Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Discovering Dumaguete

The first time I heard the name Dumaguete, I was sitting at a seaside cafe in Moal Boal. A divers resort, Moal Boal and nearby Panagsama Beach lie on the south western coast of Cebu Province.

As I dreamily contemplated the looming mist shrouded mountains of Negros Oriental, I ask a waitress what that place was over there, pointing across the Tanon Straight. She replied "That's Negros, and it's my place." I asked her what it was like over there. She replied, "It is very green, many farms and fruit plantations sir." I said "ahh, a nice place?" "yes" she replied, "friendly people and a quiet clean place." Sitting there it looked primordal in the hazy orange sunset of early evening. What town is over there I wondered, what kind of people inhabit that place of large dormant volcanoes and verdant forests? Further conversation yielded the name Dumaguete as the principle municipality in southern Negros Oriental.

I stayed two more weeks at Panagsama beach. I enjoyed the white sand beaches, the nightlife, and touring around on a rented motorcycle. I kept wondering about Negros, it was getting the best of my curiosity. I canceled plans to return to Cebu city and bought a bus ticket to Bato, where I could catch a ferry to Sibulan, just north of Dumaguete. It happened that fast, an impulse to visit a seemingly enchanted place of waiting adventures and discovery. It was a trip that changed my life in so many ways. What follows here is a retrospective of my personal discovery, my journey to Negros, a journey to myself, and a journey to understand the Philippines and it's people.

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