Monday, May 03, 2004

MAY 3, 2004 (MONDAY)

Dumaguete: Day One

This won't be the most coherent post I'll be able to give regarding the place. And I'm afraid that within the span of one day, there are already too many stories to tell. And we have around thirty minutes before the first session starts.

By the way, it seems that I'll be coming home on the 22nd, not on the 21st as originally planned. Mitzie and I will have to have our plane tickets changed as soon as we can manage.

At any rate, first impressions: the only structure that looms over everything is Silliman University, which reminds me so much of Diliman that it almost feels like home again. Even the trees look the same. There's a sense of history to the place, and I'm not surprised that a lot of people have romanticized the place: it's just asking to be romanticized.

We're staying at a place called the OK Pensionne (that's how they spell it) which has a Moroccan/Spanish-style feel to it, with an open courtyard and arched doorways, a la Arabian Nights. I'm rooming with four other girls - Mitzie, the two graduates of Makiling HS, Marie and Ia, and Monica Macansantos, who's an incoming sophomore at UP Diliman (in CW, no less).

The room is okay: two girls on the floor, and Mitzie and I are sharing the bigger bed - and while she hogs all the blankets, I get to be nearer to the bathroom. Monica gets the single bed because "she's not feeling well." We have cable TV, although the reception is crap and there's always that white fuzz that dominates the screen. The bathroom has hot water and a shower (oh thank heavens) which we made use of as soon as we got back from dinner last night.

Ian and Nikko became our (un)official tourguides around te city. It's not much in terms of places to go: there are a lot of hole-in-the-wall establishments and everything's a 15-minute walk away for everything else. Dell would have a field day here. When we settled down into our rooms yesterday and Ate Sabel, our resident field manager/dorm mother, distributed the workshop kits, most people wanted to stay and rest. Since Mitzie and I were hungry, we managed to persuade/wheedle Ian into accompanying us around. Along with John and James (nope, not the Biblical Sons of Thunder), we toured around the dusty street of Dumaguete.

And yes, that's a singular: STREET.

I think I'll lose weight here, on account of all the walking. There goes my sandals, too.

The food here is pretty cheap: Php54 for a chicken meal at Jo's, and Php4 for a tricycle to anywhere. And there are always the staple favorites of Jollibee and Chowking to fall back on (no Mickey Dees, folks). There are no taxicabs in sight, and hardly any cars. The main mode of transport are really your feet. But living on a 200-pesos stipend isn't going to come easy. There's laundry to think of, and Internet, and weekend trips to perhaps Siquijor or Cebu. James, our resident Canadian-Filipino, is from UP Cebu and he's willing to show us around. (Nice guy, the artsy type. Built and dresses like Maksim - the piano player - except that his instruments are pen and paper. He's an FA graduate. And yes, he is absolutely gorgeous.)

Sorry, Peloy. ^_^ I love you.

At any rate, the most beautiful place for me so far (aside from Silliman) is the Boulevard, which is right beside the bay. As in, when you wak down that long stretch of the road, you can see the waves crashing against the walls, and alongside the road are tempura stands, which is the Dumaguete version of turo-turo. The hotels and swanky restaurants are all facing the ocean, and the sea breeze is amazing. You can see the distant lights from the ships coming in for the night, and the waves remind me of that scene in The Last Unicorn when the princess drowned into the sea.

I suppose that's all for today. I'll try and post again soon.

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