There’s a misconception that culture ends once one leaves large metropolitan areas. Dumaguete is anything but a sleepy, provincial city. It’s accurate to say that Dumaguete is the most vibrant and culturally active city in the Visayas, if not in the entire Philippines. Why is that? Much of the reason lies in the fact the city is a hub of student activity with all the energy a strong university presence brings to any community. There are five universities and colleges in Dumaguete. The two most prominent are Foundation University and Silliman University.
Foundation was founded over seventy years ago to provide third level education for those not traditionally able to access higher education. Performing arts and creativity are at the center of its mission. But it’s Silliman university that is at the heart of cultural life and is the most prominent academic institution in Dumaguete. For over one hundred years it’s been attracting national, and international, artists and creative writers to Dumaguete. Writers Week, held each March, brings the top emerging writers and poets in the Philippines to connect with established national figures in the arts, writing, and drama.
The following is an example of a week of cultural activities in Dumaguete during August 2019. Much of the activity was centered around the Silliman University campus.
Rent, the big hit Broadway show, was staged there. While it didn’t have the big name Broadways names, its energy and talent were evident. The evening was thoroughly enjoyed by all fortunate enough to attend.
On another afternoon the public was given a selection of classical music by the Silliman University Choral Choir. That same day, there were also semester recitals for music majors in instrument and voice.
Next day saw a gala performance of Arias and duets put on by the Silliman University Arts Counsel. The quality, as always, was very good.
The week ended with a song writing competition by Silliman students who wrote, arranged, and performed their own work. It was radically different from operatic arias, but yet again, the quality of the works combined with their passion and intensity helped create a memorable evening.
There are many different genres of cultural arts performances regularly happening within this city of the gentle people.
The five universities and colleges put on a variety of performances throughout the academic year.
National and international artists come and perform here. They also hold workshops at various colleges. Attendance is open to the public.
There are high quality, non-professional organizations that focus on singing. They welcome newcomers to join their groups and perform both locally and throughout Negros Oriental.
The Bell Tower Project brings together local artists and promotes their music through arranging performances in local bars and coffee houses.
Many small, art galleries can be found throughout city. They tend to highlight classical as well as indigenous art, and also student produced pieces. It’s possible for non-students to enroll in classes.
It’s evident significant cultural activity has a strong presence in Dumaguete. Whether you are an art aficionado, an opera lover, one who enjoys Broadway shows, or simply listening to jazz in a coffee environment, Dumaguete has all of that, and more, for you to enjoy.