First night in Dumaguete, The Philippines

Okay, so I seem to be a bit behind in posting.  Just remember that I am on Filipino time, so why do today what I can put off til tomorrow?  Bahala na!

Small city but VERY confusing for a noob.

Dumaguete, or the Land of the Gentle People, is a small city on the south eastern coast of Negros Oriental.  The name of the city derives from the word “dagit” which means “to snatch.”  The Muslim Moro from Mindanao used to have a jolly old time raiding their northern neighbor and making off with their daughters and other sundry plunder.  There is a actually an old watchtower near the water that was used to keep an eye out for these rascally raiders.  Nowadays it is used as a waypoint marker for clueless Kano’s like myself to help navigate around the squirrelly city.

Keeping an eye out for Moro pirates!
I arrived at Sibulan airport around 3 PM on a Tuesday.  I was picked up by the owner of the apartment where I was staying and whisked off to his premises in the barangay (district) of Canduay (Can-dow-aye).  Eager to see the city that I had viewed so long on YouTube, I dropped my bags and went out to the street where I got a ride into town on a local tricycle.  These modes of conveyance are ubiquitous all over the Philippines.   The cost was 10 pesos (22 cents) and  I was the only one on the trike, so it was a pleasant ride.

I was usually the guy sitting on the fender.

I was dropped off at the tricycle “depot” which is right next to the bustling public market.  Nearly every town in the Philippines has a market which pretty much serves as the “heart” of the town.

 It had just gotten dark, and I was instantly struck by the heat (it was durn humid), dust, noise, and the mass of humanity that was pressing all around me.  The city is supposed to have a population of 120,000, and I picked a bad night to come out as every single one of them were crowding around me shopping, selling, or making their way to the local videoake parlor.  It also seemed as if Dumaguete was on fire, but I later found out all the smoke was from the piles of burning trash that Filipino’s put out just about every day.  Being a total noob, I had no idea where I was going or – more importantly – where I was.  The streets were filled with tricylcles and the most motorcycles/scooters (they call them underbones) that I had ever seen.

My first ten minutes were spent mopping the sweat from my brow and making half-hearted attempts to cross the street.  Not wanting to get squashed under a trike (pedestrians don’t really have right of way), I finally mixed in with a group of locals and crossed with them.  This cowardly street crossing approach became my policy for the next week until I was finally able to learn how to cross the street by myself.

I picked up a Fuji apple from a local stand (12 cents) and munched away on it as I regarded this alien city.  I got to admit, it was a bit intimidating.  Again, the heat and humidity was overpowering and I was quickly sweating through to my shirt.  I only spent a short period of time wandering around the central section of the downtown area. Even though Dumaguete has a very large ex-pat population, I still receives a lot of stares nearly everywhere I went.   Being from Boston, where people generally don’t make eye contact, this was all a bit disconcerting.  Truth be told, it was actually kind of freaking me out until I finally noticed that most of them smiled when our gazes met.   And the ones who are giving me a flat stare smiled as soon as I flexed my underutilized smiling muscles.

Being completely oblivious to the nature of things in the city, I decided to have dinner at the local Chow King.  I ordered some sort of noodle concoction and it turned out to be a meal even worse than the one I had at the Wok and Roll in New York City.  Absolutely horrible and needless to say I have not been back since to sample any additional examples of its culinary delights. Mind you, Chow King is a fast food franchise so I shouldn’t have expected too much.

Having sated my need for MSG and saturated fats once again, I returned to the streets, asked for directions back to the tricycle depot, and caught a ride back to my apartment, where I immediately turned on the aircon and slept off some more jet lag.


  1. Yeah, my first meal in Cebu in 2010 after getting off the aircraft was at Chow King.
    It was virtually 2 minute noodles and some of them were still crunchy.
    Yuck, never been back and I never eat them at home.
    If I want to eat Chinese I go to a proper restaurant and pay twice as much; which still is not much; and know I will enjoy the meal.

  2. Hi!

    I’m a local of Dumaguete City and I don’t eat at ChowKing either. lol And regarding eye-staring? Well we folks here are used to staring then followed up by a smile. It’s a non verbal way of saying “Hi, how do you do?”. You can actually just smile back to say “I’m fine, thank you!”.

    Mary Anne

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