HOW long has Dumaguete been in my bucket list? Quite a while I guess, but like they say, good things come to those who wait.
It took a while since an airline offered a direct flight from Durian City to the City of Gentle People. So when Cebu Pacific opened the route, I immediately booked a flight and crossed my fingers that nothing comes up that may cancel the trip.
Long before the departure date, I asked around what to expect of the place and what to do for four days and four nights. The place is small therefore touring the sites can be done in a couple of hours, go on a weekend, check out this place, eat at these diners, try these specialties, walk the boulevard, spend a night at this beach, go diving, trekking, etc., came the comments and suggestions.
Apparently, travelers make Dumaguete as base or a transit stop to get to other destinations in its vicinity. With its easy to reach shorelines, caves, waterfalls, and nearby islands, “Dumaguete is all about nature tripping and exploring,” said a friend.
Most often, I travel solo to a new destination, but when a couple of Dumaguete-curious good friends decided to join me on the trip, I said, why not? It’s good to share the excitement (and the hotel accommodation cost ?) in exploring the place.
Finally, three friends made it to the Negros Oriental city for the first time, and quite conveniently at that. Minus the hassle of connecting flights that can eat up a day off travel plans, we arrived in Dumaguete at midday with less than an hour plane ride from hometown Davao.
The ride from Sibulan Airport to the hotel along Rizal Boulevard took a few minutes. We dropped our bags and started our exploration.
Rizal Boulevard was shorter than I expected, but it’s one of the busiest in the city. From the break of day to late in the night, it’s a choice spot for the health conscious, locals who want to chill at day’s end and tourists who wants to catch the sun rising across the Philippine Sea. Beckoning across the breakwater and calm waters was the island of Siquijor.
Next to Residencia Al Mar, the first hotel we stayed in, was the Siliman University, the first American University in Asia. Student volunteers will take you to a walking tour around the campus, show the points of interests, share the history and if you like, the ghost stories as well.
We moved to Bethel Guest House the next day. The top floor room provided a panoramic view of the boulevard and the sea from a higher point of view.
A block away is the Quezon Park and right across it are the Dumaguete Cathedral, aka the St. Catherine of Alexandria Church, the oldest stone Church in Negros; and the Camapario de Dumaguete, the oldest belfry in Visayas.
On the next street is the public market where we had the famous Tanjay budud with sikwate for breakfast, and across the bridge is the Chinese Bell Church.
It’s true what they say about Dumaguete, the people are indeed warm and gentle, visitors can tour the city center in a day, and the rest of the sites are short drives away.
We, however, stayed within the boundaries of the city (except when we went to Bacong Church which was a 10-minute tricycle ride away) and took our sweet time in visiting the city sites in between meals for four days. After all we were in Dumaguete for a single purpose—to eat. I’m sharing the food journey in the next stories.
Cebu Pacific flies direct from Davao to Dumaguete three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on September 16, 2017.
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