Sometimes, I do not write on my travel journal. A not so rare occasion, mind you. There are many reasons for this. The recurring one is laziness. Sometimes a depression bout gets in the way, too, if I am being honest. But for my not-so-recent trip to Dumaguete (including Manjuyod and Siquijor), I just simply did not have the time. Which is a good reason because it just means that I spent it all adventuring and being outside. I could’ve written away when I got home– memories still fresh on my mind. But, it has been a whirlwind last month. I only have a few days after this trip to prepare for my next one, in Australia. An excellent travel planner, I am not. And so, it is a good thing my camera is always with me on my travels. It records things that I otherwise will not have written about. Just a click away, sure, but I also enjoy how visually, I can also tell a story.
Like most people, I have only seen Dumaguete as a jump-off point to place I have initially thought of as more interesting. Sure, they have that delicious Sans Rival and that tasty Chicken Inato but what else could be here? I though to myself as my friend, C and her local friends, volunteered to take us around town, I mean, around campus. I have noticed that in the center of this small, bustling city is the sprawling Silliman University. Its presence surely emanates from everyone in Dumaguete. People talk about it in familiarity and reverence– oftentimes, in the same vein. Not dissimilar to a University Town, the city and the university is part of a vibrant ecosystem that makes Dumaguete a unique destination.
Two of the famous attractions just an hour of drive away from Dumaguete are dolphin watching in Bais and the mile-long sand bar in Manjuyod. It is always best to start early for the dolphin-watching as these friendly creatures are at their most active state in the morning. Getting there a bit later would still get you views of dolphins swimming– though not as playful as one would hope for. I experienced that it was hard to photograph them in such a state because they would slip in and out of the water, like silver threads weaving through a blanket of blue. A trick hopeless people like me (and you) can do is to clap and whistle for them to come out and play. Sometimes it pays off, most times it doesn’t. Ah, well, we’re just mere spectators on the dolphins natural habitat. We really can’t complain.
In the clear waters of Manjuyod, the famous sand bar won’t appear until in the afternoon. Until then, prepare to take a dip in the shallow waters, maybe snorkel to find schools of small fishes and a star fish or two. Lounging welcome.
Enterprising boatmen will pass by tourists’ boats, selling their wares only for the delight of the weary/famished/hungry traveller: fresh coconut juice, snacks and freshly caught seafood to be cooked as you wish.
Lunch eaten, siesta time rolling by, I peeked outside from our boat and noticed the water slowly getting shallower with every ebb and flow of the tide. Around 3PM, the sandbar is quite visible and photo opportunities abound. Like sunsets/sunrises, I am a sandbar junkie too. There’s something about seeming to be walking between oceans and having your own little remote playground right in the middle of the sea. It’s quite magnificent.
Mysterious. The Occult. Witchcraft. Just a few words attached to the province of Siquijor. And not exactly the words that would make one jump on a boat, brave rough (and I mean, rough!) waters to visit. But, of course that’s what I did. Like many things shrouded in mystery, Siquijor just sets an example that curiosity can often lead to an amazing discovery.
Picture this: A century-old Balete tree, ominously standing in the middle of a forest, with adventitious roots hanging from its trunks, like sinews shrouding it with mystery. Then, on its foot, spring water flows into a pool, alive with small fishes. Magical? I suppose. Perhaps not with 50 other people in the picture. But even then, it’s still worth visiting, if not for the relief of some dead skin on your toes.
If, in some strange situation/spell you are only allowed to go to one place in Siquijor, Cambugahay Falls should be it. It is worth that life-threatening boat ride to the island. And worth the 10 minute flight of stairs when you leave it. But why would you leave? It’s just so beautiful and the water is so clear, I could see my future: forever lounging on this place with the help of fairies and other magical creatures, probably. For the adventurous, a rope-swing is available, for you to jump into the water in a thrilling fashion.
Next we went to Salagdoong Beach, passing by a man-made forest, with the road lined with huge molave trees. A walk farther down towards the beach would reward you with pristine waters in varying shades of aquamarine and blue, all as you walk on white sand. In the middle of the beach is a huge limestone formation fitted with a bridge so folks can to the top and enjoy scenic views of the horizon.
Thrill-seekers would also be happy to find that there is a diving ledge and a slide installed above the rock formation. I mean, how else would you get in the water, right?