Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dumaguete: Of University Town and Wondrous Food

Being a small city,the best thing about Dumaguete is that you can get a decent hotel/hostel in the downtown area and you can just walk to most of the tourist and dining spots in the city. Situated in the heart of the city are several hotels that are priced reasonably and with ample facilities. Getting a hotel/hostel near the famed Rizal boulevard can save you the multicabs fare and one thing I noticed in Dumaguete that most multicabs driver would hike up their fare if they knew that you are a tourist.

A stone’s throw away from Dumaguete port is the American founded Protestant university which is Silliman University. The layout of the campus is comparable to a scaled down version of the prestigous state university – The University of the Philippines. Most of the campus building is designed after colonial American architecture. There is a large open field and numerous huge trees that provides the much needed shade. The university is not really what you can consider an ‘open’ university where one can just go in the university ground, as a visitor you are required to leave an id with the guard at the university’s gate so you can get the visitor pass.

Fronting Silliman University is the famous Rizal Boulevard which can be considered as Dumaguete’s version of the Manila Baywalk. This ubiquitous boardwalk is lined with lamposts and rows and rows of trees. As the sun starts to set, most locals will flock the baywalk to walk or sit around and talk as the sun begins its descent. On the opposite end of the boulevard are several small stalls selling tempura (but this is not the Japanese tempura) where you can sit amongst the multitude of plastic monoblock chairs bathed by the glowing rays of the setting sun as you dip your hot out of the frying pan tempura into a tangy sauce.

Along Perdices street, is the Dumaguete Belfry which stands out amongst the modern buildings and the busy street because of it’s century old stone structure. This bell tower is considered as one of the historical places in Dumaguete.

Synonymous to the city of the Gentle People is the term “Food trip” .Unofficially dubbed as Philippines ultimate Food Trip Capital,Dumaguete did not fail to deliver these gustatory delights. Head to the famous SansRival store/bakeshop at San Jose street to grab any daily lunch special and satisfy you sweet tooth with the famous sylvannas and sansrival. Their sansrival and sylvannas are nice,smooth and creamy and I personally noticed that the butter is not overpowering rendering a distinct taste that make you want to grab another piece. If you want to bring a slice of Dumaguete’s famous sylvannas you can preorder a 10pcs. boxed sylvannas for P105 which you can pick up before your flight back to Manila.

Move over Starbucks because Dumaguete got it’s own Cafe Antonio with a wonderful spanish-inspired interior. With antique like chairs and tables, old pianos, stained glass windows and even wooden porch swings transporting you to a scene in Noli Me Tangere. I did not try any coffee drink but I can highly recommend their very own Hot Choco which is priced at P65. It is what a hot choco must taste like because you can really distinctly taste the cocoa.

If there is one food place that Dumaguete is known for it will be Jo’s Chicken Inato along Silliman Avenue. A dish of grilled chicken (Chicken Inato) is priced at P85 which is reasonable and affordable enough. For less than a hundred you get to feast on a tasty grilled chicken and a cup of rice.Chicken Inato is similar to chicken inasal but it has a distinct taste which makes it more flavorful and juicy than the inasal dish which tends to be dried.

Aside from these three places there are still a lot more food havens in Dumaguete that I personally haven’t sampled (which are reasons enough to find myself back in this university town) – Fried Icecream, Mamias and one of the well known seafood restaurant (which I forgot the name).
For your pasalubong shopping you can head to Handumanan along Perdices st. You can grab native home decors, kitschy cellphone charms, various designs of keychains and ref magnets as well as Dumaguete and Silliman University shirts.

They say that food is the way to a man’s heart, the same thing goes for Dumaguete as well. Dumaguete’s food and laidback charm is the way to any traveler’s heart.


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