lazi_4

A traveler finds Lazi a very pleasant town

Century old acacia trees line the roads of Lazi near the church and kumbento

An old butaca at the kumbento

I arrived from a four day sojourn in Dumaguete and Siquijor. But there were no cruising holidays for me, I was in the area for a magazine assignment that I’ve pitched to the editor just two weeks ago and there I was in Lazi’s church kumbento, climbing ceilings, going down basements, waiting for long exposures to finish and taking different images of the structure.

Part by part.

But I wasn’t complaining. I’ve gotten used to this hectic schedule. One day I’m in Manila doing my photography lecture at one of the country’s top universities. A few minutes after class dismissal, I have to rush to the airport to go somewhere. When I do reach the destination, rest for the night then travel again the next day. Buses, boats, jeeps and tricycles.

But being in Siquijor was different. While I was working, I was also enjoying it at the same time. I’m a sucker for old architecture and Spanish colonial era churches and related structures always give me a high. And being face to face, finally, with Lazi’s church and kumbento, was enough to make me awestruck.

There are still lots of old wooden houses in Lazi

Cypresses at the church grounds

I was wide eyed at the immensity of the latter. The uniqueness of the former (its only one of three in the country that still has wooden floors) and how these two, located in one of the towns in a poor province has survived despite modernity and the ‘do-away-with-the-old’ mentality.

But Lazi, despite its being a poor town, is charming. Century old acacia trees, with its outspread branches, gives shade and cool on a rather humid afternoon. Old houses in the traditional bahay kubo style, and variations of that still abound. The people are pious and friendly. Always smiling, a rather unexpected warmth that seems contrary to what this island province is notorious for.

They ask me what I’m doing there. Probing with questions but maintaining the politeness of people from the provinces and, upon hearing my answers, beam with a smile, proud at what they have that brings visitors from afar to their sleepy town. Or, with pride, narrate how this movie/TV celebrity asked one of them during an interview or showed their century old kumbento.

Life in Lazi is slow. But it is a place where you would want to hide away and just spend days doing nothing.

Ang Langyaw’s trip made possible by Airphilexpress, the fastest growing budget airline in the Philippines!

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

35 Comments

  1. Marylin Mamicpic-de la Pena
    July 18, 2012 @ 11:18

    WOW, you discovered and heard the silence of Siquijor Island. Congratulations!

  2. thedabawenya
    July 18, 2012 @ 21:27

    saw this convent amongst my brother’s pictures when he visited siquijor. but your pictures are way awesome 😛

  3. estancabigas
    July 18, 2012 @ 22:12

    thanx 🙂

  4. estancabigas
    July 18, 2012 @ 22:13

    its really a very beautiful place Marylin 🙂

  5. Dansfua
    July 18, 2012 @ 22:40

    You are very insensitive and arrogant when you described Lazi as a poor town and Siquijor a poor province. There was no need to mention that. Everybody knows the Philippines is a poor, third-world country.

  6. Mckingph
    July 19, 2012 @ 7:54

    Hi. Thanks for the complements. however, I would like you to research with NCSB regarding your comments that Lazi and Siquijor is a poor town and province. As a pure Lazihanon and Siquijodnon, Im proud to tell you that Lazi as a municipality and Siquijor as a province are far wealthier than 50% of the towns and provinces of the Philippines. Go to NCSB so you will know the Poverty Incidence data that will tell you everything.

    MAC SUMAGANG

  7. Mckingph
    July 19, 2012 @ 7:57

    We are very rich in heritage, culture, tourist spots and hospitality of our people.

  8. Efren Freddie Miranda
    July 19, 2012 @ 8:10

    The old house and old acacia tree/s made me realize what I am missing in the Philippines. It’s a treasure for the town of Lazi.

  9. Mckingph
    July 19, 2012 @ 8:11

    I am referring to the National Census Coordinating Board (NSCB) not NCSB.

  10. Mckingph
    July 19, 2012 @ 8:11

    National Statistical Coordinating Board

  11. estancabigas
    July 19, 2012 @ 8:47

    okay, thanx for the clarification.

