We give Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, Philippines a look…

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Our visit to Dumaguete was part of a plan to select the best place for upcoming retirement in the Philippines. We ended up building a house in a small town on Panay Island, but we still consider Dumaguete a top Philippine retirement location and in fact since our visit Dumaguete is an increasingly popular retirement destination for foreigners.  Note that our Dumaguete visit on which this article is based was in 2005 so don’t assume that all remains the same as it was in 2005.

Negros Oriental Provincial Capital, Dumaguete

Negros Oriental Provincial Capital, Dumaguete

 

Negros Oriental Provinical Capital Building, Dumaguete

Negros Oriental Provinical Capitol Building, Dumaguete

Dumaguete is more genteel than any Philippine city I have visited. Most Philippine cities aim just to survive; being pretty is not high on the list. Instead of the usual polluted, industrial water front, Dumaguete has a long, lovely, waterfront promenade with cast iron street lamps and benches to rest on. Huge Acacia trees line the strip of parkland separating the promenade from Rizal Boulevard. The Boulevard has some nice hotels, cafes, and bars where one can while away the hours gazing at the ocean.

Dumaguete's Crown Jewel - The Oceanfront Promenade

Dumaguete’s Crown Jewel – The Oceanfront Promenade

The community has other assets. The Silliman University campus is almost Ivy League-beautiful. The Provincial Capitol and adjacent Freedom Park are also beautiful and well maintained. Generally there are sidewalks and far less trash than is usual in the Philippines. The water and sewer works, while not up to Western standards, are better than most.

Giant Acacia trees along the "Boulevard".  The building behind the trees is the Bethel Guest House.

Giant Acacia trees along the “Boulevard”. The building behind the trees is the Bethel Guest House.

The "Promenade", Dumaguete

The “Promenade”, Dumaguete

I found the people more reserved than in Cebu City, probably just because it’s a more rural place. However I was grocery shopping in Lee Plaza, Dumaguete, in the soup section. Three young teenage girls were also shopping there — maybe they were 16. The three of them approached me and said, very sweetly and very sincerely, that I was very cute, very handsome. They did not seem to have any agenda — except maybe they were on the way to eye doctor. Anyway, they did this bold thing in a very shy way. I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day.

The beautiful Silliman University Campus, Dumaguete

The beautiful Silliman University Campus, Dumaguete

Silliman University Church, Dumaguete

Silliman University Church and University Campus, Dumaguete

Before coming to the Philippines, we lived in Upstate New York.  Horace Silliman was from Cohoes, New York, part of the Albany area.  Silliman University in Dumaguete was a relativity small part of Silliman’s philanthropy, but is perhaps is the most enduring part.  His major project, Silliman Memorial Church was demolished in 1998 by the city to which he devoted so much of his life.  More information at http://www.lostlandmarks.org/silliman.html

The Silliman University web site: http://www.su.edu.ph/

Anthropological Museum, Silliman University, Dumaguete. Open to the public by arrangement.

Anthropological Museum, Silliman University, Dumaguete. Open to the public by arrangement.

I tended to hang around the “Why Not” restaurant, bar, Internet cafe, travel agency, real estate agency. Seemed mostly Germans and other Europeans there. Some start drinking after breakfast and are pretty glassy-eyed by lunch. Thai dishes at Why Not were the best food of our three month trip, and we dined at dozens of restaurants.

Moving to the center of town from the waterfront, Dumaguete becomes more like the usual Philippine city; choked with tricycles and other traffic.

Rizal Park, Dumaguete

Rizal Park, Dumaguete

Rizal Park, Dumaguete

Rizal Park, Dumaguete

South Seas Resort, Dumaguete

South Seas Resort, Dumaguete

Sunrise, South Seas Resort, Dumaguete

Sunrise, South Seas Resort, Dumaguete

We stayed at the South Seas resort north of downtown — not perfect, but was on ocean, pool, quiet and nicely landscaped but still with fairly easy access to downtown. We paid about $23 USD per night for an AC cottage.

