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.

Dashing Spot: Lakawon Island

Dashing Spot: Lakawon Island

White sand beach, azure water, with an amazing floating bar make this hotspot your barkada’s next holiday destination.

Photo by Pat Cordova

If you’re looking for an island where you can find a pristine white sand beach with an exciting vibe, you should be booking a trip to Lakawon Island in Negros Occidental.

It’s roughly two hours by land and sea combined from Bacolod with a stunning white beach as its main centerpiece, is in tune with nature, and dotted by palm trees. The cabanas complete the island paradise look that makes it seem like the island was made for relaxation.

It’s closed right now, but once Tawhai re-opens, you’re going to WANT to go there.

Enjoy a walk on the beach, swim in the clear waters, or try your hand at kitesurfing. If you’re feeling peckish, Sunset Bar offers local-inspired dishes whipped with the the day’s fresh catch.

Get there

Coordinate with Lakawon Island Resorts and Spa (Lakawon.com.ph/) for a van to take you from Bradco Port to Lakawon and back for Php4,500.00 roundtrip (six-14 pax). To get to the Bacolod Bradco Port, simply ride a ferry from Manila to Bacolod.

Entrance fee is at Php350 per person, with the umbrella hut starting at Php600. Overnight stays are from Php2,500 per night (good for four to six people) at the Tropical Bamboo House.

Where do you wanna go in 2019?

Where do you wanna go in 2019?

#fitnessgoals, #careergoals, #lifegoals. How about #travelgoals for a change? We’ve asked professional travelers on places they’d like to visit in the Year of the Earth Pig.

If you’ve been looking for paths less traveled, hidden gems, unexplored trails, and untouched destinations, take inspiration from this list we got from some of the country’s top travel bloggers. Their choices could very well be on your wishlist for the year too.

Traveler Elal Lasola
Less is more

Yes, the Banaue Rice Terraces are nice, but so is this one: the Maligcong Rice Terraces in Bontoc. Photo by Elal Lasola

If you ask award-winning photographer Elal Lasola, less is definitely more for underrated destinations. Places like the Batad Rice Terraces in Ifugao, El Nido’s twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang, Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, and Bontoc, Mountain Province are some of her go-tos.

These places have less in terms of crowds in contrast to others [destinations], which means there are more opportunities for you to enjoy more.

Traveler Mervin Marasigan
For intrepid travelers only: Biri, Nothern Samar from

Man pointing upwards with Biri rock formations in the background
“To the skies!” A beautiful shot of the rock formations in Biri, Northern Samar. Photo by Larry Quinao

Mervin Marasigan, the man behind Pinoy Adventurista, calls it one of the most underrated destinations in the country. “An off-the-beaten destination that only the most intrepid travelers dare to visit. Don’t miss its stunning rock formations battered by strong waves. They are truly amazing! Every spot is definitely Instagram-worthy!”

Get there
Brace for a 17-hour journey by bus from Manila to Catarman, Northern Samar, a 1.5-hour bus ride from Catarman to Lavezares port, and a one-hour ferry ride to Biri Island.

Traveler Melo Villareal
The elusive Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro

The Sandbar at Aslom
Hard to find a better sandbar than this. Photo by Leo Castillo of Shoestring Travelers

Melo Villareal of Out of Town Blog liken for Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro to its namesake (bulalakaw is the Filipino term for shooting star) because of how beautiful yet fleeting it is. “Although it is overshadowed by nearby destinations like Puerto Galera and Mount Malasimbo, Bulalacao is without a doubt a place we can truly call paradise.”

Bulalacao has beaches and sights you’ll never see in Metro Manila and has temperatures that make it a year-round destination; quite rare for a beach if you ask us.

Get there
Fly from Manila to Caticlan then take a three-hour boat ride from Caticlan jetty to Bulalacao.

Traveler Estan Cabigas
The largely uncharted: Sitangkai, Tawi Tawi

Sitangkai woman with 'borak' on her face

A Sitangkai woman with ‘borak’ on her face. Photo by Estan Cabigas

Known as the southernmost place in the country, it’s a place that Estan Cabigas of Langyaw.com and Ten Zero Four describes as a “surreal place that is quite different from what we are used to in the country.”

“To go around the island, walk on elevated wooden pathways, swim, ride a tempel (motorized wooden boat), and swim at the still shallow water.” He’s also heard mosques calling the locals to prayer in near-unison, an experience he describes as unforgettable.

Get there
Fly to Zamboanga City and transfer to a flight headed for Tawi Tawi. Once there, you’ll have to take a ferry from Bongao Port to Sitangkai.

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