Siquijor Island may be a tiny place, but it is rich in natural wonders as well as in structures of historical and architectural value. For one, it is home to the largest and oldest convent in Asia.
The Lazi Convent on the southern edge of Siquijor island is recognized as one of the historical landmarks of the Philippines due to its religious, historical, and architectural importance. Constructed in 1887 under the supervision of a member of the Augustinian Recollect clergy, Fray Toribio Sanchez, the convent was built using indigenous coral stones and local hardwood. It was completed in 1891 and known as the largest in the Asian region and the oldest in the Philippines.
The convent is a very spacious two-storey building, measuring 42 meters by 38 meters in an L-shape form with its façade facing the San Isidro Labrador (or St. Isidore Labradore) Church in the east. The lower part of the convent is made of square-cut coral stone masonry, while its upper part is made of wood. Its steep hipped roof is made of corrugated galvanized iron on timber framework.
Across the convent is the Baroque-style San Isidro Labrador Church, which was constructed in 1857. Its walls, approximately one meter thick, are reinforced with log posts that are embedded against it. The church’s pediments are made of wooden panels, while its façade is veneered with coral stone. Its wooden floors are designed in herringbone pattern.
The San Isidro Church is known for its two pulpits, hand-sculpted images of the Station of the Cross, and the lofty and intricate ceiling vaults.
Both the convent and the San Isidro Labrador Church are living evidence of Spanish settlement in the province. It was by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 260 dated August 1, 1973 as amended by Presidential Decree No. 375 dated January 14, 1974 and No. 1505 dated June 11, 1978 that Lazi Convent and San Isidro Labrador Church were declared national landmarks by the National Historical Institute.
Lazi, formerly known as Tigbawan, is one of the six municipalities of the province of Siquijor with a population of more than 20,000. It is 30 minutes away from the provincial capital.
Once in Lazi, you may also want to have a side trip to Cambugahay Falls, two kilometers north from the convent and church. It’s a multi-tiered falls of fresh warm waters coming from natural springs.
Aside from these sights in Lazi, you may also want to visit the island’s pristine white sand beaches, Mt. Bandilaan National Park, caves, and other natural wonders of Siquijor.
To go to Siquijor island itself, you may take a fast craft or boat from Dumaguete City, Cebu City, or Bohol. Or, if you prefer a guided tour around the island, you may contact your favorite travel agent or visit the local office of the Department of Tourism.
Map of Siquijor