Discovering the laidback lifestyle in Negros Oriental 2
A scene from Manjuyod Sandbar

Discovering the laidback lifestyle in Negros Oriental

Negros Oriental demonstrates that a laidback lifestyle involves minimizing stress and embracing a slower pace.
Josh Mercado | May 23 2024

Living a laidback life may mean different things to different people, but for Negros Oriental, which has been dubbed the “Province of Gentle People,” it is a unique blend of simplicity, kindness, and appreciation for life's true joys. It is a life centered on genuine connections, both with people and with nature.

Mornings begin with leisurely walks, absorbing the serenity of the surroundings and exchanging warm greetings with fellow residents. Afternoons offer a flexible rhythm — some dedicate themselves to work, while others embrace the comfort of home. Evenings conclude with heartfelt gratitude for the blessings of a quiet existence.

If you seek to experience this laidback lifestyle firsthand, the welcoming locals of Dumaguete and its surrounding areas are eager to share their secrets. They'll guide you to their cherished spots, such as the idyllic Manjuyod Sandbar, the marine paradise of Apo Island, the picturesque Tierra Alta, the serene Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park, the enchanting Lake Kabalin-an, the historic Capitol, and the famous Sans Rival, a beloved local landmark.

These aesthetics contribute to the province's charm, but it is the people and their way of life that truly define it – their simple joys, genuine smiles, and relaxed pace.

Gov. Manuel "Chaco" Sagarbarria, during the commemoration of the Negros Oriental Capitol Building centennial, captured this essence perfectly: "It's still a laidback city. It's not fully urbanized. The charisma of in-between. That is something that's unique in Dumaguete. A lot of people said, 'We find Dumaguete charming because we find the feeling of not being rushed kasi parang when we wake up in the morning, we go walking, we have coffee.' It's not still na parang Cebu na everything is rushed. We have the number 2 highest European immigrants."

Negros Oriental demonstrates that a laidback lifestyle involves minimizing stress and embracing a slower pace.

Here are some of the spots in Negros Oriental that can help you unwind and experience this tranquil way of life.

Manjuyod Sandbar

laidback lifestyle in Negros Oriental

If you time your visit right and catch the tide at its lowest point, you'll be rewarded with a glimpse of paradise. This stunning sandbar is the perfect place to unwind, mingle with friendly locals selling fresh seafood, and simply soak in the atmosphere.

The locals embody a balanced approach to life, embracing the simple pleasures of the waves, the fresh air, and the laid-back rhythm of their surroundings. Their wisdom is a gentle reminder to slow down and appreciate the present moment.

And don't forget your camera! The charming stilt houses scattered along the sandbar provide a picture-perfect backdrop for your Instagram feed.

Apo Island 

laidback lifestyle in Negros Oriental

Immerse yourself in the underwater wonderland of Apo Island. Swim alongside graceful sea turtles, encounter a kaleidoscope of vibrant fish, and learn snorkeling tips from the knowledgeable locals.

The underwater scenery is so vivid and breathtaking, it feels like you've stepped into a scene from a documentary.

Apo Island is not just a diving destination; it's a welcoming community. The locals eagerly share their home with visitors, offering delicious food and warm smiles at their charming seaside establishments.

Tierra Alta

laidback lifestyle in Negros Oriental

Dubbed the "Santorini of the Philippines," Tierra Alta captures the essence of the Greek island with its striking white and royal blue architecture.

Tierra Alta is the most picturesque location near Dumaguete, offering panoramic views of the lighthouse, mountains, and the vast ocean.

A laidback life shares a similar aesthetic with Tierra Alta — serene, harmonious, and visually pleasing. It's a life that embraces simplicity and finds beauty in the everyday moments.

Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park

laidback lifestyle in Negros Oriental

In this protected area, you'll discover a sense of peace and clarity as you observe a variety of birds and reconnect with the natural world.

Visitors can enhance their experience by renting boats or kayaks, allowing them to leisurely explore the serene lakes while surrounded by the lush greenery of the mountains.

Lake Kabalin-an

laidback lifestyle in Negros Oriental

Nestled at the base of a mountainous region where the Twin Lakes reside, Lake Kabalin-an exudes an air of magic and mystery.

Particularly striking are the tall trees partially submerged in the lake's center, creating a captivating scenery.

Perhaps, as they say, some mysteries in life are best left unsolved, adding to the allure of this place.


laidback lifestyle in Negros Oriental

Gov. Sagarbarria unveiled the historical marker, "Kapitolyo ng Negros Oriental," on May 17, commemorating the centennial of the Negros Oriental capitol building.

He shared a fascinating detail about the building's history: "It was actually built in 1922. They had a big fire and rebuilt again in 1924. That's why 100 years. It's very important and very historical. I'm very grateful to be part of it."

The capitol building, with its enduring architecture, symbolizes strength and grace. These qualities resonate with the concept of a laid-back life, where inner strength and resilience allow for an effective navigation of life's challenges.

Sans Rival

laidback lifestyle in Negros Oriental

"It actually started with my lola. It's my sister the one that's running Sans Rival now. Pero Sans Rival, it was only 20 square meters lang, 2 tables, 8 chairs. It started that way. Everything was home-cooked. The recipe of the original Sans Rival like 30 years ago is the same exactly as it is now. Homemade lahat and original recipe from my lola. It's getting bigger and bigger. Very small store all the way to what it is now," recalled Gov. Sagarbarria, whose family owns the iconic Sans Rival brand.

The silvanas from Sans Rival, a beloved local delicacy, embodies the sentiment of spreading sweetness to others with its rich layers of buttercream and meringue, topped with crunchy nuts. It is the perfect reminder for us to constantly sweeten our lives and of those who matter.

Just like this indulgent treat, life's simple joys, like savoring moments and sharing kindness, are the ingredients for a truly fulfilling and laidback lifestyle. Negros Oriental opens the door for us to embrace the sweetness of life, one slice at a time.

Photos by Josh Mercado