DUMAGUETE (“dum-a-get-eh”), known in the Philippines as the City of Gentle People, is capital of Negros Oriental and lies on the southeast coast of Negros, within sight of the southerly tip of Cebu Island. The city is becoming more of a mainstream tourist destination these days and it’s easy to understand why: it has attractive architecture, a laidback university town ambience, and a lovely seafront promenade shaded by acacia trees and coconut palms and lined with lively bars and restaurants.

Day-trips from Dumaguete include the Twin Lakes of Balinsasayao and Danao. For dolphin- and whale-watching head to Bais, while for affordable resort accommodation the closest choices are to be found around Dauin, where you can also arrange scuba diving, and day-trips to Malatapay Market and Tambobo Beach.

Dumaguete isn’t a city of major sights, just a pleasant place to relax for a day or two. Dominated by the respected Silliman University, the oldest Protestant university in the Philippines, the city has a casual campus feel. Much of Silliman’s reputation has been built on the work of its marine laboratory which has spearheaded efforts to protect the island’s mangroves and stop illegal fishing. The university also has an interesting anthropological museum housing some Song and Ming dynasty porcelain and relics from minority tribes in the Philippines. The museum is in the Assembly Hall (go through the university gate on Hibbard Avenue and past the fountain). On the other side of campus, near the Silliman Medical Centre, Centrop offers a glimpse of Negros wildlife, including a reticulated python, long-tailed macaques and warty pigs.

Away from the university and seaside promenade, Dumaguete is centred on the grand St Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral which dominates Quezon Park. The cathedral was originally built in 1754, although the current version dates from 1957. Standing next to the cathedral, the belfry was completed in 1867, and its statue of the Lady of Lourdes is a popular site of worship in its own right.

Back on the seafront, a walk south along Rizal Boulevard and across the Banica River bridge brings you past the Ceres Liner bus terminal to the Dumaguete Cockpit Arena, where fights are held at weekends, usually on Sundays after church, and sometimes on weekday evenings. Just south of here the new Robinson’s Mall is packed with the usual array of clothing outlets, fast-food joints, ATMs and internet cafés.

 

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