Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Philippines' Badjao Sea Gypsies

The Badjao, often only known to tourists as street beggars, have much more to their substance and history than that. Honestly I was one who thought the Badjao were only the dark skinned beggars seen on the streets of Dumaguete, probably the disdain for them stems from prejudice and misunderstanding, still, we should understand that there is more to their story, even as we dislike what they have been reduced to in modern times. The historical Badjao are actually nomadic seafaring fishermen who with their whole families in tow, trying to eke out a living by fishing. They have plied the Sulu Sea and surrounding waters for centuries. Originally living on their boats some are born at sea even today. But this is a vanishing lifestyle.

Their centuries-old way of life is threatened by rising costs and shrinking fisheries. For some of the fishermen, their only hope is that their children won't have to follow in their footsteps. The motley caravan of boats, their engines popping in staccato rhythm, head out to sea sounding like a platoon of sputtering lawn mowers. Painted bright red, turquoise and orange, they carry a dozen men wearing baseball caps and T-shirts fashioned as turbans to block the equatorial sun.

Proud and hardworking, they're threatened by soaring costs for fuel and repairs, killer typhoons, pirates, religious rebels and the steady decline of fish poulations. Most Badjao here no longer live on their boats, instead taking up residence in thatch-roofed houses on bamboo stilts. But it seems they can't bear to be away from the water. Their communities extend 100 yards from the beach into the marshy coastal waters, connected by warrens of over-water pathways made of bamboo, wooden planks and overturned canoes.

They still go to sea in bancas, rickety craft with bamboo outrigging lashed together with wire and fishing line. They fashion their own hooks and lures. Small gas-powered motors and cellphones are their only modern conveniences. On the water, times are tough. On land, they are worse. Throughout the Philippines, more than 200,000 Badjao remain marginalized, shunned as uneducated and incorrigible. Non-Badjao children throw coins into the water and laugh as the fishermen scramble from their boats to compete for the handouts. Badjao who abandoned life at sea have ended up as street beggars in big cities such as Manila.

When times are good, they travel four hours out to sea where the stone fish, grouper, whitefish and tuna are bigger and more plentiful. A good catch brings only $20 for the entire group. When times are lean, they secure their gas on credit and take their chances closer to shore. Often they spend two days at sea and return with just two fish, barely enough to feed one person. For years, the Badjao have been known as masters of the seasonal currents of the Sulu and South China seas. Tradition has it that a Badjao fisherman, simply by dipping his hand in the water, can judge a current's direction and strength and the time it will take to reach his destination.

Some belive that the traditional Badjao lifestyle will survive into the 21rst Century, others fear they are doomed to becoming engulphed by a Philippines reluctant to address their needs as an independant and noble people.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Dumaguete makes ties with Korea

THE City Government of Dumaguete signed a sisterhood agreement with the city of Yeongdong-gun in the Republic of Korea for the enhancement of understanding and friendship between the peoples of the two regions.

Mayor Agustin Perdices, in the presence of city officials, recently signed the agreement following a lengthy deliberation by the Municipal Council before the latter gave the local chief executive the authority to enter into a sisterhood arrangement with the South Korean city.

The agreement also aims for the expansion of bilateral ties between both parties, bearing in mind the importance of the Philippines-Korea diplomatic relations.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Siquijor Island

Siquijor, was established in 1783 under the administration of secular clergymen. In the years that followed until 1877, the parishes of Larena (Cano-an), Lazi,Siquijor, (Tigbawan), Siquijor, San Juan (Makalipay), and Maria (Cangmeniac) were founded by priests of the Augustinian.

