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Date Posted: 11/27/09

Arrival in Dumaguete (November 4, 2009)

By: Arturo Valdez

By 6am we were all set to leave for Dumaguete when to my surprise, I saw that the Balangay ran aground caught by low tide at the dock. The crew on duty failed to notice that they were already aground in the early morning. The rolling and swaying may have caused them to sleep very soundly. We had no choice but to wait for the incoming high tide and almost two hours later after some hard pushing to move Diwata afloat, we were on our way to Dumaguete. 

I called Coast Guard Dumaguete Station Chief Caro of our approximate arrival at Sumilon Island near the tip of Southern Cebu. I also requested for a guide boat that will steer us to our docking place in Dumaguete.

Again, we saw dolphins gracefully gliding at a distance. This time the northeasterly wind blows steadily behind our sails making the trip a delight. By noon however the skies darkened as I saw the formation of an incoming squall. Thirty minutes later we were pummeled by gale force wind and rain. Fortunately, the favorable Amihan pushed Diwata faster. Visibility was not more than 100meters away as she sailed at top speed. I was quite concerned that we might run into Sumilon Island with the limited visibility caused by the squall. Then the skies cleared as the rainclouds melted in the noontime sun. But it was a brief respite. An hour later, the skies darkened again as another squall hit us. The strong winds really pushed Diwata faster, and everyone was cheering when she clocked 18kmh. My only worry is the island of Sumilon. I can hardly see where we heading until I saw what appeared to be something bright coming from a lighthouse. Everyone thought it to be the lighthouse of Sumilon. It turned out that the source came from the powerful search lights of the Coast Guard motorized banca searching for us around the island of Sumilon. They also got into the squalls but they were better equipped than us. We were relieved to see them guiding us to the tricky and criss-crossing currents that converged at the junction of Negros, Siguijor and Cebu Islands. Somewhere near the Port of Dumaguete, a small motorized banca met the Balangay carrying a welcome streamer from the DENR. My high school classmate and fellow AFS’er Toto Ely Lapatha together with the LGU reps, local media, partner’s national agencies, Coast Guard and local residents were at the dock when we dropped anchor at Dumaguet Port. It was 4pm of Nov 4.

Finally, we reached Dumaguete, popularly known as a university town primarily because of Silliman U and other institutions of learning. We conducted symposia to thousands of students in Silliman U, Dumaguete City High, Foundation U, and to the cadet corps of Silliman U.

We did coastal clean up along the famous city boulevard and tree-planting in the Palinpinon geothermal watershed in Valencia town.

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