Today, Dumaguete City is at its best as it celebrates what is popularly known to the locals as the Dumaguete Fiesta. It will be a busy and happy day with the locals opening their homes to family and friends.
Dumaguete City traces its roots as far back to 1572 when Diego Lopez Povedano called it Dananguet; its present name Dumaguete was first used by Jesuit Cartographer Murillo Velarde in 1734 in his writings.
Dumaguete City may have its urban sophistication, but deep down its heart, it is still a simple community rooted to its old traditions. Almost all homes celebrate fiesta not so much as a religious tradition but more of thanksgiving by hosting relatives and friends, colleagues and guests with sumptuous food and drinks in the spirit of joy and celebration. The religious aspect of the Fiesta comes with the Fiesta High Mass with many devout parishioners joining the Church procession in the afternoon.
My childhood memories of the city Fiesta is the surreal images of the big city parade, the festive carnival and its accompanying merrymaking, the Church procession, and best of all the fiesta luncheons and dinners, on bisperas (the fiesta eve) or fiesta day celebrated in each household.
Today even as Dumaguete is into the 21st century, the tradition remains; the hospitality of the Dumaguete community continues; homes are open to relatives and guests, and even in these difficult times, the ever present lechon lords over the dinner tables overflowing with food. Each home rings with music, laughter and the spirit of camaraderie is all over the air.
The city parade is fancier with the barangay contingents showing off their stuff and the Quezon Park is a big flower garden and flea market where one can buy almost anything. The city populace turned out for the parade held on yesterday, fiesta eve, Nov. 24, and for an hour or two, business comes to a standstill as all eyes and attention are on the fineries of the parade.
On fiesta day, Nov. 25, businesses are closed as the residents open their homes to their guests. Food is served as early as breakfast and well into the evening, in the tradition of the open house. The Church fiesta and the Civil/political charter celebration are closely intertwined, with the residents attending the fiesta Mass and the various city activities sponsored by the government.
The fiesta is always a celebration all Dumaguetenos look forward to; the parades and the carnival, the fiesta meals and the beauty pageants, and for me, the flower shops and the flea market set up in the plaza are the special flavors of Fiesta.
For Dumaguetenos, the city Fiesta celebration ushers in the festive season leading to Christmas…. From November 25 onwards, the countdown begins… Christmas is just around the corner!