Epic Ride: Dumaguete
By The Pinoy Rider
As some of you might know, I consider Cebu as my second home so I wanted to do a long ride that is outside of Cebu. The first thing that came into my mind was the island next door – Negros. Personally, I felt I still had some unfinished business with Negros because the only time I was there before, I stayed for a total of four hours only. Yes that is correct, four hours only. It really sounds ridiculous for me not to explore the 2 provinces there as I used that time to cross to Cebu 2 years ago. From the Dumangas Port in Iloilo, I arrived in BREDCO port in Bacolod City. During that time, I would have missed the 3:30 PM cut-off at San Carlos City Port so I proceeded all the way to Escalante City in Negros Occidental so I could take the ferry and arrive in Tabuelan, Cebu. That is the unfinished business I was talking about. I made sure to spend more time on this trip, as Negros deserves more time so I could explore its beauty and share it to everyone so here it goes.
Beautiful Southern Cebu
From Mandaue City, it is a long 145 kilometer ride all the way down to Santander. Southern Cebu could be one of the most picturesque rides you will ever take. Although my ride started out with a bit of rain which I consider as a blessing, the beautiful Southern Cebu coastline might bring you to a trance and you might just enjoy the sceneries too much. Apart from the great views, the roads are mostly well-paved from Sibonga all the way up to Lilo-An port in Santander. I hardly remember any rough roads along the way. Among the beautiful coastal towns you will pass through would be Argao, Oslob, Boljoon, and Santader, among others. From old churches, to whale watching, to just simply enjoying the great serenity brought about by the Cebu coastline, one would truly appreciate Southern Cebu.
Changed to IRC tires for better grip on the road
Santander, Cebu is a popular route when going to Negros Oriental
Upon reaching Santander, make sure not to miss the left turn going to Lilo-An port, which is your gateway to Sibulan, Negros Oriental – which would be your jump-off point to Dumaguete City – The Motorcycle of the Philippines.
I was targeting the 10:30 AM trip but due to numerous delays (aka taking pictures), I missed it by 5 minutes so I had no choice but to wait for the 12 pm trip. I just paid the 240 Php fare for me and my bike. It was a relief for me because out of all my RoRo trips, this had to be the cheapest ever as I was accustomed to paying 600 – 1000 pesos per one way trip. Since it was a hot and sunny day, I just waited at a nearby karinderya while drinking very cold fresh buko juice for only 10 pesos per cup. It tasted quite good so I had three in a span of 30 minutes. While waiting for the next barge to arrive, I was already in constant communication with Suzuki Raiders Club Dumaguete as they would be welcoming me at the pier. Too bad my trip was delayed since I wanted to meet this amazing group of people right away. Furthermore, All Mio Club Dumaguete and Rebelsport APA Group also got in touch with me as they said they wanted to meet me during my trip in Negros Oriental. I haven’t even started my official tour of Negros yet and I was already feeling very excited. But hey, isn’t that what trips are about – enjoying the journey, appreciating the sights, and meeting great people? This isn’t too bad at all!
Rockstar welcome at Sibulan port courtesy of SRC-Dumaguete
After the 45 minute ferry ride crossing the Tañong Strait, I was welcomed by the amazing group of people known as SRC-Dumaguete. What I appreciate the most if that even though it is a weekday (a workday!), they came in full force to welcome The Pinoy Rider. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by no less than their President, Philip Paolo Inoferio. I could sense their excitement when they welcomed me and I am very thankful for that. After a short chit-chat and some photo ops, we then proceeded to a famous local restaurant in Sibulan town – Jo’s Chicken Inato by the sea. I have tried this restaurant previously during one of my Iloilo trips, but the experience here is totally different from before. The ambiance of the place was great and you will be literally eating in a boat-like structure by the sea. You will feel the windy see breeze while relaxing and eating famous inihaw dishes. Oh, and the food was great too, by the way. Everyone was surprised and very elated upon finding out that I had a bunch of Inside Racing magazines and stickers as my pasalubong. Now that’s a wow!
Suzuki Raiders Club Dumaguete were all smiles
After eating and after settling down, they asked me if I wanted to rest first and unload my bags since I had a total of 5 bags tied to my motorcycle. I told the group that I’d rather do the Dumaguete tour first so that I will be able to have my city walk in the night (they say that Dumaguete is more beautiful once the sun goes down) and be able to rest uninterrupted. We then proceeded to Dumaguete which is about 6 kilometers away. We were supposed to go straight to Silliman University but I requested to have my picture taken first at the city boundary that says “Dumaguete City – Welcome.” If you guys have been observing, I always make sure to have at least one photo taken at the welcome arc / boundary of the new place I am exploring so having a picture taken at the Dumaguete border was one of the items on my checklist.
With our first official stop being Silliman University, I was amazed by the hugeness of the campus and the number of people walking in the streets. Upon arrival at the compound, being a motorcycle enthusiast that I am, the first thing I noticed was the huge number of motorcycles roaming around and parked on the streets. Even women here ride a motorcycle as their main source of transportation. I don’t even recall seeing a single 4-wheeled vehicle in their street parking, and I am not even exaggerating. It was such as if I was in the middle of a long display of motorcycles in a dream.
Any roadtrip will not be complete without taking photos and making them as memories
This museum contains ancient artifacts depicting our colorful history
Founded by Dr. Horace Silliman in 1901, Silliman University is actually the first American institute in the Philippines and Asian continent. It is also the center of Negros’ education system with students coming from as far as Bacolod and San Carlos City. Dumaguete is called a university town after all.