Siquijor has a reputation for being and island of Black magic and mystery. Even today witch doctors or shaman practice their ancient art. There is a strong belief among many Filipinos in black magic, or as we might refer to them today traditional beliefs in ancient medicine and animism. It is a fact that Imelda Marcos regularly consulted a practitioner of medicine from Siquijor. Whether you believe in these practices or not, Siquijor offers many wonderful things to see and experience. Unbelievably clean waters for scuba diving, first class resorts, and rugged mountain terrain with waterfalls. There are also ancient Spanish missions to visit.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tanjay, Peaceful, Friendly City

I made the drive from Dumaguete to Tanjay last Friday. It was a holiday, so the traffic was not so terrible. I was able to complete the drive in less than an hour. Considering the ongoing road repair, this was not bad.

I have always liked Tanjay, it is clean, and it has just enough amenities to make it attractive to me as a potential residence. Tanjay is what Dumaguete was 15 years ago. If simple living without malls, McDonalds, and movie theaters is attractive to you, Tanjay might be a good choice.

Tanjay is a relatively affluent town. There are many Filipino bussiness owners living there, as well as seamen and their families. There are many clean streets with quaint houses lining the way. A residential town, Tanjay has a relatively quiet ambiance.

There are accomodations for visitors ranging from Nelia's lodge at 300 pesos per night to other pension houses nearer to town for 1000 pesos. There are a few upscale restaurants, A Scoobies fast food, and of course an extensive local market located in the middle of the city.

During weekend evenings, you will find the Park Cafe the buzzing spot for young people. Bands play in the park every Friday and people gather to listen while socializing over a red horse or two. It is a simple life, small town Philippine style. Night markets are open near the Park, and people stroll in the early evening hours to see and be seen. Food vendors and small restarants beckon with wonderful smells wafting into the street as you amble by.

Located between Dumaguete and Bais on the national highway, Tanjay is easy to find, and worth the time to do a little exploring. If you play golf, the turn off to Pamplona golf course is at the soth end of town. Bais with it's famous whale watching is only a short drive North.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Roads, What Roads?

So why is it that all the roads leading to and from Dumaguete are utterly destroyed and ripped up for simultaneous construction? In some cases, perfectly good road ripped up and replaced.

What logic is there in isolating Dumaguete from the outside world? Maybe it is to defend us from Terrorists, or maybe criminals, but wait, the criminals are already here, stuck in the city with us. That's not it.

Maybe there is a plan to this insanity, but i don't see it. The road to Sibulan and Tanjay has been ripped up in part for nearly 10 months. and they just rip up more before completing any of it. So now in stead of a 4 hour trip to Bacolod on a Ceres Liner it takes 7 or 8.

The other day I went to Sibulan and found two trucks head to head on a long one way stretch of unrepaired road. Lined up behind each was a several kilometer line of busses and cars. I had a motorcycle and was able to sqweeze through, but how did they fix that? and what happened to the flag men?

It seems that they find it easy to tear up miles of road without a thought as to logistics or sensibility. And the rate of repair lags months behind the initial destruction. As if to say: " see we are fixing the roads, but don't hold your breath until they are finished".

Dumaguete has become hell with 3500 tricycles and no traffic pattern. God help us. We may all perish in the fog of hydrocarbon emmissions and dust. Where is my Dumaguete? Maybe when Robinsons is open it will be all better...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Safety in the Philippines

Safety in the Philippines is a topic that often comes up on forums and web sites regarding Philippine life. It is a difficult topic to talk about completely objectively as every person has to decide for him or herself what constitutes reasonable safety. Quite honestly unless you have actually been victimized by crime, safety is a state of mind, a feeling.

A problem can arise when your state of mind is way out of sync with what we might say is "reality". I put that in quotes because Your reality will vary depending on your place of stay, your wealth, and your attitude and lifestyle. If this sounds as if it could be anywhere in the Western world, you are are right. These general conditions tend to influence whether crime is perpetrated on you or not regardless of where you live.

What is different about the Philippines? If you are an average Filipino, nothing. If you are a wealthy Filipino or Chinese Filipino (Chinoy) maybe you are in some jeopardy from criminal elements. If you are a Foreigner from the West unfamiliar with Asian, let alone Philippine society, you have risks associated with your obvious looks and more importantly the assumption that all foreigners are wealthy, plus perhaps your unfamiliarity with the culture.

