I enjoyed every bit of my Bacolod trip in late 2003, moreso because I was able to explore some secret spots in Negros Occidental Our group had an overload of old churches, houses, museums, nature and the best part of all – food!
I can’t forget Bacolod food. We had a native Filipino meal at Aboy’s (ironically owned by a Kapampangan), stocked up on calories with irresistible desserts at Calea, munched on seafood at the turo-turo stalls of Pala-Pala and savored the roasted chicken in Manokan Country. The latter is a whole restaurant strip devoted to different versions of chicken inasal which is best eaten kamayan style with achuete oil poured over garlic rice. Super-yummy!
Bacolod is usually jampacked with visitors every October when it holds the Masskara Festival. This fiesta features smiling masks of every shape and color worn by the participants and dancers in colorful costumes fill the streets. Which reminds me, if I have to go to Bacolod, I have to go during this time … even if I hate big crowds!
Because it was an official trip, we stayed at the Casino Filipino Hotel in Goldenfields Complex. Hmm, slot machines on the ground floor, nice Filipiniana rooms on the upper floors. Beat that.
Here are other points of interest in Bacolod City and its environs which I wrote for our company brochure:
Nature trippers visiting the region make a trek to Mt. Kanlaon which, at 2,465 meters above sea level, is the highest peak in Central Philippines. Nestled at the foot of this dormant volcano is the Mambukal Mountain Resort with its sulphur springs, swimming pools and seven waterfalls. Guintubdan Nature Camp, between the boundaries of Bago and La Carlota cities, is famous for its cascading falls and campsites.
For a glimpse of all the products which has made Negros a hit in the export market, a visit to the Association of Negros Producers (ANP) Showroom is a must. On display are native bags and shoes, garments and knitwear, furnitures, novelty gifts, costume jewelry and a wide assortment of handicrafts.
Avid golfers can check out two world-class golf courses: the 18-hole Bacolod Golf & Country Club located in Hacienda Binitin and the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club.
The Provincial Capitol is an imposing structure of Romanesque neoclassical architectural design. It served as headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. Fronting it is the Provincial Park and Lagoon with its giant sculptures.
Bacolod City and surrounding areas host some of the country’s oldest and most beautiful churches. The San Sebastian Cathedral, built in 1876, gives us a glimpse of Spanish colonial architecture. The St. Joseph the Worker Church in Victorias City houses the world-famous mural painting of the “Angry Christ.” The Santa Clara Chapel is notable for its ingenuous use of native materials like wood, capiz and seashells.
Aside from the ancestral houses, the Negros Sugar Museum offers visitors a treasure trove of memorabilia and exhibits about Negros’ history and its people.
Going farther into the cities of Bago and Victorias, you can see the so called “Iron Dinosaurs.” These are the steam locomotives which moved the sugar harvested from the fields to the mills in narrow gauge tracks.
(Did I forget anything else? Email me or leave a comment)