In Philippines, I spent my time in Siliman University, Dumaguete. I searched on the internet to learn about Dumaguete, and my conclusion was that Dumeguete was a kind of combination of Bali and Yogyakarta; well, it may be right, but not fully right.
Dumaguete is a small city. Once I arrived there, I was amazed that the people look like Indonesian. The people's activities, the shops along the street, the public transportation; they made me feel like I was home. However, a thing about Dumaguete that lingers on my mind, and always becomes the first story to tell to my family and Indonesian is that there is no traffic light there. People use motorcycles as their private transportation, and tricycles are public transportation. I hardly remember that I saw a private car there. Once in Indonesia, we see cenglu (a motorcycle ridden by three persons) as something inappropriate and weird; in Dumaguete, it is a usual view. A motorcycle can be used by three to four persons, without helmets! The comforting thing however was that they respected pedestrians very much. Once they saw a pedestrian pass a street, they would stop. I rarely heard any horn sound in Dumaguete, it was really a peaceful city.
Another thing I was amazed about Dumaguete is that the people did not discriminate the foreigners, in terms of what they had to pay. I mean, I paid the same cost as the local people did: eight pesos each for riding tricycles and ten pesos for a little far distance. The souvenirs from Dumaguete were similar as souvenirs from Yogyakarta. Dumaguete has a long coastline since it borders by the sea. The sea is located in Siliman University boulevard. It's awesome!
The sad thing is that the shops close too early in Dumaguete. The souvenir shop, for example, is closed at 6:30 pm. The biggest mall in Dumaguete, even, is closed at 8 pm. It seems Dumaguetans are not fond of night life.
Talking about food, in Dumaguete, the food is similar to Indonesian food; or at least, acceptable by Indonesian palates. However, the food portion of Philippinos is probably twice to three times bigger than Indonesian. One food that I cannot forget up to know is mung bean soup. In Indonesia, mung bean is cooked as dessert, while in Dumaguete, I found mung bean was cooked as soup. It was strange for me, but it was delicious!
When I was in Dumaguete, I longed to eat vegetables because almost in all session, I could not find it. Meat and egg are everywhere! I got confused and thought that Philippinos did not eat vegetables, or maybe vegetables were expensive food. My curiosity, then, forced me to ask one of my friends, and her answer surprised me. She told me that vegetables were everyday’s food in Philippine; however, if special occasion is held in Philippine, Philippinos will serve meat and egg because that is the way they respect their guests since meat and egg are expensive food compared to vegetables. Was it funny, yet ironic? The host was trying to serve their guests by giving them the best food but we, Indonesian, longed for something which was considered “ordinary” for them.
I will end my story about cultural shock in Dumaguete by stating that I could not find sambal in Dumaguete. I learnt in Dumaguete that in fact, Philippinos cannot stand eating spicy food. And it suffered me a lot since I am a lover of spicy food. Maybe, if someday you go to Philippine, you should bring sambal yourself! (pdk)