As we near the last quarter of the year, have you already dreamed about your destination (destinations!) for the remaining months of 2013?
And you know what? A trip to Bacolod should be included in your list, as the colorful and upbeat MassKara festival is inarguably—a must-experience. But not only that, visiting Bacolod and its neighboring cities would make you go down memory lane, to that not-so-distant past, as these cities are made more colorful and historical with ancient structures, most prominent of which is “The Ruins” in Talisay City.
The MassKara festival has officially opened on October 1, with some students competing in the upbeat street dance competition. Festival director Rhoderick Samonte promises “20 days of non-stop fun in the Philippines only happening in the City of Smiles.”
With this year’s theme, “Rediscover and Celebrate Bacolod”, tourists from all over the world are expected to troop to Bacolod. The fun will continue until October 20, so you still have two weeks to catch up with one of the country’s most colorful festivals.
Apart from the Masskara Festival, Bacolod is also filled with numerous tourist attractions that can bring smile to everyone’s faces.
Going around is not a problem because buses can be found everywhere to bring you to neighboring cities, and their prices are very affordable.
Here are some of PCI’s must-visit places in the City of Smiles:
Start with the Provincial Capitol of Negros Occidental, a well-preserved American-era building.
An attraction adjacent to the Provincial Capitol is the Capitol Park—ideal for those who want to jog and sweat it out in the morning.
In the middle of the park, you can find a man-made lagoon, where two iconic sculptures stand. The sculpture of Woman and Water Buffalo by the Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti stands at the north of the lagoon, while the Man and the Beast by the Negrense artist Felix Garzon stands at the south.
Then move up to north Bacolod and you will reach Silay City. In here, you will be welcomed with more than 30 well-preserved ancestral houses.
The Maria Ledesma Golez Ancestral Houses, the Bernardino-Ysabel Jalandoni House, the Balay Negrense, the Jose Gamboa Ancestral House, and the Dr. Jose C. Locsin Ancestral House are some of the best ancestral houses to visit in Silay.
The Ruins in Talisay City
Your trip to Negros Occidental would not be complete without visiting “The Ruins”. This popular tourist attraction is located in Talisay City, the neighboring city of Bacolod to the north.
For the past years, this historical structure has turned to be an icon of the province of Negros Occidental. The mansion was built in the 1900’s by the barón del azúcar (sugar baron) Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson for his wife, but was later burnt during World War II.
Just recently, it became even popular as one of its tourist guides was featured on various TV shows because of his unique way of narrating “The Ruin’s”’ history to tourists. It has also been a favorite venue for prenuptial photo shoots and wedding receptions.
Perchance, to eat
When you’re in Bacolod, please don’t miss to savour their Chicken Inasal—because of its tenderness, juiciness and freshness—it is indeed a must-try. You will never find it’s equivalent in Manila and anywhere in the Philippines.
The locals were united in saying that the best place where you can enjoy Chicken Inasal is at the Manokan Country located along Father M. Ferrero Street, near SM City Bacolod.
Desserts at Calea
After savoring Bacolod’s finest Chicken Inasal, surely a sumptuous dessert can still find its way to your stomach?
Calea is a cake shop, popular for serving the most number of cake variants. It is literally a cake haven! During the MassKara festival, you have to be early so you’ll not be at the end of the long line.
Many food bloggers commented, “It tasted gourmet but it didn’t cost gourmet.” Here’s a tip to sample many of their cakes: Go there as a group, order different cakes and share.
When nighttime comes, a long stretch of Lacson Street (which is filled with establishments) hosts street parties. If festive is what you want, festive is what you will get here.
There’s upbeat music, beer drinking, sumptuous food.
The Electric Masskara Parade is actually one of the highlights of the three-day weekend of the MassKara festival. It usually starts when dusk covers the city, between 6pm-7pm, and it is a perfect prelude to a night party. Don’t miss it.
You’ve had your way with Bacolod and Negros Occidental, but don’t forget the ones you’ve left behind. There are several pasalubongs you can satisfy them with (so they are not too jealous), that is, piaya, biscocho, pinasugbo, napoleones and barquillos, among others.
Merci Pasalubong Treats was reviewed by many travel sites as the best pasalubong center in Bacolod. It is located in nine centers, including a branch in Bacolod-Silay Airport, SM Supermarket and Robinson’s Supermarket.
Some fast facts (to further whet your appetite)
- MassKara came from the two words, “Mass” which means a multitude of people, and “Kara” which means face. When combined, MassKara means “a multitude of faces.”
- Do you know that Masskara Festival’s birth came at a time when Bacolod City was mourning for the lost lives of many Negrenses after the sinking of the passenger vessel Don Juan? Thus, artists, civic groups, and the local government of Bacolod got together and thus was born the colorful, fun, festive MassKara Festival.
- You can take daily flights to Bacolod City via the Bacolod-Silay Airport. Another option is to fly to Iloilo City and take the fastest craft to Bacolod City.
- It is best to check-in at a hotel near Araneta Avenue and the Public Plaza as the street dance competition is being held there.
- Bring your camera with you.
- Wear comfy clothes. Bring an umbrella or a hat (or two).
Lastly, leave all your worries in Manila. After all, Bacolod is “The City of Smiles.” Bawal ang nakasimangot (can’t, can’t frown)!