Falling in Love with the City of Gentle People Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental, Philippines

9:38:00 AM Pinoy Boy Journals 16 Comments

ALL-TIME FAVORITE POST FROM 2011 RE-BLOGGED: Dumaguete, the capital of Negros Oriental is a beautiful city to travel to. It's one of the most scenic provinces i have been to in Visayas and one of the most relaxing, too. I would often recall passing by the streets and admiring how simple life is there. It's not as commercialized as Cebu, though it's not as quaint as Guimaras or Siquijor. It's just right. There are a lot of expats who consider dumag-we'te their home, and i couldn't agree with their decision more. I would want to live here ttoo, to be honest.

Apart from its rich history and culture, the most i can remember about Dumaguete are its people. I often walk around and observe the charming locals and their seemingly infinite smiles. Sometimes, i would just sit and look around. These images were already enough to make me smile.

Walking along Rizal boulevard anytime of the day, you would feel the intense passion and love overflowing. There's just too much love in the air and it's inspiring everyone. It will touch your core without even knowing it. It seems Roxas boulevard has some competition over there. If you read this blog, you know about my fascination for couples sitting by the bay and how i love to document couples whether it is in Manila or Phnom Penh. Them holding hands and expressing their devotion for one another. 

The people of Dumaguete are warm, accommodating and friendly. They are down to earth and respectful. They value the simplest things and they are open to sharing  their life even with non-locals. They don't see the facade but they get to know the real you, your heart and soul. They are good friends too. 

I don't know any better way to describe the city than to tell you the story of my driver/guide/friend. In my opinion, he surely symbolizes what the city is all about, and what it represents.

Alex is about the same age as mine - late 20's and has been working really, really hard everyday to earn for his family. He is a father of three adorable kids, one of which is sickly. His wife works for a resort/guest house as a waitress. Through the days that he's been there to drive me through the highs and lows of Negros, I've come to know an awesome man. I surely learned a lot of lessons from him, those of which i carry with me now as i write this. 

He loves to share his childhood story, of how he loves the ocean and how he and his friends would often set to the sea to fish. He free-dives a lot and at one time, he almost lost his life. He would often tell me to hit the beach whenever i feel unwell. For him, the ocean is the best remedy to any illness. As he grows older, he started seeking for greener pasture, taking odd jobs like bar tending in Sumilon Island, instructing foreigners to dive in Panglao Island and even working as a household help in Dumaguete. One thing i noticed about Alex is that he is proud of his accomplishments. He asked me what i do for a living, and of course i mentioned a career unfamiliar to his ears. Never did he feel inferior of his job. 

He saved up big bucks for his family. Living in Dumaguete, you don't need millions. Life in the gentle city is simple and cheap. Now, he's been able to provide comfortable living for his kids and a lovely wife. Early last year, he was able to buy his own tricycle. He would also talk about his usual customers, those Japanese living in Siquijor. They would often call up  Alex to drive them around town buying supplies to take home with them. On one of our talks over SMB in Rizal boulevard, he told me how proud he is of the province. He lives in a small town called Bacong. Everyday he would take turns with his wife in picking up their little one in school. He is proud to add that his greatest achievement is providing his kids with good education. It was about an hour before midnight when his daughter texted him asking him when is he coming home. His family is that close, and he would often bring home something to his daughter whenever he comes home late at night. That is the only time, little daughter can sleep.

He would often ask me about my life in Manila but i would often cut my answer short. I often tell him, life in Negros is simple and pleasant. Life in Manila is comfortable but busy. I told him how time always seems short in the bustling capital of the Philippines. One day, coming back from Valencia, he wanted me to meet his niece, a child of a Spanish mestizo and a local from Negros. Alex would often worry about his niece's safety. The girl is lovely and just like any other place in the world, she catches so much attention. He is proud of her and that she studies in a international school. 

Alex wanted me to see all the sights in Negros but time is running out. He initially wanted to take me far out of town but i needed to fly back to Manila. I had to give it to the guy for driving me all the way to the mountains and spur of the moment trips to little barangays and magnificent cliffs, and for being patient to stop every so often so i could mingle with the people and take decent photos. He always gives a shy face whenever i ask him how much he will charge me for the trip. Never did he put a price. 