  12. Mckingph
    July 19, 2012 @ 9:00

    National Statistical Coordination Board’s latest 2000 poverty incidence of population data showed THAT SIQUIJOR IS NOT AMONG THE 44 POOREST PROVINCES IN THE COUNTRY. It has a P.I. of 33.6% compared to Ilocos Sur-35.4%, La Union-39%, Pangasinan-37.2%, Isabela-43.6%, Quirino-38.2%, Tarlac-33.6% (same), Marinduque-55.5%, Occ Mindoro-48.8%, Or Mindoro-51.7%, Palawan-35.9%, Quezon-40.7%, Romblon 66.5%, Albay-47.8%, Camarines Norte-57.3%, Camarines Sur- 48.7%, Catanduanes-53.2%, Masbate-70.9%, Sorsogon-51.4%, Aklan-42.9%, Antique-45.9%, Capiz-57.4%, Iloilo-37.1%, Occ Negros-50.2%, Bohol 53.6%, Or Negros- 36.4%, Eastern Samar-57.1%, Leyte-41.9%, Northern Samar-50.4%, Western Samar-48%, Southern Leyte-37.7%, Biliran-45.1%, Zambo Norte-51.9%, Zambo Sur- 43.3%, Bukidnon-39.6%, Camiguin-56%, Misamis Occ-49%, Davao del Norte- 45.9%, Davao Oriental-41.5%, South Cotabato-41.8%, Saranggani-51.5%, Lanao del Norte-55.5%, North Cotabato-51.5%, Sultan Kudarat- 61.4%, Abra-58.6%, Ifugao-64%, Kalinga-45.1%, Mt. Prov-57.6%, Apayao-33.8%, Lanao Sur-61.9%, Maguindanao-61.3%, Sulu-67.7%, Tawi-tawi-60.2%, Agusan Norte-45.3%, Agusan Sur-58%, Surigao Norte-50.8% and Surigao Sur-45.7%.

  13. estancabigas
    July 19, 2012 @ 9:50

    okay, thanx for the info.

  14. Dan Fua
    July 20, 2012 @ 13:06

    Mac – I am so glad that you straighten up this tactless and insensitive guy. All Siquijodnons should not tolerate insults and put downs about our place especially when there are no basis for it. We would be doing a disservice to our fathers and forefathers and all the hard-working Siquijodnons that worked so hard to make our town and province a better place. I am not surprised that this guy ha not apologized. He thinks of himself as above everybody.

  15. estancabigas
    July 20, 2012 @ 14:33

    Hello Mr. Dan, I know where you’re coming from. Being first cousins with the Lazi mayor and Siquijor’s governor, plus being a nephew of the Congressman makes you think that you are just entitled to everything.

    If you haven’t checked the stream of comments, I’ve been thanking Mr. Mac for the information he has given.
    I am not above everybody. I’m a travel blogger and I have been featuring lesser known places so tourists can visit. I did my job and if you haven’t noticed from the text above, I’ve crossed those words that offend your ears out. I even pitched to the magazine editor to feature Lazi’s beautiful structure.
    I love your province and the people that I have met while I was there. And I will visit it again and again to write more of the place.

  16. Jasfer
    July 20, 2012 @ 15:17

    Siguro its just a simple honest mistakes in wordings pero all we know Estan had already erased it, i think it was not actually an insults to the pipols of Siquijor IF it was’nt true…Siquidjonon’s kasi i know is very respectful than our brothers in Mindanao is…Very nice views of Siquijor!….i love the photo’s!

  17. » I was awestruck with Lazi’s kumbento & church | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    July 20, 2012 @ 15:18

    […] kilometers of circumferential road, an hour by fastcraft off the shores of Dumaguete City. In the municipality of Lazi, under the shade of century old acacia trees lining the road are two heritage structures that make […]

  18. estancabigas
    July 20, 2012 @ 15:26

    thanx jas.

  19. Ka Bino Guerrero
    July 20, 2012 @ 16:45

    I found nothing wrong with being Poor.. And if you Read the Context, its not demeaning.

    its a kin to saying “Pobre toud ambongan mas sad”

    let us not just take a word, but the context

  20. daley
    July 20, 2012 @ 19:38

    I don’t see anything wrong with what you wrote. It is a reality that Siquijor is a poor province and politicians should learn to accept the reality. I don’t see it as demeaning to Siquijor. Rather than reacting negatively from what you posted, Siquijor politicians should instead answer the questions posed by Ms. Mangahas in her ID (Investigative Diary?) program where she exposed the province’s appalling poverty under the political dynasty presently ruling the province while their family is reaping the perks for being in the position. Lest I would be accused as nitpicking, let me say that, yes, Siquijor is rich — in natural resources and its people but it is just being sucked dry by leeches called politicians.

