Every third week of October, the streets of Bacolod ring with festivities and fill up with masked revelers in the festival aptly called the Masskara.
Hundreds of tourists flock to this small city in the Visayas to witness and be part of one of the most colorful festivals in the Philippines. There is always something happening every day, from sports tournaments to street dance competitions per village (barangay) or school.
When the festival is done, and the streets are empty of dancing revelers, what else is there to do in Bacolod? Plenty as it turned out, both in Bacolod itself and its neighboring cities.
Go to Palapala and order seafood to be cooked while you wait.
Bacolod is known as a foodie destination, if only for its chicken dishes (“inasal”) and seafood. As I’m not much of a meat eater, I would highly recommend going to Old Palapala for lunch.
There are many “tulahan” there, which are small restaurants surrounding the wet market. (“Tulahan” means a place where they cook fish stew.) You order your chosen seafood at the market and the tulahan will cook it according to your liking. There’s certainly nothing fresher (and cheaper!) than that!
Savor the sweet cakes in Calea.
You have never been to Bacolod if you haven’t had a bite of Calea cakes. At less than P100 per slice, the cakes there are the ultimate in sugar rush. Every morsel is unforgettably sweet. I highly recommend the White Chocolate Cheesecake and the mud pie!
There are three branches, so go to one nearest you. We’ve visited Calea in Lacson Street (beside L’Fisher Hotel) and the one inside Robinsons Place Bacolod.
Visit The Ruins in Talisay.
As its name suggests, it’s the ruins of what used to be a great house. But even reduced to bare bones, it still looks splendid, telling a story of a time long gone. From being the grand mansion of sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson and his Portuguese wife, Maria Braga, it is now a very famous tourist attraction, and visitors who flock to it are awed by its timeless beauty. What would it have been like to stay in something as grand as this?
To go to The Ruins, you can either commute or take a taxicab. Aside from just picture taking, you can also eat at the cafe inside; there’s a mini-exhibit as well where you can read the write-ups done on the place. Weddings, pre-nup sessions, and other events can also be held here. Just contact them for details:
Hacienda Sta. Maria, Talisay City
Contact: +63.34.476.4334, +63.917.832.6003
Visit Balay Negrense, an ancestral house in Silay.
Also called the Gaston ancestral house, Balay Negrense showcases the life of rich Bacolodnons in the early 19th century. You can commute there from Bacolod via jeepney, and for P40 as an entrance fee, you will get a feel of how the old rich lived.
Victor Gaston—the patriarch—was actually the son of a French immigrant who married a Filipina. They and their one dozen children lived here until around the 60s, and the house was later donated to the Negros Cultural Foundation until it became inaugurated as a museum in 1990.
When you’re there, admire the wooden central staircase, the wide living room in the second floor, the connecting bedrooms, and the dining area which still has the things and the furniture originally used by the family.
I loved most the huge windows overlooking the city! You will never see houses built like this anymore these days.
Cinco de Noviembre Street
Silay City, Negros Occidental
Visit the Bernardino Jalandoni Ancestral House.
If you haven’t had enough yet of ancestral houses, there’s another one in Silay that’s very much worth checking out. The Jalandoni home was the first heritage house in the city to be opened to the public, and it’s easy accessibility make it a perfect site to visit for those who are short in time.
Owned by another sugar baron in the early 1900s, Don Bernardino Jalandoni and his wife Ysabel Ledesma, the Jalandoni ancestral home is another example of the architectural style prevalent in that period. Aside from the foundation, the material used is mostly wood, giving the whole place a very cozy and homey feel.
There are wood carvings all over the place, too, and their beds and furnishings make one wish they’d lived in those times too. Simply wonderful!
There are so much more you can do in Bacolod and nearby towns. Like many others who have been there, I, too, have vowed to be back in Bacolod City someday.
How to go to Bacolod City: There are flights to Bacolod from Manila every day via Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines. You can also go via Iloilo City. Upon arriving at the Iloilo airport, take the van going to SM City, then take a jeepney to Mandurriao. Tell the driver to drop you off where you can take another jeep going to the port for Bacolod. There are numerous trips (via fast crafts) there going to Bacolod, and the last one leaves at 6pm.
Have you ever been to Bacolod? What do you recommend there in the City of Smiles?