree of Union by Governor General Weyler, and became sub-province of Negros Oriental under Lieutenant Governor James Fugate in 1901.
In 1971, Siquijor became an independent province by virtue of Republic Act No. 6398. The capital was officially transferred from Larena to Siquijor in 1972 through a plebiscite held on November 8, 1971 and confirmed through Proclamation No. 1075.
The Spanish priests were on the island as early as 1780. In 1794, Siquijor became a municipality as well as the first parish in the island.
When the Spaniards arrived in the island, they met an old man whome they asked of what the island's name, the old man whom had not understood answered "Si Kihod" which was his name. The Spaniards having a hard time of pronouncing such word made is Si Kihor. Siquijor municipality is located on the northwestern part of the province. On its eastern side lies the sloping rocky and mountainous part of the municipality while on the north western part is the coastal area where beautiful and white sandy beaches are found.
It is composed of 42 barangaus with a total land area of 90.70. Farming and fishing are the main means of livelihood in the municipality of Siquijor. The major industries are woodcraft & furniture making, basket making, peanut processing, banana chips processing and bakery. From March to June is dry season, July to October is wet season and is cool season.
San Juan town to hold Bugwas Festival (26 July 2006) -- In its bid to have its own town festival, the municipality of San Juan in Siquijor province, whose vision-filled residents want to call it as the province's Tourism Capital, is slated to hold a Festival on August 26 as one of the highlights of the celebration of its Annual Town Fiesta in honor of its beloved patron saint, St. Augustine of Hippo.
The festival's name passed through an intensive search and selection which was mainly based on the premise that San Juan municipality was once known to have its former name Capilay, a name derived from the natural body of water coming from within the fenced town plaza located at a stone's throw distance from both the Roman Catholic Church, Convent, Municipal Building and Rizal Monument, among other landmarks.
In a sort of brainstorming session, several proposed names emerged, among them were Bugahanay, Bugwasan, Bugwas, Buhagay, Bugahay and Capilay. In the process of screening out the less appropriate names, the Body trimmed down the selection to only three, Buylo, Buhagay, and Bugwas. The Fiesta Officers deliberately excluded the name Bugahanay since there were opinions that it somehow sounded as festival of festivals, and there is possibility that it could be reserved for a district or provincial level, or even a bigger festival. When the proponent for the name Buylo withdrew his proposed name, the number was further reduced into only 2, namely Buhagay and Bugwas.
Legend says that Lazi was named after the letter "C" because of its bay. But the bay of Maria that is more regular and deeper has a more pronounced C-shape and was therefore a better cadidate that Lazi for such a name. The resemblance with a letter "c" this is not very convincing. The area corresponding to the town was known as Tigbawan due to the preponderance of "tigbaw" trees growing abundantly in the area. Under that name, it was a "visita" of Siquijor that is administered by the priest in charge of the parish Siquijor.
The change from Tigbawan to Lazi can easily be answered. Whenever a pueblo (municipality) and a parish were created, the Spaniards oftentimes gave a new administration and religious unit. The town of Lazi was named in honor of the mother of a governor-general who stayed in Manila. During his incumbency as Governor, he has good relations with the church, the later honored by naming new parishes after him. In 1857, it was spelled Lacy, and then it was changed to Laci and subsequently to Lazi following the 19th century spelling of the Spanish language. Lazi has a population of 18,314 and a total land area of 8,461 hectares.
Long before the Spaniards came to the island, this place was named "Kangminya" in honor of the famous woman who lived in the heart of the town. In the year 1880 a group of religious Spanish priest named Father Ramon Orza, when Kangminya was changed to its reigning name "Maria" in honor of Patron Saint Our Divine Providence.
The Municipality of Maria is situated on the eastern part of Siquijor Island with a total lan area of 5,342 hectares. It is politicaly divided into 22 barangays. Liloan and Minalulan lies in the interior part of Saguing going eastward in the shore where you can reach Kagusuan Beach Resort, which is also owned by the Provincial Government of Siquijor. It has a population of 12,275.
The municipality of Enrique Villanueva was once a barrio of Canoan named "Talingting". Talingting got its name due to presence of first species only found in its seas and the presence of sea birds found in the shores, which are all known as Talingting. The name was officially changed when it became a municipality of Negros Oriental thru the efforts of the late Gov. Enrique Villanueva. It was changed to Enrique Villanueva in honor of his work in the creation of the muncipality. It is composed of 14 barangays with a total land area of 3,060 hectares. The total population in this municipality is 5,364 based on 2000 census.
Before the island of Siquijor became a province, it was the oldest sub-province in the Philippines with canoan as "Cabeza"
In 1906 Canoan was changed to Larena. the changed was made in honor of the late Governor Demetrio Larena who was the first Filipino Civil Governor of Negros Oriental.
There is not much economic, social, cultural and political advancement in Larena during Spanish regime. During the American tutorship, Larena attained a more accelerated pace in economic, social and political development.
The sub-province of Siquijor became full-pledged province in 1972. Before Siquijor became the district and independent province. Larena was the capital town. During the plebiscite and the local elections in 1971, Larena lost the capitaliship to Siquijor. Although the muncipality of Siquijor is the capital town, Larena's commercial establishments boom and most of the national government agencies are in Larena.