Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Negros Oriental Tour: A Recap

Discovering Negros Oriental: My Final Word
All done and happily home!

For our mutual benefit (yep, yours and mine), let me do a rundown of things worthy of note about this wonderful ‘all-the-way’ sojourn. My summary is not only for you my dear readers, but also for me, myself and I to remember when I grow older or when things change as they always do! Here I go…

Land Transportation
Like Cebu and the geographic Northern Mindanao (not the political subdivisions) from Surigao to Dipolog, Negros Oriental is easy to tour even on a DYI as all places are easily accessible via regular (ah make that frequent) scheduled bus trips on Ceres. I will assume this is all the more true for Negros Occidental and Iloilo provinces where Ceres also has a major presence. I have attempted doing this on the small province of Bohol and it didn’t work out quite well. Why? Because of accessibility issues. Same with Leyte, Southern Leyte and all the three Samar provinces. Biliran and Siquijor are in a different league as you can easily circle both islands within half a day in just a motorbike.

It is probably an indication that these islands and/or provinces with admirable scheduled transportation are the more progressive ones where they have reached a realization that mobility (in comfortable and modern modes of landside mass transportation) is key. Yeah, if you have been roaming Cebu or Negros, the sight alone of any bus on Bohol (at the moment) would make you think Bohol is not in Region 7. More of like Region 8 hehe. Those are dilapidating ugly slow and jampacked buses that they have in Bohol, you’d think you were still in the 1970s. Reason probably why the northern and eastern towns of that relatively small island are not easy to reach in succession. Just like in Masbate. Well, on Leyte and Samar, there is a plethora of V-Hires but most are either full when they pass you by or they don’t want to take you for a ride just to the next nearby town. So you wait for the buses that come once in a blue moon. In Cebu, Northern Mindanao and yes, now I realized, in Negros too, 30 minutes is already a very long wait till the next clean and comfortable Ceres bus comes along.

What Where When Why and How
While some towns may have very few infos available on the worldwideweb, Negros (yep both oriental and occidental) generally has a wide web presence, so that the apolitical roamer in us can easily pick and concoct an easy going-around. In the case of Negros Oriental, I think most of the information became more available owing to the lack of many things to see or do on its capital, Dumaguete. Meaning? Most people (or entities) who try to post ‘things to see’ in Dumaguete actually tend to accidentally post infos about the rest of the province. Example? One website says “when in Dumaguete, don’t miss a visit to Antulang” hello, its not in Dumaguete, its in a town many kilometers away to its south! Twin Lakes, Casaroro, Sandbar, Dolphins and so on, they are all NOT IN Dumaguete but scattered throughout the rest of the province. Those things helped me a lot! And I was just browsing through websites describing Dumaguete hehe!

Municipal and city tourism offices in this country are of course still the best sources for information on what to see or do. But I have found out lately that I am getting a bit popular (applause please!) so many of these town/city officials at times make an extra effort to ensure my total comfort – even doing the unnatural just for me to “enjoy”… and for them to hear good reviews hehe. Like how? Like ‘all of a sudden a town’s ambulance was on its way to my destination so I was asked if I wanted to hitch a ride’? Like I sometimes get endorsed to a resort owner who pampers me and take me around to places that would otherwise be inaccessible to normal DYI roamers. So, for this Negros Oriental Tour, I avoided many of them town/city officials (even if they are friends and/or family hehe). But mind you, I kept a list of my version of who’s who in the province with their telephone numbers – as a thing of last resort that I could use if I thought I was in trouble. Thankfully, I did not have to use any of those names and numbers for surely, if I did, I would have been local, provincial, regional or national news hahaha! I don’t like that! It spoils the independence of my travels and what I have to say! So, the most trusted way was/is… ask the normal people around.

Ah, like anywhere in this country, people in Negros Oriental are not at all a problem. They are very helpful everywhere I go. Even if at first they might not seem to understand you, they’re still willing to point their curled lips to somewhere or someone where an answer will surely be available. Imagine this… in one of my Singapore visits – yes, the ultra-modern high technology everything of a city/island… when I said “excuse me”, I got this reply… “sorry cannot help, no English”! Ano daw? Eh di ba English yun! Hehe, I’ll bet my last centavo, that won’t ever happen in Negros or anywhere in this country. Hey, I even found a town with jollier folks than everywhere else! Yeah, Jimalalud!

