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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

entry arrow1:25 PM | I Love Dumaguete

There seems to be some newfound love for free-standing, lighted up letter signs in Dumaguete these days. For what seemed like a long time, you could find one at the very heart of the Rizal Boulevard, right before the line of tempurahans—a proclamation of such electric presence that read: “I [Heart] Dumaguete.” With the swirling Visayan Sea and Siquijor as backdrop, it had proven both romantic and misplaced—but nonetheless, you could see people flock to it in a rage of selfies to be posted in a thousand Facebook walls. The ante was raised even higher by the Dumaguete Tourism Office when it planted a similar sign at Quezon Park—this time a multicolored version that expunged the singular and individualistic consideration of the first sign with the more collective and emphatic, “We [Heart] Dumaguete.”

All and good—because who doesn’t love Dumaguete?

It has its enduring charms that make it a unique place in comparison to other Philippine cities of its size. And it has always renewed itself by the influx of people from other places who come to visit, get beguiled, and then stay. And even if they don’t stay for long, they always come back to this place whose very name—“dagit”—suggests the beguilement of having been captured.

I asked two former students—and friends—why they keep coming back. Even if graduation from Silliman University meant they have gone through the portals and are now living lives somewhere else, secure in careers that keep them busy.

Michelle Eve de Guzman now works for Cebu Pacific, a job which takes her everywhere in the country. But she finds time, somehow, coming back here regularly, for a spell. “I love Dumaguete because it is where I discovered who I am, what I want, what I can do,” she told me. “The city has a certain vibe that encourages people, students in particular, to act on their yearning for adventure, culture and nature. When I was a college student in Dumaguete, everything was possible; everything was within reach.

“Now that I have graduated and live in Manila, I keep coming back to Dumaguete. It’s a place in the world where I am happy, where I can breathe and rest. I can hop on a motorcycle and head for the nearest beach. I can appreciate art while checking out the newest restaurant in town.

“When I was younger, my energies were extended outward, to the world. Now that I’m more grown up, I take care of myself and my peace of mind. In both these phases in my life—Dumaguete.”

As for Dok Timbancaya, his work as an enterprising events organizer for EVO Party Solutions is making him one of the most sought-after party planner in the Visayas and Palawan. He is our Tim Yap, minus the unnecessary frills—somebody with a tremendous sense of party, but knows enough to make the party and not the personality the event itself. He is the ninja of the Visayan party world, but even so, he manufactures all sorts of excuses to keep coming back to Dumaguete—a place that thoroughly sustains him.

“The best touristic activity in Dumaguete is actually living in it,” Dok tells me, “because after two weeks, you may want to stop being a tourist and start becoming a resident instead. The real attractions in Dumaguete are not the tourist spots but the people it. “Dumaguete is a great community, and everyone comes off with this educated air. It may be a world all its own but it is by no means backward. It is actually a melting pot of culture and interests, which is an ideal intellectual venue for anyone who’s not interested in maintaining useless facades. I’ve met the most talented people in Dumaguete—from the arts, to literature, to performance, all the way down to computer engineers—they’re all there. Most of Dumaguete has refined taste.

“When it comes to having fun and partying, I don’t know of any other cities that know how to have create merry havoc like the people of Dumaguete—but when it needs to be serious, they can be. People here are more real and honest—and nice. Dumaguete is intellectually progressive and is a great place to grow up in. Dumaguete built me and I will always give back to this community that raised me. The city has taught me these values, and I want to share what I’ve acquired in my successes and help it grow more and improve. I want to give it things that we can be proud of. Dumaguete is my happy place. I feel whole here.

And Dok, ever the party wizard, goes on to say: “It’s not about keeping up with the scene. This is about how we do it here in Dumzville!”

Dumzville—which is how the young of the city happily call their beloved city. Happy fiesta, Dumaguete. And may the love of people for you carry you on for a hundred years more.

Dok's EVO Party Solutions is presenting the DUMA Electrique Fest for the 2013 Sandurot Foam and Color Festival tonight, November 22, at Hayahay in time for the Dumaguete fiesta. Grab your tickets and enjoy music by DJ Miki Taka, Clyde Harris, Jack Stone, Rich Rubillar, Ryan Sanchez, Phil Oncenes, Zachary Norman, Robin Right, MC Phat Jay, Team Centerline, and Team Gore!

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