Stop 35: Dumaguete, Second Season Syndrome…


I loved Dumaguete the first time I came here. I met a really cool girl beforehand and went to meet her family who were fantastic people. Because of this and a few other selling points about this place I ended up staying for much longer than intended and couldn’t wait to get back here.

A year passed, I still didn’t know when I’d be coming back…

Then whilst travelling through Europe I got offered a job back in Thailand. Instead of flying directly to Thailand I had an idea to go back to the Philippines, which I had fallen in love with on my last trip, and announced to my friend I was coming back. She seemed skeptical that I would, but ecstatic when I had physically booked the ticket. I had my plan to go to a few places in Visayas and not do anywhere near as much travelling as my last trip. One of the places on my radar to stay was Dumaguete. I liked the vibe of the place, plus seeing my friend. I planned on staying here at least a week, maybe two…

I got off the bus with a huge fucking grin on my face. I was back! I couldn’t wait to scout the place, even looking at the schools nearby for teaching opportunities in the future once I was done with teaching in Thailand. As soon as I got off the bus and was checked in I messaged my friend saying I was here and when did she want to meet up. Then I went to get some food and chilled in the hotel. A hotel that only had wi-fi in the lobby and bizarrely no plug sockets in the room. This was fine last time because the wi-fi just reached my room and I had I think one plug socket by the bed, it didn’t this time so it was a slight inconvenience.

Those inconveniences became more and more noticeable as the days went on; things that I was aware of before but didn’t really bother me last time because I was going out to the non-touristy areas with my friend’s family (things like beggars following you around and hassling you, people giving you false information so things would cost more, trying to jack up prices because you are a tourist, etc…), these things were beginning to weigh me down. I soon realised that the key draw to Dumaguete itself was my friend and her family, not the actual city. Don’t get me wrong there was nothing wrong with the city, but it wasn’t anything special either…

After two days I was ready to move on, only that I hadn’t heard from my friend yet. I was saved in a way by meeting a mate of mine called Doug who I travelled around India with around 7 years ago, so it was cool to catch up with him and swap stories. Eventually I heard back from Danica (My Filipino friend), she seemed distant and disinterested. It was odd, but she agreed to meet up the next day.


Doug looking pretty content with our frozen Margaritas


So I abandoned Doug the next day and hopped on a bike with Danica and her brother (Doug didn’t mind, in fact, he ended up going to a proper Filipino cock fight), and the three of us went to her house. It was nice to see all her family again. (They all remembered me, it took a few seconds for me to remember all of them. Especially the kids who had all gotten older and taller) We had a few drinks, had some food and it was like old times. All except for Danica, who kept her distance and barely spoke to me, even when I made a point to go up to her and see how she was. I concluded she was just shy and continued to talk with the rest of her family, who continued to ply me with alcohol and asked questions to make us uncomfortable such as ‘when is the wedding?’ completely unprovoked. Danica looked at me apologetically. Then they all dropped me home and Danica agreed to spend some time with me the next day, so I said to Doug we would stay one more day in Dumaguete then head off to Siquijor, and I was happy to finally get to spend time with a girl I hadn’t seen for nearly two years.

She didn’t show up, and messaged me an hour later saying she just woke up. I asked if she wanted to meet later and she didn’t reply. She did eventually, but it was along the lines of she couldn’t come tonight because <insert generic excuse here>. It was strange, but this whole trip to Dumaguete this time around has been strange. I bigged it up so much to Doug and if anything I now feel embarrassed that I was so positive about this place. It was nothing like I remember it being, the only positive really being the family I hung out with, and for some reason – for reasons I still have no idea why – My friend was distant with me the entire time. So now for a place I was more than happy to come back every 1 or 2 years, I don’t know when I’m coming back, if ever. I’ve definitely got a ‘meh’ feeling about this place now and if I did it would be in the hope that the third time around catches me off guard and I really enjoy it here again.

So here’s to Siquijor being a lot better than Dumaguete has been to me this time around. Part of me hopes that in a few days time I’ll just realise that I had been feeling down for some reason and had over exaggerated how much Dumaguete has dropped down on my list of favourite places. Although I highly doubt it…

They say about some places they are much more different to see the second time around and I hope this second trip hasn’t ruined the fantasy as to how nice this place is. But to be frank right now the only thing bringing me back to this place would be to see my friend, but judging by the way she was with me while I was here it’s going to take a lot for me to come back and see her…



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