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

balay-negrense-room
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.

Art scoop: The Sabtang, Batanes seawall mural

Art scoop: The Sabtang, Batanes seawall mural

SkyJet Airlines partners with Batanes’ local mayor to make an 80m artwall on Sabtang, the first of its kind on the island

Artist’s render of the Sabtang Seawall mural by Awee Abelardo.

SkyJet Airlines, in partnership with the Municipality of Sabtang, one of three main islands that make up the Philippines’ northernmost province, Batanes, has an ambitious art project—they’re looking at painting on a big chunk of Sabtang’s seawall.

Here are a few things you should know about the upcoming Sabtang seawall mural:

It’s the perfect Sabtang teaser

Sabtang Mayor Maxilindo Emilio Babalo (left) shakes hands with SkyJet Airlines commercial head Joseph Edward Alvarico.

The seawall mural will be the first thing people will see when they visit Sabtang. “It is meant to excite tourists to the places and experiences they have been looking forward to seeing and doing in Sabtang,” says SkyJet Airlines commercial head Joseph Alvarico.

Which parts? These ones, to be specific, if you ask Sabtang mayor Maxilindo Babalo, are the old Ivatan houses, Sabtang’s famous spots, and the Vakul-Kanayi Festival. “It doesn’t even have to be the actual festival. If it shows Ivatan men wearing kanayi and Ivatan women wearing the vakul, we will be happy.”

It’s a 60m to 80m art-on-wall

The mural will make up about 60m to 80m of the Sabtang wall, or about 85% of the inner side of the seawall, according to Awee Abelador, lead artist for the project. Eight artists will work on the wall, all comprised of Creative Hub’s art group, the Hangtay Artist.

Work on the mural is set to begin on Wednesday, March 4, 2020 and will likely be completed in about 11 days. Follow the entire process of creating the mural on Creative Hub’s YouTube channel, Creative Hub TV.

Sabtang’s history and culture, on display

“The Mural project of SkyJet, in collaboration with Sabtang’s local government unit, will emphasize Sabtang’s historic and cultural perspective making them unique as a tourist destination,” says Joseph. To be depicted are iconic landmarks of each of Sabtang’s villages like the Ivatan Houses of Savidug and the viewpoint in Chamantad-Tinyan, Morong Beach.

An Ivatan woman wearing a vakul. Photo by Ferdz Decena

The mural will also highlight signature pieces of Sabtang like the vakul, the kanayi (cogon vest for Ivatan men), the panikal (a way of splitting flying fish), and their cogon-roofed tricycles, among others.

It’s a work of art by Ivatans for Ivatans

SkyJet Airlines and the municipality of Sabtang are not alone in showcasing Sabtang to its locals and visitors. The parties have commissioned the Hangtay Artist group under Creative Hub, Batanes’ new breed of artists. It will be the biggest mural project, to date, of said Ivatan artists as a group.

Get there. SkyJet (flyskyjetair.com) flies direct from Manila to Batanes daily. Sabtang is a 30-minute boat ride from Ivana port in the southern part of Batan Island.

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

The grand escape: 5 private islands in the Philippines

The grand escape: 5 private islands in the Philippines

Here’s a list of islands in the country you can rent to yourself, or share with other holiday makers but don’t feel like it.

Private islands have an aura of luxury and exclusivity that most destinations find hard to match. As an archipelago, we have a lot of them already unlocked by some of the country’s rich and famous.

In fact, some of our islands have become known throughout the world as some of the best, like one of the entries in this list. If you’re looking at satisfying that “luxury travel” item on your list, check out these private islands you can book for a truly luxurious experience.

Amanpulo, Cuyo, Palawan

Perhaps the most well-known of the islands on this list is the most luxurious of luxurious, Amanpulo. Located in the middle of the Sulu Sea, Amanpulo is actually situated on Pamalican Island, one of the islands in the Cuyo archipelago. You can do pretty much everything you’d like to do on a private island here: swim in the sea with waters so clear they glisten in the sunlight at high noon, snorkel, have a bit of water sports like kite surfing, and embark on sunset cruise.

