Negros as best island to live on

A US magazine has listed Negros Oriental as one of the planet's 20 best islands to live on. In its July-August issue, Islands Magazine, one of the widest circulated and most trusted travel publications in the United States , included Negros Oriental with its capital Dumaguete as among the best islands in the whole world where expatriates may settle based on the following criteria: flip-flop wearability, strong expat communities, and affordable real estate.

Other criteria included weather, languages spoken, ease of immigration and accessibility to hospitals. Expats were also interviewed for an insider’s opinion.

Negros Oriental earned three out of five flip-flops, or rating, from the magazine. Of note was Dumaguete City ’s youthful vibe courtesy of the prominence of academic centers. Also mentioned was the city’s picturesque Rizal Boulevard , the seaside promenade lined with cafes and art galleries. German expat Georg Bender, who moved to the island in 2001, spoke of the great diving experiences awaiting scuba and snorkeling enthusiasts.

Negros Oriental province actually comprises just half of Negros or "Buglas" Island and belongs to Central Visayas or Region 8. The other half, Negros Occidental, is a part of Western Visayas or Region 6.

The province of Negros Oriental has 20 towns and 5 cities, the center of which is Dumaguete City , which is famous for its beautiful sceneries and hospitable people.

Negros Oriental joined other exotic islands such as the Grand Cayman, Gozo in Malta , Carriacou in Grenada and Vieques in Puerto Rico , which all offer a mix of indigenous culture, friendly neighbors, uncomplicated living and adventure attractions.

Other islands in the list were Dominica , St. Kitts, Hawkes Bay in New Zealand , Taveuni in Fiji , Long Island in the Bahamas , Honolulu in Hawaii , Cedar Key in Florida , Isla Colon in Panama , Carriacou in Grenada , Norfolk Island, Union Islands in St. Vincent and the Grenadines , Penang in Malaysia , Utila in Honduras , Pico in Portugal , Aruba, and Vanuatu .

The Department of Tourism said Negros Oriental, and its capital Dumaguete, lives up to the moniker “the city of gentle people”.

“More than the attractions in a particular province or city, it is the people who play a big role in creating a welcoming and positive impression to travelers. Negros Oriental being recognized as one of the best islands to live speaks of an exceptionally hospitable experience that makes people want to stay for the long haul,” said Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano.

Durano called on local government units to continue with their efforts to build up the tourism potentials of their jurisdictions. While infrastructure is essential, programs should also include creating a community mindset that is tourist-friendly and puts forth the world-famous Filipino brand of hospitality, he said.

Negros Oriental offers divers colorful and teeming marine life around Apo Island , which is home of the Negros Oriental Marine Conservation Park .

Tourists can also chance upon playful dolphins and pygmy sperm whales out in Tañon Strait at Bais Bay . Meanwhile, the 400-hectare Bird Sanctuary and Mangrove Park provides sightings of rare birds and wildlife. The province also holds spelunking, trekking and beach destinations.

Dumaguete City , the provincial capital, prides itself as the City of Gentle People for the winsome and hospitable residents who help create a tranquil and genteel way of life.

Dumaguete is also known as a college town, with several institutions of higher learning located in close proximity to each other and students comprising a fourth of the population. Most notable is Silliman University , the first Protestant college in the Philippines and the oldest American-established tertiary education center in Asia .

The Islands Magazine has a readership base of 500,000 of mostly frequent tourists who take more than one annual holiday and stay for an average of seven days at any given vacation. Roderick T. dela Cruz

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