Dumaguete was a perfect respite from the camp in Sumilon (like I said previously – the island is just too precious to waste on a gecko-ridden camp site). It’s got a small town feel – the people are gentle; the streets are clean; and it’s easily navigable. 24 hours is all you need to explore the city; a day more if you’d like to hop to nearby islands.
After checking in at Florentina, my friend James and I went straight via tricycle (8 pesos per passenger) to the city’s iconic boardwalk along Rizal Avenue. This was special since we don’t get to see a lot of urban areas with such a scenic ocean view.
A monument to the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres, who were among the city’s first Catholic missionaries and educators, stands on the gateway.
Our first meal – late lunch – was in the restaurant at La Residencia Almar.
Chicharon Bisaya. I’m a chicharon gourmand but I’ve never tasted anything like it. It’s all fried laman, none of the pork skin. It’s crunchy and not oily at all. Pure pork bliss.
Sizzling Tangigue Steak. The tenderest Tangigue ever.
We walked for about 50 meters for coffee and dessert at another Dumaguete landmark – Sans Rival Cakes & Pastries on San Jose Street.
Stuffed from the lunch, we hopped on the trike again and headed for Silliman University, the oldest American university in Asia. Silliman is Dumaguete. It defines the city, and occupies much of its prime real property. The death of Silliman would be the end of Dumaguete.
The campus is lined with trees much like UP Diliman. Many famous writers have gone to Silliman for fellowships and higher studies. How can you not wax poetic in a placid setting such as this?
We had the obligatory museum tour ten minutes before closing time. I just remember seeing lots of Muslim artifact.
For dinner, we checked out Hayahay. This is a must-visit for the freshest seafood, cheap San Miguel beer, and live music (name it, the guitarist-singer can sing it – from Jim Croce to Justin Bieber).
This I have to declare: no other ethnic group does ihaw as well as the Ilonggos. Everything is perfectly grilled. We had squid, maya maya, and kinilaw. The famous Ilonggo “lambing” or cariño extends to food preparation.
The bud-bud didn’t need any sugar topping. It had the right sweetness and was best taken with tsokolate. Meal cost: 18 pesos.
Other comfort food like spam, hotdog and pandesal in the escaparate looked just as sumptuous.
My second breakfast (yes, the suman was just my first breakfast course) was at the Florentina Café. The tapa wasn’t bad at all.
Anyone who’s been to DGT would tell you to sample the Chicken Inasal at Jo’s Inato. We did go there a few hours before our flight.
I’ve tasted better Inasals in Manila but the experience was most peculiar because of this chicken. It was living, tied to one corner, crowing as we ate one of his brothers. Talk about torture most fowl.
I also had to try the yummy Buko Halo Halo.
The final stop was at the Cathedral. I just had to. I could hear my mom whispering to my ear (“Did you go to Church?”). Good thing there weren’t “No to RH Bill” posters in sight.
And that’s how we spent our 24 hours in Dumaguete, where there’s nothing better to do than eat.