Great news Bacolodnons! AirAsia is now flying from Manila to Bacolod City, the gateway to Negros Occidental. Known as the “City of Smiles” and the “Sugar Capital of the Philippines,” it’s a land blessed with wealth, charming people and indigenous cuisine that locals serve with pride! From historic sites and trekking adventures to places to eat and white sand beaches, Bacolod’s got you covered! We do believe what people say: “After your visit to Bacolod, you’re sure to gain 5 pounds and a smile!” So make sure to check out our food guide in our 4-day awesome itinerary… BACOLOD AWESOME ITINERARY Day 1 8:20-9:40 AM Flight from Manila-Bacolod 10:00-11:00 AM The Ruins Talisay Tour 12:00-1:30 AM The Ruins (Lunch) 2:00- 2:30 AM Check-in (Leave Luggage) 3:00-5:00 PM Bong Bong’s Piaya Making Workshop 6:00-7:30 PM Dinner at Aida’s in Manokan Country 8:00-9:00 PM Dessert at Calea Day 2 8:00-12:00 AM Church of the Angry Christ, Victorias City 12:00-1:00 PM Lunch at Balaring ( Mel Ken’s) 1:00-5:00 PM Silay and Talisay Cities Cultural Rolling Tour (Balay Negrense, Hofileña Heritage House, Balay Puti, Alunan-Lizares Ancestral Home) 5:00-7:30 PM Eron’s Kansi (Dinner) 8:00-9:00 PM Dessert at Anne Co Day 3 7:00-9:00 AM Car ride to Lakawon Island 3:00-5:00 PM Back to Bacolod 6:00-8:00 PM Dinner at Aboy’s 9:00 PM Drinks (Free Time) Day 4 8:30-9:00 AM Leave Hotel for Airport 10:10-11:30 AM Flight back to Manila
Day 1 8:20-9:40 AM Flight from Manila-Bacolod 10:00-11:00 AM The Ruins Talisay Tour 12:00-1:30 AM The Ruins (Lunch) 2:00- 2:30 AM Check-in (Leave Luggage) 3:00-5:00 PM Bong Bong’s Piaya Making Workshop 6:00-7:30 PM Dinner at Aida’s in Manokan Country 8:00-9:00 PM Dessert at Calea THE RUINS TALISAY Visiting Bacolod City won’t be complete without a trip to The Ruins of Talisay City. Built by sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson in 1911 as a testament to his ill-fated love Maria Braga, the mansion’s history is comparable to the Taj Mahal of India. We loved that it held many interesting tales and facts within it’s concrete walls. Built on a 440-hectare sugar plantation in Talisay, the Ruins was once a 10-room mansion erected in remembrance of the sugar baron’s wife Maria Braga, who died suddenly after an unfortunate miscarriage with their 11th child. It was purposely burnt down by Don Mariano so that the Japanese won’t be able to use it as base during World War II. What remains today is its solid foundation of sand, cement and egg whites. Besides taking instagrammable pics, we strongly suggest you take the group tour. Tours can start any time of the day and can get very entertaining with many interesting facts and jokes about the mansion. Tip: The place even becomes more romantic at night when they turn on the lights at around 6 pm. Special occasions like a romantic set-up with a tent, dinner, candles, the works are catered by the cafe. THE RUINS Hda. Sta. Maria, Talisay City, Negros Occidental, Philippines Numbers: +63 34 476-4334, +63 917 832-6003 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook: TheRuins Website: www.theruins.com.ph Entrance: Php 100 BONGBONG’S PIAYA WORKSHOP Piaya is Bacolod’s #1 pasalubong treat! Join @Abi.golucky as she goes on a factory tour at Bong Bong’s—one of the oldest piaya bakers in Bacolod! Being the Sugar Capital of the Philippines, Bacolod’s array of local sweet delicacies are definitely a must! The factory tour is one activity the kids and kids at heart would love to experience when visiting Bacolod since affordable and mouthwatering sugary desserts are what the city is known for! So what is piaya? Piaya is a sweet flaky flatbread filled with gooey dark muscovado sugar. It’s best eaten warm; I usually toast the packed piaya when I want to have that gooey texture. Rate: 60php/head only. Min of 15 pax max of 50pax (The Factory is closed on Sundays) *Please book in advance for availability https://youtu.be/O3Rg_q-OHdI BONG BONG’S Bongbong Villan Building Corner Pauline Street Alijis Road, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental Landline: (034) 704 1275 Mobile: +639228606767 Website: www.bongbongspiaya.com.ph MANOKAN COUNTRY Bacolod is home to the famous chicken inasal. The charcoal grilled chicken could be found all over the city One of the best places to try the authentic Bacolod Inasal was at Manokan Country, a strip of karinderia style restaurants situated across the parking lot of SM Bacolod. All establishments practically serve the same stuff—grilled chicken parts and nothing but. Aida’s is considered