A sweet and serendipitous trip in the City of Smiles
Bacolod is one of the fast-selling destinations in the Philippines offering cultural experiences, a treasure trove of attractions, and architectural splendor. It is most famous for their MassKara Festival held every October and the impressive heritage houses of the wealthy hacienderos worthy of a visit. (Read here to know more)
And in case you missed it, AirAsia now flies to Bacolod with three flights daily where Team Out of Town was fortunate to be part of its 4-day adventure together with some media friends.
Ticking the Bacolod trip off the bucket list in 2019? Let Team Out of Town share with you how to make your next visit feel just like your first.
We spent our entire 4-day gastronomic adventure in the City of Smiles trying out Inasal, Kansi, and KBL.
On the first night, we visited the original Aida’s Manokan located at Manokan Country beside SM Bacolod. We tried Chicken Inasal, Tina-e, Baticolon, and Talaba. For first-timers, we recommend you order the isaw. It’s quite surprising how well-marinated and generously skewered it is. The whole Chicken Inasal experience wouldn’t have been complete without pairing it with garlic rice, chicken oil, and your choice of sawsawan.
It was also priced affordably starting from 27 pesos and 93 pesos for the pechopak/pecho. The place was jampacked at the time we went there, probably because it’s the Masskara seaon, but according to a local, a lot of diners really visit this place to have a taste of their perfectly cooked and juicy Inasal.
We also had the chance to eat at the famous MelKens Seafood Restaurant located at Barangay Balaring, the coastal area of Silay City. Just like any island here in the Philippines, Negros Island is blessed with a location where fishes are aplenty, so expect only the freshest catch especially if you’re in Silay.
The whole vibe of MelKens is very pleasing – from the windy breeze coming in, although it’s scorching hot at noon. We also loved the nipa and bamboo interior, the very accommodating restaurant crews, down to their overly delicious seafood menu. Some of the highly recommended menu include crabs, garlic shrimp, liempo, calamares, and their famous kinilaw.
One of the most intriguing facets of Bacolod is the way its artistic and culinary riches are intertwined with its history. Such pastry shops to include in your itinerary is the oldest bakery in Negros called El Ideal where you can taste homemade bread and cookies. It is currently housed in the Cesar Locsin Ancestral House, a National Historical Institute Certified Heritage Structure.
Calea also tops as one of the most loved pastry shops in Bacolod with price ranging from P85 to P120. Must-tries include the Chocolate Mud Pie and the Pecan Pie.
Lastly, try dining at Aboy’s and get your sisig and laing cravings fixed. It can hold up to 300 diners comfortably.
Museums and Vintage Houses
Bacolod is home to numerous heritage houses that have been deftly reimagined to create a contemporary aesthetic with a classic setting. Some were restored to be a guest house, while some – a bed and breakfast.
Together with our very knowledgeable tour guide, Tourism Operations Officer Raymond Alunan, some of the houses we toured during the Rolling Tour include Adela’s House. If you ever got the time to ask your tour guide on the story of the house, please do! This one is a heartbreaking story you wouldn’t want to miss.
The Ruins in Talisay City, a popular landmark near Bacolod, was also part of our itinerary. The house was also dubbed as the Taj Mahal of Negros, because it was originally built in 1920 by Don Mariano Lacson in remembrance of his dear wife, Maria Braganza – which resembles the story of how the Taj Mahal was made.
There’s also the Balay Negrense, the ancestral house of Manuel Severino Hofilenia housing some of the works of Dr. Jose Rizal, and the Bernardino Jalandoni House displaying authentic period pieces.
The highlight of our tour was the Enrica Alunan Lizares’ or Tana Dicang House located at the heart of Talisay. We toured each section of the house accompanied by stories when former Philippine Presidents Sergio Osmena and Manuel Quezon were used to be guests.
Tana Dicang is one of the most famous Negrense matriarch, known for her wit and strong personality. Inside her 150-year old balay are mid-century chairs, family portraits, chandeliers, chinas, the walk-in closets, and small holes in the second floor of the house where the former owner used to spy her helpers, or rather an older version of a CCTV, and more interesting stories on how the old rich used to live in the 1900s.
Detour at the Church of the Angry Christ
A lot of people were curious why St. Joseph the Worker Chapel was touted as Church of the Angry Christ. Luckily, we get to tour and learn some insights about this chapel situated inside the Victorias Milling company compound in Victorias City, Negros Occidental.
The chapel was built in 1950 and is considered as a national treasure of the Philippines – and is also known by some as “The Judgement Day.” There are impressive mosaics made with glass pieces, murals designed by Ade de Bethune, and a Filipino version of the crucifix created by Benjamin Valenciano.
Paint Your Own Mask at Jojo Vito’s Designs Gallery
It was before dinner where our group visited Mr. Vito, a renowned mask-maker in Bacolod. He gleefully greeted us and even let us design our mask. Something was uplifting with the shop slash gallery, thanks to the plethora of masks surrounding the place.
If you’re interested in painting your mask, the gallery accommodates groups and walk-ins, and the price depends on the size of the masks you want. You can also buy all sorts of souvenirs ranging from the smallest magnets, key chains, t-shirts, to wall decors to giant masks.
Unwind at Lakawon
Negros, in general, has some of the best beaches taking the spotlight to some local and international travelers. We are, after all, famous for our beaches, and these spots brings a unique vacation to a whole new level. So, treat yourself and visit Lakawon Island; a 13-hectare, banana-shaped island off the coast of Cadiz, where it only takes a 15-minute boat trip from Cadiz to reach the island.
Some of the activities to do here during a day tour include a banana boat ride, lazy swims in its gentle waters, visiting the Taw Hai or floating bar, and eating out with your friends. The resort has provided umbrella huts, medium to extra-large canopy tents, and family cottages. You also don’t have to worry about the food because they have an onsite Sunset Bar serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Take note that they charge a corkage fee at the Cadiz Port to reduce the amount of waste brought into the island.
All in all, it’s a worthy bucket list for any adventure seekers.
There are a lot of things to do here in Bacolod, from visiting touristy sights and eating at your heart’s content. Whether you’re a history buff, beach lover, or a foodie, on a family trip or a romantic getaway, Bacolod inspires travelers to be open and inspired.
Kudos to the team of AirAsia, Sir David, Ms. Kelly, and Ms. Mari for taking care of us and showing us the beauty of Bacolod, together with some great friends in this 4-day trip. ‘Til next time!