Youth is not wasted on the Young

It’s funny how things work out some time.

Just as I was complaining about the quality of food in the Philippines, we were treated to a steady stream of awesome eating places in the university town of Dumaguete.

The whole reason we were in Dumaguete was so that we can do some diving at Apo Island.

Stepping off our boat from Lilo An in Cebu, we thought Dumaguete looked just like any other Filipino seaside town.

“Just” another Filipino seaside town

We were soon struck by how “different” Dumaguete felt compared to the other Filipino cities so far.

There’s a very “young” vibe that seemed to just permeate through the town.

It’s hard to explain, but there’s a feeling of… invincibility and an implied promise that “WE WILL CHANGE THE WORLD!”. Corny as it may sound, it’s a promise that had not been tempered by cynicism and jadedness yet.

This can be seen in many places, but the most prominent of which are the walls of murals lining the streets. Every exposed area is painted over with messages about peace, recycling and other “causes of the month”.

See what I mean about jadedness?


That aside, what’s the best part of being in an University town?

Definitely the student priced food!

We were able to suss out a few student run cafes/restaurants (not that hard since they are all within the… ermm.. campus grounds) and we managed to while away quite a few evenings cafe hopping and pretending to be young again.

Chic coffee joints with ermm… poppy!

See the half eaten muffin (poppy velvet cream cheese), and the empty cup of coffee? Indisputable proof that we are not cut out to be food photographers.

We also discovered (according to Jo) THE BEST CHICKEN IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.

What started out as a “hur hur, let’s try something from this restaurant named after you” quickly became an obsession for Jo.

Can you smell what the Jo is cooking!

We were supposed to share one chicken meal since it comes with unlimited rice (and also because we are NOT greedy).

We ended up ordering three sets of chicken.

Figuring out where to start biting into the succulent piece of chicken. The only reason why I am able to snap a complete piece of chicken thigh? It’s our third piece…


Not so Jolly

Filipino cuisine is a interesting mixture of food from all around the world. It is supposed to take the best parts of Spanish, Western, Chinese and Indo-Malay food and fuse them into delectable dishes of orgasmic treats.

I would have to say that so far in our travels through the Philippines, we’ve had none of those yet.

Instead, we found the food we had so far to be rather special… in a oily, salty and unsavoury sort of way.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not doubting that there are good Filipino food, I’m just saying we haven’t found them yet. But then, what do we know? As a relatively poor couple backpacking our way around, we have one BIG criteria for our food – barring the occasional treat, our food has to be cheap.

By the time we reached Dumaguete, it got so bad that I decided we would resort to our trump card and go to the bastion of consistency – fast food. Normally, at times like these, Jo would kick up a hissy fit and go into full blown eye rolling mode, exclaiming to all who would listen about how we came all the way to a foreign place to have McDonald’s.

Jo is an idiot.

But this one time when I came up with the suggestion, Jo readily agreed to it. That’s how bad things had become.

In the end, we came to a compromise. Instead of going to the local MacD’s or KFC, we would go to a Filipino fast food joint that have a menu which is surprisingly similar to KFC’s. For the sake of anonymity, let’s just call this place Xollibee.


Like I said, the menu is similar… in fact, it would be exactly the same as KFC, if KFC serve solid rocks of salt instead of chicken.