Bacolod, beyond the inasal and a most colorful festival

Bacolod, beyond the inasal and a most colorful festival

See the city that will get you your fill of ruins, magnanimous waterfalls, and the biggest floating bar in Asia.

Bacolod City, known as the City of Smiles, is a name bestowed upon the city thanks to its lively MassKara Festival, which came about after the people of Bacolod suffered an economic downturn and the loss of hundreds of lives at sea. It’s a perfectly good reason to visit the city, but that only happens every October.

Another reason why people flock to Bacolod is its contribution to Philippine cuisine: the delicious, mouth-watering chicken inasal, i.e. their unique take on grilled chicken. These are best eaten from the many stalls at the province’s Manokan Country.

A Bacolod itinerary, beyond MassKara or eating chicken inasal, for you:

Visit the “Taj Mahal of Negros”

It’s not that far from Bacolod City, and you get to know more about the city’s history in the process. Photo by Patricia Cordova

The Ruins doesn’t quite look like the Taj Mahal in India, but the reason why it stands is exactly the same: a symbol of love. It’s the remnants of the ancestral home of one Don Mariano Lacson, and he had it made for the love of his life: Maria Braganza. It’s located in the city of Talisay, roughly 15 minutes from Bacolod, right in the middle of a sugar plantation. It’s a sight to behold during the day, but it shines its brightest when the sun goes down.

Pro tip: look for a glass table outside the mansion. Place your camera on top of it, focus on The Ruins, and voila: instant “water” reflection photo. Also, ask for Kuya Roger (or Ate, if you wish) to be your guide. He’s truly a bundle of laughs.

Hang out at Capitol Park and the New Government Center

Parks in provinces aren’t the same as those in Metro Manila. They’re true town centers, much like Capitol Park at Bacolod City.

Located right behind the Provincial Capitol Building, Capitol Park is a vast patch of green smack dab in the middle of the city. People hang out here all day long, and it’s a great place to people watch. You can opt to stay here until sunset (great place for sunset photos!) or swing by the New Government Center not to check in with the mayor, but to enjoy the night without breaking the bank.

Museum hop

If you’re not fond of museums in Bacolod, you can go to this one in Silay: Balay Negrense.

Every city might have a museum or two, but not Bacolod where the city center alone has four museums (Negros Museum, Museo Negrense de La Salle, Vintage Glasses Museum, and the Dizon-Ramos Museum). A quick trip to Silay and you’ll be given access to Balay Negrense, the Bernardino Jalandoni Museum (a.k.a. Pink House), and a whole host more. The City of Silay in itself is a live museum, with heritage houses left and right.

Spend a day (or night) at Lakawon Island

It’s technically not in Bacolod, but Lakawon, an island resort, about 15 minutes off the coast of Cadiz, is a destination in Negros that you should not miss.

Lakawon has white sand beaches, numerous spots for the Gram, good eats, tons of activities, and a floating bar that’s dubbed as the biggest in Asia—hence the spend-a-night suggestion.

Hike to see the Seven Waterfalls of Mambukal

Mambukal’s seven waterfalls are somewhat a favorite of those who visit Bacolod, even though it’s not within city limits. It’s a one-hour drive from Bacolod to the town of Murcia where the government-run Mambukal Resort lies. The drive is well worth taking.

Mambukal Falls No.2
One of seven waterfalls in Mambukal. Photo by Rawen Balmaña

The set of seven cascading falls are a sight to behold, and the seventh welcomes all those who would dare bathe in its cool waters. Make sure you try the canopy walk and other activities at the resort if you are a thrill-seeking adventurer. Either that or you can simply relax at Mambukal’s hot springs.

You can pretty much fit all five of these in a two- to three-night stay in Bacolod, with plenty of time to eat as much inasal as you want.

See the things you don’t see in Manila

See the things you don’t see in Manila

If you think a cemetery tour is macabre, don’t. Ivan Man Dy, who reintroduces Manila’s older districts, explains why, and talks of lotsa interesting things to learn about the city that never sleeps.