There were several spots in the University compound that I liked. The Amphitheater, built in 1921, is a common meeting place for students and student organizations. What’s amazing about this is that it is located in front of the church and in a wide open field. Also be sure to check out the stained glass window of Silliman University Church depicting Jesus Christ and his apostles. We also visited the Silliman Library which houses a huge collection of educational materials and is actually a beauty in itself due to its structure.
Welcoming you to the other side of Silliman University is the tall flagpole that proudly shows our Philippine Flag flying high. I always make it a point to have a photo of the Philippine Flag on a famous structure, as I feel more patriotic doing so, and most especially when I see it flying high on top, over-looking the city. Makes me prouder to be a Filipino. Personally, the best place that I enjoyed would be the University Museum that holds hundreds, if not thousands of archaeological findings for us to be amazed on. I was also very excited to try out the famous cheese bread of Silliman, as the group said that my visit will not be complete without trying it out. Too bad that it was out of stock during the time I was there. I was a little bit disappointed because of that but on the other hand it could be a sign that I should go back in the near future to visit Dumaguete City again. From Silliman, it was a short but slow drive to what probably is Dumaguete’s most popular structure – the Negros Oriental Provincial Capitol. We were already a bigger group by this time as All Mio Club – Dumaguete took part in welcoming me and touring me around “The motorcycle capital of the Philippines.” I felt so touched with all the love the riders in Dumaguete have showed me.
Motorcycle Capital of the Philippines
by the old school bus in Dumaguete
Typical student life in Dumaguete
Our Philippine flag flying high and proud in Dumaguete
We all had a blast doing some photo ops by the Negros Oriental Capitol and I saw the excitement in everyone’s faces, even though they have been there countless times. In this bunch of individuals I saw simple yet very welcoming and hospitable people who all share a common passion – their love for motorcycles.
After having that long convoy of motorcycles through the busy streets of Dumaguete, I finally arrived with the group at my accommodation – Vintage Inn, located in Surban St., in front of the public market. The room I had was quite okay, no TV but with AC and hot and cold. Not bad for an overnight rate of 450 pesos considering its proximity to everything.
After cleaning up and resting for about an hour, I then proceeded in doing my much awaited city walk. I was excited to get up close with the famous Dumaguete Belfry. I was very much eager to see it because I’ve only seen it in photos and it looks astonishing. It was at the center of the city, and rightfully so. When I went in, there were several locals praying fervently at the grotto inside with some lighting candles to signify their pure and sincere intentions. I did not have much to ask, and I just thanked the Lord for guiding and keeping me safe in this trip.
In front of the Belfry is the city’s own version of Rizal Park. There is a statue of our national here, Dr. Jose Rizal right smack at the middle of the park. Rizal is significant in Dumaguete as one of the city’s busiest areas, Rizal Boulevard, was named after the great Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, marking it as one of the historical sites found in the city. Elders say that he had made a brief visit and took a stroll here before departing to the neighboring island of Dapitan where he was exiled for four years following the Spanish authorities’ suspicion that he was about to lead a revolution. Even at night, a lot of people are still hanging out at the park, some kids even playing skateboard, and lovers getting their own little cozy spot to spend time. This is proof the citizens here feel safe no matter what the time is. I hope that I could say the same thing about Manila too in the future.
A must visit – Dumaguete bell tower
Before proceeding to take my dinner, one of my Facebook followers, Rebelsport APA met up with me to have a quick chat. It was a fruitful one because he shared with me his passion on modifying motorcycles, and his dream of having a unified organization concerning safe motorcycle modifications in our country – locally made and developed, and something that we would be proud of.
Although I ate my dinner at a fast food restaurant in Robinson’s Mall, I made sure to taste one of their famous delicacies for dessert – the Dumaguete Sanzrival and silvanas courtesy of Sanz Rival Bistro. I tried both but my favorite was the silvanas as it is my favorite. The silvanas they were selling was a little sweet for my liking but it tasted good nonetheless. For only 50 pesos for 2 pieces, it was well worth the price. The location is also good as the bistro fronts the famous Dumaguete City Baywalk Boulevard.
Your Dumaguete experience would not be complete without trying out their famous Sanz Rival or Silvanas
I also had an interesting piece of conversation from an Australian named Peter who approached me as I was eating my silvanas. He approached me out of the blue and just asked me a random question about my bike that was parked outside. I was told that it looked like it came from a faraway place. What he didn’t know was it actually did hehe. Anyway, after several minutes chit chatting he told me that he has travelled to countless countries already and all have their own attractions, but the best beaches in the world for him isn’t located in Bali, Europe, or other famous places – but could be found right here in the Philippines. Compliments like that from foreigners makes me all the more proud to be from the Philippines. We should really be thankful with what we have here.
With my new Australian friend, Peter
Negros is simply beautiful
Although the time I spent in “The City of Gentle People” is a bit short, my amazing experience here will surely make mecome back to Dumaguete. But more than that, it is the city of my newfound friends, normal people, whom I share the same passion with – motorcycles. After all it is Dumaguete , “The motorcycle capital of the Philippines.”
It is so ironic that the motorcycle is called a suicide machine when in fact it gives me life. Live to ride, ride to live.
– Erik Gatmaitan is the author of http://www.pinoyrider.com – Journeying the Philippines SOLO on a motorbike.
Follow his adventures on his website or through his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PinoyRider