May 11, 2017

Siquijor and its Legend

Among Siquijor's better known clients is said to be Imelda Marcos, the former first lady and widow of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

During the 1970s, San Juanico bridge was still under construction. It was a big news during that time due to its span: stretching from Samar to Leyte. San Juanico had been a pet project of Ferdinand Marcos, thus it was not surprising to have his wife, Imelda Marcos, monitor the construction once in a while.

Now, it is said that water spirits or "mermaids" were guarding the area. The story goes that one of them got angry at the undergoing project. Some say that if was because the mermaids saw the local politicians sacrificing innocent children as a form of ritual since it was prophesied that the bridge would never be durable unless the blood of  young children would be spilled on its foundation.

A more popular theory was that the mermaid was injured during the construction work. In both versions, the water spirit immediately cursed the First Lady with a spell that grew scales around her legs and made her smell like dead fish.

Since she was brought up in the province, Imelda's belief in the supernatural was strong and realized that no modern medication could heal her legs. During this time, a Siquijor healer called Boscia Bulongon is gaining reputation for her sorcery and healing powers. At the request of the Imelda, Boscia paid a visit to the presidential palace in Manila via a helicopter that was specially sent to fetch her.

Boscia then confirmed that the First Lady was truly cursed. Being more powerful, she successfully healed Imelda's legs and was paid a huge sum for her services. Afterwards, she was said to have stayed in the Palace as Imelda's immediate confidante and returned to Siquijor after the Marcoses fled the country in 1986.

However, Bulongon became a miser, and refused to share any of her rumored wealth. It went as far even refusing to pay for public transport knowing the drivers were afraid of her capability. In the end, her greed became her downfall and was murdered by her own grandson. Locals say he used a piece of wood to kill her because the woman was invulnerable to bullets and other weapons made of metal.

Now Siquijor is primarily a tourist destination and the locals seemed to have owned up to their reputation in general and even made local festivals in regards to the magical stories known about their island. Boscia may be a local legend, a historical fact or both, but there are still a lot of witch-doctors in the area. Belief in the supernatural is still strong in the island and being Filipinos, it might stay the same way for decades to come.

Now all of these might sound like a usual urban legend. However, it turns out that Boscia was a real person and I personally heard first-hand stories of other people's interactions with her many years ago. I'd share them here but I must ask for their permission.


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