I booked myself in CEBU Pacific…….October 14, 2011 and its Friday….hotel check in is 2:00 pm so I booked at 3:30 pm (second to the last trip from Manila to Cebu, the earlier flight is I think at 10:00 am too early for the hotel check-inn).
Unexpectedly, the flight was delayed for three hours…….and the last flight from Manila to Bacolod was cancelled (Thank GOD I was not booked in that flight).
If you are aiming for the MASSKARA…….and your flight is cancelled just like that……it would be a knock-out for you in round one …...:)
If you are in a budget…or you just want to feel the city…use the jeepneys, tricycles even the padyak……instead of taxi when doing the tour…its more economical…..We did it…and its fun…..Don’t worry the Illongos are helpful nman….i can testify…..;)
The jeepneys here are different from my hometown and what you will see in Manila...but the best side of it is that.....there's no traffic......and the air.....100x cleaner than in Manila......
Her name is Buena….Buenababe on VT.......the only active VT member in Bacolod , as far as I know………….
She is a Vt ambassador(which means Friendly VT member here to help)…and I think another badge should be awarded to her…….the Travel Editor Brugge (A member that helps organize travel guides for his/her location)………not bad huh……..
If you are travelling here in Bacolod for the MASSKARA Festival……..it is a great advantage if you have HER at your side…..:) If you are with HER….you are in good hands (as the commercial tagline for a bank said)…….
And if you are a Vter….good thing for you….you only have to befriend and earn her trust……She served as my FRIEND/guide/muse/Interpreter/booking agent/everything…in Bacolod……Definitely she will help you in the best possible way that She can…………………………RARE find….huh
This is the newly built Municipal hall….which have a fountain in the middle (They said that if the Mayor already went home they will close the fountain).
There are so may people here at night…..some practicing their dancing skills, chidren playing….., doing chitchat with friends…..taking photos of the placeor just taking your time…
What’s the best here is that it is safe even at 12:00 in the evening I have experienced that here.
If you happen to take the first flight from Bacolod to Manila (about 6:30 in the morning, and have to be in the airport 4:30 am) dont worry about your breakfast…there are many food stalls in the airport catering breakfast………....that early.................:)
I went here alone….but already know that I could meet fellow vter buena, ate cyndy and denver…plus ……plus ate cyndy’s husband kuya Willie and Denver ‘s wife…and his friend Freddie and all of Buena’s officemates…and all the people who have hepled me in the travel and some people I met at the party…whewwwwwww so many of them to count
Although I travel alone…..but at the end of every trip I am FRIENDS richer.......:)
If you are in a budget…..try this. In my case, usually from airport to my office I spend Php 110-120.00 (about 3-4 US dollars) but when I use the public transpo…..now…..let me compute….:
I spend Php 20.00 (bus fare from Centennial 3 to Herritage hotel)………………
Then I spend Php 16.00 (jeepneys from Herritage hotel-MOA and from MOA-my office)…………………….
Php 120.00 (4 US dollars) if I will ride a taxi vs. Php 38.00 (1 US dollar) if I will ride PUV’s big difference isnt it…………….
By the way…the public bus in Centennial 3 is at the right portion (when you are goig out of the arrival area)
The Negros Forest and Ecological Centre right in the middle of Bacolod saddens and encourages me in about equal measure. It is an institution devoted to attempting to save endangered species from the Visayas region, specifically Negros.
I am not a huge fan of zoos generally as I think that animals should not be caged in but I can see the reasoning behind this. I do not think there would be enough animals here to establish breeding programmes but it is lovely to see them up close.
The Centre is not huge and an hour will let you see it all at leisure. Here is the lowdown on how to visit. If the gate is closed during opening hours, and it often is, just put your hand through and open it yourself. That is what a helpful local did for me. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday 0900 - 1200 and 1330 - 1600. Go to the hut on your right and pay your 20 pesos and off you go.
Photography is allowed but obviously do not use flash (you would not need to anyway) as it might startle the animals.
Let me take you through the images. The handsome fellow in the main image is the Visayan Warty Pig, Baboy Tulanon to the locals and Sus Cebifrons Negrinus to the boffins. This poor chap is on the critically endangered list whch means that his kind will be extinct in under five years if we do not do something about it. This species is thought to be the most endangered wild pig species on Earth. A pretty sobering thought.
Next up is the flying fox, four of which species of the seven in the world are found here. He was wonderful. When I stopped to look, he was hanging off the roof and, obviously curious, came over to look at me. I wasn't quite sure who was the exhibit!
There are many species of birds on display here and the next image shows the lovely Philippine Cockatoo, known locally as Katala or Kalangay. Another on the critically endangered list. Just think, five years from now, if this one survives that long he or she may be the last on Earth. It really is tragic.
The chap with the splendid red bill is the Visayan Writhed Hornbill (Aceros Waldeni) and is, again, critically endangered.
Apologies for the quality of the last image but these anmals are very shy and I did not have a long lens with me. This gorgeous creature is the Visayan Spotted Deer (Cervus Alfredi) which is on the endangered list. This means the species has the potential to be extinct in ten years time. It really does not bear thinking about.
