EditorialHow was Dumaguete born?

How was Dumaguete born?

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Activities are now in full blast to celebrate the City of Dumaguete’s Charter Anniversary and Fiesta. This will be the City’s 62nd celebration of its being a city. The celebrations promise a lot of fun, inebriation and excitement. There will be sporting events, musical concerts, parades galore and what-have-you.

Across the Philippines, most cities place a premium on the anniversary of their cityhood. What’s so great about celebrating the anniversary of our cityhood?

The process of turning a town into a city is simply a matter of a presidential signature. It is a simple photo opportunity. We have had several city anniversaries in recent years but we have yet to see that photo of President Manuel L. Quezon signing that document that is supposed to capture that magical moment.

Perhaps the more important celebration would be to commemorate the birth of Dumaguete. Does anyone know when Dumaguete was founded? Pigafetta, the chronicler of Magellan’s voyage, does not make mention of it. He only mentions that the island Dumaguete is in was called Panilonghon. Not Buglas, Not Negros. But he also recalled that the people whom he saw as their boat passed along its shores were people who were as dark as the people of Ethiopia.

So Dumaguete must have gotten its name sometime during the Spanish occupation. Could it be that Dumaguete became known as Dumaguete only when the island started to be known as Negros? Dumaguete was made the capital of Negros Oriental when the two Negros provinces were created in 1890.

Pictures of Dumaguete taken in 1900 only have two or three houses along the shore with the imposing church and campanario behind it. Everything else along what is now the boulevard was made of light materials.

Does it not make you wonder what may have happened prior to Dumaguete’s becoming a city? Prior to Dumaguete’s becoming a town? How far back can we go into our history to find out?

Perhaps we can get information from the historians in our midst? We could incorporate this information into our celebrations so we will have a better understanding of who we are and how we got here.

Cheers!

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