The evolving identity of Dumaguete: university town, retirement city or rural-urban mixed use village?



DUMAGUETE CITY – Back in the 1970s till the late 1990s, Dumaguete was better known as a university town with Silliman University’s stellar reputation radiating its light as an excellent university this place, south of the country. More recently, more foreigners and ex-pats have made their home in Dumaguete, motivated by a less stressful, slower pace of life and wanting to live closer to the mountain and the beaches.

Dumaguete has since made it to the ranks of “one of the best cities in the world to retire in,” even outranking Bali in Indonesia and other cities in the world. Understandably, real estate sales and construction of retirement/ vacation homes surged. Condominium buildings, town houses and single detached houses are now being sold and bought rapidly by investors and locals alike. We can now see more retired people roaming the streets in shorts and summer wear, going to the markets and buying fresh fish, meat, produce and native delights like “Budbud with Manga” “Balanghoy” and smoked fish. Compared to traffic, pollution, high crime rates and the higher cost of living in the bigger cities, Dumaguete offered them a more relaxed pace and a cheaper place to settle in.

Recently, new investors have set up field offices, branches and franchises in Dumaguete, desiring to expand their markets and trying to meet the Dumaguetenos’ need for a taste of “big city” amenities like malls and more choices of commodities to buy, from personal effects to motor vehicles. Back in the day, people went to Cebu or Manila if they wanted to shop for more modern commodities from clothes, shoes to household furniture and fixtures. Now, with the presence of malls, people no longer have to travel far.

However, this change from a slower-paced small city to a more modern city with more amenities need to be matched by faster and better customer service and customer delight. One thing I have noticed in Dumaguete is the lack of urgency/ propensity to be tardy in meeting appointments and addressing customer’s needs. Customers need to keep calling or following up requests stemming from defective products and services. Slow service is getting to be more a norm. With the advent of modernization, there should be greater attention to detail, quality control and speedy customer delight. Growth is never easy but these are part of a globally evolving trend we need to be cognizant of. Continuous improvement is the key. We need not settle for the mediocre or the “pwede na” attitude or “magmantinir na lang usa ta ani kay dugay kaayo mo-respond ning office/agency”.

Dumaguete is fast transforming into a mixeduse business and retirement village. We need to keep pace with the change, expand our mindsets, improve quality control to achieve customer delight. What better time to do all these than now as the city’s face transforms from the old to a new and dynamic city? (By Agnes Shari Tan-Aliman)