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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrDumaguete City is the capital of Negros Oriental which is located in Negros Island in the Visayas region of the Philippines. Aside from being the largest city in Negros Oriental, it is also a principal seaport and a university town, hosting seven major universities and colleges including the popular Silliman University.
EtymologyThe name ‘Dumaguete’ originated from the Visayan word “daggit” or “to snatch”. It eventually became “dumaguet” or “to swoop” because of the constant attack by Muslim pirates and also because it was a magnet for visitors who visited and stayed for good. In 1572, Diego Lopez Povedano named it ‘Dananguet’ but it was later referred to as ‘Dumaguete’ in 1934 by Jesuit cartographer, Murillo Velarde.
Brief HistoryThe island of Negros was divided into two provinces in 1890, Occidental and Oriental. Dumaguete became a part of Negros Oriental in 1898. During the Philippine-American War in 1901, the Americans established a civil government in Negros Oriental. Japanese Imperial Forces occupied the city during World War II but it was liberated on April 26, 1945, by a combination of Filipino guerrillas and the US Army. Dumaguete officially became a city on June 15, 1948, by virtue of Republic Act No. 327. The Revised Charter of Dumaguete City or Republic Act No. 5707 was enacted on June 21, 1969.
GeographyDumaguete is a coastal city located on the southeastern coast of the island of Negros. On the east is the Bohol Sea and Tañon Strait which make up the city’s border to the islands of Bohol, Cebu, and Siquijor. Its boundaries are the town of Sibulan on the north, Bacong on the south, and Valencia on the east. The city has a flat terrain which gradually slopes up to Valencia, its adjoining town.
Popular AttractionsDumaguete is one of the top destinations for divers and nature-lovers with its diverse natural resources. Foreign tourists are attracted to the different beach resorts and dive sites. Book a day tour or organize your own with the friendly locals’ help. Some of the popular attractions within Dumaguete are:
Silliman UniversitySilliman University, founded in 1901, is the first Protestant school in the Philippines and the first American university in Asia. With a campus spanning a total land area of 62 hectares, Silliman’s green grounds is dotted with Acacia trees that provide an umbrella-like shade to those who want to sit and enjoy the breeze. There are four museums: Anthropology Museum, Marine Mammal Museum, Gonzales Museum of Natural History, and SU-ROTC Museum. Other prominent campus landmarks include the Silliman Hall, the university’s first building, and the oldest standing American building in the Philippines. Off-campus facilities include the Silliman University zoo, Silliman Beach, and Creative Writing Center in Camp Lookout Valencia.
St. Catherine of Alexandria CathedralThis Roman Catholic Church is the biggest church in the city and was built at the same time as the Dumaguete Belfry. The interior of the church is a wonderful display of old European architecture with its ornate altar, sparkling chandeliers, and high ceilings. Between the church and the belfry is a grotto where devotees light candles and pray to the Virgin Mary.
Rizal BoulevardThis 780-meter strip of seaside promenade is where locals and visitors converge to stroll, run, or simply sit on the grass and have a picnic with the family. Different bars and restaurants that are situated along this strip offer a variety of local and international cuisine. At night, street vendors sell street food at the farthest end of the boulevard, almost near the port. Along the strip is a monument that depicts the 'Landing of the Sisters of Saint Paul Chartres, France to the Philippines. It is located right where the sisters landed from Saigon in 1904.
Dumaguete BelfryThe Bell Tower was built in 1811 and is located beside the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral along Perdices Street. It is the oldest known belfry in Negros Oriental and was used to watch out for Muslims who invaded Dumaguete to search for slaves. Today, it sits as a reminder of those old times.
PeopleDumaguete is nicknamed as the ‘City of Gentle People’, not only because of its rich community of hospitable people, but also for its peaceful ambiance. One who lives in Dumaguete City is known as a ‘Dumagueteño’. The latest population per the 2010 census is 120,883 with the student population at more than 30,000 including students from the different provinces of Visayas and Mindanao.
Cebuano is the native dialect that is primarily spoken in the city although most residents are fluent in English and Filipino, the country’s official language.
This charming and quaint city is a rich showcase of Spanish culture which can be seen in its history, people, and landmarks. A tour of the neighboring towns and cities within the island will take you to verdant sugarcane fields that were first cultivated by Spanish settlers. Sugar centrals that were controlled by Spanish migrants have been taken over by different Filipino or Chinese entities. But influences of the old Spanish way of life remain.
TransportationThe city is easily accessible by plane from Manila and Cebu which lands at the Dumaguete/Sibulan Airport located in Sibulan, its adjoining town. The airport is about 3 kilometers from the city center.
