Cultural attractions in Dumaguete draw in people from all over the island of Negros Oriental. People gather in the city for fiestas and cultural events throughout the year. Every night on Rizal Boulevard live music can be enjoyed at several locations. Being a city with several universities and colleges, it’s got a vibrant atmosphere that promotes creativity. Two major festivals are the highlight of the year. They are the Sandurot Festival and Buglasan Festival of Festivals.
The Sandurot Festival takes place each September. The name means “Fellowship and reaching out.” It’s a look back to pre-colonial times when people from other regions, tribes, and cultures found their way to Dumaguete and formed the basis of the community that prevails today. One important element about life in Dumaguete is the welcoming nature of all people here to foreigners or newcomers living here. It’s sometimes difficult for Westerners to understand the genuine, welcoming smiles that are part of the culture of locals who want to live in peace and harmony with everybody regardless of their country of origin.
During the Sandurot Festival there are major street performances, with dancing children and teenagers from local schools participating. It culminates over at Quezon Park where a variety of dance styles are done reflecting on the rich cultural history.
The Bulgasan Festival has been an important cultural event in Dumaguete since 2002. It’s a ten-day event. Participants come from all six towns and cities and the nineteen municipalities in Negros Oriental. It happens on the third Friday in October. People attend not only from all over the province but also from Cebu, Manila, and abroad. Street dancing, singing, and multi-colored exuberant costumes are the norm rather than the exception. This festival is a joyful example of why this city and province is so lively. People here love to enjoy themselves and start singing and dancing at the slightest opportunity.
Because it’s a major university city with four universities and several colleges, Dumaguete permeates a vibrant atmosphere all year round with a noticeably high level of creative energy.
Silliman University, which has been educating Filipinos and foreigners for over a century has an impressive year-round schedule of activities.
On an almost weekly basis, one can attend a play, a dance performance, a poetry recital, a film screening, or an exhibition that’s taking place in one of the many halls and theaters on the university campus. Silliman University’s philosophy is that the arts are for everyone, that culture has no boundaries.
It’s been over a half-century since the Culture and Arts Council was formed at Silliman with a mandate to promote creativity at the university. Nowadays, activities include Broadway shows, operas, concerts by graduating musicians and singers, compositions by graduating composers, and plays.
Each year in May, the university has its National Writers Workshop. It takes place over three weeks. Acclaimed writers and poets in the Philippines hold workshops and mentor the attendees who are considered to be the most promising creative minds in the country.
There are numerous small art galleries in the city that offer local and indigenous artwork for sale. They also have musical evenings where musicians perform and, in the process, create a relaxing atmosphere while potential buyers view the artwork.