Sunday, July 3, 2011

playing tourist in my (little Baguio of a) hometown

Mt. Talinis | photography: RV ESCATRON
moving places, restless feet

I have lived (at last count) in 18 houses 
in 13 different locations,
averaging 6 months each.

Each experience of a new town is a love affair, uniquely its own. What brought me to such wonderful places like Cebu, Malate, New Manila, Mandaue and then back to Cebu again is work. The kind of work that has become, sadly, lackluster and confined in the long haul, so I quit and throw caution to the wind.

As of this writing, I am in Valencia--a small town in the foothills of Cuernos de Negros mountains in Southern Philippines. Looking back, it's been 3 + wonderful years here! By end of this year, I will move to a bigger city for my big city fix. But before I leave this town, I'd like to share with you its little charm that has floored me all these years.

Known otherwise as the Little Baguio of Oriental Negros, this town boosts of dirt-priced fresh farm produce, cool mountain air and gardens in every square inch of the town.

my (new) hometown. Mine is a classic story: I arrived in Valencia one summer day three years ago. I fell in love with the town and decided to move mountains so I can live here. And I did!

farmer's (wife) market. I first set foot here on a fine Sunday morning and what caught my attention was the Sunday market at the town plaza. I found it disarmingly charming. From the fresh fruits and vegetables harvested in the mountains of the town to knicks knacks and ukay-ukay all laid out in the open field. It's a weekend market that has grown through the years. It used to be a small affair, but last time I checked, it spilled to the plaza gazebo as well. It's a kind of small affair just perfect to wake me up on a Sunday morning. Fern salad, passion fruit, lanzones, sweet potato, unleavened bread, avocado, mangosteen are just some of the products sold directly by the farmers' wives themselves. 

couchsurfing guests. Everytime I have couchsurfers in my place, I always bring them to the simple Sunday market to sample what my town can offer. We all sit al fresco by the small painitan (snack house) selling the local rice cake and hot cocoa dip. It's a nice vantage point to see how the locals spend their mornings. After which, we go around the open air market and sample the goods at a bargain. The humor of the seller adds more fun to the atmosphere which seems to burst with familiarity already.

around town. Nestled in the slope of Mount Talinis, the town of Valencia--about 10 km. from the quaint city of Dumaguete--has a relatively cool climate all-year-round. The town is home to a geothermal plant (the sulfur vent by the roadside that reeks of cracked hard-boiled egg!), several waterfalls and springwater (both hot and cold).

From Dumaguete, Valencia can be reached by a jeepney (Php12.00/person for the 30-minute ride) or by a self-driven rented motorcycle (Php25.00/hour excluding fuel. The rental shops are located one block from Dumaguete Cathedral, near Camella Office and Steds).

  • sulfur vent. the most accessible one is in Pulangbato--a 20-minute drive from town center on a well-paved road. On rainy days, there are pockets of waterfalls along the road. It's like a teaser on what to expect ahead. First, the sulfur vent. Steam from underneath the earth is released here. Small wonder considering that Negros Island is home to an active volcano called Mt. Kanlaon.
  • hot spring. Three minutes away from the roadside vent is Red Rock natural hot spring (Php10.00 entrance fee; cottage is optional) where you can take a dip and sooth tired muscles in a wading pool.
  •  waterfalls. 
    • Up ahead Red Rock hot spring is what they call Malabo twin falls (Php10.00 entrance fee). In summer, the water here is an ideal escape. There's a swimming pool right smack at the bottom of the small waterfalls. The bigger falls is just a few heartbeats away. The distinct red-orange color of the rocks makes this waterfall unique. Not ideal for swimming though as there are loose gravels that might hit you in the head. Nevertheless, its a nice place to just get drowned in the sound of a cascading waterfall. 
    • The most photographed waterfalls in the island is Casaroro Falls (Php10.00). To get there, you must be physically fit. Climbing down 300+ steps sounds easy but going back is no joke at all! But the reward is just amazing! If you're up to the challenge, another twin falls near the Ranch as they call it, is an hour walk away. 
  •  forest camp. For me, the place is overrated. If you want to spend a non-consumable hundred pesos for entrance fee and wait for your ordered food to be served in 45 minutes, then go for the kill. It's easy to spot the entrance on your way to Casaroro Falls.
 Other places of interest in Valencia includes:
  • Camp Look-out. This is where Silliman University Writer's Village is located. The place offers a good hiking trail.
  • Japanese Shrine. The last hideout of the Japanese Imperial Army before their surrender during WWII. The shrine offers a good view of Dumaguete and the neighboring islands of Bohol and Siquijor on a clear day.
  • World War II Museum. Located two blocks from town center, this place is a repository of memorabilia during the second world war. There is no entrance fee. Donation only for the upkeep of the place.
  • Tierra Alta Zipline. Way too overpriced for my taste. Php250.00 for a five minutes of zip lining. If you have the cash to burn, you might as well try it. The area is located inside an (up and coming) upper class neighborhood.
So, there you have it. I think I've pretty much covered the stuff you can do in one day here in Valencia. For longer adventures, there's always Mount Talinis for you to scale. For questions about Valencia, don't hesitate to shoot me a message.

Enjoy the weekend dear readers!


  1. Nice post! I love the fact that you are writing about Negros. That place is a paradise. :p I just wish I have seen this post one month ago. We could have planned a better trip to Valencia with the help of this blog. I'll surely check this out again if I get the chance to go back to Dumaguete.

  2. wonderful job in describing Negros Bugoy! Your description made me drool and it made me feel like i've actually travelled with you in those places...great photography too! way to go Bugoy!(silingaivy)

  3. hehehe. thanks for the vote of confidence silingan. have a happy monday dinha ninyo~

  4. wow! hangganda RV! love ko yung falls at forest camp. parang gusto ko na pumunta soon! san kaya ako pede mag couchsurf? ehem. *wink

  5. hi Gael! oo naman. madaming falls dito sa valencia. hihihi. re: sa couch, medju full house kami dito sa school hanggang december na 'to. january lang may long break sa amin. e message kita pag meron dito sa school o sa duma city mismo..

  6. Will link you. Just like journeyingjames, your travels are interesting :)

  7. currently in DGT. sayang now ko lang nabasa ito. might try to reach Valencia before ako umuwi.

  8. that would be awesome! andito ako until saturday. shoot me a message if you are heading this way. we can have coffee or beer sa may town plaza.

  9. Hi bro

    i'll be visiting dumaguete this weekend

    james told me you are from the place

    can you help me make an itinerary?

    i want to explore dumaguete's neighboring towns too

    my flight is on friday morning. thanks



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