the best by the locals and is usually packed on weekends. We loved the “carinderia ambiance” that made our experience more authentic. Inasal chicken is first marinated with Sinamak (Negros vinegar), ginger, onions, garlic and spices and based with anato oil while grilled over an open flame. Best eaten with sinamak/langgaw and rice drizzled with chicken oil. In Manokan Country, there was no shame in eating with your bare hands. AIDA’S CHICKEN – Manokan Country Fr. M. Ferrero St., Nenas Rose II, Bacolod City 6100 Phone: +63 34 433 8727 CAKES OF CALEA Living in the Sugar Capital of the Philippines, it’s no surprise that Bacolodnons love dessert. It is home to many pastry shops that offer a wide variety of ridiculously affordable and generously served mouthwatering cakes, must-tries when visiting Bacolod. You might be surprised that a slice of cake only costs Php 85 to Php 105! So cheap! In my opinion, Calea has the best cakes in the city. You’d notice that the pastries of Bacolod have just the right amount of sweetness. What to order: White chocolate cheesecake with raspberry sauce, mud pie, sansrival, chocolate cake and orea cheesecake. CALEA G/F Balay Quince, 15 Lacson St., Bacolod City, Negros Occidental Operating Hours: Mon – Thur 8AM to 10PM, Fri- Sun 9AM to 11PM Phone: +63 34 433-3143
Day 2 8:00-12:00 AM Church of the Angry Christ, Victorias City 12:00-1:00 PM Lunch at Balaring ( Mel Ken’s) 1:00-5:00 PM Silay and Talisay Cities Cultural Rolling Tour (Balay Negrense, Hofileña Heritage House, Balay Puti, Alunan-Lizares Ancestral Home) 5:00-7:30 PM Eron’s Kansi (Dinner) 8:00-9:00 PM Dessert at Anne Co CHURCH OF THE ANGRY CHRIST One of the most interesting places in Negros could be found inside an old sugar milling company. The Chapel of Saint Joseph the Worker or more popularly known as “The Church of the Angry Christ” was built in 1950 to serve as a chapel for the workers living inside the compound. There were so many interesting details, like the Filipino Jesus and even carvings of saints dressed in army uniforms, found all over the church—symbols that, at that time, were relatable for Filipino workers who had just experienced WWII. But the main draw of the chapel was the wall-sized mural of a contemporary and Filipinized Christ presented in a modified Biblical premise. Before visiting these places, I strongly recommend that you book Kuya Raymond Alunan, who gave us a complete history of everything and anything about Negros. St. Joseph the Worker Chapel, Victorias VMC Compound, JJ Ossorio St. Barangay XVI ,, Victorias City, 6119 Negros Occidental LUNCH AT BALARING Balaring, a small barangay in Silay City, is known for its affordable seafood restaurants by the coast. We ate at Melkens, one of many floating restaurants in the area. We typically order oysters when we visit. But it was raining the day before, so they were not recommended. Ilonggos prefer to pair them with their local vinegar, langgaw, often mixed with soy sauce and calamansi. A must since talabas here were surprisingly very cheap! What to order: Kinilaw, malumbok (blue marlin), buttered shrimp and crabs. Skip the calamares. Melkens Seafood Restaurant Balaring – Bongol Rd Rd, Silay City landline: (034) 495 5485 SILAY & TALISAY ANCESTRAL HOUSE ROLLING TOUR Silay is famous for its ancestral houses and lifestyle museums, with 28 heritage structures declared by the National Historical Commission as “National Treasures,” giving Silay City the highest number in a locality in the country. Ancestral houses to visit: Balay Negrense, Hofileña Heritage House, Balay Puti, Alunan-Lizares Ancestral Home Balay na Puti is a concrete shell of an old house that was close to ruin when Neil Solomon Locsin had the idea of renovating the 1920’s mansion into a bar and cafe to welcome tourists and locals. The most impressive thing about the house is the story behind the previous owner, Adela Ledesma (the only daughter of a wealthy sugar baron) and the intriguing reason why she had the second storey removed. The Mansion is filled with stories of love, hope and despair that you’d appreciate once you visit. Located in Talisay City, the Alunan-Lizares Ancestral House is one of Negros’ “most preserved” ancestral houses. The 1872 Spanish colonial house holds intriguing stories of the matriarch and the family that used to live in it. You’d find trapdoors, peepholes and even secret spare rooms with fascinating backstories. The house would literally take you back in time, with the intricate woodwork and original furniture used by