As well as running the Centre here, the Foundation is very active in running conservation projects and the like. Even if you only want to spend a few minutes, your 20 pesos, not a lot of money, will go to assisting this work. Obviously, donations are gratefully received. Well worth a visit but, sadly, I have to caution you to visit soon, before it is too late.
I visited this market literally within about 30 minutes of steppng off the ferry in Bacolod, accomanpied by my VT friends Buena ad Gregg. The reason for this was that we were buying produce that was to be prepared for us in a nearby restaurant (see seperate tip)
It is well-documented on VT my love of both fish and markets, especially Asian markets, so I was absolutely in Heaven here. The quality of the produce here was amazing, it seems the local seas are still bountiful despite what I have heard about over-fishing in the region.
It is on San Juan Road, junction with North Capitol Road and is known as Pala Pala market. The best time to visit is early evening when the produce is freshly landed. Even if you are not going to one of the nearby restaurants (and you should), it is still a wonderful place to visit. I didn't see any other foreigners there but the stallholders and shoppers did not seem to mind being photographed and it is a great place for that.
Lacson Street is definitely the centre of Bacolod and seems to be the place where most things happen and if Lacson Street is the centre, the epicentre must be the area round the lagoon which fronts the old Government building. Whilst it is pleasant enough for a stroll during the heat of the day, it really seems to come alive in the evening when every young person in Bacolod (indeed, some of the not so young) turns up for a stroll round or a sit and a chat.
I am afraid I cannot enlighten you as to what the two statues depicted represent as none of my friends seem to know but one is evidently male and one female. From the vaguely heroic poses I think that they may be generic representations of the Philippine people.
If you want you can get food to feed the numerous fish that inhabit the lagoon, and they really do put on a bit of a feeding frenzy. I never knew fish liked popcorn! If you have had a large evening meal, this is a great place to come and walk it off before heading out into the night.
I have described on the intoduction page to my Bacolod tips that I had coincidentally arrived in town the night before the Bacolodiat festival started. This is a wonderful event, and timed to coincide with the Chinese Lunar New Year. I was doubly lucky in that I arrived in 2012, the start of the Year of the Dragon which is deemed to be especially auspicious.
The festival is three days of live music, eating drinking, dancing in the streets and wonderful fireworks displays and I really do recommend it to you. I cannot possibly do the whole thing justice within the confines of one tip, so I shall post a few images here and I would suggest you check the travelogues on this page.
The annual MassKara Festival held in Bacolod City every October is a celebration which has earned for Bacolod the title "City of Smiles".
It was born 25 years ago at a time of crisis, when sugar prices were crashing. It was also a time of tragedy; in April of that year, the vessel Don Juan carrying many Negrenses, including those belonging to prominent families in Bacolod, sank.
In this dark and tragic time, Bacolod artists as well as the local government and civic groups decided to hold a festival of smiles, they also thought a festival was a good oppurtunity to pull everybody out of the gloom and doom...
In effect, the festival was a declaration of the people that no matter how tough and bad the times are, Bacolod is going to pull through, survive, and in the end, triumph.
MassKara is a festival for local and international tourism. It is intended to provide a venue for the activities and cultural expression.
The word "MassKara" was coined by the late AAB president Ely Santiago from the two words "mass" which means "many or a multitude of the people" and the Spanish "kara" meaning "face". The mask worned by the participants during the parade are always smiling. MassKara thus means a multitude of smiling faces.
Since its inception, the MassKara Festival is held every third weekend of October nearest the Charter Anniversary. It features a MassKara Street Dance competition where people from all walks of life troops to the streets to see colorful masked dancers gyrate to the infectious rhythm to the Latin musical beat in a stunning display of mastery, gaiety, coordination and stamina. Major activities are the beauty pageant, carnivals, drum and bugle corps competitions, food festivals, sports events, musical concert, agri-trade fair, garden show, to name few.
Lacson Street has it all! There are many places where to eat and hang out along Lacson Street. Japanese, Italian, Filipino, etc. restaurants are everywhere! Also, coffee shops are commonly seen around this area. One of the places we’ve been to is Sorrento. Sorrento is a building where numerous bars can be found and also if you feel like shopping, you can drop by the TOP SHOP- the items are affordable, usually original branded stuffs (e.g. Puma, Ambercrombie, etc.) but since it’s an outlet store, the items are sold on a cheaper price!
Readers of my pages, particularly my Asian pages, are probably heartily sick of me writing tips about markets, markets and more markets. Well, here is another one and I make no apology for it. I rarely buy anything, not usually having the wherewithal to cook but I adore wandering round them especially late at night or early in the mornng, dependant upon whether or not I have been to bed.! I find them to be vibrant places and endlessly interesting. Also, you rarely get travellers in them so you get a true flavour of how the local people live.
I have already written about the wonderful Pala Pala Market in Bacolod which specialises in fish and seafood but this tip concerns the general market which has a good fish section but also all sorts of other produce as you can see.
Well worth a visit if you are up and about at that hour.
People around the world, you got to really meet my Crazy Family! I am just at Bacolod!
I can finally show you my screaming mom, my crazy brother, my old fart dad, and me the brat!
We will happily tour you around town, show you the haunted places here, and even be like a local! We are just a email away!
So if you are game to meet me and my crazy family feel free to give me an email when you are coming to Bacolod!