Dumaguete came from the Visayan word “Daguit” which means “to snatch” or “to capture”. According to ancient stories, Moro pirates would often snatch beautiful young women and children from the coastal town. But today, that is not anymore the case as tourists and guests are now the ones captured by the beauty of the city and of course the charm of the people. They don’t call it “The City of Gentle People” for nothing after all.
On our first day, we met with the charismatic Nicky Dumapit, an eco warrior and environmental artist. Nicky is born and raised in Dumaguete, he creates musical instruments out of recycled and indigenous materials.
“Parang flashback lang from my childhood, nakakamiss yung days na paggising mo maririnig mo yung huni ng mga ibon. Yung sound ng nature ay maganda and sad to say na hindi na ito tulad ng dati dahil mas urbanized na ngayon. Kaya gusto ko mashare yung sound na ito sa iba kahit man lang through my instruments.” Nicky explains as he shows us some of his work.
Despite the continuous urbanization, it is reassuring to have eco-friendly establishments like The Flying Fish Hostel that advocate the protection of Mother Nature and encourage a sustainable lifestyle to their guests.
We also loved how they kept the place surrounded in mango and bamboo trees to create a peaceful atmosphere.
Their in-house restaurant, Nom by Flying Fish, offers delicious vegan options and the meat dishes are always served with a hefty amount of fresh veggies.
We recommend trying the Jackfruit Adobo Burger Patty, Nasi Goreng Rice and the Chicken Satay.
Being a university town, we had to visit Silliman University, known to be one of the best and biggest universities in Asia.
We took a guided walking tour around the campus to learn more about it’s rich history, culture and appreciation for art.
For a true Sillimanian experience, try the famous Bossing’s Tempura dipped in the Level 5 sauce if you dare!
Just near the university are the historic St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, the oldest stone church in Negros and the Belfry Tower, one of the most significant landmarks in Dumaguete.
The tower was built back in the 1800s to warn the town from pirates that would come to pillage the town.
After an interesting afternoon in the city, we took a relaxing evening stroll at the Rizal Boulevard.
The place was bustling with tourists, locals, street vendors and food stalls. As if we didn’t have enough Tempura at the university, we ordered another round at the boulevard as we enjoyed the ocean breeze.
Being at the center of Negros Oriental, Dumaguete has one of the most convenient gateways to stunning spots in the Philippines like the Manjuyod Sandbar in Bais and Apo Island in Dauin.
The Manjuyod Sandbar is also dubbed as the “Maldives of the Philippines” with its breathtaking turquoise waters and iconic cottages on stilts.
We recommend checking the tide forecast before going here so you can experience lounging on its white sandbar.
Dolphin watching is a popular activity when going to Manjuyod and we were lucky to have calm waters on that day, so we got to see these spectacular creatures as they playfully danced across the sea.
A trip to Bais is not complete without stopping by at Nene’s Halo-Halo for a glass of their refreshing Halo-halo topped with your choice of Mango or Ube ice cream.
On the next day, we woke up early to go to the “Painitan” at the Dumaguete Public Market as recommended by Nicky.
We tried delicacies like the Budbud and Puto Maya served with their super yummy hot tsokolate that will surely make your morning.
At the south of Dumaguete we headed to Apo Island, a marine sanctuary and a popular site for diving and snorkeling.
Enjoy swimming with Sea Turtles and take a lot of amazing photos with these gentle creatures!
After a fun day at Apo Island, we stopped by Subida Souvenirs, and we got to see their craftsmen and artisans at work.
We honestly felt like little kids in Santa’s workshop as they let us play around with the old school toys they were making.
As we entered the souvenir shop, we were mesmerized by all the beautifully crafted items on display. From hand weaved backpacks and handmade jewelries to intricate miniature toys and souvenirs, everything was so nice! It’s impossible not to buy anything from their store.
We were also fortunate to witness the Sandurot Festival, a celebration of the town’s hospitality.
The parade of colorful costumes and the energy of the street dance performances were absolutely exciting!
On our last day, For the ultimate Ligiron experience, we drove to Liptong Woodland in Valencia, a mini forest that houses endangered native trees and owned by Rainforest Hero, Rene “Tatay Eti” Vendiola.
Ligiron, which means, “to roll” is a four-wheeled bamboo cart used by farmers to transport their produce to the market.
We also got to meet one of the early Ligiron makers in Valencia, Tatay Ronnie. He started riding the Ligiron when he was just 5 yrs. Old.
As we got ourselves on the Ligiron and prepared to go downhill, we were nervous with nothing but our feet as brakes. But when we let go of the fear and started gliding down the hill, we were hooked!
It was a truly exhilarating experience that both adults and kids will enjoy and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for this unique sport.
Before leaving Dumaguete, don’t forget to stop by at Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries where you can get the most heavenly desserts.
Buy a box of their famous Silvannas, a delectable golden cookie that’s crunchy on the outside and filled with soft buttercream goodness on the inside. This is hands down the best pasalubong!
We wish we could stay longer but we knew we were taking home that special feeling we found in Dumaguete. As Nicky would often say, “Lipay ang Kalibutan” which translates to “The world is happy” and we were happy.
Till we meet again Dumaguete!
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