In our first installment of this groundbreaking two-part series on why foreigners love Dumaguete, we looked at expatriate camaraderie, ideal city size, good food, pleasant weather and – most importantly – the people of Dumaguete City. Now, since we’re all here, let’s take a look at the ‘Final Five’ reasons why the City of Gentle of People really rocks.
(I do so miss Battlestar Galactica….)
6. Transportation Hub
Coming in at number six on our countdown is Dumaguete’s position as a convenient transportation hub to nearly anywhere in the Philippines (or world). Want to take your motorbike over to Cebu to see the whale sharks or go canyoneering at Kawasan Falls? Just hook an early morning ride to Sibulan port and zip over to Cebu on a Roll On/Roll Off ferry for only 320 pesos round trip. Looking to fly virtually anywhere in the Philippines? Our quaint little airport has that covered. Looking to spend a few days in Cebu City? The Dumaguete port offers daily ferries to the Queen City, and the Cokaliong that leaves at midnight affords you the opportunity to sleep through the trip in air-conditioned comfort. Cebu is also an international airline hub, and from there you can fly from Mactan International Airport to Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia or virtually anywhere else in the world.
7. Things to Do
Dumagete City is literally surrounded by places to go and things to do. Whether it be SCUBA diving or snorkeling with the turtles at world-class Apo Island, riding up to Kawaswan Falls on Cebu to bask in the aquamarine waterfalls (or go canyoneering!!), cavorting with whale sharks at Oslob or catching a ferry over to Siquijor to exorcised by witch doctors And let’s not forget about day trips to Twin Lakes to get your toes cleaned by semi-carnivorous lake fish, Casaroro Falls to get your cardio on, ATV tours into the southern hills or just simply spending a relaxing time snorkeling with baby barracuda at the Dauin Marine Sanctuary. And if that’s not enough – and with a nod to Dumaguete being a transportation nexus – the ferry system can get you to Bohol (zip lining!), Cebu (more zip lining) and Mindanao (massive zip lining!) within hours. And although Dumaguete doesn’t have much of a night life (it’s really just a sleepy college/family town), the city does have quite the decent music scene. This is something that I just recently discovered, and my two favorite bands here now are Vendetta (three very talented sisters) and Second Wind (former singer of the now defunct Freestyle).
Dumaguete is a college town, boasting over fifteen colleges and universities. Although this can make for VERY crowded conditions when school is in session, the end result is a very vibrant and educated population possessed of superb English skills. Many corporations – both local and international – recognize this and the city’s business process outsourcing centers have been expanding at a phenomenal rate (SPI, Qualfon, and the like). In fact, just last year Dumaguete became one of the world’s Top 100 locations for BPO’s and in 2016 employed over 9,000 employees. And this isn’t even taking into consideration the 1,000’s of locals employed as English tutors for mostly Korean and Japanese students. Education – and the young college population – makes for a diverse and energetic city, benefitting both native Dumagueteños and her foreigner population.
9. Rizal Boulevard
The vast majority of smaller cities (and bigger towns) in the Philippines all pretty much look the same. (If you’ve traveled around a bit here, you’ll know what I mean.) Dumaguete City, however, boasts a cool boulevard that gives the town a very distinct charm. Sunday nights in particular become quite the social scene, with students, families and 100’s (if not 1,000’s) of helpers strolling along the boulevard, enjoying the sunset and chowing down on tempura and balut at the rows of little tables and chairs along the northern end of the boulevard. Shaded by towering acacia trees, the eastern thoroughfare of the city really conveys just what makes Dumaguete what it is.
10. No Place Like Home/Easy Living
Whenever I am traveling – locally or abroad – I am always glad to come back to Dumaguete. For me, the city has become home. Returning on a ferry is the best example of this: Seeing the mountains of Negros (Cuernos de Negros/Horns of Negros) unfolding on the horizon and making the first sighting of buildings along Rizal Boulevard (Bethel Guesthouse is usually the first recognizable landmark) brings on a palpable sense of anticipation and appreciation. Beyond this, Dumaguete is simply a very easy city to live in, especially for folks (like myself) who are not experienced world travelers. I have always considered the Philippines to be ‘Asia-light” – a much less challenging place to live than ‘more hardcore’ Asian nations like Thailand, Japan, China and the like. And if the Philippines is Asia-Light, then Dumageute is Philippines-Light: The infrastructure, English skills, good food and shopping, surfeit of things to do and sizable foreign population makes Dumageute a lot easier to live in than some other equally sized cities in the Philippines that aren’t possessed of those same particular qualities.
So there it is – my Top Ten Reasons Why Foreigners Love Dumaguete. Now, I’m sure there are going to be some who are going to point out the negatives (dirty air, burning trash, summer heat, boulevard sewage stench and the like). That’s alright! Few places in the world are perfect, and in my time here think I’ve pretty much covered all of the imperfections in this Pilipino Paradise.
And although this is written for my website – and considering recent personal issues/need of tissues – I pretty much wrote this for myself.
Gotta stoke that Attitude of Gratitude!
And what better place to start than home?
Salamat po, loyal readers! See you next time.