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 which could mean Chinese traders had arrived earlier.

It is thought that the island was once thickly covered with molave or "tugas", thus the island was called Katugasan by early folks. The lush vegetation in the hilly lands attracted great swarms of fireflies, thus trees were all lit up with the luminous creatures. Perplexed by the trees aglow with fireflies, the Spaniards called the place Isla del Fuego or Island of Fire.

The inhabitants on the other hand, believed that the island rose from the sea amid fire, thunder and lightning, thus the name Isla del Fuego.

When the Spaniards discovered the island they were alledgedly greeted by the King Kihod, who presented himself with these words ‘si Kihod' (I am Kihod) The spaniards mistakingly thinking that he was talking about the island adopted the name Sikihod which later changed to Siquijor.

Esteban Rodriguez of the Legazpi Expedition in 1565 led the first Spaniards to officially "discover" the island. He was captain of a small party that left Legazpi's camp in Bohol to explore the nearby islands which are now called 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. Siquijor was from the begining, administered by the diocese of Cebu. As for civil administration, Siquijor was under Bohol since this province had its own governor. The first Agustinian Recollect priest, Father Vicente Garcia arrived in Siquijor in 1794.

Several years thereafter, priests of the same order 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 present six municipalities had been established as parishes by 1877. From 1854 to 1892, Siquijor became part of the province of Negros Oriental, and became a sub-province 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.

Local Government Units

Siquijor has a total of 6 municipalities. The total number of barangays in the province is 134.

Siquijor municipalities map

Geographic and Topogrphic Features

Located in the Central Visayas region, Siquijor is a small island midway between Visayas and Mindanao islands. It is situated some 30 kilometers from Negros and about 565 aerial kilometers from Manila. It is bounded in the north by the islands of Cebu; Bohol is to the northwest, to the west is Negros Island, to the east is Camiguin, to the south is mainland Mindanao. Facing its northern shores is Bohol Strait, southeast shores is the Mindanao Sea. It has a total land area of 34,350 hectares or 343.50 square kilometers, which represents 2% of the total land area of Central Visayas and 0.11% of the land area of the country.

Siquijor island is mostly made up of limestone rock material and fringed by mangroves, white sandy beaches and coral reefs. It has approximately 102 kilometers of shoreline. With the exception of relatively flat coastal plains in Lazi and San Juan, most of the island's interior is either hilly or mountainous. The center of the island is elevated, the highest point of which is Mt. Bandilaan, rising at approximately 557 meters above sea level.

Geographical Highlights

Most of the island's soils are Bolinao, Lugo, Faraon, or Mandaue series clays which have developed from coralline limestone. Limestone outcrops are frequently observed at the surface all over the island. Areas at higher elevations and slopes of about 25% are eroded down to the subsoil and even to the bedrock in many places. Only 2.54% of these soils are Guimbaon clay, which is volcanic in origin, and 2.5% are hydro soils and beach sand.

Coastal Area

The coastal zone around the island is 84.46 square kilometers. Mangrove area is 3.82 sq. km., shore area is 15.49 sq. km. and coral reefs is 800 sq.km.

Aquatic

Major fishing grounds are found throughout Siquijor Sea, Tañon Strait, Bohol Strait and Mindanao Sea. Inland fishery includes fresh and brackish water. The province has fifteen (15) hectares of fishponds; seventy-one (71) hectares of swamp lands

Infrastructure

Seaports and Shipping Lines

The province has three big seaports strategically located in Larena, Lazi and Siquijor. The port in Larena is the main entry point to the province. It can accommodate ships of up to 800 to 1,000 tons. The municipal port of Lazi can accommodate ships of up to 200 tons. The Siquijor wharf serves as the docking space for motor launches and pumpboats plying the Siquijor - Dumaguete route daily. Causeways for smaller pumpboats and bancas are located in Solong-on, Siquijor and Tambisan, San Juan

There are five shipping lines that are providing services both for passengers and cargoes. The Palacio Shipping Lines has four conventional vessels ferrying from the port of Larena (Siquijor) to Cebu City, Tagbilaran City in Bohol, Dumaguete City in Oriental Negros and Plaridel in Mindanao.