OK, to the point. the majority of Philippine people especially in the provinces are friendly, generous, and truly good people. Now maybe some urban Filipinos will think I discriminate, please that is not my intention. Cities merely offer a wider cross section of society in larger concentrations than the rural areas. Tourist areas sometimes will have a larger percentage of locals trying to exploit the tourists for extra money, higher prices on goods, and services rendered. This is also not uncommon in other parts of the world.

Crimes against foreigners fall into a few categories.

Poor people do not commit crimes here because they are poor, the vast majority of Filipinos are poor, only a minority are criminals or are likely to steal from you based on their poverty. Most crime here is local on local, family feuds, drunkenness, political murders, petty theft included.

Most robberies and or violent crimes on foreigners are committed by girlfriends, their boyfriends, or maids or other employees. Maybe you gravely offended a neighbor and acted like an arrogant bastard, but more likely they will get back at you not by stealing from you but irritating you by starting a smokey fire when the wind is blowing in your direction. In other words crimes are most often committed by some one you know. Drug related crimes are ever present. This kind of crime is usually random, and targets both locals and foreigners. This is relatively easy to guard against. If you are wealthy and look it with a big house, maids, car etc. you need to be in a gated compound or estate. Locked gates, bars on windows, security, and prudence go a long way to keep you safe. Good advice for anyone is to avoid high risk areas, travel in daylight hours, and keep a watchful eye for unusual behavior near you.

Techniques criminals use include cell phoning from inside a bank to an operative outside when making a large withdrawal. Use a secure bank for your local money in a safe location, and many now prohibit cell phone use inside.

If you are the type of person that stays out late, and looks for fun or female companionship, be aware some girls work in partnership with a Gay pimp. They will offer drugs to you perhaps, well, good luck... One fellow I knew is dead because he was stupid that way.

Drive by robberies do occur in Dumaguete. usually targeting locals but on a few occasions foreigners have been targeted, again because of a connection via a girlfriend or employee. The hooded perpetrators drive motorbikes and will pull a gun on you as you drive. I have one friend who has a hole in his gas tank to prove it. He was traveling listen carefully... late at night, alone back to Valencia from Dumaguete. In his case they were just looking for foreigners going home late at night.

What about all those terrorist groups you here about on the various CIA, U.S. Embassy web sites? Well unless you are in specific areas in Mindanao, or maybe a few other hot spots of Abu Sayef activity you have little to fear from Muslim terrorist groups. If they kidnap people it is more likely to be a rich Chinoy whom they know will pay a ransom and not call the authorities. The few times they have kidnapped Western foreign nationals, of course it hits the world press.

The New Peoples Army or NPA, seldom if ever target foreigners. They simply in my opinion want no centralized government telling them what to do, and spend most of their time sparing with local government troops, again rarely ever will a foreigner witness any of this. Dumaguete is surrounded by active NPA. Seldom will any foreigner be aware of this, nor should it be a concern. Let's just say the NPA has a stake in keeping Dumaguete safe for Foreigners. I have met no doubt many so called NPA, I don't ask them, they don't say. Some are the local Barangay chiefs.

One thing you should be aware of, political alliances are constantly changing and constitute relationships between dissident groups, police, local government, and criminal elements. Sometimes its difficult to know who you are talking to, even when you think you know. The best advice I can give to anyone making their home in the Philippines is be friendly to everyone but choose friends carefully, don't discuss politics with locals unless yo know them well, and make good friends with your immediate neighbors, especially if you live in a non secure area (Good advice in any area really). Living in the Philippines is about building alliances, either family or community or both.

I have never lived in a gated community, I have been fortunate, made good local friends, and even though I was victimized in a random hold up once in my four year stay, still choose to live in local Filipino neighborhoods. But I carry a cheap cell phone, never carry large amounts of cash, and keep a low profile.

