The Historic Bell Tower in downtown Dumaguete, Oriental Negros

Exploring the City of Gentle People: Dumaguete Daily Life



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In an attempt to answer the questions I’ve received about what my daily surroundings are like here in Dumaguete, I’ve set up this evolving section to try to give you an idea what life here is like. You’ll find some typical sights from around the city, and also catch a glimpse of a famous landmark or two. Dumaguete is home to several universities, so as a college town it is buzzing with activity at all times of the day and night. I’ve even heard it described as resembling a Southeast Asian Berkeley, California!

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    Aside from the scenic Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete, the historic Bell Tower is another famous landmark. According to the local legend, when pirates came to raid Dumaguete in the olden days, the people would climb to the top of the tower to yell out a warning to the sleeping residents (click here for a close up view of the Bell Tower).

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    There are no defined lanes on Perdices Street, and pedi cabs weave in and around each other while they pick up and drop off passengers. Most rides within the city limits have a fixed fare of four pesos (about seven cents), but it is always good to agree on the fare before you get in to the cab to avoid confrontations with the drivers.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    Pedi cabs crowd Perdices Street day and night.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    The other preferred local form of transportation is the scooter. Since cars are very expensive and the roads are narrow, not many people drive them around Dumaguete and instead take pedi cabs or motorcycles (I ride a regular bicycle). Because there are so few cars, when it rains, the streets are generally empty.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    Crossing Perdices Street can be like a Southeast Asian version of Frogger.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    The pedi cabs will take you out into the countryside, but you'll have to pay quite a bit more.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    Moving on from the topic of pedi cabs! Dumaguete has many restaurants to choose from depending on what you feel like eating. Most days I will eat lunch in town and cook my dinner at my host family house to save money. This is a photo of what has probably turned out to be my favorite lunch...cashew chicken!

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    The mountains that separate Negros Oriental from Negros Occidental rise dramatically behind Dumaguete. Sometimes if I blur my eyes and ignore the palm trees, it can feel like I'm in Idaho or Montana (click here for a close up view of this sunset).

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    At night the pedi cabs buzz along Perdices Street under the neon sign of Cang's, a local department store.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    This fresh fruit market on the corner of Perdices St. is busy even at night.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    No stoplights here in Dumaguete, so traffic flows freely through the city in organized chaos.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    Quezon Park is another nice shady spot in town to get out of the tropical sun (click here for a close up view of Quezon Park).

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    A pedi cab pulls over from the river of headlights to drop off a passenger.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    There are several venues for live music in Dumaguete including Hayahay (above photo) where Enchi plays Visayan reggae every Wednesday night.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    On special weekends, Hayahay will put up a big stage and invite Visayan reggae bands from out of town to take the stage.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    I have even played at Hayahay myself a few times. This photo is from a two hour Saturday night show I did in August. It was raining that night, so not many people came out, but I played 20 songs on the 12 string guitar that Jun Reputana built for me (click here to read about Jun's guitar).

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    Night closes on another day and the bell tower lights up with floodlights and prayer candle offerings (click here to see a close up of the bell tower at night).

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    The weather here in Dumaguete is usually pretty moderate, even during the "rainy" season, it will just rain in the afternoon, or even better at night. In September 2004, I noticed this towering thundercloud at the end of my street. Lightning was intermittently flashing inside the cloud, lighting it up with an eerie bluish-white light. I set my camera up on a tripod with a long exposure, and one of the frames happened to catch this flash of lightning inside the cloud.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    The Silliman University campus is lined with expansive acacia trees.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    The Silliman University Marine Lab is the best in the country and has top notch staff and facilities. The lab was established 30 years ago, and in 1998 built a new lab facility complete with a molecular gene sequencer and dive shop. I'm lucky to be assigned to work here over the next two years (click here for a close up view of the Marine Lab).

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    Perdices Street is the commercial center of town and is always buzzing with the pedi cabs taking people to and from their destinations (click here for a close up view of Perdices Street).

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    Looking like a cross between an asymmetrical stage coach and one of those German side car motorcycles, the pedi cab (also commonly called a tricycle) is the dominant form of transportation in Dumaguete (besides just plain walking). The cab is basically a handmade coach welded to the frame of a motorcycle. The driver sits on the motorcycle to steer the cab, while the passengers sit on the narrow bench seat inside.The pedi cab designs vary from town to town, but the Dumaguete design is my favorite of all that I've seen. Each cab has a handpainted identification number on it, kind of like a license plate. The pedi cabs are generally owned by the driver, and you won't find an organized company that they all work for. I've read that there are something like 4,000 pedicab drivers in Dumaguete and with all that competition, most drivers will only earn 100 pesos per day (less than $2).

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    The coach of the cab is made from welded sheet metal and always have the distinct personalities of the owner/driver.

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    My favorite feature of the Dumaguete pedi cabs can be summarized in two words: leg room. In other places that I've visited around the Philippines, getting in and out of the cabs can be a contortionist act of claustrophobia...

  • Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos

    Dumaguete - Daily Life Photos
    ...like this! This pedi cab is packed to the gills and even has two guys sitting on the seat behind the driver. This is the kind of ride that will have you counting down the minutes, and you have to get out of the cab to pay because it is too cramped to even reach into your pockets.