Wednesday, August 10, 2016


I came, I saw, I fell in love.

It must be the university town feel that reminded me of Hogwarts, Baguio City, Bulan's Miag-ao, or the UP part of Diliman and Los Banos.

It can be the food and the genteelness of Siliman University.

And yes, the colonial churches of Negros Oriental that I'm going to encounter for the first time, starting with Dumaguete's Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria that I realized is more postcard-genic than actual, the bell tower eclipsing the church in terms of fame, with constant traffic and electric wires obstructing any possible line of photography.

From there, I negotiated a P400 rent with a tricycle driver to take me to Dauin and then to the National Heritage Site-listed church of Bacong, one of the 26 Philippine colonial churches I imposed upon myself to visit before I die, the trike driver curious why I want to see those churches until our conversation segued on how many drug pushers have been killed so far in Dumaguete and in Nueva Ecija, until finally Dauin's Church of St. Nicholas of Tolentine, the oldest extant colonial church in Negros Oriental, exposed large river stones from its massive walls confirming that it is indeed, and I struggling to shoot through trees that crowd the churchyard and the locked steel church door, and against the light.

Dauin though is just the appetizer with Bacong as the main dish and I was bursting with expectation until I finally came face to face with the Church of St. Augustine of Hippo, wondering why the bell tower looked newly plastered and the church facade covered with what seemed as recent brick work, the magic of previous churches like Tayabas and Jasaan an empty dud, or it's just the gray late afternoon sky?

But still, Bacong is listed as a national heritage site so there must be a reason for that and that's it, my 21st of the target 26 thus leaving just five more [Jimenez, Lazi, Mahatao, Pan-ay, Romblon] so I went back to Dumaguete where the friendly trike driver dropped me along Rizal Boulevard, right in front of Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries where I finally decided to take lunch at 4 pm, and pretended to be a food critic.

The sans rival is okey although the taste of margarine is overwhelming [butter should have been a better alternative), the silvanas no match to that of Eriel's version, and the recommended salted caramel cheesecake a big letdown [eating the crumb is like munching on clay, the caramel and salt miles apart instead of complimenting each other].

I went to work the next day where the disappointment in Bacong was somewhat allayed by an early morning viewing of the Silliman University Church and an SRO crowd for the State of Nature Assessment where I sneaked out in between presentations to shoot the Silliman Hall which is the oldest extant American-era structure in the Philippines.

And yes, I had noodles, spanish sardines on pasta at Bo's Coffee, which is not bad.

I love Dumaguete!

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