Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete: Reliving History, Satisfying the Tummy


It was an hour before dark. The boulevard's colonial-style lamp posts lit up while the sun completely lowers itself behind the horizon. People started to swarm the promenade, apparently coming in for the soothing ocean breeze.

Rizal Boulevard's promenade

Rizal Boulevard is a bustling seaside thoroughfare. It faces the Visayan sea along with hotels and traveler inns, a plethora of restaurants and cafes, local food stalls, different commercial establishments, and the city's very own Silliman University.

Dig in!

A short stretch of the avenue bursts with people from all walks of life on that Saturday dusk. I can distinguish tourists from the rest through the cameras they carry — those taking selfies here and there, and those with their buddies posing for a group snap with the iconic "I Love Dumaguete" standee. Dumagueteños, however, were those teens in school uniforms laughing their heart's out loud as they share stories, and those families picnicking while cherishing the sunset together without any distraction from mobile gadgets.

I Love Dumaguete standee
Rizal Boulevard's historical marker

Food saloons line up the streets that terminate at the boulevard, each having their own specialty cuisine. There were pubs that rock the nights, pastry shops for every sweet cravings, themed cafes, and food tiangge that serves irresistible street foods. If Metro Manila has Maginhawa and Kapitolyo districts, Dumaguete City has this favorite hangout spot.

Restaurants in Rizal Boulevard
 Some restaurants and inns in Dumaguete
Food tiangge at Rizal Boulevard
 Local food stalls
Food stalls selling street foods
 Green mango with bagoong, anyone?

READ ALSO: Local Delights: Dumaguete's Must-try Dishes and Restaurants

Relive the past...

Rizal Boulevard's share of Dumaguete's rich history goes down to the person whom it was named after and to the people who contributed to the city's character as a university town.

Memorial and historical marker of Sisters of Saint Paul of Charters

Sisters of Saint Paul of Charters

We walked from our hotel until reaching the terminus of San Jose Street. A sculpture depicting the coming of the first sisters of Saint Paul of Charters congregation in the Philippines welcomed us as we started getting some air along Rizal Boulevard. Inscriptions on a black tablet beside it narrates that it was in 1904 when the nuns arrived at the shores of the city, and in 1905 when the then Instituto de San Pablo opened its gate to the people of Negros island. Located few kilometers away from the historical boulevard, the said institute became the very first St. Paul University campus in the country.

I got some friends who earned their degrees from Saint Paul campuses in Manila and Tuguegarao. I'm certain that this piece of Rizal Boulevard would pique their interest as it did to me.

Memorial and historical marker of Sisters of Saint Paul of Charters

Dr. Jose Rizal

The avenue would not be named after him if he doesn't have his own Dumaguete story. Before returning to Manila in 1896 after his exile in Dapitan ended, Jose Rizal made a pit stop in Dumaguete to meet some of his classmates and a city's high-ranking official. It was said that he whiled away the hours along the stretch of beach that the eponymous boulevard now occupies. He had this stint in the city in less than twenty-four hours.

A five-hour slow ferry ride reaches the historic city of Dapitan from Dumaguete; fast crafts can make in less than two. A number of shipping lines operate daily at the city port.

Jose Rizal's Statue in Dumaguete

Dr. Horace B. Silliman

Googling "top universities in the Philippines" returns a list that includes Silliman University. I got a chance to visit the renowned institution after our shortened trip to Apo Island.

A retired businessman and philanthropist from New York paved a way for the establishment of the first American university in the Philippines and in Asia. A certain Dr. Horace Silliman donated a large sum of money to a Presbyterian organization to start the then Silliman Institute in 1901, thus naming it after him.

Silliman Hall, the oldest and most appealing edifice within the campus for its remarkable architecture fronts the sea with a bust of its kind-hearted founder. It was built in 1903.

Silliman University along Rizal Boulevard
 Part of Silliman University at the corner of Rizal Boulevard
Silliman Hall and a bust of Dr. Horace Silliman
 Silliman Hall, built in 1903

A trip to Dumaguete won't be complete without indulging for even just a single hour in Rizal Boulevard. It is a venue to experience the city vibe and to have a grasp of what the city has to offer. Taking it from the marker installed somewhere along the busy-yet-homey avenue, Dumagueteños consider the boulevard as the "show window" of their beloved city.

READ ALSO: Itinerary: Interesting Spots In and Around Dumaguete

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