Meet Ivan. He’s the guy that “turned” Manila’s old districts (Intramuros, Binondo, and the area around Malacañang) into a big, open-air museum. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

I worked in a museum in Intramuros for 10 years. I basically took the experience of being in a museum and turned it into a tour of Manila. I’m born, raised, and still live in Manila, and have enjoyed the city’s history ever since. I’ve also done volunteer cultural heritage work since forever.

We created different thematic tours that told the history of the city. There are city tours for Manila, but they’re a bit generic. All they do is they tell you “this is the place, here’s when it was built, and here’s who built it.” None of them explored the different facets of Manila’s history.

They’ve also done this: disguised a wedding proposal… as a tour of Binondo.

Manila is more than just Intramuros. There’s Binondo, which is very close to my heart (because I grew up there) and Quiapo na hindi nadi-discuss (never talked about). For me, Old Manila Walks is a way of explaining the significance of these neighborhoods and its buildings to the public. We wanted to tell the narratives behind these districts so people would understand their value and the reason why we want to preserve their structures.

We’re in old Manila, hence the name. We do tours in Intramuros and Chinatown, and “walks” are lakad lang. We’re not telling the history of the Philippines; we’re focusing on the history of the City of Manila itself. You’ll notice in our tours that we do not talk about Dr. Jose Rizal or Andrew Bonifacio. My hope is that when they (people who join our tours) leave, they understand a bit more of the history of the city.

Binondo Trip
A typical day in Binondo. Photo by Krista Garcia

Manila’s old districts are similar yet they are different. Take Binondo. It has marks of Spanish colonial history, but there are Chinese elements to the district. That story is part of Manila’s history—one that’s not taught in school. It’s why people are not aware of the history and heritage of these districts. For us, it’s [the thematic tours] one way of telling the narrative of these places based on the communities that live there.

One of the more unique places that Ivan Man Dy takes people to: the Manila Chinese Cemetery. Photo by Wayne Grazio from flickr.

I like doing all the tours. The Chinese Cemetery tour is more of a quiet tour that tells history through architecture. I love architecture. The Chinoy (Chinese-Filipino) element in the tour is basically immigrant history.

Ivan leads a group of Chinese tourists through a tour of The Walled City. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

Our Intramuros tour is a primer of sorts, because if you come to Manila, this is your first stop. It’s like a general history of Manila. Binondo is different because it has a mix of Chinese immigrant history. Our San Miguel – Malacañang Tour, on the other hand, talks more about political history.

I like the old neighborhoods. If I want peace and quiet, I go to the walls of Intramuros. Fort Santiago has been renovated and now looks good at night. I like the modern stuff, too.

Manila is great, but it’s a hard place to like, especially when you look at transportation.

– Ivan Man Dy on the city of Manila

Santa Ana district is quite interesting, even if no one has done a tour of it. They have a church and several old houses. Quiapo is another place that people should consider visiting. There’s already a tour for Quiapo that includes the San Sebastian Church, the only church in the country made of steel. Quiapo has a different flavor compared to other districts. It has a mix of religion because of the Black Nazarene, the traditional Tagalog culture, and a touch of Mindanao from the Muslim Quarter.

I’ve been to a lot of provinces in the country, and I like these places in particular: Bacolod. I have friends there and I like the city’s architecture; Dumaguete, and Laguna, especially the towns that look like quaint villages. I like cold place like Tagaytay and Baguio. I’m also very familiar with the Ilocos Region because I’ve been there many times for work.

I like walking in big cities around the world. Cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore, Saigon, Georgetown in Penang, and Kuala Lumpur pique my interest. I like European cities like Vienna. I think people like them because they’re walkable, have their culture intact, and have a rich heritage that’s better preserved compared to ours. Manila is great, but it’s a hard place to like, especially when you look at transportation.