You may encounter other guests on the island but the resort management has a way of making you feel you and your party are the only ones there.

Starts at Php73,407/night (USD1,405) | Aman.com

Banwa Private Island, Roxas, Palawan

One of the newer private islands the country has seen, Banwa is a place where you can find a luxurious and very private escape. You charter the whole island, meaning you can have it all to yourself. It’s about 500km from Manila, with San Vicente as its main entry point.

Banwaprivateisland.com to know more and to inquire about renting the island

Bamboo Private Islands, Coron, Palawan

This is one of those places that you definitely do not expect. Bamboo Private Islands is actually split into two: the Big Bamboo Island and the Small Bamboo Island. Both can be rented out, though the Small Bamboo Island is more popular, thanks to its location: you’re smack dab in the middle of Culion Bay, close to popular gems like Ditaytayan, Malcapuya, and Two Seasons Coron Island.

Starts at Php75,923/night for Small Bamboo Island
Bambooislands.ph. To get to Bamboo Island, take a SkyJet Airlines flight from Manila to Busuanga.

Brother Island, El Nido, Palawan

They’ve been called the Robinson Crusoe Island of the Philippines. Brother Island, located in the northern shores of El Nido, is one of the most popular islands that you can rent on Airbnb. It’s the only exclusive private island retreat in El Nido that offers snorkeling (a coral reef surrounds the island), a jungle and bamboo forest, and you’ll be staying in an ancestral house that was put up in 1991.

Starts at Php23,000/night, includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, airport pick-up and drop-off (El Nido), snorkeling gear, kayaks
Brotherisland.ph

Ariara, Linapacan, Palawan

Talk about luxury and privacy. Ariara Island, located about 256km southwest of Manila, is probably the must-visit on this list. You can rent out the whole island for two nights and have the utmost in privacy. Imagine having a 125-acre island to yourself, with your own white sand beach, your own coral reef to snorkel in, all of your meals prepared by a personal chef, a bevy of watersports equipment, and roundtrip transfers between El Nido or Coron, whichever airport you’re flying into.

Starts at Php93,600/night for the whole island, minimum of 2 nights
Ariaraisland.com. Take a SkyJet Airlines flight from Manila to Coron.

Featured photo of Inaladelan Island shown for context, taken by Harvey Tapan

Date night ideas for V-Day and any other day in 2020

Date night ideas for V-Day and any other day in 2020

These spots from bag designer Lally Dizon and her businessman husband Chris are sure to heighten the romance in your night out.

Great food, good wine, a romantic ambience, and impeccable service. These are the things that luxury bag designer Lally Dizon (@lallydizon_mla) and her husband, Chris, look for whenever they go out on a date.

What Lally does is this: “I actually research first to check the new restaurants we can try for our next date night.” She often checks spots in BGC and Poblacion in Makati City for unique concepts that she and her husband can explore.

Taste art at degustacion restos

Degustacion restaurants or menus are basically tasting menus, except that the chef takes over the whole process of creating it: from the theme down to deciding on which dishes get served. Servings will be tiny, but think of it this way: it’s the chef showing you how good he is in the kitchen.

For places like this, Lally recommends:

Gallery by Chele

From esteemed chef Chele Gonzales, Gallery by Chele was once the hit degustacion-only Gallery VASK. It’s been revamped to include a casual dining set-up, but get a spot in their DINING ROOM and you can enjoy their tasting menus.

Gallery by Chele is located at 5F Clipp Center, 11th Ave corner 39th St, Bonifacio Global City. For reservations, visit gallerybychele.com or call +63 917 5461673.

Mecha Uma

Omakase is a practice usually seen in Japanese restaurants: you let the chef decide what he wants to serve you. That’s basically a degustacion menu, if you ask us, and Chef Bruce Rickett’s Mecha Uma falls into the category of “one of the best places” to get it.

Mecha Uma is at GF, RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 25th and 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City. For reservations, call 02 8801 2770.