There are a number of ferries and boats that dock at the port of Dumaguete to service passengers going to the islands of Bohol, Siquijor, and Mindanao Island. Cebu Island can easily be reached by an overnight boat trip or a 4-hour, direct, fast craft ride.
Upon arrival at the airport or port, there are motorized tricycles that are locally called 'pedicabs' waiting outside the terminal to take you to the city. It is best to haggle for the lowest price as tricycle drivers have the propensity to charge high fares. The usual fare is ₱10 ($0.22) per person without luggage if you ride together with other passengers. If you want to travel solo, the fare is between ₱80 ($1.76) to ₱100 ($2.20) depending on the number of persons and cargo load. The tricycle can accommodate 4 persons and 2 to 4 standard luggage.
There is an occasional taxi at the port or airport but it is usually hired for special trips outside Dumaguete. There are no taxis going around the city. It is highly recommended that you avail of the airport or port pick-up and drop-off service that hotels offer. Prior arrangements need to be made although they usually accommodate guests who walk up to their airport or port representatives.
If you want to go to Cebu, you can choose to ride the Ceres buses that cross from Negros Island to Cebu Island by a 30-minute ferry ride at the Sibulan or San Jose port. From the Cebu ferry port, it will be another 3 to 4 hour bus trip going to Cebu City.
Dumaguete is home to thousands of motorcycles that provide a cheap mode of transportation for many of its residents. Motorcycles are available for rent in different motorcycle rental shops throughout the city. This is one of the best ways of discovering the different nooks and crannies of the city.
You can also ride the pedicab that locals use to go to different places within and outside the city. It is a cheap transportation option which can seat up to 8 passengers at a time. The fare is between ₱8 ($0.18) to ₱10 ($0.22) per person per destination or you can opt to hire the tricycle for a fixed rate to go sightseeing around the city. The contracted fare will depend on your agreement with the driver.
Jeepneys and buses will take you to the different towns and cities outside Dumaguete. Ceres buses are owned by Vallacar Transit, the biggest bus company that plies the whole Negros and Cebu Islands. The Ceres bus terminal is located in Calindagan, right near Robinsons. Other terminals are located in different parts of the city depending on where your final destination is. You can ask the locals or have the tricycle driver take you there.
Rental cars or vans are available at the airport and in the city to provide you with a more comfortable ride at your own pace. The rate is between ₱2,000 ($44) to ₱3,000 ($66) for 8 hours including fuel and driver.
ShoppingShopping for basic essentials or souvenir items to take back home will not be a problem with various souvenir shops, local stores, and malls in Dumaguete. Robinsons Place Dumaguete belongs to the Robinsons' chain and is the city’s largest chic shopping mall. It is located in Calindagan right next to the Ceres bus terminal. Robinsons has a grocery and department store, cinemas, fashion boutiques, computer and mobile phone shops. Several dining places are available at Robinsons mall and al fresco dining area.
One of the cheapest places to shop in is the local market where you can easily find fresh produce including rice, meat, seafood, fish, and vegetables. There are several stalls selling clothes, shoes, mobile phones, jewelry, native delicacies, and handicrafts. You should haggle to get the best price. This market is quite noisy and crowded.
Popular local stores include Lee Super Plaza which has a grocery and a department store, Cang’s Department Store, and Tops & Bottoms. Sidlakan Negros Village has a display of popular souvenir items and delicacies from various towns and cities of Negros Oriental.
EmergencyThere are three major hospitals located right in the center of Dumaguete. Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital is the government-run public hospital. Silliman University Medical Center and Holy Child Hospital are private hospitals.
Precautions should be taken when walking alone within the city. Although relatively safe, there are incidents of robbery and snatching so you must be extra careful about your belongings, especially your bag and valuables. In case of incidents that require police assistance, Dumaguete City Police Station is located along Locsin Street near the public market.
FestivalsThe Buglasan Festival is the province's biggest festival that is held every October. It originated from the word “Buglas” or “reeds” which grew wildly in the area. The festival includes an exhibit of different delicacies and handicrafts coming from the 26 cities and municipalities. The highlight of the festival is the street-dancing and vibrant parade featuring the best dancers dressed in colorful costumes. These dancers come from the cities and municipalities' individual festivals.
In November, Dumaguete celebrates Sandurot Festival in celebration of its Charter Day and Fiesta. During the festival, there will be trade exhibits, food festivals, parades, Miss Dumaguete beauty contest, and a host of other events.
The Santacruzan, celebrated during the end of May, is well attended. It is a Catholic festivity commemorating the search of Queen Helena and Constantine for the Holy Cross. The culminating parade showcases the beauties of Dumaguete, and even Manila in their finest gowns together with handsome escorts.
