Dumaguete Will Not Burn A Hole In Your Pocket

Dumaguete is lovely. I take a panoramic photo of the city from the ferry. I hear a bell signaling us that it is time to prepare for arrival. This is Dumaguete from the Bohol Sea.

The coastline of Dumaguete City from the Bohol Sea. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The coastline of Dumaguete City from the Bohol Sea. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

I arrive in mid-afternoon. The sun is up and the weather is windy but humid. The port is bustling with tourists, seafarers and porters who are willing to help you with your luggage for a standard fee. I take my backpack from a luggage pile. I am afraid that it might get lost among new luggages coming from tourists on their way to Bohol, Dapitan or Siquijor. This is the Port of Dumaguete.

The port of Dumaguete. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The port of Dumaguete. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

I head for U-Pen along Silliman Avenue. I check my watch to see how long it takes from the port to the university hotel. I am leaving tomorrow morning, and I only have an afternoon to explore the city. There is a bunch of people at the lobby. They are members of the faculty of Claret School in Quezon City. After a few hi’s and hello’s, I take my luggage to my room. The room is simple but comfortable. I take a power nap, head to the showers, and dress up in comfortable clothes to begin exploring. I am excited. I search the web for Drew Arellano’s advice on how to discover Dumaguete on a budget. Taking the list of to-do’s, I head out to the Boulevard. This is Rizal Boulevard, after the Philippines’ national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. They believe that Jose Rizal has rested on these shores before reaching Dapitan, the place of his exile. (There is a ferry that can take you from Dumaguete to Dapitan.)

Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete City

Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

After enjoying the seabreeze and walking leisurely along the boulevard, I cross the street to Silliman University. Here are photos of the university. Silliman is at its center. According to a marker, Silliman University was originally an elementary school founded in 1901 by Dr. and Mrs. David S. Hibbard, under the terms of a gift by philanthropist Dr. Horace B. Silliman. It became a college in 1910, and a university in 1938. Its buildings were occupied by the Japanese in 1942-45. But it was reopened after the Second World War. The first Filipino president, Dr. Leopoldo T. Ruiz, was elected in 1952.

Silliman University, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Silliman University, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Close-up of the old building, Silliman University. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Close-up of the old building, Silliman University. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Rows of international flags greet visitors who enter the gate from Rizal Boulevard. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Rows of international flags greet visitors who enter the gate from Rizal Boulevard. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The University Church, Silliman University. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The University Church, Silliman University. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Below is the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium in Silliman University. The Cultural Center of Central Visayas, it is dedicated to dance, music, theatre, and other art forms. History has it that the building was completed in 1975, mainly by the Henry Luce Foundation, Inc. of New York City. It was named after Claire Isabel McGill Luce (1923-71), the wife of Henry Luce III.

I now peek into its doors, but there is no one around. Maybe next time, I can check shows which will enable me to check the interiors as well as enjoy the culture of Central Visayas.

The Luce Auditorium, Silliman University. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The Luce Auditorium, Silliman University. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

I then retrace my steps to the main grounds, shoot several photos of Hibbard Hall and the parade field, until I reach the main road that cuts through the university. I see the portals now, and getting a better angle, I take a few photos. Here they are.

Hibbard Hall, Silliman University. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Hibbard Hall, Silliman University. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Chairs for a performance have been placed on the main grounds of Silliman University. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Benches for various performances and events at the main grounds of Silliman University. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The portals of Silliman University. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The portals of Silliman University. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

From these portals, I follow the road to the Cathedral and Belfry of St. Catherine of Alexandria. I am surprised that these sights are within walking distance.

St. Catherine the Great Cathedral, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The interior of the church is not spectacular, but scenes of people in communion with God compensate what the cathedral, in my opinion, lacks.

A security guard prays fervently at the St. Catherine the Great Cathedral, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

A security guard prays fervently at the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

A man prays to the Sto. Nino de Cebu at the St. Catherine the Great Cathedral, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

A man prays to the Sto. Nino de Cebu at the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Filipino belief has it that we can wish for three things when we enter a place of worship for the first time. I do not quite believe in the limitation of ‘prayer intentions’ because God is not limited to three, but it is a good rule of thumb – to pray all the time, even if it is just three wishes like the genie in Aladdin’s bottle!

After a few minutes thanking God for my trip to Siquijor and Dumaguete, I now pray for the people I have promised to include in all my conversations with God. I remember my mom telling me to pray for those who do not have someone to pray for them. I end my prayer with the trio of oral prayers: Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.

I now leave the cathedral and navigate through a throng of pilgrims checking local souvenirs and buying candles for Our Lady of Lourdes grotto at the foot of the old belfry. Here is the bell tower.

The old belfry, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The old belfry, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The bell tower look like this in the past.

An artist's rendition of the old church and bell tower at the Cathedral of St. Catherine the Great, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

An artist’s rendition of the old church and bell tower at the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

After taking my last photo, I head to Sans Rival Café. I crave for the famous silvanas my friends have been talking about. Here it is.

Silvanas of Sans Rival Cafe, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Silvanas of Sans Rival Cafe, Dumaguete City. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

It is evening when I reach the café and it is brimming with people. There is only one table left al fresco, so I take it. A friendly waiter lists my order, and returns to serve the above silvanas and coffee. I know I am diabetic, but please give me a break. I feel that I will only taste these heavenly pastries only once in my life and I am not foregoing the experience. It is a perfect end to a memorable trip.

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An anecdote. I forget to pay. When I reach U-Pen, I realise that I left the Sans Rival Café soooooo happy that I completely forgot to pay the bill. So, I return the next morning for my due. Of all the things that I allow to bother me, conscience is not one of them.

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I then head to the airport knowing that I will definitely return and explore Negros. Apo Island, the twin lakes of Balinsasayaw and Danao, and the Pulangbato Falls are all awaiting admiration. Perhaps, I will need an invitation from the Diocese of Dumaguete to give a talk, seminar or retreat.

As the plane from Dumaguete lands on the tarmac of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, I make a quick review of my adventure. St. Ignatius says that it is a grace to be able to recharge. It is indeed good that I have been well-rested and energised in this trip. My heart overflows with gratitude.

I am ready for the challenges of the coming school year.

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