  21. estancabigas
    July 20, 2012 @ 19:38

    my point actually is, lets read the whole article before passing judgement.

  22. estancabigas
    July 20, 2012 @ 19:52

    thanx bai.

  23. Joana
    July 20, 2012 @ 20:17

    Siguro as a travel blogger wala ka naman siguro right na sabihin at mag describe ng kahit na anong masama unless sure ka.Di ba Multi-awarded ka?saan banda? wala ka ngang respeto sa sinusulat mo and as a writer.Next time THINK first before you post any article..dapat dinescribe mo na lang photos na nilagay mo at anong klaseng journalism ginawa mo?

  24. etc
    July 20, 2012 @ 21:24

    Poverty Incidence of Siquijor over a 3 year interval:

    2003:45.5%

    2006:25.8%

    2009:32.8%

    The annual per capita poverty threshold
    or the amount required to satisfy food and non-food basic needs It is the
    amount the family should have as a monthly income to meet their food and
    non-food basic needs.

    2000:P8,966.00

    2001:P9,329.00

    2002:P9,637.00

    2003: P9,770.00

    2004:P10,616.00

    2005:P12,016.00

    2006:P11,226.00

    2007:P11,663.00
    Statistics will tell us, that despite the figures, Siquijor being not included in the poorest provinces in the country, the figures tell us that the people still lives with a meager income as compared to other provinces.
    Over a ten year period the percent of poverty incidence of the province of Siquijor is fluctuating. Considering the latest report (2009) at 32.8% is still near the borderline of being included in the poorest province ranking.
    BUT WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FIGURES IS THE ACTUAL SITUATION OF THE PEOPLE. THE NUMBERS CAN NOT JUST INDICATE THE REALITY OF THE ECONOMIC PLIGHT OF THE PEOPLE.
    Lastly, the word “POOR” should not be taken literally as written the article above as this is just a description of the place. If the article is written for statistical information, the word POOR should be equated with figures to substantiate the claim of being as such.
    Hence, the word POOR should not be the BONE OF CONTENTION as the author was only describing the place in layman’s term.
    TO FOCUS ON SEMANTICS MISSES THE WHOLE POINT OF THIS ARTICLE WHICH IS GENERALLY POSITIVE.

  25. etc
    July 20, 2012 @ 21:34

    I don’t think the description is negative as it was used to describe the place in layman’s term. And besides, everybody is entitled to their own opinion. If the author said that Siquijor is a province which has a poverty incidence of 32.8% in the year 2009, what does it mean? Will the reader understand its significance? NO.

    Would you understand also? As a writer, it is their responsibility to make it sure that the reader will understand what is being written about. So don’t take the word POOR negatively as the WHOLE article does not delve on it.

    ANALYZE the entire article. Otherwise, YOU HAVE POOR COMPREHENSION OF THE ARTICLE

  26. etc
    July 20, 2012 @ 21:45

    I had been to Siquijor, and the first thing that came to my mind is that “This is a poor place” used to describe how it is. I don’t have to describe in details how they lack the transportation (HOURLY SCHEDULE), the commercial establishments , the infrastructure and etc. that would take up so much of time. Instead, to spare me from saying a lot of words, the first word that came up to my mind is “POOR” and that would best describe them all.

    And I was not being insensitive or arrogant. I was just trying to find the BEST SIMPLE WORD TO SUM UP THE THINGS THAT I SAW.

  27. etc
    July 20, 2012 @ 21:54

    AGREE with you that the people are very hospitable. I remember when I was having vacation, I was traipsing the beach and found a family gathering sea urchins. I know the fact that sea urchins taste good (and to mention, its aphrodisiac qualities…hehehehe) I asked them that I will buy some. Instead, they gave it to me for free plus a “BAHAW,” a cold cooked rice. Then the following morning, I saw them again transferring their catch from the boat to the basket. I asked to buy a few so I can grill it for breakfast. Instead, they invited me to their home and I joined them for the meal. The house was a “POOR” house but the people are “RICH.” You know what I mean. THE PEOPLE IN SIQUIJOR ARE VERY KIND AND HOSPITABLE.

