The city where I live in is beautiful. I say that as a non-native of this place. Sometimes it takes the eyes of a stranger to find novelty and beauty in a place. One such lovely spot in Dumaguete City is its very frontage — the Rizal Boulevard — a 0.8-km seaside promenade which is what meets and greets every visitor to this City of Gentle People.
This is how it looks very early in the morning, when as yet there are no runners, hikers, loungers and vendors in sight. To the right is a walkway paved with copper bricks — charming and comfy to the feet. To the left is an elevated, carabao grass-planted landscape lined with century-old acacia trees and dotted with concrete benches. This is really the perfect place to just sit and enjoy fresh sea breeze.
There are plenty of sitting spaces here, like this bench which wraps around the trunk of a relatively young tree. My family has whiled away countless cool evenings sittting here, munching on whatnots — raw mango, nuts, chicharon, taho or ice cream.
It’s not uncommon to see huddles of people here — families with rowdy kids running around, fraternities in their secret assignments, Bible study groups deep into serious search, barkadas in animated chats, sweethearts and couples in various stages of commitment. Or disenchantment.
This is one of the city’s oldest and most-loved hotels — Bethel Guesthouse. It’s one of the few hotels which afford relaxing views of the sea and the Boulevard.
Blue sea and sky is what fills your vision as you sit facing the front of the Boulevard. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the orange dream of a sunset at the close of the day. You’ll see boats plying to and from the port, fishermen with their motor bancas, divers and swimmers or simply kids out for some quick dipping.
Rizal Boulevard is our family’s happy place. To it are tied countless hours of joyful memories — of me walking to get fit during my preggy days, of our toddlers practicing their first steps, of our young kids savoring the boundless freedom of a boundless run, of hubby and me enjoying each other and the kids in silence, enveloped by nothing more than fresh air and the sound of rustling leaves.
I chuckle at the sight of foreigners earnestly basking in the sun to get the glorious tan that we Filipinos desperately try to bleach out with our papaya soaps. At any time you’ll see tattoo artists here, manicure service providers, massage therapists, guitarists and singers serenading for a fee and at night, the perennial problem of hospitality girls. Yet always, this boulevard is a peaceful, blissful and comforting place.
When I first came here, I used to get a stiff neck just looking up at all the intricate curlicue patterns made by the branches of stately acacia trees. I absolutely adore them. They look like humongous bonsais shading people from the heat, giving respite from the pain and the hassles of life.
Other neighboring places I have featured:
Silliman University Marine Laboratory which houses world record-breaking whale bone sizes
Silliman Zoo which is home to the very rare red-spotted deer