Dumaguete is known as “The City of Gentle People.” It’s easy to see why – this is a serene university town filled with genteel locals, and its atmosphere is conducive to artistic and scholarly pursuits.
Silliman University is the most prominent among Dumaguete’s universities and colleges. Established in 1901, it is the oldest American-founded University in Asia.
Stroll around the campus and visit the Silliman Anthropological Museum, which contains artifacts that date back 2,000 years and an ethnographic compendium of the different indigenous groups of the Philippines.
Other popular landmarks within the city are the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral and the Dumaguete Belfry, both built in 1811. The belfry formerly served as a watchtower that alerted locals of marauding pirates. And no visit to Dumaguete would be complete without spending time on Rizal Boulevard, a beachfront promenade along the city’s commercial district. Thanks to its restaurants, tempurahan (hawker-style stalls) and various watering holes, the area is an excellent place to enjoy a morning cup of coffee or a lively evening with friends.
To see Dumaguete transformed, time your stay to coincide with one of the city’s festivals. Not to be missed are the Sandurot Festival, a celebration of Dumaguete’s multicultural roots, and the Buglasan Festival of Festivals, which includes a bevy of cultural events and competitions showcasing the entire province of Negros Oriental.
Dumaguete is also a great jump-off point for exploring other attractions within the province. The Negros Oriental Arts and Heritage Stonecraft (NOAH) in Bacong feature stone-crafting factories and a souvenir shop that sells original handicrafts.
Less than an hour away from Dumaguete is Bais City. Visit any time between March and October and cruise the Tañon Strait for dolphin and whale-watching.
Make a pit stop at the Manjuyod White Sand Bar, a stretch of powdery white sand that fully emerges during low tide. Bais City is also home to the Central Azucarera de Bais – the first sugar mill in the Philippines, established in 1918. Early machines, tools, and even the Baldwin Locomotive that was used to transport the sugarcane remain on display.
Don’t leave without exploring the waters of the world-famous Apo Island, located just off the southeastern tip of Negros Island. This dazzling marine reserve is home to some 650 species of fish and 400 species of corals, and boasts spectacular drop-offs and sea walls. With 15 dive sites, it is among the best underwater experiences the Philippines have to offer.