Guest post by Jamie Rhein
The Philippines, known for white sand beaches such as those on the island of Boracay, has destination gems worth the detour from fun in the sun. Dumaguete, a small city on the island of Negros is worth the stop and one of those gems. Known as the city of friendly people, Dumaguete is rich in history and a stepping off place for that beach vacation. With Boracay being closed for six months due to pollution problems, Dumaguete is getting a surge of attention as people look to other beach destinations. Dauin, 15 minutes south of Dumaguete has beaches with beach resorts, as does Siguijor, another island close by.
Since I’m not one to hang out on a beach, Dumaguete was just my speed of low keyed walkability and places of interest.
Pirates, a Church, and a Park
The oldest structure in Dumaguete is the Dumaguete Belfry. This bell tower, built in the early 1800s was used back in the day when pirates attacked. The bell would ring out to warn residents. These days the bell is used as a call to worship for St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral next door.
There’s also a shrine to the Virgin Mary at the belfry’s base. Here you will see devotee lighting candles and offering prayers. As with many historic structures in the Philippines, the Dumaguete Belfry is in the midst of commercial and residential properties. The contrast between the extremely old and modern is striking. The Dumaguete Belfry is a good starting point for a Dumaguete tour.
Across the street from the belfry is Manuel L. Quezon Park, another Dumaguete centerpiece. Tall leafy trees offer shade and a place to relax and people watch. There is a monument that pays tribute to Manueul L Quezon, the 2nd president of The Philippines.
People Watching by the Water
A stroll along Rizal Blvd. near the Dumaguete Belfry leads to the ferry dock and to Silliman University. Rizal Blvd. is flanked by the ocean on one side and lined with restaurants on the other. The strip of park in the middle has benches for people watching and gazing out to the horizon.
A History that Includes the United States–big time
Silliman University, opened first as a boys’ school in 1901, is the first American university established in Asia. Here, along with taking in the colonial style architecture, visit the Anthropology Museum in Hibbard Hall.
The museum has exhibits about the indigenous Negritos, the original inhabitants of Southeast Asia and the various roles and influences of other cultures and countries on the Philippines including the United States, in particular the Philippine-American War which led to the American occupation of The Philippines/