[Dumaguete] ~ Love at First Day

In your quiet and simplicity, what is not to love, Dumaguete? – 08.17.13


It was one of those trips that just came to me one night when I was drinking at home and texted a friend inviting her to go out but she said they were having some chill time in Dumaguete. I got reminded. It is not one of the more popular tourist destinations in the Philippines but I remember hearing lovely things about the place – like how there is some good nightlife and music scene in that quiet, little town.

It was indeed a quiet, little town – a lovable quiet, little town. And here let me share about that first sight.

Dumaguete 1 Summary

As in most of my trips, I took an early morning flight so I can spend more time in the place. Able to book early and fortunate to get an un-piso but reasonably low airfare, I flew via Philippine Airlines’ more affordable sister PAL Express. There was no delay to be fair and unlike Cebu Pacific, they even served snacks.

Plane touched down Dumaguete around 10 AM and I was picked up at the airport by C & L Bay View Inn’s shuttle. And a side story – two women in their late 30s or 40s were fellow passengers, one of them named Eleanor because I saw in the signboard. They were one of those significant strangers I have met on the trip because I remember them being so .. how should I politely say this.. — annoying. They went straight to the van and they were asking where the driver was so I told them he must been there holding the signboard up waiting for them. But then she said that she already texted the hotel and said she was in the shuttle already. Oh come on, lady, just walk a few steps and go to the driver. Act 2 – upon arrival at the hotel, they were even complaining about the hotel floor which according to them  is dangerously slippery. I was like “come on, just get out”.

Airport Shuttle

It pays to travel light.


Anyhoo – enough of my side rants. I actually loved my choice of hotel. I have read reviews that it was too colorful but the room they got me was actually colorful lovely. An added bonus too that it had a terrace with a nice view, not of the bay, but of the town. I could even see the bell tower from my room. Excited to roam around, I freshened up a bit and hurried off to see what the town has to offer nearby.

C and L

Burst of colors that stands out amidst a simple town.


I was expecting to do lots of walking in this trip and my first stop was of course the nearby church and belfry. The belfry of Dumaguete is known to be the oldest structure in the city while the cathedral  (Dumaguete Cathedral Church or St Catherine Alexandria Cathedral) is the oldest stone church in Negros. I allowed myself to get drowned taking photos of both.

As in all my trips, I always utter a wish whenever it is my first time to visit a church. Funny thing though is that I don’t remember what I wished for this time. I guess I have to stick to one wish and utter it every time. I guess I was distracted wondering why people at the church were busy arranging those cute stands along the aisle. Then I suddenly realized that there would be a wedding later that day. This was the second time that there is a wedding in churches I first went to. Lovely. And probably telling too.


A giant from just across the street.


Bell Tower

I especially love that woman in front of the tower and those tangible expressions of faith.



You are being watched while working.



Stand tall, pillars.


Inside the cathedral

Lovely decorative pieces that line the aisle for the wedding later that day.



Found my favorite tomb. For he lived only a day.



Old stone structures.


I was supposed to go alone but a friend who is based in Leyte decided to join me too. We just were not able to talk about meetup time and all that I was so lost in my walking and taking pictures that I barely was looking at my phone. It turned out she was already in town and was waiting for me at the hotel’s roof deck. For an hour!

When I read the message, I just finished walking around the church, quickly dropped by the nearby Quezon Park and walked back to the hotel and spent some catch-up time with my friend.  I learned a lot from her as it was not her first time in Dumaguete. On the roof top, she showed me the neighboring islands. I suck with geography but I appreciated how this town is surrounded by other islands like Siquijor, Bacolod and Cebu. I liked the idea of being in a place that is gateway to many other places and those places you can literally see and point to.


An interesting structure in the town park



I wonder whether this is a replica or a real one as I didn’t bother to check closer.


Surrounding Islands

I suck at geography that I only remember lower right to be Siquijor. (I shall phone a friend and ask her again!)


We decided to start walking again at around 2PM as she needed to rest a bit after having came from long trip. We actually didn’t have any itinerary except that I wanted to see the twin lakes I have read online. We originally planned to go there the following day (a Saturday) but when she told me how nice it is in Siquijor and how it is a quick ferry / boat ride from Dumaguete, we were considering going to Siquijor the following day. Though still not sure whether to go to Siquijor or not, out of impulse, we then agreed to go to the lakes that day. My friend was not very excited about this because she said she saw a lake once and there was nothing Wow! about a lake, but then she said she understood why I am excited because she was like that before too (reason being having never been to a lake) and so we went anyway.

