Apr 23-May 4, 2017
11 Days in Dumaguete
GPS waypoint: 09°18'32.1"N 123°18'20.3"E
Location: Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental (province), Philippines
In Search of a Cheap Room
After 2 weeks in Apo Island, I defaulted back to one of my favorite places - Dumaguete. After one night at Harold's Mansion, I was in search of a cheap room where I could stay for a month. I'm tired of moving every 2 nights. Ideally, I'd rather stay a month in a place before moving on. I couldn't find a cheap room. Fortunately, my benevolent universe had other plans for me, and it wasn't cheap - it was for free, in exchange for web services at Hotel Essencia.
Hotel Essencia was still under construction 5 years ago when I left Dumaguete to live a homeless life. Now, it's fully constructed. With its central location, handy facilities, comfortable amenities and buffet breakfast for two, I was on Easy Street - at least during my short stay. I could invite friends to join me for breakfast and I'd be in the thick of things as soon as I got out of the hotel. I couldn't ask for more.
Dinner with the Abesamis
Good friends from my previous stay in Dumaguete 5 years ago, the Abesamis - Rene, Nadia and their 2 daughters, invited me to join them for a dinner at their lovely home. There were other guests as well including an old friend, Che, Jorge, Raz and a Caucasian healer. It was an evening of shared anecdotal narratives, advocacies and political views.
Dumaguete's charm lies in the people who call it home. More than the tourist attractions, I am drawn to the wonderful people I've met along the way and the ones who are already endearingly familiar.
Angelo is Dumaguete's iconic flaming diva - outspoken, opinionated and irreverent. Take him or leave him...he offers no middle ground. He has this endearing defiance. A visit to Dumaguete is not complete without having a beer with him. He knows the ins-and-outs of the city and I defer to him in pointing me to the right direction.
Michael and Razel
I walked around the bend from Hotel Essencia and discovered this newly opened cafe - Arteasan Handcrafted Beverages. It's a small cozy place with good air conditioning and reliable wifi. Coffee is good and waffle is delicious. Brewed coffee starts at P50. Whoa! This is my kind of place. I met the owner, Razel, and became friends with her and subsequently, her significant-other, Michael. We had dinner and I would often bring my friends to the cafe to chill and hangout. With people of good energy, it's increasingly becoming inevitable I become friends with them.
Within Hotel Essencia is a pasalubong store - Dodong's Dumaguete Delicacies. I made a pitch for the owner (Dodong) and he agreed to meet me. He was a soft-spoken man and only 31 years old. I thought I would meet someone weathered by life already. Dodong had an interesting story of abandonment, perseverance and prosperity. But what got my attention was, like me, good things happen to him. He seem to be in the right place at the right time, meeting people he needed to meet. Given our parallelism, I was trying to discern what our common denominator was. By the end of the meeting, I was drawn to conclude his heart was in the right place. I guess it all starts with volition. That seems the only thing existing in nature that is beyond reproach regardless of outcome. It wasn't important anymore if I made a deal or not. Meeting Dodong was reward unto itself.
I thought I'd source CouchSurfing to make friends with its local members. That's how I met Kate - a heart-centered health enthusiast who is growing roots in Dumaguete. We had an engaging talk at Arteasan Cafe about what's looming on the horizon for us both.
I met Jorge at the Abesamis' residence over dinner. He intrigued me for his wealth of knowledge and passion to make this planet a greener world. I invited him to be my breakfast guest at Hotel Essencia. We touched on a lot of non-technical issues which essentially made for good bonding. He's gone back to the US and I won't be in Dumaguete when he comes back. Oh well, that's life.
I've known Rachel since my residency days in Valencia 5 years ago, but never really got down to have a coffee conversation with her until now. It's comfortable to be having idle chat with someone I'm at ease with. We met at Valencia's market day over sikwate then again at Neva's for some wood-burning oven pizza.
Angel and I go back to my Dumaguete days when Aesha, her daughter, and I, partnered for the Eco Adventure Race 2010. She guested me on her talk-show when I was a hit-and-run victim. I'm just glad she found time to join me for coffee despite her busy schedule.
Laura and I hang-out whenever we bump into each other - Dumaguete, Bali, Cebu, etc. Like me, she travels extensively and we share common pursuits - yoga, scuba diving, snorkeling, meditation, etc. Now on new ground starting on a clean slate, I give her metta.
Karl surprised me. He was one of my web design students at the College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines, back in 2005 when I was still teaching. He recognized me and introduced himself. I remember him as the one who tried unorthodox approaches to web design - something I admired. Too bad, I had to vent out on him my frustrations about UP. His batch, the one I taught, had the most number of cum laudes in the university. Surprisingly, due to career constraints, he's working for a corporation doing something not related to the arts.
When in Dumaguete, I always go out of my way to eat at Neva's Pizza. By far, still the best value in Dumaguete - wood burning oven, hand-tossed pizza dough and pizza starts at P108! That's hard to beat.
At the market, I make sure I go to Sison's Painitan for the best sikwate native cocoa drink and Budbud Kabog made by Manang Pina (you can place your catering order here - 0926.237.7428). After these two, everything else is optional.
I thought I would stay a minimum of a month in Dumaguete, but somehow, after my stay in Hotel Essencia, I felt the need to move on again. Dumaguete gave me a new flavor this time - lots of new friends, a whole new perspective of doing things and taking ownership of an emergent role I seem to be playing. My feelings for Dumaguete remain unchanged - she's bridal material. I'm just not ready to settle yet. Where to go next?
I am fortunate to have a few outstanding invites at the moment - attend an Ashtanga Yoga class in Cebu City with Jeanne, accept Greg's invite to join him in Coron for some white-knuckle adventure, go to Amlan on the invite of the tourism officer to explore its wonders or lead a monastic life for 2 months in Thailand teaching English. Somehow, breakfast conversation with my dear Jeanne excites me.
Next stop: Cebu City
Reader Comments:Kate Hassaram
(May 6, 2017) It was a pleasure meeting you! Let me know if you are ever back. Have a lovely journey ahead.
(May 6, 2017) Happy we got to catch up again :-) I will let you know if I head Cebu next week.. :-)
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