DiningThere is a myriad of dining options available in Dumaguete City that serves local and international cuisine. The following dining spots within downtown Dumaguete come highly recommended:
- Lab-as Restaurant located in Flores Avenue, Piapi, serves Filipino food with seafood specialties
- Hayahay Treehouse Bar located in Flores Avenue, Piapi, serves Filipino food
- Kamalig Restaurant located in Katada Street serves Filipino food
- Sta. Theresa Restaurant located in Tugas, Piapi, and in San Juan St. serves Filipino food
- Jo’s Chicken Inato located in Silliman Avenue serves Filipino barbecue
- Sans Rival Bistro located in Rizal Boulevard serves Spanish food, cakes, and pastries
- Café Filomena located at Bethel Guesthouse in Rizal Boulevard serves Chinese and local food
- How Yang Restaurant located in Perdices Street serves Chinese food
- Chin Loong Restaurant located in Rizal Boulevard serves Chinese food
- Don Atilano Steakhouse located in Rizal Boulevard specializes in steaks and international food
- Wakagi Japanese Restaurant located in Rizal Boulevard serves Japanese food
- Coco Amigos located in Rizal Boulevard serves Mexican and European food
Robinsons Place Dumaguete also houses a variety of new restaurants inside the mall and in the al fresco dining area. These include Moon Café (Mexican/Mediterranean), Sunburst Chicken, Hukad sa Golden Cowrie (Filipino),and Bo’s Coffee. Not to be left behind are popular fast food outlets such as McDonalds, KFC, Chowking, Shakey’s Pizza, and Greenwich Pizza with dining outlets that can be found in strategic locations around the city.
NightlifeVisitors looking for some entertainment after the sun sets will find them in different clubs and bars throughout the city. Rizal Boulevard is where the night owls converge. At night, the far end of the promenade near the port becomes an outdoor dining area as street vendors offer street food such as barbecue, fried squid and fish balls, soda and beer. Tables and chairs are neatly arranged along the seafront while a singing minstrel or two hops from table to table to render the latest pop song or an old ballad.
Along the boulevard strip are different bars where you can have fun or unwind and have a glass of wine or ice cold beer. Popular joints include Blue Monkey Grill, Coco Amigos, and Why Not Disco. Further along, past the city port is El Camino Blanco which is a bar/dance club as well as Barefoot Bistro, an informal bar with billiards and darts.
Hotels & AccommodationsBecause of the influx of various types of visitors, Dumaguete City offers different accommodations to suit your preference and budget. The majority of these accommodations provide airport/port pick-up and drop-off as well as organized tour packages. Highly recommended are:
- La Residencia Almar – A quaint but luxurious 16-room hotel located in Rizal Boulevard that offers a panoramic view of the sea. Its tasteful interiors and warm ambiance are combined with modern amenities including hot and cold shower, WiFi and cable TV. At the ground floor are Don Atilano Steakhouse and Wakagi Japanese restaurant.
- Bethel Guest House – The 54-bedroom, no-smoking, no-drinking hotel is located in Rizal Boulevard and has a great view of the sea. Complete with modern amenities, there is a café at the ground floor and function rooms for special events.
- Florentina Homes – Located in a peaceful neighborhood in Bantayan, about 10 minutes away from the city center, this chic-themed apartelle-hotel offers apartments with one or two bedrooms, kitchenette, balcony, living and dining areas. It is perfect for families, with each apartment accommodating 4 to 5 guests. There is a swimming pool and Gabby’s Bistro where you can relax and dine at leisure.
- Hotel Palwa – The 28-room hotel is located right at the city center at Real Street corner Dr. V. Locsin Street. It is ideal for travelers who are on a budget yet want the convenience of hot/cold shower, WiFi, cable TV, and comfortable beds.
- Hotel Nicanor - This 44-room hotel is located at San Jose St. in the heart of Dumaguete shopping district. It is just a five-minute walk from Rizal Boulevard. The rooms are spacious and equipped with cable TV, wired internet connection, electronic door knobs, and hot/cold water, to name a few.
- Tierra Alta Hotel & Resort - Just 12 minutes away in the hills leading to Valencia is this 33-hectare development that has its trademark lighthouse with a view-deck, a perfect vantage point for observing the panoramic view of Dumaguete and the neighboring islands. There are picnic and bonfire areas, rolling verdant greens, zipline, lagoon-style infinity pool, and luxuriously furnished rooms. This popular mountain resort is a great venue for special parties and weddings with its romantic night ambiance. Enjoy the view while dining at the Aquatica Pool & Restaurant as well as the Tierra Cafe.
- Sta. Monica Hotel and Beach Resort – Located in Banilad, about 10 minutes away from Robinsons Place, this popular resort offers comfortable accommodations, a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, aqua sports facilities, and events venue. Amihan Restaurant offers Filipino and international food while Sugba Restaurant specializes in grilled seafood.
