Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dumaguete: My Home, My City

Dumaguete City, The City of Gentle People, is the capital city of Oriental Negros (as it is now currently called) is part of Central Visayas (Region VII). Unfortunately, this little “University Town” is sometimes being overlooked and has gone unnoticed to others who don’t know about Silliman University, the first American school in Asia, established in 1901 by Dr. David S. Hibbard and Mrs. Laura Hibbard by way of the Philanthropist Horace B. Silliman, which the school is named after.

Dumaguete was coined from the local term “daguit” which means “to steal” or “to snatch” because it was said that Moro pirates came to the shores of Dumaguit and snatched away young ladies. As a testament to this story, the Bell Tower (Kampanaryo or Belfry) is still standing today. It is said that the Kampanaryo’s bells would chime an alarm to alert the locals that the pirates where approaching.

Many claimed that Dumaguete City was named the “City of Gentle People” by none other than Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippine National Hero when he stayed for one night on his way to Dapitan City where he would spend his years of exile. Dumaguete has lived up to its reputation and is still known to be a hospitable city.

The charming city boasts about its Boulevard which is quite picturesque especially at nighttime with various restaurants and sidewalk vendors dotting the place. Naturally, Dr. Jose Rizal himself fell in love with the Boulevard which was later named Rizal Boulevard in his honor. Despite its being a city and the capital of Oriental Negros, Dumaguete is relatively peaceful and it is quite safe to walk the whole Boulevard at night and enjoy the scenery.

Because of its reputation as a “University Town,” quite a number of restaurants dot the place. Despite a steady influx of restaurant chains, the local restaurants are still the best places to see and be seen. Dumaguete has a little bit of everything for anyone. If you fancy reggae music, Reggae Wednesday at Hayahay is the place to be, featuring a popular local band Enchi. If sports are your thing, Barefoot and Gimmik are popular hang-out spots. If you want to grab authentic Mexican food, Coco Amigos offers a wide range of Mexican dishes that are delicious. If disco is your thing, El Camino Blanco and The Music Box are the top picks. If you’re a pizza and beer person, Nevas serves authentic stone-fireplace-baked pizzas that are affordable and melt-in-your-mouth tasty. For beers, college students and other locals flock to El Amigo and some stop by CafĂ© Memento which serves the best Barako coffee and Chimichanggas ever. There is also Habhaban, an out-of-the-way restaurant that serves the best "silog" dishes at affordable prices. Manang Siony’s Tocino is also a local favorite and serves affordable barbecued tocino that is unique to the city. If that isn’t your thing, you can simply enjoy tempura, fish balls, kikiam, and balut (duck’s egg) by the Boulevard while being serenaded by Manong who brings his guitar and sheet music and plays for only a few pesos.

During November, the Sandurot Festival is celebrated in honor of St. Catherine of Alexandria and Dumaguete’s charter day. With a month-long of activities that celebrate Dumaguete’s unique heritage and culture, the city is then alive with tourists and a few notable Filipino celebrities.

Getting around Dumaguete is easy. Simply rent a motorcycle for the day and off you go exploring the little known streets and corners and experiencing Dumaguete on your own. There is much to discover in Dumaguete starting from the Anthropology Museum in the newly restored Silliman Hall to the crocodiles at the Silliman University Marine Lab, a renowned research facility in Asia.

I have lived in Dumaguete City for 23 years and although it lacks the modern malls and the various restaurant chains, Dumaguete City has a unique charm all on its own and despite its laid back atmosphere; it is the only place I call home.

Explore the wonders of the Philippines in Walang Iwanan sa Bayan ni Juan, Experience Philippines and Tourism Pilipinas 2009.

Images credited to Metro Dumaguete
This article is my entry for Pamaskong Handog Contest
Posted in Paraiso Philippines