Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete City is familiar to all residents and visitors. There are many pictures and articles on the Internet that advertise it. Some describe it as fantastic while others mention the frustrating annoyances, but it’s time to explain why it is so popular.
The Boulevard generates a different ambience for every time of the day and every season of the year. It is constant, but ever changing, so that two individuals may view it with completely opposite opinions.
The light of the early morning sun peeking over the horizon illuminates hundreds of local residents, who wake early to get their morning exercise. They walk or jog the boulevard during the cool of the early morning. It is a quiet time of day as the morning traffic is insignificant. People chat quietly but the main sounds are grunts and gasps from exercisers performing their morning routines.
By noon the day is too hot for most exertions so you will find only a few die hard strollers in the mid-day heat and see many folk having siestas on park benches beneath shady trees.
In late afternoon the Boulevard starts to come alive. Many strollers are about and their rambles will continue late into the evening. As one goes home, two more show up to walk along the boulevard. By about 8 PM the Boulevard is once again a hub of activity. Tourists and visitors tend to be more prominent earlier in the evening while local residents prefer the cooler time after 8 PM.
Local vendors and service providers have learned the value of Rizal Boulevard as a place to earn their livelihood. There are, of course, the constant beggars that one must learn to avoid. If you even look at them they see you as a target and will follow you for hundreds of meters. Massage therapists are set up in two locations along the boulevard and practitioners are licensed by the city of Dumaguete. 50 pesos for a half hour is good value.
Tattoo artists frequently ply their trade along the boulevard. Whether you want temporary, henna body art or a permanent design these budget minded artisans will apply it for you. Other artists sell everything from paintings to hand carved wooden ships.
The Dumaguete Souvenir Venders Association has tables set up at the north end of the boulevard. They are next to the balut and tempura vendors and they set up daily at about 6 PM. Wandering nearby are the balloon salesmen, toy vendors, plus fruit and nut salespeople. Crowds of people throng this area on any weekend evening to hear the live bands from across the street at Coco Amigos restaurant.
Walking the boulevard is a favorite pastime of mine. I will usually do 3 laps a day which translates to 4.5 kilometers so watch for me there. Just a word of caution, many people walk their dogs on the boulevard and few clean up the dog feces so watch your step. It’s more fun on the Rizal Boulevard in downtown Dumaguete City!