12/10

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One of the best ways to enjoy how good the food is at 12/10 in Saguijo is to get their omakase or prix fixe menu. It gives you a full experience of what their chefs AND mixologists are capable of, as 12/10 is, after all, a non-traditional izakaya. <insert what prix fixe menu. readers need to understand.>

12/10 is at 7635 Guijo Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City. For reservations, call +63 915 6632823 or email [email protected]

Telenovela feels in Spanish restos

This would be more of a preference that anything, but Spanish restaurants are practically made for good date nights. Wine? Check. Food? Check. Ambiance? Check. Service? Check.

In that vein, here are some of Lally and Chris’s picks:

La Picara

They serve food that plays around with traditional flavors of Spanish cuisine, throwing in a bit of Asian flair and panache. Dining here feels like you’re in one of those family restaurants in Barcelona. Try the xx.

Head for the 2F of One Bonifacio High Street Mall to experience a very playful Spanish meal at La Picara.

Rambla

Nothing says Spanish quite like a pan of paella and a glass of Sangria, and you get all of that (plus more) at Rambla.

Rambla has spots in Rockwell and Salcedo Village. For reservations, visit bit.ly/ramblaph

Las Flores

It’s been called “an institution” by its patrons, and it’s not hard to see why: Las Flores serves a mean paella negra next to their seafood paella. There’s also the idea of drinking sangria in a mason jar, which some people find odd.

Las Flores is at One McKinley Place in BGC and The Podium in Ortigas, Pasig City.

Donosti

It’s no secret why Donosti made it to Philippine Tatler’s 20 Best Restaurants of 2019. They tick off all the checkboxes of what a Spanish restaurant ought to be with their mix of on-point flavors from San Sebastian (probably the best place to eat in Spain for Basque cooking) and creative interpretations of classic Spanish dishes. Must try: xx

Donosti is located at NAC Tower, 32nd Ave, Bonifacio Global City. For reservations, call 02 8856 0206.

Go full fancy at a steakhouse

Nothing says a fancy date like having wine with a delicious piece of steak. There’s a lot of steakhouses to choose from in Metro Manila, but here are the ones Lally and Chris like:

Raging Bull Chophouse & Bar

Shangri-La at The Fort’s in-house steakhouse serves a hefty-yet-delicious Tomahawk Wagyu from Jack’s Creek in New South Wales that deserves to be shared between two people, though you might want to dial it back to The Chopping Block if a tomahawk is a bit too big.

Raging Bull is at L3, Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila 30th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City.

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse

Wolfgang’s is a New York staple for steaks. They only have 21 branches worldwide, and we’re lucky to have three of them: one in Resorts World Manila, one at The Podium, and another at One Bonifacio High Street. Doesn’t get any fancier than that, really.

For reservations, call 02 8511 7009 (Resorts World Manila), 02 7586 4892 (BGC), and 02 7505 6272 (Ortigas).

Ruby Jack’s Steakhouse and Bar

When people talk about steaks and City of Dreams Manila, they’re usually talking about Ruby Jack’s Steakhouse and Bar. The steaks taste great; they have a good selection of wines and spirits; but it’s the ambiance really takes the cake.

Ruby Jack’s is at UGF, City of Dreams, Aseana Ave corner Roxas Blvd, Parañaque City.

I Am Angus Steakhouse

This spot is a bit under the radar as far as steak lovers are concerned, but it is genuinely a good place to get steak. Tucked away at Dining at Yakal, a row of specialty restaurants next to Santi’s Delicatessen, they give you about as bare of a steakhouse experience as can be: good meat, good wine, and a quiet place to enjoy it all.

I Am Angus Steakhouse is at 7431 Yakal Street, San Antonio Village, Makati. For reservations, call 02 8892 5852 or +63956 135 4213.

Who are Lally and Chris Dizon

Photo from Lally Dizon

Lally Cruz-Dizon is the creative mind behind luxury brand LD, and creative director of Vintage Restore, the country’s pioneer in repair and restoration of luxury leather goods. She is happily married to businessman Chris Dizon, a partner of The Brewery and Draft.

Featured photo created by prostooleh – www.freepik.com

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