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Dumaguete: A City That Walks

Backpacking with a Book

Lost really has two disparate meanings. Losing things is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing. There are objects and people who disappear from your sight or knowledge or possession; you lose a bracelet, a friend, the key. You still know where you are. Everything is familiar except there is one less item, one missing element. Or you get lost, in which the world has become larger than your knowledge of it. . . This is what the view looks like if you take a rear-facing seat on the train. Looking forward you constantly acquire moments of arrival, moments of realization, moments of discovery. The wind blows your hair back and you are greeted by what you have never seen before.

Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Dumaguete housed beautiful maidens. Pirates docked their ships, went ashore, and abducted women.

They're not the pirates. They're the first educators in Dumaguete.

Dumaguete comes from the verb dumagit—an infliction of dagit, which roughly means  to kidnap, to run away with something, to forcibly  get something or someone.

The Church. It is crowded for extremes: mourning and celebration.

Arkaye, a writer friend and a Sillimanian, shared the origin of  the place’s name.

The Entrance of the Church

I could barely remember my first visit in Dumaguete. I was a college freshman then. What I remembered though was the scene below the makeshift human bridge used in small ports: pristine emerald water. That was the only memory I had in Dumaguete.

The Belfry. Sightings of pirate ships were signaled by a bell. In present times, the church utilizes the tower.

“How do you calculate upon the unforeseen? It seems to be an art of recognizing the role of the unforeseen, of keeping your balance amid surprises, of collaborating with chance, of recognizing that here are some essential mysteries in the world and thereby a limit to calculation, to plan, to control. To calculate on the unforeseen is perhaps exactly the paradoxical operation that life most requires of us.”

The Company. Rebecca Solnit's "A Field Guide to Getting Lost"

—Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Together with two colleagues from Cebu, we headed to Dumaguete without definite itineraries and solid information of the place.

The city only reveals itself once one is unprepared; and the best way to know the city is to get lost in it.

The Boulevard. Which separates Dumaguete from the sea

Duma is a city that walks. The nearby sea creates an illusion that everything is within reach.  Tree-lined Rizal Boulevard is always packed with people in any time of the day. Walking is the main transportation. Getting intimate with a place necessitates walking. Of course, tricycles are abundant, yet why ride when the city invites one to walk.

Silliman. But the Writers' Village is not here. 😉

Duma is an island paradise for writers since it is the home of the oldest writers workshop in the Philippines—the Silliman National Writers Workshop.

Photography can be a tool of deception.

He knew he was the subject. At first, he posed like any active kid. Something irritated his eye and he wiped it out. That single moment redefined the whole scenario. That’s the curse, gift of any art.  It is always a tool.

Tai Chi Chuan. Which means "Supreme Ultimate Fist." Oldies gather in the park as the sun slowly springs from the distant sea.

Siquijor, a sleepy island yet, is just across Duma.  Its somber look from afar makes one think how it is to see the lively lights of a city across the sea. One always assumes the life she hasn’t had the chance to live.

An introduction of Dumaguete: A City That Walks

The Boulevard. Their mornings start early.

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Silliman National Writers Workshop

Jona | Backpacking with a Book

Hi, I'm Jona! I write stories and poetry and take a lot of photos, which I'm too lazy to upload. If you want to receive some photos that I don't share here on the blog, please leave your email here. I'm crazy about cats too. Feel free to browse through BWAB, and I would love it if you say hi! For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at backpackingwithabook@gmail.com For more stories about BWAB, check here. Connect with us through

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6 Comments

  1. Dumaguete A City That Walks…

    […]Posted on March 1, 201 by jonabering| Leave a coment. Lost realy has two disparate meanings. Losing things is[…]…

  2. Hazel Joy Celestial says:

    i went to dumaguete last year also bear, but i was not able to savor the place and i wasnt able to know about the place the way you do.
    thanks so much. i wanna go back to the place once more.

  3. Jake says:

    As an avid American backpacker, I frikkin’ love the city! Defnitely one of the good places to get lost in.

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