The Province of Siquijor beckons as summer simmers. If my travel notes were to speak about my journeys to this island-province, these would talk excessively about Mount Bandilaan.

My first visit to the island was on the occasion of the International Year of Mountains in 2002. From then on, the island has become my "other home."

I learned that Mount Bandilaan is the highest point of the Malabahog mountain range in Siquijor town rising at 557 feet above sea level. The walk here is always a breeze.

Mount Bandilaan gave me ample time to wander around instead of heading straight to the peak. In fact, my small pack of trekkers pitched tent first in a DENR-designated camping area and waited for the next day to launch a fun walk.

The intensity at how Mount Bandilaan had enthralled me is still vivid. As a self-proclaimed nemophile or one who adores forests, I would give all the credit to trees upon which healing and wellness being the island-province’s tourism brand has taken inspiration.

There is scientific evidence that trees help produce anions to purify the air. If we commit to plant at least a tree for each year we have come to live, we would have at least 50 trees in our lifetime despite the shorter average life span of people nowadays. 

Fifty trees are still a good number and forests, being lungs of the earth, support human efforts toward rejuvenation or renewal in many forms such as emotional healing from meltdowns of sorts.

Studies have mentioned further of elements in forests that comfort people. These include the beautiful scenery, clean air, the calming sound of wind and breeze, the gurgling streams and brooks, the chirping and birdcalling,  and the rest of natural sounds. 

While others were stretched out on the beachfront enjoying the gorgeous seascape and the music of the surf’s spews and sloshes, there I was in Bandilaan listening to the murmuring of the wind caught entangled among the trees. There is a beautiful word for that: psithurism (sith- err-iz-um). 

There are three crosses mounted at Mount Bandilaan Nature Park in the vicinity of a viewing deck. The cross on the center serves to remind pilgrims of the atonement of sin in Calvary.  One  cross reminds of Christ’s promise of paradise to a remorseful sinner while the other cross stands for man’s innate intransigence. 

Bandilaan Forest Reserve becomes a convergence zone to healers and pilgrims every Holy Week where a festival on traditional healing methods utilizing medicinal herbs and parts of trees established to have healing properties is highlighted.

“Pahiuli Festival 2024,” the brand for the healing festival distinct to the island, stands for “restoration.”

According to the Siquijor Provincial Tourism Office in its post,“it is an immersive journey of wellness and rejuvenation. As you navigate through the lush trails of Mount Bandilaan Nature Park, prepare to embark on a holistic experience designed to reconnect you with your inner self and the healing powers of nature. Discover hidden gems like herbal medicine workshops and mindfulness seminars. Engage with fellow festival-goers in interactive healing circles and communal gatherings, fostering connections and shared experiences." 

The Province of Siquijor beckons as summer simmers, along with the need to restore health and certain relationships.