One vessel from Cokaliong Shipping is also servicing the transport needs of the province. It ferries from the port of Larena (Siquijor) to Cebu City and Dumaguete City.

Small shipping lines namely the Delta Fast Ferry, Marjunnix Shipping and Jaylann Shipping are servicing the Siquijor-Dumaguete route daily.

Land Transportation

All six municipalities are connected by asphalt or concrete roads. Total road network is 368.455 kilometers. Of this, 75.48 km. are classified as national roads comprising 20% of the total network, 189.78 km. or 51% are provincial roads, 21.932 km. or 6% are municipal roads, and 81.263 km. or 22% are barangay roads.

Major means of transportation in the province are jeepneys, tricycles and motorcycles. Jeepneys travel on specified routes usually between municipalities. Tricycles are available for hire to desired destinations. While commuters to and from the interior barangays are served by motorcycles for hire known as "habal-habal". As of December 2002, Land Transportation Office registered a total of 4,741 motor vehicles. Of those, 4,129 are privately owned vehicles, 103 are government owned vehicles and 509 are for hire.

Communication Facilities

Long distance telephone services are provided by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) in Maria, Globelines, Inc., Telephone Management System , Inc. (TMSI) and the Bureau of Telecommunications (BUTEL) in Lazi, the remaining connections are under the Municipal Telephone System Project.

There are a considerable number of cellular phone phone users in the province but are experiencing inadequate access to signal due to lack of cell sites within the province. There are only two cell sites in the whole province, one for Globe which is located in Nonoc, Larena, Siquijor and one for Smart located in Poblacion, Siquijor, Siquijor.

There are eight radio telegraphic stations and eight postal offices servicing the province.

Power

There is one diesel-generated power supply on the island owned and operated by the National Power Corporation (NPC). The electric power is purchased by the Province of Siquijor Electric Cooperative, Inc. (PROSIELCO) and distributed to 112 barangays or 84% of the total number of barangays in the province.

Three 500-kilowatt, one 448 kilowatt and one 1,224-kilowatt generators were installed at the NPC plant. PROSIELCO has the potential to connect 15,382 households, current household connections make up only 48.60 percent or 7,475 households of the potential. Nevertheless, power supply is not so reliable due to old and inefficient generators.

Power consumption registered an average of 50 kwh per month for residential households, 96 kwh for small commercial establishments, 174 kwh for industrial, 508 kwh for water system, 107 kwh for public buildings and 78 kwh for streetlights.

Water

Four municipalities of the province are served by the Metro Siquijor Water District with Level III distribution system while the two municipalites are served by their respective local government with Level II and Level III water distribution system. Artesian wells are still existing in some places.

The original source for the municipality of Siquijor is the Cang-isad Spring. It is a gravity-fed type water supply sytem for coastal barangays. The pressure-pump type of supply comes from the Caitican Spring which flows into the 120 cubic meter reservoir located in Tacdog, Siquijor, Siquijor.

Health Facilities

The province has two hospitals with capabilities to treat minor illnesses. A provincial hospital located in Pangi, Siquijor, Siquijor has a 100-bed capacity. The Lazi Medicare Hospital has a 15-bed capacity located at Tigbawan, Lazi, Siquijor. In addition, one rural health and family planning clinic can be found in every municipality. Furthermore, 31 barangay health stations are also in place to service the needs of the residents.

Economy

Agriculture

Approximately 18,514 hectares or 54% of Siquijor's total land area are planted with corn, coconut, cassava, palay, peanut, banana, jackfruit and mango.

Livestock and poultry

Livestock and poultry raising in the province is backyard-scale only. Despite its being such, the province is considered an exporter of livestock and poultry products to other provinces. There are also livestock and poultry-related support facilities like the Provincial Veterinary Office; Provincial Veterinary Quarantine Port/ Unit Breeding Station/ Center and five (5) Local Animal Quarantine Port/ Unit.

Forestry / mineral resources

The total area classified as timberland in the province is around 16%, below the standard of 60-40%, which would mean 11,155 hectares of forest cover. However, many species of trees can be found in the province. Molave trees (tugas) are especially abundant. As a first class wood, it is used for making furniture by some micro-manufacturers. Reforestation is a high priority of the island and the DENR has put together a five-year Medium Term Forestry Development Plan which stresses community reforestation projects. Maria has over 500 hectares of reforested land in Barangays Bogo, Olang and Lilo-an, near the famous Salagdoong Beach. The Mount Bandilaan and Manan-ao.

