The city that faces the sea
Dumaguete Travel Blog› entry 13 of 31 › view all entries
I had arrived at Dumaguete City two days ago with some relief. A cold had caught up with me on the trip, and I was sneezing all the way to town, while partly watching the passing scenery (mountain rainforest near Kanlaon; then coastal Dumaguete from Bais to the city, complete with mangroves). The change in province seemed obvious when I met whipsmart and fashionable Claire on the bus, who was on her way home to Dumaguete. She spoke perfect English most of the time, but could also speak Tagalog rather well. Just a reflection that Dumaguete City was dominated by Silliman University (founded 1901). She helped me find Harold's Mansion (which all the tricycle drivers knew too), and even paid for my fare! Quite a welcome.
At Harold's I faced with glee the prospect of having a little rest, watching cable TV finally, and using the free internet. I watched American Idol, CSI and the new French president being inaugurated live on TV5. In french, bien sur. Also CNN and BBC, hehe, just so I can catch the parts I couldn't understand.
Walking around Dumaguete City, I noticed that the city's distinguishing feature (apart from the university) was that most of the buildings -- hotels, restaurants and bars that were located near or on Rizal Boulevard, and even the church (!) -- faced seawards. On the boulevard itself many families, couples, friends and expats promenaded, jogged or just sat around. In the afternoon, the low tide at sea led the human tide to spillover into the exposed beach. Children would play on the sand, and some adults would wade into the water to catch shrimp. It was a very strange sight to see people just standing waist-deep in water far from shore. The whole area smelled of the sea. It was like smelling oysters at a restaurant, only magnified a hundredfold.
The city must be so welcoming, since I never saw so many foreign retirees around. They had "taken over" most of the Rizal Boulevard bars and restaurants, like the once popular Why Not, Claire had said, so nowadays most locals would go to Hayahay instead.