Living in the Philippines is a great opportunity to mesh with another culture if you so choose. You will bring away from your experience pretty much what you bring to it. Knowing a few guidelines, Living and getting along in the Philippines is not so different here as anywhere else.

A note about police. Here the police are not here to protect you or solve crimes. Once you are aware of that then you can choose for yourself how you want to deal with them. Having a friend as a police officer can be advantageous, but be careful not to get in a position where you owe him something. If you have family involved in local politics or the police better yet.

I have some good friends who don't agree, they revel in having many high ranking local politicians and military brass in their circle. I believe this can be risky, especially if you expect them to act like you in all situations. Do so knowing what you are dealing with, a different culture.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Casaroro Falls in Valencia

Casaroro Falls in Valencia is only 10 kilometers from Dumaguete. Visitors to Dumaguete often trek to this tourist spot to sample the mountain adventures available in Negros. An hour’s jeepney ride will easily take visitors to this spot. A private van hired for a trip to this tourist spot near Dunaguete is about 1000 pesos ($20.00).

Casaroro Falls is hidden deep in the crevices of the rough Valencia mountains. Casaroro Falls feeds the Banica river from the natural rock basin beneath the waterfalls. This eco tourist spot near Dumaguete originates from a 100-foot high natural spring water source, and is fed by the seasonal rains. The narrow path to the mouth of the falls is one of its unique features, the relatively narrow water flow out of its mouth creates a resounding boom as it hits the rock basin. The loud droning effect is a hypnotizing constant drum beat that makes the environment seem primordial. You can easily imagine yourself in a place untouched by time.

Casaroro Falls features a challenging 350-step climb to the site from the level ground below. The undulating character of the terrain makes this tourist spot near Dumaguete a favorite hiking destination of novice hikers and climbers. Along the climb, sightings of rare birds may provide respite and renewed vigor for the climber, take plenty of bottled water as well!.

Enjoying the waterfalls doesn’t come without first testing the endurance and determination of the visitor, only those with enough perseverance and stamina for the steep climbing get to see this spectacular waterfall near Dumaguete. The 300 plus step concrete staircase is the only link to this tourist spot near Dumaguete.

The Casaroro Falls eco tourism destination near Dumaguete is worth the effort to find it . An adventurous tourist who wants excitement and adventure against a backdrop of rocky mountains and rough terrain will no doubt enjoy this challenge.

Timing your visit is important, during the rainy season the falls are full and spectacular, but it is dangerous to make the trek at this time. Best to wait until after the rainy period and before the summer dry period. this of course varies from year to year. Use common sense as there are no park rangers to save you if you get in trouble. That said there are locals who will be happy to escort you down and back for a small fee.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Summer In Dumaguete

Summer in Dumaguete means going to the beach, driving or riding into the mountains to find a remote water fall or grotto, or simply relaxing at a cafe or music venue on a balmy summer evening. Being a college town, the students set the tone, (those who do not go back to their province).

Silliman beach is a favorite free beach popular among the locals, It is no frills, but offers a taste of the local life. From there you can move north along the coast or south and find a variety of resorts from modest to garandiose. North of Sibulan there is Sea Forest resort. Going south there are many resorts to chose from beach to pool resorts, to scuba diving resorts.
Mountain lovers will love to explore Forest Camp resort, it has water, hiking trails, ATV rentals, and guided mountain trekking.

Evenings will find many students at Garahe, or any other numerous acoustic music venues. Special musical events are numerous often sponsored by San Miguel Breweries. These feature national recording artists, and some excellent bands visit Dumaguete on these occasions.

What ever your pleasure Dumaguete offers the best of summer at a lesurly pace. A great combination of popular culture and natural splendor is available.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Dauin Diving Paradise

Dauin is a low-profile tourist destination where scenic spots abound but has a sheltered laid back ambiance. This picturesque town near Dumaguete reveals a unique and mostly uncharted sea underworld as well as many virgin dive sites. Dauin is a diver's paradise.