“I Love My Own”! Not so many folks put much attention to this ‘attitude’ amongst Filipinos that seem to be deeply rooted or engrained in every Pinoy brain. Ask anyone about their place, all you hear are the good and the best. The most negative thing that can happen is, they won’t say anything. Ah I have my own little ways of probing into things and I think I can extract what I think are nearest to the real truth. With the people I have encountered in Negros, there is one very strong quality that emerges, they truly love their respective places. Reason probably why many of the ladies who married foreigners are still in their respective towns. Am sure those husbands are more than elated to be living in their new and cheaper paradises! Now here’s a contrasting example: once I had a casual chat with an ‘egoy’ on one of the big apple’s subway routes. Everything he said about New York, every description he offered was leading me to believe that the city/state was far worse than hell! I even thought the man (probably his family & friends too) were the few who were awake when god gave us “pessimism”. I did not hear him say anything good about New York. He even described his very PhD course as crap! Will you find that kind of person in Negros? I doubt. Never!

Safe from ‘false beliefs’ or ‘superstitions’. Like Cebu, most of Negros Oriental are very religious while some may even still have pagan beliefs or superstitions. But they know the modern world, they know tourists and tourism, so it was not really hard going around or seeing things I wanted to see. Why am I saying this? I have examples to better explain that: on Bohol, during a habal-habal ride, I saw something like a lake somewhere up the hills of Tubigon. I told the driver I want to see it up close. The reply was “don’t” because there are “engkantos” or something like that. Another: just a few kilometers away from Catbalogan ‘City’ I went to a beautiful beach via commute (tricycle). On return, when we walked towards where the tricycles waited for passengers, mothers loudly shouted for their children to go inside their houses as there was a Korean (me) and one father even came out to front of his house intently looking at me with a big bolo (sundang) in his hand. My companion told me that the whole neighborhood believes Koreans go to their place to abduct children. Hello?! Never experienced anything like this in Negros Oriental. Which leads me to think Negrenses are better educated.

Industry / Education
Everywhere I looked there were either developments or plantations. That led me to think Negrenses are like the Ilocanos – meaning they value the products of their labors or won't accept there is happiness in being idle with nothing to do, just waiting for easy money to befall upon them. I see more of these ‘tambays’ in Cebu and most especially in Metro Manila but hardly on the province of Negros Oriental. There were beggars on Dumaguete yes, but otherwise, I did not see many people with nothing to do but ‘tambay’. I think education is key. That leads me to believe further that people of Negros Oriental are more educated – literally AND figuratively.

In addition but in contrast to the paragraph above, I have this to add… to the extent that I saw an overly hyped and steeply priced place that is Apo Island that does not even have 24-hour electricity nor even just 50 meter stretch of plain white sandy beach! Yes, none! Yet everything is expensive and categorized as “for tourists” or “for locals”. WTF! Ah, on that island, they have learned so much about capitalism! At least they still learned albeit crookedly hehe! This was the only thumbs down place for me in the entire province.

Elsewhere, I find this province quite a place to go back to… esp Basay, Bayawan, Valencia, Mabinay, Jimalalud, Canlaon. Please don’t harp on it… this province’s beaches (esp Apo Island) are not to die for, so I better look elsewhere, like those towns and cities just mentioned! And there are a lot of fantastic places in this province. Not everything is a beach, even if am just another son of a beach hehe!

In all… I had fun roaming the WHOLE province of Negros Oriental. Alegre na, chada pa hahaha! Ask me if you have questions!

If you want to read the chronology of all stories on this tour, click the following:
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35
36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65


  1. Thanks for saying all those wonderful things about Negros.

  2. Twas a waste you had not taken a glimpse of Basay long stretches of sand and beaches. There are Lintub, Labugon, Daro, Suba, Camangyawon, Cotcot and Bongangalonan less explored beaches to see.