Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dumaguete: Arriving in Alien Territory

Marilyn posing on her motorcycle outside her home in Bacong, PhilippinesAbove: Marilyn outside of her house in Bacong

The SuperCat fast ferry ride from Cebu to Dumaguete City took about 3.5 hours and included a 15-minute stop in Tagbilaran (on the island of Bohol). Throughout the trip I nervously monitored the surrounding waters, looking for pirates or terrorists or who knows what. Two weeks prior to this moment the U.S. State Department had issued a fresh travel warning for the Philippines. I remember the ridiculously broad nature of the statement, which basically said that Americans should avoid travel to ALL areas of the Philippines (which obvioulsy would include Dumaguete, as silly as that sounded). Well, there I was, in a defenseless boat out in the open waters, one of only a handful of "white people" on board. My anxiety was largely a product of that stupid travel warning as my imagination continued to fabricate numerous "what ifs". Yet, my attention ultimately turned back to my lovely Filipina sweetheart, Marilyn. I had come 10,000 miles to see her, and she deserved the brunt of my focus. Besides, I had just 12 days to make some incredible memories in the Philippines and I didn't want to miss anything.

Marilyn and I at a subdivision in DumagueteAs we arrived at the port in Dumaguete City the photos I had seen of this faraway place suddenly became alive before me. However, nothing really prepared me for the welcoming party that had gathered near the dock. It seemed as if all of Dumaguete had shown up to greet us. I would soon learn that Filipinos are an incredibly social people. As an American, I am accustomed to everyone minding their own business and acting more or less like robots. We rarely greet a single person on the street. However, it didn't take long for me to understand just how interesting I was to every Filipino who passed by. The stares were not mean or threatening, but for me they were a bit disconcerting. I didn't want to stick out, but unless I suddenly became invisible it was inevitable that I would be the subject of many a curious gaze. After a week of this I started to respond naturally with a smile and a nod. It was my desire to show the utmost respect to these people, for I was a visitor in their country. Being a "spectacle" of sorts was far outside the comfort zone of my timid nature, but I finally accepted the reality that I was indeed different. The anxiety melted away soon after and I was truly able to immerse myself in this alien, yet approachable, culture of Dumaguete. At times I even forgot how different I was and really started to relate to these people from the other side of the globe. In a few isolated moments I felt like I was home.

5 Comments:

Blogger mariejane72 said...

All very true. I am staying in Dumaguete and have experienced something really special about the culture, the people and the lifestyle. It is simplicicity and while we have been searching for the rung on the next level up - it does make you feel like we've lost something along the way. Beautiful place, less of a culture shock than other places in Asia and it's easy to feel at home here in a strange kind of way. I'm a few thousand miles from England...but sometimes it doesn't feel so far!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 9:42:00 AM  
Blogger Corey said...

If I may ask, are you in Dumaguete on a mission trip or just visiting? I actually went for the purpose of seeing Marilyn, but the Lord was a large part of the trip.

Anyway, I am quite envious that you are over there now. I hope you have a wonderful time.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 9:08:00 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

Nice accounts about your visit in Dumaguete. I am impress, it is almost like my dear hometown coming alive to me again at least in my mind while reading your blogs. Thanks again, I hope you will find ways to go back. I sure will have fun sharing your stories with my family here in Texas. It won't be a surprise to see you back in the City of Gentle people.

Thursday, November 02, 2006 6:02:00 AM  
Blogger Corey said...

Glad you visited, Jay. I am always quite interested to hear from Filipinos living in America (specifically Dumaguetenos), and am happy that my writings have given you a taste of home.

Thursday, November 02, 2006 5:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is a real joy to hear about my hometown Dumaguete. Your pictures came alive as I pondered myself in those places. I always wish that I can visit my dear Dumaguete.

I was born, grew up and invested my education and experience in this College Town.

Not only that, I happened to be Marilyn's long time friend. We both work as a Language Instructor in Asian College of Science and Technology (ACSAT). It is a Computer COllege. I'm sure that she will remember our challenging moments.

If ever she is here in the US now. I would gladly hear from her. I am working here in New Mexico, USA for three years now.

Thank you.

Sheila

Thursday, January 15, 2009 9:04:00 PM  

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