A small and quiet place where big treasures are hidden underwater---this is what Dauin is to most tourists who have gone to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. Dauin is some 12 kilometers of coastal scenery south of Dumaguete. It is a dive-capital in Dumaguete due to its numerous and pristine dive resorts. Dauin's main highway snakes along the Negros coast, while inner roads go past the groves of palms leading to the hidden resorts. Perfect beaches of fine sand stretch on for miles through Dauin seaside terrain.

Dauin is reached through a plane from any nearby provinces going to Sibulan Airport which is in Dumaguete City. From the airport, public transportation is available nearby to Dauin. Straight from Manila, a tourist can take a plane to Cebu and a ferry ride from Cebu, enjoying a 3 and half hour sea trek. Better yet, a straight flight from Manila will only be an hour's travel.

Dauin may seem like another typical rural town near Dumaguete at first glance, but its true tourism value is hidden deep beneath---one has to literally delve and uncover the potential of Dauin. In fact, Dauin's treasure lies buried, not in depths of earth, but in the obscure recesses of Dauin waters. Dauin's most fabled exotic dive spots are the marine protected areas and the "Car Wrecks".

When we talk of Dauin, we talk of the Car Wrecks---the specific spot in Dumaguete where a plethora of sea wreckages abound, among them automobiles. Dauin's "Car Wrecks" is a highlight among other dive sites in the area that attracts the curiosity of dive tourists. Another enchanting site is the "Banca Wrecks". The rich coral reefs that have grown among the wrecks are also eye-catching and loaded with deep sea life.

Nearby Dauin is the fascinating Masaplod marine sanctuary. This spot is reserved as a habitat for exotic fish species like scorpionfish, batfish, snappers, sweetlips, and others. Dauin's scenic coasts are dotted with reefs that shelter marine wonders. These are considered among Asia's best.

Dumaguete is definitely excellent, but wait till Dauin's secrets are revealed. A wide-eyed dive tourist will certainly return to Dauin and its rich underwater sea treasures, considered in Dumaguete as one of Asia's best. Dauin is one more dive destination near Dumaguete worth the trouble to discover.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Discovering Dumaguete 5

Living in Dumaguete is especially good if you enjoy nature and outdoor activities. Dumaguete itself has some charm, but it is a typical small Philippine municipality. It does have several major universities, including Silliman University. The city's ambiance and tranquil, moderate way of life make it conducive to learning and intellectual pursuits. Dumaguete has become a melting pot of students, professionals, artists, scholars and the literati coming from different parts of the country and the world.

Silliman University is the dominant institution of higher learning in Dumaguete, providing the city with a distinct university town atmosphere. It is the oldest Protestant university in the country and the oldest American-established university in Asia. The 610,000 m² campus is adjacent to and intermixed with the city's downtown district.

Other Dumaguete universities are Foundation University, Negros Oriental State University, and Saint Paul University in Dumaguete.

What really makes Dumaguete a good place to live for me are the many adventurous destinations within a days drive of the city. Many are well publicized and can be reached by hired car or tour bus. Others are little known to tourists, but have an indelible charm. Hot springs abound in the local mountains and foot hills of the volcanic mount Talinis. Waterfalls can also be found by exploring the steep mountain roads outside Dumaguete. One such place is Pulang Bato.

Where is Pulang Bato you ask? Well it is a little known small series of waterfalls in the mountains near the PNOC Geothermal generating plant in Valencia. Recently upgraded with stone lined natural swimming pools, and a nipa pavilion, it is a small out of the way place you have to just know about.

Pulang Bato is the place of red rocks. The rocks are red stained from all the minerals issuing forth from the shear rock walls on the way up the small paved road to the falls. Many come just to bath in these waters for medicinal reasons. Bamboo tubes protrude from the rocks in certain spots, delivering the healing mineral waters to bathers. Further up the road lies the swimming area and water falls. The entire region is rife with volcanic stem vents and sulfuric mud slides.

