WITH 7,107 islands, the Philippines is home to multiple languages and diverse cultures. For example, there are the Ilocanos from the north who are known for their prudence, and the Warays from the south for their tenacity.
In the Visayan region, there is a city so laid back it is filled with warm-hearted and sweet-tempered people. This is none other than Dumaguete City, also dubbed the “Land of Gentle People.” As the capital of Negros Oriental, it also serves as home to the iconic Silliman University.
“Dumaguete is known to be a university town. Majority of the demographics are students, so that prices are fitted to them, which I could say is very affordable,” noted Mark Guer-rero, the resident manager of the city’s Sta. Monica Beach Club.
Moreover, the town is listed by the Department of Tourism (DOT) as one of the “Top 10 Destinations in the Philippines.” Dumaguete City—amidst its low-rise buildings and under-developed communities—prides itself in preserving local culture and heritage.
The city proper sights
Visiting the city in August, The Manila Times basked in the town’s atmosphere by exploring its famous sights.
“Everything is just 10 minutes away when you are in Dumaguete City,” noted Guerrero, who leads the operations of Sta. Monica Beach Club, which hosted The Manila Times in a familiarization tour. Located at Barangay Banilad, the local hotel is indeed 10 minutes away from the city proper.
Having experienced living in Dumaguete, Guerrero shares his thoughts on what makes the coastal town an exciting tourist destination. “Dumaguete city is known for its marine sanctuaries. This place is a diving heaven for adventure seeking people. The city is also a melting pot of a lot of cultures when it comes to the gastronomic side of tourism because there are a lot of local and foreign retirees,” the resident manager told The Manila Times.
For Dumaguete newbies, first site to visit is the famous Rizal Boulevard, named after the Philip-pines’ National Hero who walked the same road overlooking the sea. This place makes for a good sunset stroll where one can find street vendors selling “Tempura,” the name locals gave to the shrimp-flavored kikiam best paired with its sweet and spicy sauce.
Unique gastronomic delights can also be tasted in the city like the sinuglaw, fish ceviche and grilled pork, and the Pandan ice cream, among others.
Not too far from the boulevard is the Hibbard Ave. where the Silliman University is. It is the oldest American educational institution in the country that hones talented Filipino writers, theater performers and artists who continue to keep the local culture alive.
Besides the Silliman, Dumaguete is also home to other major learning institutions like St. Paul University, Negros Oriental State University, Don Bosco College, and Foundation University. With a growing student population, the city is fast becoming the “center for learning in the South.”
The Manila Times also learned that Dumaguete comes from the Visayan word daggit or dumaguet, which means “to snatch” or “to swoop.”
Among Negros Oriental’s 19 municipalities and six cities, Du-maguete has the smallest land area. “It is bounded on the north by the Municipality of Sibulan; on the south by the Municipality of Bacong; and on the west by the Municipality of Valencia,” as stated in the city’s information site.
As a coastal city, Dumaguete is grazed by Bohol Sea in the east, as well as the Tañon Strait that serves as border to the neighboring provinces of Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor.
Because of its proximity to these provinces, Dumaguete makes an interesting stopover for tourists looking to explore outdoor adventures and breathtaking nature.
“Dumaguete also attracts a considerable number of lo-cal and foreign tourists because of the easy ferry access from Ce-bu City. There are a number of beach resorts and dive sites near the city and it is also a jump-off point for those interested in dolphin and whale watching in nearby Bais Bay,” the DOT website suggests.
One of the sites nearest Du-maguete City is the Apo Island, located in the municipality of Dauin, and is a 30-minute boat ride from the village of Malatapay.
Island-hopping to Apo, The Manila Times discovered that every Wednesday, the villagers from different municipalities converge in what they call the “Malatapay Market.” There, various merchandises from live fish to cattle trading are sold for an interesting mix.
Other activities one can enjoy at the island are snorke-ling and picnics by the beach. Many locals are friendly and approachable, making first timers feel welcome. To complete the side trip, make sure to marvel at the various rock formations and the scenic view.
Local beach club
As the only resort near Dumaguete City proper, the Sta. Monica Beach Club captivates its local and foreign guests with its contemporary coastal design themes and modern Filipino aesthetics.
Taking from the local nipa hut, the 18 deluxe rooms and lofts makes a relaxing venue in the natural environment as backdrop.
“The beach club offers you the quickest escape from the city life but not going out of Dumaguete,” Guerrero prided.
Besides the white and cream-colored room accommodations, the resort also features and all-local menu that is special to Dumaguete’s cuisine. “Sta. Monica offers Filipino food so that tourists can enjoy the full experience of the province,” Guerrero said.
With the talents of Chef Syl Malenab, classic Dumaguete fa-vorites are prepared fresh in the resort’s Lanai Restaurant. Some of their specialties include the Lanai Seafood Medley that highlights the island’s fresh catch, the Crispy Kare Kare, Crispy Sinigang, Ba-goong Rice, not to mention the fresh lobster and prawns dishes that are juicy and tender to bite.
If you haven’t been to Du-maguete, be ready to fall in love with the city’s gracious people, picturesque landmarks, and adventurous activities.