- South Sea Resort Hotel –This 58-room hotel and beach resort faces Cebu and Siquijor islands. It is located in Bantayan, just 5 minutes away from the city center. The rooms have screened porches, cable TV, refrigerator, and hot/cold shower. The resort comes with an outdoor pool, garden, and Likha Restaurant that serves a variety of food.
- Atlantis Beach Resort – It is an eco-resort that can be found in Lipayo, Dauin, which is about 20 minutes away from Dumaguete. With a 1.5 kilometer stretch of golden sand, the resort has 36 homey rooms located on the beach front, the swimming pool area, and the lush tropical garden. Each room comes with a mini bar, cable TV, native furniture, hot/cold shower, and comfortable woven hammocks on the patio or balcony.
- Thalatta Beach Resort – This luxurious beach resort is located in Maluay, Zamboanguita, which is a 30-minute ride away from Dumaguete. The comfortable rooms come with a mini bar, personal safe, pocket garden bathroom, solar water heater, cable TV, and private terrace with a view of the pool, Jacuzzi, and the sea. Directly facing the popular diving spot, Apo Island , you can arrange scuba diving or snorkeling trips with their dive center. Their restaurant offers European, Asian, or American cuisine with grilled seafood specialties.
- Antulang Beach Resort – If you are looking for luxurious amenities, the 1-hour 40-kilometer trip to Siaton where the resort is located is well worth it. There are a total of 48 villas, suites, cottages, and cabanas. The villas have their own cliff-side swimming pool and outdoor Jacuzzi for more privacy. The other rooms come with cable TV, mini bar, safe, hot/cold shower, coffee/tea-making facilities, and WiFi. The resort has a white sand beach that can be accessed down winding stairs as well as lush gardens planted with different local plants for you to stroll in. There are 17 dive sites with rich colorful marine life near the resort for those who want to explore underwater.
Apo IslandThis internationally-renowned diving spot is a 12-hectare volcanic island that is within the jurisdiction of Dauin. Jump-off point to Apo Island is near the Malatapay market in Zamboanguita, 16 kilometers to the south of Dumaguete. The island has 650 documented fish species and more than 400 coral species. You can arrange a diving trip to Apo or go to Malatapay and charter a boat for ₱1,500 ($33) to ₱2,000 ($44) per trip that can carry a maximum of 10 passengers. Apo Island Beach Resort can provide accommodations for those who wish to stay on the island.
Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural ParkThe twin lakes, Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao are nestled in the hills of Sibulan, 45 minutes drive away from Dumaguete City. You can enjoy the view from the picnic cottages and camping grounds or go kayaking in its calm waters. A well preserved rainforest is home to 180 tree species, 113 bird species, and several mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
Dolphin and Whale Watching in Bais CityYou can get a package tour that will originate from Bais City, 45 kilometers or 1 hour north of Dumaguete. The boat trip will take you to Tanon Strait where groups of dolphins will enthrall you with acrobatic leaps and will swim alongside the boat. Sperm whales are occasionally seen as well. The package may come with food or you can buy fresh seafood or meat at the Bais market and have them cooked by the boat crew. Boat charters cost approximately ₱2,500 ($55) to ₱4,000 ($88) depending on the boat size while packages with food may cost from ₱4,000 ($88) to ₱6,000 ($132).
Mabinay CavesMabinay, with its rugged hilly terrain, is 140 kilometers or two hours away from Dumaguete. There are 22 caves with fascinating formations including Odloman Cavewhich is the longest cave in the Philippines. The caves have been certified safe by local and international experts. Cave guides cost approximately ₱1,000 ($22).
Casaroro FallsNestled in the mountains of Valencia, a town 9 kilometers or 25 minutes away from Dumaguete City is Casaroro Falls. It has a height of 30 meters or 30 meter and although narrow, the water volume is heavy as it drops to the deep basin that catches it. There are natural boulders around the basin to sit in and enjoy as water flows down from the basin to the stream. The falls can be reached by a challenging climb uphill through a lush tropical forest although there are concrete stairs that make access to the falls easier.
Mount TalinisThis mountain is popularly known as ‘Cuernos de Negros’ or ‘Horns of Negros’. Considered the second highest peak in Negros Island, the base is about 20 kilometers from Dumaguete. Nature trekkers can climb up Mount Talinis through nature trails that take off from Bidjao, Dauin, or Apolong, Valencia. It is popular for its crater lakes and rich biodiversity. The forest is home to 91 tree species, interesting flora and fauna including endangered and rare animals like the Philippine Spotted Deer, Tarictic Hornbill, Negros Bleeding-heart, Philippine Tube-Nosed Fruit Bat, and Visayan Warty Pig.
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Author: janblim. Last updated: Dec 06, 2014