Contributed by Pens and Passports


siquijor visita iglesia

Siquijor is a pretty small island that you can tour in a day (or half a day if you don’t stop over). Like many small towns in the Philippines, Siquijor is composed mainly of Roman Catholics, although there are a lot of other religions practised in the island including Aglipayan, Protestantism, Jehovah’s Witness, Iglesia ni Christo and Adventist. The most popular tour in the island would be the Visita Iglesia, not only for Catholics but for anyone, mostly because the island’s churches are not just a symbolism of a religion but also the symbolism of the island’s history.

Also read: 10 Religious Destinations in the Philippines Perfect for Visita Iglesia

I wouldn’t say your visit to our rocky island would not be complete without a Visita Iglesia, but since Holy Week is coming, consider Siquijor as a week-long retreat or a quick weekend getaway.

Here is my Visita Iglesia guide. I hope you find this helpful.

1. Saint Francis de Assisi Parish Church (Siquijor, Siquijor)

Saint Francis de Assisi Parish Church

If you just arrived from Dumaguete, the first church that will greet you will be the Saint Francis de Assisi Parish Church. What I love about this church is its simple architecture that resembles a typical pre-Spanish payag. The interiors are also bare and minimal, which, I think, makes it easier to commune with the heavens because you are not easily distracted.

siquijor visita iglesia

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What to look out for: The belfry. It is located about 20 metres from the church (right side if you are on the front of the church).

Travel time: About 5 minutes walk from the tip of Siquijor port

Also read: Dumaguete to Siquijor 4-Day Itinerary: Top Things to See and Do

2. San Augustin de Hippo Parish Church (San Juan, Siquijor)

San Augustin de Hippo Parish Church

Your next stop would be San Juan’s San Augustin de Hippo Parish Church. Okay, I am confused as to why the town was named San Juan and offered the parish to San Augustin. I have always thought the town celebrates their fiesta on St. John the Baptist’s Feast Day, but they don’t. Anyway, what sets this church apart is its location. It is on top of a hill and overlooks the Capilay Spring. I think it is a gorgeous sight.

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This marker is dedicated to the unborn children, children killed through abortion. I do not know the history of this marker but I’m curious if the town has a right rate of abortion.

What to look out for:

  • The monument commemorating unborn children due to abortion. When I saw this, I wondered how the monument became relevant to the town. Did the town record a high rate of abortion?
  • The St. John Academy. It is, as far as I know, the town’s only private high school. It is not an architectural marvel, but if you are circumspect, it will be an eye-opener as to the situation of non-secular and parochial education in the town.
  • The view of Capilay Spring.

Travel Time: 15 minutes from Siquijor to San Juan

3. Saint Isidore the Parish Church (Lazi, Siquijor)

Saint Isidore the Parish Church

I would be biased when I say that the Saint Isidore the Parish Church is the most beautiful in the island. I live in town, was born in town, was baptised, received communion and was confirmed in this church. Personal biases aside, the town’s church is the most well-preserved church in the island, mainly through the help of the country’s cultural commission. The grounds are also well maintained, thanks to parishioners, who I know most do not receive compensation for any church-related work.

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What to look out for:

  • The grotto. There is a grotto dedicated to the Our Lady of Lourdes just below the church’s right gate. Watch out for the slippery stairs and the roots of the big acacia tree.
  • The back of the church. I think this is an underestimated area in the church. I love this area because no one seems to come here. There’s a concrete path where you can sit down. You can also take a peek into the room behind the church’s altar. Just make sure you don’t get scared with figures of saints.
  • The convent across the church. The convent is the largest in Asia.

Travel Time: 20-25 minutes from San Juan

Also read: Good Friday: Bloody Re-enactment of Crucifixion in Philippines

4. Our Lady of the Divine Providence Church (Maria, Siquijor)

Our Lady of the Divine Providence Church

Because of its near proximity to Lazi, this is the church I frequent the most (next to Saint Isidore). I love the shade of the big acacia tree near the entrance of the church grounds. And, I have good memories of a young me participating in a male-dominated knot-tying demo class at a province-wide encampment for Boys and Girls Scouts.

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What to look out for:

  • Saint Rita. This image used to scare me, mostly because her eye was destroyed. The placement of the image near the altar also confused me. I thought the town’s patron saint was Saint Rita because she’s displayed prominently.
  • Nuns of Saint Claire. I don’t know if you can visit anytime. But I do remember going with my grandma and grand aunt to the monastery to bring the nuns lots of vegetables, rice and other food stuff.

Travel Time: about 10-15 minutes from Lazi

5. Mount Carmel Parish Church (Enrique Villanueva, Siquijor)

Mount Carmel Parish Church

I love the modernity of this church. It symbolises, to me, the town’s “moving forward.” I love that the church is not stuffy at all. I also love the fact that the grounds surrounding the church are also well maintained, and there’s a play ground at the town plaza across.

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What to look out for:

  • Boulevard. Not church-related, but I think Talingting, the town’s old name, has the best boulevard.
  • Quirante Bakery. The bakery has actually another name (which I could not recall at the time of writing) but I always refer to the bakery using this name because I associate it with Ma’am Quirante.

Travel Time: 20-25 minutes from Maria

Also read: 10 Reasons Why You Will NEVER Want to Go to Siquijor

6. San Vicente Ferrer Church (Larena, Siquijor)

San Vicente Ferrer Church

The church is already an amalgam of old and new design. I knew the church was heavily damaged through the years and because the church was not declared a heritage church, the parish had to make the renovations itself.

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What to look out for:

  • The belfry. Most would miss this because it is located about 30 metres away from the church. The belfry overlooks the sea and the Port of Larena. I can only imagine how beautiful the sight was decades ago when there were no houses yet that are now obstructing the view.

Travel Time: 20-25 minutes from Enrique Villanueva

A Visita Iglesia in Siquijor would not take the whole day unless you also make side trips to natural attractions in the island and stop for meals and refreshments.

Also read: 7 Things to Do in Siquijor for a True Island Retreat

Operating hours: 6am-6pm, Daily

This is a guess. Churches in Siquijor typically offer mass at 6am (or earlier) and rings the bell for the 6pm for Angelus, so I am guessing they open and close the church between these hours. I do not know of any church in the island which closes its doors during the day, so I am also guessing it is open the whole day.

Best time to visit: Weekdays in the afternoon, because the churches would be mostly deserted and will give you good photography angles. Try to avoid Sundays because masses are held, and Saturdays because that is a popular day for weddings and burials.