The following is a guest post from my Filipino friend Leanne, who has lived in Dumaguete her whole life. She shares her personal experiences with safety hazards in Dumaguete—and how to stay safe!
Dumaguete City has been recognized as one of the best places to retire in the Philippines. And as a local, I understand why.
I have lived here for 26 years, and over the years, the population has grown so much bigger because aside from my fellow Filipinos, foreigners also prefer to live here for good. And safety is part of the reason.
Dumaguete is one of the safest cities in the Philippines. It is known as the “City of Gentle People,” with a crime rate lower than other cities in the region. Dumaguete is also generally safe from typhoons. However, there are still risks of scams, motor accidents, theft, and assault if you’re not careful.
In this post, I’m going to address all of these points in more detail. I’ll also share 8 safety tips from personal experience—so you can get around Dumaguete safely if you come here.
Dumaguete Crime Rate
The crime rate in Dumaguete is notably low compared to most cities in the Philippines.
According to the official Dumaguete City website, there were 1,329 incidents from June to December 2019. But the volume even significantly dropped by almost 65% in the same period in 2020. That is a dramatic decrease.
The crime rate in Dumaguete is even lower than Iloilo City, which is another city in Visayas, recognized as the City of Love. (source)
Most crimes committed in Dumaguete are robbery, drug dealings, and assault. But again, Dumaguete is not a high-crime city. It is actually known as the “City of Gentle People.”
Unsafe Areas in Dumaguete
There are some areas that you still may want to avoid in Dumaguete, though. Specifically, there are risks with driving in Dumaguete.
These include slippery/bumpy roads with no lights present. Dumaguete has a large number of motorists, and some accidents happen because they drive in these areas. If you have no other choice, be sure to take your time and drive slowly.
Also, animals crossing the road is just unavoidable, as there are many stray dogs and cats in the city. Hence, the higher risk of motorists being in an accident.
Make sure to always look on the side of the road, and to slow down if you see dogs and cats wandering around. I personally had a bad experience with this, so make sure you take this precaution to keep your skin and motorcycle flawless.
Typhoon Risk in Dumaguete
Typhoons can occur in the Philippines at any time of the year, but they are most common between June to September. There are at least 20 typhoons every year, with about five being destructive.
However, the areas in the Philippines most commonly hit hard by typhoons are in Southern Luzon. Not Dumaguete.
Dumaguete does not tend to have a typhoon season, as it is below the official typhoon belt. Thus, it does not get very affected by typhoons compared to other parts of the Philippines.
There are a few areas in Dumaguete that are prone to floods, however. These include Bacong. Bacong has a bridge which is located along Banica river. Thus, it really has a high vulnerability to floods.
I have some friends living there, and when strong rains approach, their lawn will sometimes get flooded. Sometimes the water will even get inside their house. The water could get as high as above the knee.
Thus, it is better to live away from bridges in Dumaguete. There are also some highly-elevated areas, which are extra safe from floods, like Valencia.
Unsafe Areas in Negros Oriental
There are no specific areas in Negros Oriental that you need to completely avoid for safety reasons. It is really safe overall.
I would only advise not going to unfamiliar places alone or hiking alone at night. Aside from the risk of getting lost, you could get fooled or in a woman’s case, there may be risk of assault or rape.
8 Tips for Staying Safe in Dumaguete
Here are 8 tips to stay extra safe on your trip to Dumaguete, or even after you permanently move here:
- Beware of scams—and know the fare. If you’re new to the city, make sure you know the proper fare for transportation. I know some tourists who encountered drivers asking for a much bigger fare. This often happens in airports.
As soon as you land in Dumaguete, there will be drivers offering rides. There is this vehicle called “Easyride,” which is like a jeepney in Manila but smaller, and drivers ask a ridiculous fare from foreigners.
Let me tell you this: You won’t need an Easyride to get to your hotel or wherever you’re staying in the city. You can ride a pedicab for much cheaper. It is also called tricycle in some parts of the Philippines.
Some pedicab drivers will also ask for a higher amount than is reasonable, though. You should know that the fare is only 15 to 20 pesos. You can give tips if you are generous or if you have a lot of luggage, but don’t go beyond 50 pesos. That is enough.
- Walk like you have a purpose—even if you’re unsure where you’re going. You’ll be a much easier target to be fooled if you look like someone new to the city.
- Do not bring a lot of money with you. A few bills in your pocket should be enough. There is not much theft reported by commuters, but I would still advise this because I personally do this. Also, to be honest, you won’t have to spend much money in Dumaguete. You may also just bring a coin purse instead of a wallet.
- Don’t share a room or a house with a stranger. Although it saves money going to a backpacker hostel, it is still better to live alone than live with someone you do not know. I have a French friend who visited Dumaguete, and his fellow backpacker who he just met stole his camera and ran off. So better safe than sorry.
- Do not wear expensive jewelry. Snatchers are not common here, but some might observe you from afar, and if they notice something expensive on you, they might follow you home and force you to give up your valuables.
- Ignore cat-callers. I hate to say this, but cat-calling is common here, especially if you are a woman wandering the streets alone. If you experience this, do not mind them, and just go along your way.
- Be vigilant. Filipinos are truly friendly and hospitable—but it is still important to be cautious. It’s fine to talk to strangers in a casual way in bars or boulevards. However, some may be cat-fishing you. Some may even flirt with you and take advantage of you. I recommend not sharing personal information or telling people where you’re staying, especially when you just met them.
- Always remember that knowledge is power. Do your research. Know the directions as much as possible. Then you won’t have to pretend you know where you’re going—you’ll really know!