Particularly scenic during the week when few people are there, you can hike into the hills and discover remote falls with absolutely no one around, pristine natural Philippine wilderness.

Dumaguete offers many things to many kinds of people, but its central location in a rural farming province, and proximity to so many natural wonders are most interesting for me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bahura Resort

Bahura Resort and Spa is a first class 5 star beach resort located in Dauin near Dumaguete City. Bahura Resort and Spa offers accommodations and many other services such as diving and eco tourism, as well as adventure tourism in the nearby mountains.

Bahura Resort and Spa is a 5 hectare plot situated in the middle of a ocean side coconut plantation. The resort is designed to be a tropical self contained venue for those looking for a 5 star experience. Staying at Bahura Resort and Spa is refreshing, relaxing, and rewarding for anyone visiting Dumaguete.

The villas of Bahura Resort and Spa have loft bedrooms, a full bar setup, a mini kitchen, an entertainment system, and bathroom equipped with whirlpool tub and shower. The villas at Bahura Resort and Spa are 61 square meters.

The rooms at Bahura Resort and Spa are spacious. All rooms are equipped with two queen-sized beds, entertainment system, shower stall, and safe deposit box.

Bahura Resort and Spa also offers the following facilities and services to their guests: conference rooms, al fresco dining area, room service, spring water pools, laundry services, airport transfers, various water sports, souvenir shop, PADI dive center, and local tours to the various interesting places in Dumaguete.

While staying at Bahura Resort and Spa, you can participate in activities that will make your stay memorable and adventurous. The Negros province where Bahura Resort and Spa is located is full of natural wonders that are waiting to be explored. There are crater lakes, mountains, underground caves, waterfalls, and dolphin watching.

Activities like hiking, kayaking, picnicing at the beach, and diving, are great adventures to take part in while you are staying at Bahura Resort and Spa.

Bahura Resort and Spa is a top notch resort in the Dumaguete area where your vacation will be one of the most memorable ones in your life. Lying within a tropical garden, in a place full of natural attractions and wonders, Bahura Resort and Spa will offer you a rewarding, refreshing, and relaxing vacation in Dumaguete.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dumaguete Belfry Tower

The bell tower of St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral was constructed in 1811. It's purpose was to inform local citizens of daily mass schedules. It also served as a watchtower for forthcoming attacks by Moro pirates coming from Mindanao.

The Dumaguete Belfry was restored in 1985 and has since become a popular landmark. A garden now surrounds the tower and a grotto of the Virgin Mary stands erect near the base. Catholics flock daily to light candles for their prayers or for confirmation of their faith.

The Dumaguete Belfry is one of the most famous historical landmarks in Dumaguete. There are few remaining artifacts and historical building dating back to the Spanish era. The notable exception are the large number of Spanish era cathedrals scattered throughout Negros. I have upcoming articles and photos of some of these.

The Belfry photographed at the turn of the 20th Century.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dumaguete Sex Workers Numbers Increase

Sex workers in Dumaguete, Sibulan up due to poverty
from The Sun Star Dumaguete
By Victor L. Camion

POVERTY is the main factor of a rapid increase of commercial sex workers in the city of Dumaguete and in the town of Sibulan, a top official of the Silliman University Medical Center (SUMC) extension program disclosed. Dr. Fe Wale, in-charge of Marina Clinic, said there are at least 300 sex workers in Dumaguete City and Sibulan.Marina Clinic is an extension program of SUMC funded by the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef). It is tasked to monitor the activities and the protections of the sex workers.