  28. estancabigas
    July 20, 2012 @ 22:02

    Joana, you write and describe places based on your experiences, observations and other things. have you gone around the country? Wala akong respeto? in what aspect?

    again, you miss the whole point of the article. all you do is nitpick.

    Also, there’s a saying, “a photo speaks a thousand words.” so why should i describe it instead?

  29. thedabawenya
    July 20, 2012 @ 23:04

    mas insulto pa ata sa mga taga siquijor ang TRAPO na matagal ng nakaupo pero di naman umaasenso ang bayan nila. that, mr. fua, is a greater disservice to your forefathers!

  30. pink
    July 23, 2012 @ 21:08

    well said 🙂

  31. truthski^
    July 29, 2012 @ 9:27

    Di mo talaga ma get yung sinabi ni Estan? hindi naman arrogant and insensitive nagsasabi lang kung ano yung nakikita nya.. kahit magpunta pa dyan sina Jessica Soho at iba pang mga tao sa tv.. nako naman ang simply simply lang.. buti nga yan lang nilagay nya e sa tagal ko sa Siquijor marami akong alam na hindi ni lagay ng blogger at take note ha… kapag sinabing siquijor naku naman.. iba ang nasa isip ng mga tao dito at talagang tama sila sa isip nila kasi nga tagal ko dyan at marami akong nga experience dyan.. lalo na sa holy week… beach lang naman ang maganda dyaan.. may kunti pa nga akong natotonan na black magic dyaan..

  32. Ponciano Ligutom
    August 4, 2012 @ 9:48

    …i would like to believe that the word poor is relative unless we agree on a technical definition that may help us find a common ground for our discussion(discourse/debate). even the statistics could be misleading coz these are expressed in aggregate terms and that some economic measurements are taken as if everybody is similarly situated while we are not. While we may be considered as a third world country , a handful of Filipinos are filthy rich.For example, income is derived from per capita equation and yet misleading coz we live in an “inverted pyramid in terms of population vis-a-vis resources”. a measurement like per capita income is done by dividing the gnp with the population(averare?).in truth, many have less while only few have more in life. what am saying is i agree that the word poor is debatable and could be justified while the meaning can be hidden in jargon beyond the comprehension of common tao, but as a lazihanon, am pained by the description that lazi is a poor municipality! i maybe poor and in fact i am but let me tell you about it rather than you telling all and sundry that i am. maybe we can just state the statistics/figures and not highlight on the descriptive side. in essence, am just requesting people who may write about siquijor to be more sensitive to the sensitivities of a probinsyano like me. while leadership counts to a great extent in socio-economic development of a community, we cannot also discount the role that the constituents should play. people have to be empowered with or by others but at the end of the day it should be by themselves. if we are interested, then lets do little things within our control and domain to contribute to the development of our town,beloved town of lazi. it is said that the real test of the pudding is in the eating and walking the talking is better that “blahbalahblah” without “bangbangbang”! am saying better coz educating our kababayan through this medium is a already a great contribution in itself(but pila ra man intawon ang may access sa internet or ict facilities?)! mabuhay ang lazi … mabuhay ang lazihanon!

  33. » 2012 Travels & achievements, Part 2 of 3 | Langyaw: Sojourns and Off-the-Beaten Path Travels
    January 1, 2013 @ 12:09

    […] 80 Philippine provinces when I got an assignment to photograph and write about the Lazi kumbento in Siquijor for a national architecture magazine. It’s really an interesting place to be and exploring the […]

  34. Bic
    May 6, 2013 @ 2:08

    Hi Estan. Your Buhisan Lodge recommendation was very helpful. Mind you, they took me in 🙂 (Kasi sabi they only take mga ahente). I loved it there, kasi pwede akong maglaba 🙂 I can see you took a photo of an old house. I took that same photo, too (course, yours is way better) to feature in my own travel writing project. Pumunta din ako doon sa likod, sa “aljibe”. Quiet and eerie, and all in the middle of the day.

  35. estancabigas
    May 6, 2013 @ 9:16

    Haha, you always get that feeling in Siquijor Bic. Robably its just all in the gead. The place is great! Good thing that they took u in too. Laki nga lang ng lamok.

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