I really was looking forward to my visit to Dumaguete. After all: I’ve been watching all those videos about the place on YouTube during my preparations. So I kind of had the feeling I would know the place. How wrong assumptions can be? And how wrong are the impressions you might get from YouTube channels! Dumaguete is nothing I ever imagined. As a matter of fact, I dislike the place so much and there is so little to do that I wanted to leave Dumaguete City after 2 days already.
I stayed in the Manhattan Suites, which is a really nice place to stay. I got a room without a window and regretting that at first, I was happy with it after all, since there is so incredibly much noise, day and night in Dumaguete, not having a window made my stay a little bit more peaceful since no traffic noise was entering my hotel room. Neither did that funny WWII Air raid alarm that sounds every night around 9 o’clock. This is a curfew for everybody under the age of 16. They should be home by then. Doing this Dumaguete has gotten the status of ‘most child-friendly – city. Weird. It is a very conventional city. Shops mostly are closed on Sunday and after you have visited the cathedral and Belfry you have seen it all.
Centrop Botanical Garden
Going off the beaten path you might want to visit the Centrop Botanical Gardens and Zoo. The Center for Tropical Conservation Studies (CENTROP) is a research and community extension unit of the Biology Department of Silliman University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. The entrance sign says it is depending on funds.
Be in for a huge sad experience since the enclosures and animals are very depressing. The birds of Prey are is such small wire cages, with one stick to sit on, covered with their poop. And the monkeys……Who in his right state of mind would keep animals in cages like that and call it a research center?
St. Catherine of Alexandria
The Dumaguete Cathedral and Belfry are nice places to visit, but that is about it in Dumaguete. the 1754 build cathedral has been reconstructed in 1885 and 1936. Build for the people of Dumaguete to find solace and have a place to worship. It has a long history and is a landmark in the city. The Belfry next to it was used in the past to warn the people of Dumaguete for foreign ships about to attack the city.
In order to get away from the noise and the business of the city I traveled around a bit, just took the bus to some places like Bais and Manjuyod. Hopped in a tricycle to Valencia and visited Casaroro Falls. Walked the more than 300 steps down into the gorge, climbed over rocks, and crossed the river a few times in an attempt to get to the falls, but since it was raining and the river got too deep, I never made it to the actual falls. But I enjoyed the scenery, the huge bamboo, and ferns, almost like I was in Jurassic Park, expecting a dinosaur or 2 to come out of the jungle any moment.
The entrance fee is 10 pesos, make sure you are up for a lot of stairs, bring some water and food, for you cannot buy that there and just enjoy your nature trip. The tricycle ride was 600 pesos both ways, you have to walk a little uphill over the unpaved road since the tricycle couldn’t make it up there.
But believe me, all that exercise is worth it!
The best thing in Dumaguete with which the city distinguishes itself from other cities I have seen so far is the boardwalk or boulevard. Alongside the Bohol seaside is a long stretch of pavement that, especially in the evening is a nice place to go for a walk. Food stalls are set up around sunset and with the restaurants and bars across the busy street, it makes a nice place to socialize, hang out and wrap up your day. And of course, you will find the famous ‘I love Dumaguete’- sign there for your holiday selfies.
Do I love Dumaguete?
No, I do not. Like I said, I was really looking forward to paying this city a visit. Because of all the impressions, I got on several YouTube channels. But I found it an average Filipino city with lots of constant noise. I cannot believe that, when living in one of the most beautiful countries on earth, ex-pats choose to live in Dumaguete. They really sell themselves short by doing so.
The noise and air pollution are gigantic. The Robinsons Place is small, it is rather expensive compared to other cities like Puerto Galera of Iloilo, the town is dull and there are so many ex-pats that it is hard to find the real Filipino life in Dumaguete. For myself? I have seen better cities to live in than this smelly and noisy place.
I guess it works fine if you are looking for the company of fellow ex-pats and want to hold on to some of your ‘back-home-feelings’, but since it is not my intention to daily chat with the ‘old guys’ about ‘how good things are back home’, Dumaguete certainly is not my city.
Although it was fun to run into Reekay from “Life beyond the Sea”, who is Dumaguete’s world-famous YouTube Expat.
Dumaguete and I are no match, I do love the island of Negros. I have seen the most gorgeous beaches and beautiful landscapes here. And those who follow me on Facebook have enjoyed some of the pictures I took while traveling around. But I miss the magic of Dumaguete. And I’m glad to move on to the Island of Cebu. Looking forward to new horizons.
UPDATE November 2019: I have lived on several occasions in Dumaguete, and leaving it for the last time in January 2019, I still had a love/hate relationship with the city. It is a convenient city right in the heart of the Philippines. But traffic is insane, it is filthy with open sewers and no longer a city if this age. I think I could never live there knowing it would be my endpoint. Even passing through was awful.
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