Dumaguete Hotel and Resort Reservations Link

 

Compared to Cebu City, Bacolod and Iloilo, Dumaguete real estate prices are much lower.  Comparatively they are a good deal.  For Filipinos who need to earn a living, there are many more employment and business opportunities in the bigger cities, but the the foreign retiree need not consider that.  For them, Dumaguete has a lot to offer.  Further, many foreigners come to pretty Dumaguete to build their dream homes.  Things happen and these places end up on the market at good prices.  In Cebu City there would be plenty of Filipino buyers, but in Dumaguete the market for expensive properties is mainly foreigners.

Many of the smaller communities near Dumaguete are also pretty with many good beach and diving opportunities. There’s also opportunities for hiking and mountaineering.

Silliman University Medical Center, Dumaguete

Silliman University Medical Center, Dumaguete

Friends who live in Dumaguete give good reports on the medical care here, especially for a smaller Philippine city.  Nurses graduating from Silliman University are top-scorers on nursing board exams.

Sans Rival Bakery and Restaurant, Dumaguete - one of my favorites

Sans Rival Bakery and Restaurant, Dumaguete – one of my favorites

There are some beautiful small towns near to Dumaguete.  Live near the beach in Dauin or in the mountains in beautiful Valencia.

Quiet and pretty Dauin, Negros Oriental

Quiet and pretty Dauin, Negros Oriental

Forest Camp, a park not far from Dumaguete

Forest Camp, a park not far from Dumaguete

Forest Camp is a private park in the hills of Valencia, a very pretty small mountain town outside of Dumaguete.  Forest Camp is a good place for a picnic.  They also have overnight accommodations.

Forest Camp, Dumaguete

Carol at Forest Camp, Dumaguete

Char, B-Ray and Bob at Forest Camp, Dumaguete

Steam running through Forest Camp, Dumaguete

Stream running through Forest Camp, Dumaguete

Dumaguete area rental units available

Rental Units Available in Dumaguete

Rental Units Available in Dumaguete

Dumaguete Rentals: Link to details

Dumaguete Hotel and Resort Reservations Link

Much more excellent Dumaguete information at http://www.dumagueteinfo.com/

Comments (13) Write a comment

  1. I enjoyed reading reviews honest, experienced/knowledge of each places that people shared/blog/vlog/podcast . To me I would not rely on some expats review, while they may have the money or not sometimes their partners or companions are really not well educated about the city, or they are educated on what is available to them or what is only acceptable of their own choice or cup of tea. To me, I have been to to many cities and places in the Philippines, and I even live years on some places, but it is Dumaguete that kept me going back to the Philippines. Being one of the children of American missionaries who travelled all over the world and more specifically Philippines , and grownd and raised mostly in the Philippines, it is part of who I am and what I became to be. My parents have been retired and we are all are back here in USA. I have a life of my own now and a child also on his own, but my husband and I always look back to the Philippines someday to retire patly and partly in the USA. My experience in Dumaguete is very nice. When my dad was assigned in Dumaguete, my sister , brother and I went to school in Silliman. As I have said we travelled mostly all over the word, but it is this small City/provencial type that keep us calling to go back. And we did once in awhile, we also visited other attractions in the Philippines. It is this City that offered us peacefulness, blissfulness, contentment, cleaner than the rest of the Philippines so to speak. The Silliman U and Holy Child hospitals are fairly good in hospital standards (take note we live in Western world), decent restaurants, we do not do the why not thing (probably for young ones like a few expats military wives and maybe some students or people who just like to exercise (dancing is exercise) in crowded and noisy places, but we have lots of professional friends that live and work and even retired there. Those are our crowds, we also go on nice retreats on some nice quite resorts with friends and families, the Writer’s workshops, the retreats in the mountains of Valencia (camp lookout), combing beaches and resorts, dining and gathering with friends that can really carry good conversation in a friendly, professional and educational manner, That can carry an honest and meaningful conversation. Most expats experiences although they may be older but have very young wives or partner that do not have enough experience or education, so it is hard to really follow on their blogs about the city or the Philippines. The are some expats, too that are very informed about everyting, like retired military generals, military doctors, and they seemed to aligned with our life and type of topic to to share in a meaningful conversation. In other words, we planned to retire in Dumaguete, pople are easy and friendly and we have lots friends in the University.
    We love opera, broadway shows and we still can have this in Sillimman Luce Auditorium. The food the City the type of friends we have , nothing can beat Dumaguete.