Did some walking toward the market (the hotel was near many places!) and rode a jeepney toward  Sibulan. I have read some research on it but it is a disease for me to forget and not take things to heart so I just let my friend take us there. We went down at a sort of a terminal where we were able to rent a long motorcycle called “habal-habal”. Again, I have read how that should cost us but I barely remembered since we would have to accept anyway whatever price the driver would offer. We then agreed to pay him Php400 per head for a round trip.

And boy, it was a looong ride. It took us about 15 minutes on the highway and 45 minutes on that really rough, uphill road. It was so rough that there was a point when I felt like I would be thrown off the “habal-habal”. (I would later on realized that I have those big bruises on my lower leg. No worries, though as that was part of the long and bumpy and so memorable ride).

It was a bumpy ride but the view was really beautiful. I wish I could capture precisely how I was feeling seeing everything that surrounded that narrow, uphill path we were taking – mountains, bodies and water and of course, those beloved islands. I made some attempts to take photos but most were unsuccessful.

Upon reaching the entrance, we each had to pay our entrance fees of Php 10 each and an additional Php 22 for driver and the habal-habal (well, I just assumed the driver’s fee is more expensive as he was bringing in a vehicle). We sat down and took some photos on that lovely lake. It was small and have the feel of a swamp but for some reason, I really liked it.


A failed attempt to take a panoramic shot of the lake.


Lake Selfies

And this marked the beginning of the obligatory selfies.


It was about a 5-minute ride and a few minutes walk before we reach Balinsasayao Lake. It was much bigger than the lake at the entrance. And so how does it feel meeting a lake for the first time? It was a different feeling than seeing the beach, of course. While both is somewhat overwhelming as you face something that is a lot more grand than I am, there was something different about the calm that the lake gave.


Very quick walk toward the lake. Downhill this time.


Balinsasayao Sign

More selfies. 


We rented a boat for Php250 an hour so we could go to the other side where there would be view the other lake – Lake Danao. I kept on asking our boatmen how deep the lake is. It felt both calming and scary to be on travelling along something so quiet and potentially evil at the same time.

It was a 15 –minute boat ride to the other side. Had to climb some man-made stone stairs  toward the viewing deck. It was a about 5- to 10-minute walk up there but it was so tiring that I realized I would not survive mountaineering.

Boat ride

I admire our boatmen for we only relied on their paddling. Whoa, must have been so tiring!



Blue. Green. Blue green.


View deck

Up to the deck – a scary one at that because the floors were creaking.



Bigger Balinsasayao Lake from the view deck



Smaller sibling Danao Lake






Lovely view on our way back



Latter part of our “habal-habal” ride – along Rizal Boulevard.


We left the place around 4PM. And butts tired from another long, bumpy ride, we quickly dropped by hotel but we were so hungry that we forego taking a rest and immediately left to go to this famous Lab-as Seafood Restaurant to grab dinner.

Though waiting was long and we could literally hear our stomachs grumbling and our energies going down the drain, food turned out to be good (and I could say that it was not even because we were already very hungry).


 Left (from top to bottom) : Pork in  coconut milk (called “gata” in Filipino), oysters and fish kinilaw. Personal favorite is the one with “gata” (and I am not even a “gata” fan!)


After dinner, we grabbed some drinks at a nearby (and sister establishment) Hayahay, which is actually one of the famous drinking places in the area. There was a gig but it was memorable how there were some students doing some talking – one about her art pieces, followed by another guy who was blabbering about who knows what. Later on learned that it must be one of the activities given the upcoming Silliman University foundation day. We were busy drinking and chatting that I was only able to take one picture.


And that one picture? Luckily of the band I like as they performed some interesting originals.


As the night progressed, we got drunker and I don’t know if related but the music just got heavier. I could no longer remember  what time it was when we decided to call it a night. But it definitely was craving o’clock which meant that I was already under the spell of alcohol. And that was after passing by a fastfood joint so I could grab a burger while my friend, a sundae. We were so tired (and drunk most probably) that we passed out the minute our backs laid on our beds.

Tired, yes. But it was a lovely first day.

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