21 May 2011. Dumaguete, Negros Oriental.
Dumaguete, admittedly, does not immediately come to mind when I am being attacked by my wanderlust. What thus brought me to this very slow town was a wedding, and I was not even a primary guest. I was, literally, dragged along by my cousin as she was allowed to bring a guest. I should be thanking the high heavens because I did not spend much on my tour of Negros Oriental, but the downside of it all was being with a large group. There was no solitary time. There was no opportunity to inhale the gentleness of the city because everything was rushed. The newly-married couple wanted to maximize the three-day-two-night, some four-day-three-night, booking of their guests. I ended up tired every day in a city that boasts of a relaxed atmosphere.
Before the travel bug bit hard on the 14th of February 2009, my travels have always been characterized by private vehicles, hotels, and tours. Before I arrived at the place, everything has been arranged and all I had to do was follow the itinerary set for me. It was on that fateful day of 2009 when I learned that traveling was much more fun when I did everything on my own – booking, itinerary. I have experienced, first-hand, that the journey is as important as the destination. I did the Ilocos Region on June 2010. I did Singapore with my law school friend on August 2010. On that same year, in September, I did China with my cousin and her law school friends. I noticed that the travels I so enjoyed were those with do-it-yourself itineraries, coupled with leisure walks and immersion. The only giveaway that I was a tourist was the non-stop clicking of my camera.
Solo travel is tempting; but it has not enticed me that deeply yet for me to pack my bags and just go. The incident in Dumaguete, however, might have just triggered the intensity of solo travel. I am not saying that I did not enjoy my Dumaguete escapade with the group; do not get me wrong. Negros Oriental is a beautiful place to visit, whether you intend to go solo or with a large group. Maybe it was just the company I kept; or maybe, it was just me wanting to be all by myself.
Anyway, Dumaguete is located in Negros Oriental. I was totally surprised at how the place was so provincial despite it being a city. Having come from Manila, it was a bit of a culture shock to discover that in Dumaguete, everything, and I mean everything, is taken in stride. I arrived in Dumaguete on the morning of the 21st of May 2011 on board Philippine Airlines (PAL). Since the wedding was still at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I thought I’d explore the place after dropping my luggage at Silliman Alumni Hall where I and the rest of my group were billeted. It’s a dorm, and I shared room with three more guests, which included my cousin. Each room has its own bathroom, with cold and hot shower. For Php900.00/night, good for four heads, the rates were reasonably low given the decency of our quarters. It was too hot for an exploration so I just decided to have lunch at an air conditioned fastfood, Scooby’s, located a few meters from the dorm. The group I was with wanted to shop, so I left them at a boutique and snoozed the rest of the day until it was time to prepare for the wedding.
The wedding took place at the Bravo Golf Course in Sibulan, Negros Oriental, just outside the city of Dumaguete. It was a garden wedding, and had it not been scorching hot, the ceremony would have been perfect.
Images from the wedding:
The little time I had exploring the city only confirmed my earlier impression of it – unhurried pace. Tricycle rides are the main form of transportation in Dumaguete, with a standard fare of Php8.00. Nearby towns are likewise accessible by tricycle. About the only attractions I found in the city were Silliman University, the Cathedral, and Rizal Avenue.
Silliman University, according to its site, was the resolve of one man, Dr. Horace B. Silliman, to help shape up Philippine education. Three areas were considered by the Philippine mission headed by Dr. David Sutherland Hibbard and his wife, Laura: Cebu, Zamboanga, and Iloilo. While in Cebu, someone suggested that a side trip to Dumaguete be made. Dr. Hibbard, sailing from Cebu on a Saturday night, came out early on deck the next morning and was able to experience the “unsurpassed drama of a Dumaguete morning from the sea.” As an aside, this was one drama I never experienced because I was too tired to wake up so early in the morning to catch the sunrise. Silliman University was established on 28 August 1901.
Images of Silliman University:
It was by sheer chance that I was able to see Dumaguete’s Cathedral, otherwise known as Saint Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral. It was Sunday evening, a few hours after the group had its Dolphin and White Sand Bar Tour. My cousin and I asked the guard where the nearest church was; and I soon learned that in Dumaguete, you have to specify which religion you belong to. Dumaguete, it seems, is a melting pot of various religions, what with the establishment of Silliman University and St. Paul University in the city. The Cathedral is located just a few meters from the dorm, and if not in a hurry, one could walk all the way to the Cathedral. Adjacent to the Cathedral is the Belfry. It really is a pity that I was not able to linger and admire the structure, or even take a picture of it and the adjacent attractions, because my cousin was rushing to join the group for dinner and drinks. Had I known that I would be bored to death with their company, I should have just stayed behind and enjoyed what really mattered.
Images of the Cathedral:
Rizal Avenue is the place to go to for the night life, the food trip, or the silent contemplation. Restaurants and bars line one side of the boulevard; the opposite side was developed into a park. It’s similar to Manila’s Baywalk, minus the stress. There’s no sunset view to boast of, but the locals are proud of its sunrise.
Images of Rizal Avenue:
When food tripping in Dumaguete, I suggest you try their chicken inató, somewhat similar to the chicken inasal, but the inató is tastier. I sampled the one being served at Jo’s Chicken Inató, located just beside Silliman University, along Silliman Avenue. Insider tip: have the inató for dinner because it’s cooked fresh. According to my source, the ones served during lunch are leftovers from last night’s. For your cakes and pastries, Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries is the place to go to. It is located at No. 3 San Jose Street. Hayahay is where the locals and tourists go to for their night life.