Before i left Negros Oriental, we chatted for a bit outside the airport over a few bottles of SMB. It was such a good time to spend my last hours in the province. In all of the time that i get to chat at Alex, i could sense his sincerity and honesty. 

Looking back now, i come to realize how Alex symbolizes so much the province. He is a man of great dignity and respect. He values family, friendships and God. He is a man who lives for the present and future. Just like the province, he's cautious of the future too. His love for life and the simple things are admirable. He is vulnerable but knows his way around. He's equipped with the values that seems enviable; God-fearing, honest and gentle. And that i think is what makes him and the city so damn special.


Ang bait naman ni Alex, he reminds me of this person we met in Romblon who had welcomed us in his house, drove us around with his motorcycle and helped us get back to the town proper without expecting anything in return, (sana dumami pa sila :) )

gusto ko din pumunta dyan, and will definitely visit Siquijor as well...

nice blog you have... i'll add you on my blogroll... keep it up sir!

Chyng said...

I met 2 sets of tourists in Batad, French sisters and a German male. Both said what they loved most about Pinas is Pinoys arevery honest.

Katuwa naman. We're a gentle nation! ^_^

Ed said...

ah Dumaguete, this is already a great entry for our blog carnival's theme this month! :D

Naalala ko si ate cathy sa pagudpod, pinagluto nya kami ng dinner at libreng rice.. as in nagsaing sya ng libre.. marami padin naman sa panahon ngayon ang hindi humihingi ng kapalit sa mga tulong na naibibigay nila dahil may good karma ^_^

thats whay i love in visiting in new places, meeting new people, creating friendship. i think this is the highlight of the trip?

@lakwatsera de primera yes! i know. sometimes when i think about the beautiful and friendly people i met in Visayas, i often dream about finally calling their island my home. i am so in love with Visayas because the people there are absolutely nice. Romblon, i yet have to see that province. actually, last night i was already starting to read your entries of Romblon! i wanna go there soon? If you could provide additional tips, that would be awesome! thanks again!

@Pinoy AdvenTurista Thanks so much for your kind words. you have to go to Negros, it's highly recommended. If you love nature, you'll think it's paradise. That's very kind of you to add my blog on your list. will do the same. Thanks!

@Chyng i agree. i always believe in the kindness of men. Marami pa ring mababait na tao sa mundo! And it would surely melt my heart kung ako ang napagkuwentuhan ng observation ng mga foreign tourists about the Filipinos. Keep inspiring people, Chyng!

@Ed i know you love the city. Thanks! But i reserved already my post for the carnival, for Guimaras! Ano sayo? Been reading your entries on Siem Reap, very cool! Good job!

@Ang Babaeng Lakwatsera Katuwa naman si ate Cathy kaya minsan mapapaisip ka. kung lahat ng tao matututo sa mga katulad nilang walang hinhinging kapalit at pure kindness, ang saya siguro ng mundo! Thanks for dropping by!

@journeyingjames Yes, ma-aamaze ka sa ganda ng lugar pero ang tumatatak talaga yung mga tao! The people are kind and gentle at ganun ang mga taong gusto ko sana maging kapitbahay soon. ha ha i would want to retire in laidback provinces! Nice trip sa Catanduanes ha, braving the rain and wind!

When you travel you really get something from the place like life lessons, realizations and/or experience of a lifetime and take it with you when you return home but at the same time you also leave a part of yourself behind in that place... I think that's the joy of travel, an enriching experience of a lifetime.

@Ian i couldn't agree with you more. i think the more i travel, the better i become as a human being. traveling has taught the most valuable lessons in life that i will only learn when i'm on the road. i think whenever i travel, i appreciate more the people i leave at home...my family. thanks Ian!

Gabz said...

Do you still have Alex's number? I might keep in touch with him when I need someone to tour me around Dumaguete. Such a great guy!

Hey Gabz! So sorry! Hope this reply could reach you soon before your trip to Dumaguete. By the way, Alex's number is 0905-9721358.