That’s not Ivan, but it is one of the things he likes doing everywhere he goes—even in Batanes. Photo by Ferdz Decena

Batanes is beautiful. I’ve been there four times and I like going back for its serenity and the beauty of the place. When I was in Batanes, I liked our stay at Fundacion Pacita. I guess you can say I also like rustic landscapes because when I go abroad, I often join tours that go to the countryside. I’m not much of a beach person; I prefer mountain scenery, freshwater, and cold places.

That said, I loved it when we stayed at Club Paradise in Coron. I’ve also stayed at Sulyap Gallery Café, Boutique Hotels, and Restaurant in San Pablo, Laguna.

These five things never leave my travel case:

  • Contact lenses and glasses
  • Mobile phone
  • Wallet
  • Small umbrella. I use them rain or shine, and I don’t like wearing hats.
  • Snacks like small packs of peanuts. I’m the type of person who might skip a meal because I’m absorbed in seeing the city.

Who is Ivan Man Dy?

A true blue Manilan, Ivan is the man behind Old Manila Walks and has over two decades of experience working in the cultural field, which includes being a heritage activist, museum docent, school instructor, features writer, television personality, researcher, expert speaker, tour operator and book author. He has a master’s degree from the University of Santo Tomas, and has received the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan award from the municipal government of Manila.

It’s going to be a hot March!

It’s going to be a hot March!

Coffee, balloons, and the return of an early 2000’s icon: Events in March 2020.

How is 2020 going so fast? Two months down and it feels like a lot has already happened! Of course, that won’t stop these must-see events from happening:.

Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

March 6 – 8

It started as nothing more than a passion project after the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption. This year, the annual Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, dubbed as the “Weekend of Everything That Almost Flies” is headed South, instead of the usual North. Drive to the San Lorenzo Leisure in Carmona, Cavite on March 6-8, 2020 for the longest-running sports aviation event in Asia. See air shows and races from top aviation companies in the Philippines, first-person-view (FPV) drone races, and much more!

San Lorenzo Leisure Park, Carmona, Cavite|

Manila Coffee Festival

March 13 – 15

Celebrate all things coffee—from bean to cup—at the 2nd Manila Coffee Festival, happening from March 13-15, 2020 at Manila Hotel’s Tent City. The Manila counterpart to similar festivals in New York, London, and, more recently, Amsterdam. See how things like food, art, music, local tourism, and entertainment can come together under one roof to talk about one thing—coffee!

Tent City, Manila Hotel, One Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila |

Art in the Park 2020

March 15

Exploring your love for art doesn’t end just because National Arts Month (i.e. February) is over. The same folks who bring you the largest art fair in the country year in and year out, Art Fair Philippines, will once again hold the annual Art in the Park, happening on March 15, 2020 at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Makati City. Swing by and see your next art inspo, or just enjoy being at this quiet Salcedo Park with other people who love art as much as you do.

Jaime Velasquez Park, Salcedo Village, Makati City |

Sandugo Road to Trail Challenge

March 22

Fun runs are fun and all, but there are those that prefer something that’s even more fun. If you’re one of those ardent runners, then sign up for this year’s Sandugo Road to Trail Challenge happening on March 22, 2020 at the Eastridge Sandugo Trail in Binangonan, Rizal. Challenge yourself and join in this one-of-a-kind fun run where you go through roads, trails, and forests—all in one race course.

Eastridge Estates, Binangonan, Rizal |

Did we miss any events this March? Let us know in the comments so we can add them to our list!

4 days in Camiguin

4 days in Camiguin

Half-Filipina, half-Aussie travel influencer Zowie Palliaer shows us how to navigate the Island Born of Fire, her style

Camiguin, nicknamed the Island Born of Fire, is one of the few places in the country where you can experience all that the Philippines offers without having to leave the municipality. It has challenging mountain trails, powdery white-sand beaches, colorful underwater scenes, delicious food, and amazing people—all within an island that’s smaller than Malta.

Camiguin-based model and travel influencer, Zowie Palliaer, tells us the best route to take to fully experience the adventure-packed island. Here’s her take on spending four days and three nights in this gem North of Mindanao.

