A week before the earthquake struck Negros, I was in Dumaguete for the launch of the 50th Cultural Season at Siliman University. I had been to Dumaguete a couple of times before the junket, and it's one of my favorite places--first because it has really good, really cheap food (hullo, Best Silvanas Ever. And P15 breakfasts at the market!); second because it was the site of my epic (informal) bachelorette party; third because, by virtue of my first and second points, I have some very fond, very fun memories of the place.
I knew nothing about this whole cultural season, and was duly enlightened during the trip. I learned that Dumaguete has a culture of culture--it's an artists' haven, and both the show and the documentary I watched demonstrated just how vibrant the arts and culture scene is in this college town. It showed me a whole other side of Dumaguete that I didn't even know existed. It's like discovering that the bad boy I've been crushing on actually has a sensitive side.
Luce Auditorium at Silliman University
I half-expected the launch to be a boring affair, but I enjoyed watching the show. It was tight and well-paced, a great mix of song, dance, and poetry. My favorite part was when one lady told us what life was like for her in Dumaguete during the war: Their house was right beside a Japanese prison, and when she and her sister would play the piano, the Japanese would ask if they could come in and listen. Later on, when the Americans came, the two girls were showered with nickles and pennies as they played for all the Joes. And then, as she finished her story, a young girl came out to play a piece on the piano--something our storyteller must have played as a young girl herself during the war. It was as if a flashback had come alive on stage.
If you get the chance to visit Dumaguete, I highly recommend catching a show. Siliman University's 50th cultural season begins in June and runs until May 2013.