the family still preserved and displayed in it. DINNER AT A CANSI HOUSE Cansi (P330) is a dish popular in Negros. It has similarities with Bulalo (Filipino Bone Marrow Soup) and Sinigang (Filipino Sour Soup). True Cansi is made with beef shank boiled tender in bone broth and soured by batwan, a fruit that is indigenous to Negros. Typically, it is eaten with rice dipped in soy sauce (called patis in Bacolod), kalamansi and chili. We preferred, though, to pair it with rice only. It’s a kind of comfort food for the locals and we recommend it to anyone visiting the region. ERON’S CANSI HOUSE #66 Narra Ave. Capitol Shopping Center, 6100 Bacolod City Website: www.eronscansihouse.com Email: email@example.com Phone: +63 34 435 2213 Facebook: EronsCansiHouse Operating Hours: Mon-Sun: 8:00 am-10:00 pm DESSERT AT ANNE CO Watch out Calea, because we think Ann Co’s cakes got even better! This baking business started in the 1960’s with recipes from Ann Co’s mom that Silaynons are all too familiar with, like her famed Mocha Sansrival. We loved the Silay branch. It was much bigger and located just outside Ann’s House. Decorated with bright, colorful paintings from Charlie Co (her husband), the artsy cafe was just full of life. What also won our sweet tooth over was Ann Co’s frozen Brazo de Mercedez, a frozen cake with layers of egg white, yummy yema filling and sugary graham crackers on top. Their mocha sansrival was also our fave. We liked that it wasn’t too buttery and sweet for our tastes. Price: Php80 – Php 105 Ann Co Cakes Margarita’s Bldg., Rizal St, Brgy.Mambulac, Silay City, Negros Occidental Landline: +63 34 441-7196
Day 3 7:00-9:00 AM Car ride to Lakawon Island 3:00-5:00 PM Back to Bacolod 6:00-8:00 PM Dinner at Aboy’s 9:00 PM Drinks (Free Time) Lakawon Island + TawHai Floating Bar Say hello to Lakawon Island Resort & Spa, a 13-hectare banana-shaped island off the coast of Cadiz in Negros Occidental. The island is conveniently located just an hour away from Bacolod-Silay Airport. It’s a world-class beach resort famous for its pristine white sand and crystal clear waters. It’s the perfect definition of relaxation and fun in one. https://flic.kr/p/JDdLXk Another thing that the island is known for is the widely popular TawHai, the largest of its kind in Asia. It’s a floating bar where you can enjoy a sip of margarita or chug a few beers while cliff jumping and partying ’til sunset. Every corner of the whole island is Instagram-worthy! LAKAWON ISLAND RESORTS & SPA Lakawon, Cadiz Viejo, Negros Occidental Website: www.lakawon.com.ph/ Facebook: @lakawonisland Instagram: @lakawon Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Contact: +63 917 555 6979 DINNER AT ABOY’S Pala-Pala is similar in concept to the “Dampa” of Manila or the famed “Sutukil” of Cebu. Customers get to choose from a wide variety of freshly caught seafood and have it prepared and cooked in the style of their liking—grilled, fried, baked or served on a sizzling hotplate. Popular seafood restaurants include Aboy’s, known for their adobong squid fats that were seriously good. A must try! ABOY’S RESTAURANT Singcang, Liroville Subd, Bacolod, 6100 Negros Occidental Landline: (034) 435 0760 MASSKARA FESTIVAL (Late October) The Festival started in the early 1980s when world sugar prices plummeted. Bacolod City, being the country’s sugar capital, was hit by a major crisis. Then tragedy struck again when Luxury Liner MV Don Juan bound for Bacolod sank, taking with it many Bacolodnons, including those from prominent families. Masskara is a combination of the English word “mass” and the Spanish “kara,” meaning “face.” The Festival was meant to uplift the people of Bacolod, thus the “smiling masks,” representing what the Negrenses do best—putting on a happy face even when confronted with challenges. As a means to cheer up the populace and boost morale, they decided to throw a party! A festival of dancing, music and feasting, where participants adorn masks with smiling faces, was created. Today, MassKara is one of the most recognizable Filipino celebrations all over the world, earning Bacolod it’s nickname “City of Smiles.”
HOW TO GET THERE Last October 29, Air Asia Philippines launched its new thrice-daily service from Manila to Bacolod—its 11th domestic destination from the capital. Tickets start at P590 all-in one-way fare from MNL to BCD. Live an Awesome Life, ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet Disclosure: We were media guests of Air Asia. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.