Discovering Dumaguete

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The trip back to Cebu was frenzied. A longer queue. Back seats in the ferry. No bus when we arrived. But we we’re quick on our feet, taking a tricycle ride to the main road, then a van ride with a cheerful driver to ease our travel worries. It was hectic, but I was home. There’s this relief that’s not easy to describe. When you’re home from a vacation or overseas work, you’d know that feeling. Home.

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Let’s zoom past. It was Founders Day in Silliman. I’ve been hatching this plan of visiting Dumaguete with this confidant of mine for what seems like forever. Until me and my friend couldn’t wait any longer. We plotted the dates, filed our leaves, and bring what we need for 4 days and 3 nights.
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The best thing about this trip is that my friend’s a Sillimanian. And so is her boyfie. I know this is third wheeling, but hey, I need this trip just as those love birds do. 😛
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If it’s a Founders Day, it’s a Dumaguete trip. You don’t plan any other trips. And that’s not just a “thing.” They call it the Silliman Spirit. A Sillimanian seeing another Sillimanian. Here or abroad. There’s this brief exchange, a nod, a smile…IMG20170827110555

My friend’s itinerary includes the tempura/fishball stall located among the university dorms. Bossing’s. I’m not that big on spicy sauces so my tempura dip is Level 3. If you’re up for fire on your tongue, go for sauce Level 5. We toured the university, the acacia trees (estimated number of 200+ trees), the dorms, the library, the old archery place where they used to practice (both were archers), and the booths. We ate green mangoes with ‘uyap’ (hipon or shrimp paste). Twice. Or thrice? 😉
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Back to those acacia trees, there’s the one they call the Perfect Acacia tree. Because of its almost-perfect symmetry. My friend tells me students also referred to it as the ‘fertility tree’ due to the unexplained occurrence of several successful pregnancies after couples held their date under its shade. LOL.
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I thought I’ve forgotten the magic of live performances… until the Silliman Performs. Several glimpses of popular Broadway performances in one night for 200 pesos? This could only be luck. Or an alignment of stars… The performances were nothing short of awesome and I fell for that boy Tarzan singing, “you’ll be in my heart..
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Food. What’s a town without its raved delicacies?
1. Red puto + rich sikwate (served tongue-burning hot)

2. Bossing’s tempura + sauce is Level 3

3. Shrimp n’ Sausage Gumbo (@ Gabby’s Bistro) 

4. Spicy kabayo (horse meat @ Gina’s Kabayo-an)

5. Mang Atchan’s Tocino (local barbecue)

6. Sisig and kinilaw (@ Drill Shack Resort)

7. Strawberry smoothie (@ Scooby’s)

8. Cheese bread (@ the university canteen)

9. Silvanas (bought home as pasalubong but I ate some… or more)

10. Grilled chicken (@ CB or City Burger)
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Why Dumaguete? Because everyone who’s been there always, always has a good thing to say. And not just good in a my-town-is-better-than-yours kind of way. They speak of it with great sentimentality. Whether they’ve been there for long (like my friends who studied at Silliman), or for a short vacation (our office team). Or those who call Dumaguete their home, like my friend’s boyfie. Which is why I could just nod in understanding as he wished to be back home as soon as we got back in Cebu. Dumaguete is really… easy to love.

Now, I get it. How when they talk about it, there’s a distinct hint, as if simply uttering “Dumaguete” creates a ripple effect. As if that place misses them, just as much as they miss it.

~ JAN ANGELIQUE DALISAY

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