But Wale admitted that only 20 of the more than 300 sex workers are members of the Magdalena group. (a self help NPO) Although some of the sex workers are hiding especially students, majority of them are working openly. Tocino Country in Looc, is a haven of the more than a hundred of sex workers in Dumaguete City, said Wale. She said beerhouses and bars in Sibulan, on the other hand, are the heavens of the sex workers in the town. "We don't have the right to order them to stop being commercial sex workers," admitted Wale.She clarified that their task is to advise them to stop selling their flesh. "They (commercial sex workers) are ready to quit their job so long as they would have an alternative means of earning", Wale said. The doctor stressed that majority of the sex workers are breadwinners for their families.

Myrna (not her real name), president of the Magdalena org., and working as pimp of sex workers at Tocino Country, admitted that although some of the sex workers are selling their flesh just to buy shabu, majority of them are helping their parents in the province.Myrna, who also admitted being a sex worker before, stressed that she was forced to work as sex worker just to provide milk for her daughter.She admitted that at the age of 16, she became addicted to illegal drugs, until she got pregnant.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bais Whale Watching

Bais City is known for its proximity to a protected marine sanctuary in the Tañon Strait. Dense Mangrove forrests line Bais Bay. This is a natural feeding ground for cetaceans. Dolphins especially like the Mangrove forests growing into the bay to cruise for food. From the Capiñahan Wharf in the South Bay, several boats head out to the Bais Bay and into the Tañon Strait where the dolphins frolic in the water, and the whales emerge from the deep. It is fascinating to see these sea creatures up close. Other activities include swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling and scuba diving in the nearby reefs.
Dolphin and Whale Watching in Bais City
The adventure starts with a cruise along Bais Bay then out to Tañon Strait, the natural habitat of several whale and dolphin species. Among the kinds of dolphins you may encounter during the trip are, spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and long snouted spinner dolphins. Melon headed whales, short finned pilot whales, pygmy sperm whales, pygmy killer whales and dwarf sperm whales are also found in the Tañon Strait.

After seeing Dolphins and maybe a whale, you will head out to Manjuyod White Sand Bar where the boat drops anchor. Here you can enjoy your lunch of grilled pork or fish while looking out onto the blue sea and the white sands of Manjuyod. This place is also ideal for swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling and scuba diving. The bamboo houses on stilts are available for overnight lodging if your so inclined. Be aware at high tide the sand bar disappears beneath your cabin and you are for all practical purposes in the middle of the bay in a house on stilts!

The tour takes a full day beginning from seven in the morning and ending at four in the afternoon. The dolphin and whale watching seasons are during the months of March to October. The rest of the year is affected by the Northeast Monsoon which makes cruising difficult. The wind and waves also inhibit the dolphins and whales from surfacing.

Bais Hotels
If you plan to stay the night at Bais City there are two hotels available. One is the Bahia Hotel, a small hilltop inn with a room rate of P700 for a basic double accommodation. The other is La Planta Hotel located within Bais City proper with room rates beginning from P1,000 to P1,700.

Bais Tourism Office (035)541-5161 / 402-8174 Fax (035)402-8181
Bahia Hotel (035)402-8850 / 402-8851
La Planta Hotel (035)403-8321 / 541-5755

How to get to Bais
Bais City is less than an hour away from Dumaguete. The Capiñahan Wharf in South Bais Bay is the most convenient point of take off to Tañon Strait. The best and most cost effective way is to organize a group and rent a van in Dumaguete to bring you to the Capiñahan Wharf. The reason being that the boats are not scheduled tours but really charters, you rent the boat which can hold up to 5-20 persons depending on the craft. The rental boat that will take you out to the Strait costs between P2,500 to P3,000 depending on the number of people boarding. Being in a group allows you to split the transportation costs.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Discovering Dumaguete 4

It has been said that the newness of a distant land creates in us a spirit of adventure, instilling a sense of discovery and renewal. As I traveled around the Philippines I was always excited to see new cities, meet interesting people, and expand my horizons by visiting mountain villages and remote scenic destinations. Now having been here for over three years, those first impressions are dear memories. I still enjoy touring the countryside on my motorcycle, but those first discoveries and adventures hold a special place in my consciousness.

