People's CornerLetter to the EditorSiquijor, you impressed us

Siquijor, you impressed us


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It almost didn’t happen, however.

Last week, we bought tickets with the passenger shipping company, Aleson, to take us to Siquijor on its 10:00 a.m. trip. Our party of five made sure we were at the port terminal in plenty of time so we won’t miss our ride.

Around 15 minutes before departure time, Montenegro Shipping Lines docked at the pier, and after the passengers disembarked, an announcement was made over the PA system that those departing for Siquijor start boarding by exiting the port terminal through one of the gates.  My brother realized our ship had not yet docked, so he walked up to the gate keeper to ask why our ship was not there yet.

The gate keeper checked with someone then reported that indeed Aleson wasn’t in Dumaguete, and had apparently cancelled their 10 o’clock schedule. No announcement was made on the PA system to the effect.

Once again I was disappointed at the arrogance of our service providers, not finding it important to inform paying customers of the cancellation.

Had we been your typical tourist, we would have missed our chance to go to Siquijor.  Which would have had its consequence to us, as members in our party were visiting from abroad; and to others, like the van driver in Siquijor whose services we had booked for two days, to the proprietor and manager who owned the mountain resort, etc.

Anyway, my brother went to get a refund for our unused tickets, and was informed that Aleson actually had informed the Coast Guard and the Philippine Ports Authority that they were cancelling that 10:00 am trip.  According to the Aleson personnel, once they’ve informed both entities of a cancellation, they no longer have  responsibility for their customers!

Truly impressive the supply chain customer service!

Fortunes changed that morning because the Montenegro vessel still had some minutes left before it would depart. A porter  offered to rush to its ticketing office (which is outside the port area) to buy us tickets so we could board the Montenegro. He must have run the entire way and back because he wasn’t gone for very long.  Once again, the random acts of kindness of our people prevail.

It’s when I decide I will no longer fight for the apathetic, could-care-less Filipino that some sparks of kindness make me change my mind.  There are some Filipinos worth fighting for!


Siquijor impressed us. Its natural beauty, it’s ruggedness, its orderliness, its total lack of persistent and annoying beggars.

And Siquijor truly tries to adhere to the principles of zero-waste. Roads are virtually free of plastic garbage.

The roads are lit with solar-powered street lights — on both sides of the road. Each brightly coloured lamppost was what seemed like 100 metres apart. On the opposite side of the road, each lamppost, also 100 meters apart, stands in between two lamp posts across the road; so you essentially have bright light every 50 metres!

I was informed that they have trucks that ply the roads “sweeping” to keep the roads litter-free and dust-free. The people themselves are in tune with not adhering to our common practice of: open, consume, throw away the garbage onto our giant garbage bin — also called the road or the canals.

In Siquijor, every purchase we made was wrapped in either paper bags or recyclable bags. Wet food was wrapped in banana leaves the way we did it in my youth.  Aluminum foil was also used on occasion.  Virtually no plastic except for the occasional person who did not bring their own refillable water bottle.

We stayed at a mountain resort called ShaniSkye Highland Cottages owned by Rito Ligutom, a Sillimanian.  The motif of the resort is bahay kubo, giving it a feel-good and quiet appeal. The dining area is made from locally-sourced materials — mahogany trees he planted decades ago.  Bamboo and nipa are everywhere. The cottages are comfortable, clean, cool and airy, and a spring from the mountain provides a plentiful source of running water. The garden is pleasure to the eyes.

In our conversations with Rito, we learned that he had lived in the States for the better part of his adult life, and now  he and his wife are spending more and more time in the Philippines as retirees, working on projects that benefit the locals, and provide jobs as well.  As he put it, “uplifting our people’s lives” is the main objective.

I love hearing stories like Rito’s. It is truly uplifting, and reflects glimmers of hope that good people will eventually outnumber these corrupt politicians, their kin, and cohorts in the Philippines.

Our people deserve better.


Diana Banogon-Bugeya (She/Her)



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