Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Negros Oriental: Strolling down Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete

I finally stepped foot in the City of Gentle People. It was said that Dr. Jose P. Rizal himself created this nickname for Dumaguete City during his brief stopover in the town on August 1, 1896 en route to Dapitan. I arrived in Dumaguete at 4 p.m. after a quick trip via fast craft from Siquijor. Right by the port were the famous buildings of Silliman University. After taking a few photos, my SSEAYP batchmate Tere Sicat arrived at the port and took me around town. We first went to the neighbring town of Bacong where another national cultural treasure could be found, the San Agustin Church.

It was about thirty minutes south of Dumaguete. On the way to Bacong, we passed by the Dumaguete belltower and several Gabldon schoolbuildings to take photos. When we got there, the first thing I noticed was the charming presidencia in front of a wide lawn, typical of many Negros towns and cities.

It was quite a while before we got in the church since we had to look for the key. But when we entered, I thought it was not that much impressive for a national cultural treasure. It had an old pipe organ and well-preserved retablos but that was it. I wonder how this church got chosen for the list of 26 but nevertheless, that was fine with me. But just to clarify, there are more than 26 national cultural treasures. Others got declared during the time of Marcos.

After Bacong, we went back to Dumaguete to stroll down the "boulevard" along the sea. You've never been to Dumaguete if you haven't strolled down the promenade beside Rizal Boulevard. It was a great view since to your left, you could see the island of Cebu, while Siquijor was to your right. It just shows how close the islands of the Visayas are to each other. It's funny though how sand along the Negros coastline was mostly gray when it's neighbors had a lot of white sand.

I really liked the lamp posts. It was good that they were able to preserve them. Along the road, you could see nice pre-war homes and even a hotel that was restored to its original grandeur.

Another must do in Dumagute is a visit to the tempurahan at the end of the boulevard. Again, it's another you-haven't-been-to- Dumaguete kind of thing which one should include in a trip.

It may be called tempura because it is shaped like the Japanese fried shrimp dish. But it tasted more like kikiam to me. You had neatly arranged carts, seats and tables lined up in clean rows and columns. Each was sold for PHP3 a piece. They also had squidballs as well as balut and penoy for sale. I really look for these places everytime I travel thanks to my friends in Singapore and Malaysia who went out of their way to let me have a taste of the best hawker food when I was there.

They told me that when they came to the Philippines, they also wanted to eat hawker food which didn't get a good response from me obviously since I didn't want to bring any of my guests to the hospital. Haha! At the moment, the only safe place for hawker food I know in Manila is UP Diliman. For some reason, I feel it's safer eating hawker food in the provinces. After that tasty snack, it was off to Teresa's house for dinner.

They prepared a lot of food. Really great! We didn't have much time to chat since I was after the last bus to Bacolod which left at 7:30 p.m. It was midnight again when I arrived in my dad's hometown.
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