Reforestation Projects in Siquijor and Enrique Villanueva respectively are under the National Reforestation Program and account for 608.1 hectares of forests filled with mahogany, benguet pines, narra, molave, fire tree, teak, tanguile, auri, mangium, kakawate, lamutan, talubong, bogo and banaba trees. The DENR Siquijor has requested Congress to declare the Mount Bandilaan Reforestation Project started in 1940, a nature park. The total watershed area is 2,728 hectares. There is a specialized nursery for herbs and rare tree species.

Fish and aquatic resources

Being an island province, fishing is a major source of livelihood of the people. Bohol Sea and Tañon Strait serve as fertile fishing grounds for a number of municipal fishermen.

The species of fish caught are frigate tuna, flying fish, ganfish, anchovy, sturgeon fish and others. Fish production has an average of 175.63 metric tons per year for the whole province. Fish farm specie has an average yield of 10.30 metric tons per year.

Mining

Currently, there are no "deep-mining" types of operation in the province. Manganese mines in Larena were closed in the 1970's. Small-scale mining/ hauling of sand, gravel, limestone and ball clay are being done in several areas in the province. Plenty of guano deposits in the caves of Maria and Lazi are being extracted. Surface mining of rock phosphate has been initiated by several people. Other mineral resources mined in the province include chromite, quarry resources and rock aggregates.

Industries

Gifts, Toys and Housewares

The Gifts, Toys and Housewares (GTH) sector of the province consists of 11 firms, with a capitalization of P262,000.00 and employing a total of 91 workers. All the firms in this sector belong to the micro-size category with capitalization of not more than P 100,000.

Of the 11 GTH firms, 6 or more than half are producing baskets and decors made of sig-id, lagtang and other indigenous materials. To date, only two firms are doing sub-contracting activities for Cebu-based exporters due to the fluctuating market conditions of the products in the international market. The remaining firms are engaged in the production of either bags, artificial plants and flowers, decors made of wood, woodcraft and other materials.

Food Processing

The formal food processing sector of the province consists of 32 firms, with a capitalization of P 1,489,000.00 and employing a total of 138 workers. It falls under six categories, namely: bread and other bakery products, peanut products, pancit, polvoron/ candies, processed meat, macaroni and chicharon.

Furniture

The furniture sector has been one of the dominant manufacturing industries of the province. In fact, it has employed sizeable workers and generated huge investments.

The formal furniture sector of the province consists of 22 firms with a capitalization of P 1,451,500.00 and employing a total of 80 workers. All the firms, except for one, belong to the micro-cottage category.

Metal working

The metalworking industry consists of 31 firms with a capitalization of P 1,437,000.00 and employing a total of 92 workers.

All the metalworking firms belong to the micro-cottage size category and are single proprietorships with factories located in their own homes.

Tourism

The whole island of Siquijor was declared a marine reserve and tourist zone in 1978 by virtue of Proclamation No. 1810. As such, the island-province will be developed into a major tourist destination under the supervision of the Philippine Tourism Authority.

Known for its scenic beauty and archaic churches, Siquijor is also blessed with natural and historical attractions. Its unspoiled environment and the warm hospitality of its people never fail to beckon visitors from all over. The serenity of the whole province makes it ideal for a perfect getaway.

It lures nature lovers and the adventurous to explore its numerous caves, springs and rivers and to climb up Mount Bandilaan, the highest peak at the center of the island. Being a coral island, it also invites diving enthusiasts to explore the reefs surrounding the island teeming with marine life which have been remarkably left untouched. For tourists who just want to lay back and relax, the island offers a long stretch of white sandy beaches, all 102 kilometers of shoreline surrounding the island. It also provides a trip to the past with the old Cang-Isok house, St. Francis de Assisi Church, St. Isidore Labrador Parish and Convent which is reputed to be one of the country's largest convents. With such varied tourist attractions, Siquijor looms as the playground of the Central Visayas region.