Day 1: Explore nearby sights

Her favourite resort in Camiguin: Bintana sa Paraiso. Photo from Zowie Palliaer

Flying into Camiguin, you’ll get in around lunch time. First thing’s first, food! Straight across from the airport is La Dolce Vita, so grab a delicious wood fire pizza before the adventure starts. From there, check into Bintana sa Paraiso Naasag and then continue a few kilometres down the road to the Old Volcano. Transformed into the stations of the cross, it’s about 30 minutes of easy walk to the summit where you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the island.

Or you can swing by the Sunken Cemetery later in the day and get the same colors as this photo. Photo by Carson Moody

Next up, the Sunken Cemetery. Here, you can either take photos from the view deck, ride a boat to the Cross platform for a closer look, or the adventurous type can even snorkel among the marine life and coral that have now taken over the cemetery. Past the Sunken Cemetery lies the Old Spanish Church Ruins. Aside from the cross, this historical site is one of the last standing reminders of the destructive volcanic eruption in 1871, making it an integral part of Camiguin’s history.

Finish the day off at Ardent Hot Springs. These cascading springs are flowing with warm water from the active Mt. Hibok Hibok volcano, so it’s a perfect spot to settle in and relax during the early evening.

Day 2: Swimsuit day!

Zowie’s advice for White Island: GET. HERE. EARLY. Photo from Zowie Palliaer

The early bird catches the worm, or in this case, less brutal sun rays on White Island. Arguably the most visited destination in Camiguin, Zowie recommends heading out there early as the only shade on offer are beach umbrellas for hire. Swim, relax and enjoy the view looking back at Camiguin from this ever-changing sandbar.

Katibawasan Falls. It’s not that far from the White Island boat terminal. Photo by Andrew Del Rosario

Since you started early, there’s plenty of time left for adventure, so make your way to Katibawasan Falls. Found in the middle of dense jungle, the 250-foot waterfall is a sight to behold, and the pool surrounding it provides a refreshing place to swim and take photos.

We can confirm that it is, indeed, close to freezing cold water. Photo by Daniel Soriano

Last stop on the day’s agenda is Sto. Niño Cold Springs. Take a winding road up the mountain in Catarman and you’ll find yourself at the biggest natural spring on the island. The water here verges on freezing, so Zowie suggests jumping in without hesitation. There are picnic sheds around the edge of the pool for you to hang out in when you’re not swimming. Complete the chill time and have fish spa.

Day 3: Adventure time

Switch it up and head to Sagay and Guinsiliban on the other side of the island on day three. Put on your hiking shoes for a trek to the lesser known Binangawan Falls in Sagay. An intermediate climb, the jungle covered path leading to the falls is steep but rewarding once you reach the oasis at the bottom. You’re almost guaranteed to have the place to yourself, so it’s a perfect place to swim and explore this untouched area.

Head back on the road and keep making your way around the island to the Moro Watchtower in Guinsiliban. Located behind the elementary school, this centuries-old tower was used in the Spanish era to guard against Moro attacks from mainland Mindanao.

Travel a further 10 minutes to the Kibila Giant Clam Sanctuary in Cantaan, Guinsiliban. This small stretch of white sand is home to hundreds of giant clams just off shore, part of a breeding program. Snorkel among incredible coral formations, plentiful marine life and get up close and personal with the clams.

Day 4: Bittersweet last day in Camiguin

Here’s a piece of the action beneath the waves off of Mantigue Island. Photo by Daniel Soriano

Cap your Camiguin trip with some of my personal favorite destinations, starting with the gem of Mahinog—Mantigue Island. Accessible by a 10 minute pump boat ride, Mantigue is a marine sanctuary absolutely teeming with underwater life, and you might even spot a turtle or two. The island is shaded by a thick canopy of trees and is home to a small fishing community so be sure to walk around the island and meet the locals. There’splenty of picnic sheds and tables, and there’s a small restaurant where you can order grilled meat and seafood.