    we found it all here.

    Reply

  2. Pictures all taken early at the morning so that explains the nice emptyness .
    Prices of real estate low ? Compare for real prices with comparable cities like Bacolod , Davao and Cagayan de Oro and you will see that Dumaguete is by far the most expensive . See : http://www.numbeo.com
    The information here is really misleading . Sorry:)

    Reply

    • Thanks for your comment. We have added a disclaimer that what we wrote was based on a stay in Dumaguete in 2005 and that things may have changed.

      Reply

  3. Beautiful pictures,very! I am a Silliman alumnus based in Metro Manila. I have visited the beautiful campuses of U.P. Dil
    iman, Ateneo de Manila, University of Santo Tomas and Dela Salle University-Manila. These Metro Manila-based universities are the best campuses in the National Capital Region. But Silliman campus is a great, heaven’s gift!!!!!!!!!! Silliman students, enjoy the hallowed grounds of this great university. For tomorrow, you will never see a great campus like this…

    Reply

  4. I’ve been there in Silliman U once before, and based on my tours around different schools in the Philippines, the Silliman campus is one of the most beautiful.

    Reply

  5. Thanks Bob!
    I am still on and hoping to leave the world’s coldest capital city and adventure in the beautiful Philippines!
    thanks for the above
    david

    Reply

  6. Wonderful text and pics too. As a Canadian looking at retirement and excited about avoiding the cold, I wonder if I might ask for recommendations as to which cities or areas to consider? I hope to travel in July and August but there is so much to see! Baguio, Tagaytay, Palawan and of course Dumaguete among others! Many thanks again for your posting and I hope you and yours are enjoying a healthy and happy retirement!
    david
    david.kuracina@ocdsb.ca

    Reply

    • David,

      My experience is limited to a few places. If you want a big city look at Cebu City or Davao. Medium, Bacolod and Iloilo. Small towns look at Bohol, the coast south of Cebu City and SW Panay Island where we live. Dunaguete is another great choice. There are hundreds more.

      Bob

      Reply

  7. Pingback: Miagao, Iloilo Province, Philippines (under construction) at goILOILO.com

  8. John, Glad you enjoyed goIloilo. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your visit to Dumaguete. For most Filipinos “going birding” is likely to mean eating rather than watching but there are some birding organizations which are listed on the goIloilo site under the “outdoors” category. I was able to buy a copy of “A Photographic Guide to the Birds of the Philippines” at the National Bookstore in Iloilo. It cost P535. I don’t know if you’ll be able to buy something similar in Dumaguete. Probably so. Amazon.com has Philippine bird books but it sounds as if you won’t have time for that before you leave. Bring your binoculars. I find that Philippine birds are more elusive than those in the US. They have to be! Bob and Carol

    Reply

  9. The photographs are magnificent. I’m leaving for Dumaguente on 8, November for a 30 day vacation. I’ll be headquartered in Dum and hope to do some birdwatching if I can locate a buy  on a Philippine Bird Guide. I’m an invité of a Philippina acquaintance who expects me to teach her basic drawing and who has never gone birding in her life. I hope that your retirement is working out. /s/ John R. Bridell, 5421 Cumberland Road, Minneapolis, Mn. 55410/
    Tel 612-920-6813

    Reply

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