I planted those first memories in Dumaguete, so now this place holds a closeness for me, something other than the friends I have made, and the experiences met. Thinking back, it is hard to remember why Dumaguete hooked me. Perhaps it was the verdant mountains looming to the west. Maybe it was the dormant volcano Talinis standing as a sentinel over the city, silently issuing forth plumes of steam and creating it's own weather system in the clouds ever present around the summit.

I suppose Dumaguete just hit me in the right spot. It was a good fit for me. Now that I owned a motorcycle, touring was easy, and for finding a house to rent it was a real advantage. Locating an apartment or house to rent is a process which is quite different in the Philippines. Basically you have to just drive around and look for places with a sign out front. There are Realtors, but often they don't list much, and what they do list are high end, high price properties. I ended up renting a house in Balugo, a small Barangay on the outskirts of Dumaguete. It was a peaceful place, a farming community. I located this cute little house in Balugo for 5.500 Pesos a month. It was very small, but suited me fine. There were coconut and banana trees, and a porch. There was also a gate and a full time caretaker living on the property so security was no problem. It was my first home in paradise.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Discovering Dumaguete 3

As I mentioned in the end of my last post, the Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete is "Expat Central" in the region. All tourists gravitate there for the obvious reasons of ambiance, restaurants, dive shops, banks, and cafes. By day the boulevard is a busy and attractive street lined with Coco palms giant Acacia trees.

From Rizal Boulevard
The boulevard is a haven for walkers and tourists who want to enjoy the street side park and walking path running the length of the downtown segment of the avenue.

From Rizal Boulevard

Dumaguete is Home to the Why Not Disco, restaurant, and delicatessen. This business is famous throughout the Philippines I have come to find out. Everyone who has been to Dumaguete knows the Why Not. The restaurant has outdoor and indoor seating and affords the guests a front row seat to the busy street scene unfolding in front of them.

Mamias, an upscale restaurant, sits adjacent to the Why Not. This establishment is owned and operated by Mayor Perdices son. Coco Amigos a Mexican motif restaurant is the Expat anchor at the other end of the Boulevard. Between these two places you will find a variety of shops and cafes, including Mike's Dive shop, Happy Fred's Bar, and other local establishments. All cater to the tourist and affluent local crowd.

By night the atmosphere changes somewhat. Prostitution is quite apparent and the girls and gay pimps roam freely and unhindered around the expat hangouts. The seedy but unavoidable side of life in the Philippines. The girls and ladyboys (gays) range in age from 15 -30. Sadly there is much mesoginistic behaivior going on due to the influx of European single men coming to Dumaguete to scuba dive, as well as older men comming to the Philippines as sex tourists.

I don't like to talk about the negative side of life, but this is something that eventually caused me to retreat from hanging out on the boulevard and move to the countryside and get a chance to meet the good people of Dumaguete. These being the families and native residents who enjoy a normal life style, raising children, going to school, and working. I was going to stay for a while it seemed.

I first moved to a run down resort in Sibulan named Babayan. Actually a clean quiet place with a swimming pool. It has since been bought and has undergone extensive improvement. At the time in 2006, I was happy to be away from living on the boulevard, with the noise of the Why Not pounding through the walls of my room at the Honeycomb Pension. I stayed for a ten day stretch. Somewhere along the way I meet a girl and decided I would look for a house to rent in the area. I bought a motorbike, and began my search for a suitable place to live. I was putting down roots in Dumaguete, and quite without making a concious descision to do so, I was attracted to Negros Oriental because of it's natural beauty, and I had begun to make friends.

By night

New Look!

I have decided to give this Blog a new look. several things prompted me to do this. First, the links and titles of some of my news feeds were difficult to read, and secondly, its just time to try on a new face. I hope you find the changes pleasing. Updates will begin to increase as I settle in to a routine in my new place.