One of the many delicacies you can get at J&R Fishpen: local clams raised right at the fishpen. Photo by Daniel Soriano

J&R Fishpen at the lagoon is Zowie’s favorite place to enjoy freshly caught and cooked seafood as well as classic Filipino dishes. With a full belly, you’re ready to make the drive to Tuasan Falls about 45 minutes away in Catarman. Aside from the road leading in, this area has remained practically untouched making it the perfect place to swim and take photos of the beautiful surroundings.

Last but not least is the popular Bura Soda Swimming Pool, a natural spring with carbonated water located down the road from Tuasan Falls. If you’re game to give it a taste, there are taps where you can try this entirely natural, slightly fizzy water.

Get there. SkyJet Airlines flies to Camiguin four times weekly. Island transportation includes motorbikes, multicabs, and motorelas.

Words: Zowie Palliaer

A piece of Chef Tatung’s home: Talisay the Garden Café

A piece of Chef Tatung’s home: Talisay the Garden Café

Chef Tatung brings his childhood, his travels, and his many other experiences to his home-away-from-home in Maginhawa.

Chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou probably summed up Talisay the Garden Café best: it reflects “our family’s memories of growing up in Talisay, Cebu.” He spoke of Sunday feasts made from scratch, and is something different from what everyone else in Talisay was having when he lived there.

This is your welcome sign.

The cool thing about this Talisay is that it feels like home—or rather, a cross between a modern home with a garden and a fine dining restaurant in the city.

The main restaurant area with a view of…
… the garden.

Located in Diliman’s famous Maginhawa Street, Talisay the Garden Café was once a typical 60’s suburban Manila home: a simple one- or two-storey house with a garden that would be considered massive by today’s standards.

A more “private” area decorated with paintings

Taking this as their canvas, Chef Myke and his brother Jomi turned the rundown house into what I can only describe as a cross between a pseudo glasshouse with a garden and a modern fine-dining resto. Most of the restaurant has glass for walls, which lets you see their garden in its entirety.

White dominates the space, while paintings picked out by both Chef Tatung and Jomi accentuate the walls. The entrance is unassuming—like walking towards a friend’s house—though the cursive sign saying “Talisay” tells you you’ll be in for a treat.


Paella Mixta. A classic Filipino paella

Food at Talisay is Filipino regional cuisine made simple. No gimmicks like wildcard ingredients or elaborate presentations; just clean plating of classic Filipino fares like their paella mixta, a Filipino-style paella made with organic tinawon rice with sofrito and seafood stock topped with chicken, seafood, and chorizo.

Lumpia Fresca. Fresh lumpia with peanut sauce in a tri-color presentation. Those are crepes, by the way, and not lumpia wrappers.

They also serve a mean chicken pianggang, a dish made by the Tausugs for special occasions. It’s grilled chicken in a black curry sauce with a blend of spices and char-burned coconut meat that we suggest you call ahead of time to order if you want a taste.

A classic comfort food from the region: molo soup.

The best thing about their menu, apart from its simplicity, is that you’re not restricted to specific pairings. You can mix and match dishes from their menu without fear of flavors clashing with each other. You’ll also be glad to know everything is made in-house, including their popular sourdough bread (yes, they bake their own bread).


You have a selection of fresh fruit shakes (ripe mango, green mango, or watermelon), a traditional sago’t gulaman, or freshly-made four seasons juice made with seasonal fruits. For me, I’d like another glass of their refreshing Talisay Lemonada (citrus juice with lemon, lime, and calamansi infused with fresh mint and basil).

The basics
About Php1,200 (USD24) for two
44 Maginhawa Street, UP Village, Diliman, Quezon City
(02) 8293-9077, 0919 877 6321
@TalisayQC on Instagram

Get there. Ride a bus bound for Commonwealth and asked to be dropped off at the National Housing Authority or Maharlika Street. Alternatively, you can take the MRT to Quezon Avenue Station and ride a jeep headed for UP Diliman before getting off at Maharlika Street. Walk along Maharlika until you see a shed where tricycles are parked. Hop on one and tell them to drop you off at 44 Maginhawa Street.

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