Siquijor Islands Philippines
History of Siquijor
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 would 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, hence the name Isla del Fuego.
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 Pamilican, 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 beginning, administered by the diocese of Cebu. As for civil administration, Siquijor was under Bohol since the province had its own governor. The first Agustinian recollect priest, Father Vicente Garcia, arrived in Siquijor in 1794. Several years thereafter, a priest 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 were established as parishes in 1877. From 1854 to 1892, Siqiujor 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.