Mera Joy Aniolga

Smillin’ at the City of Smiles

In Current Events, Event, Travelling on April 23, 2011 at 9:16 am

Bacolod City is one boat ride away from my place, Iloilo City. It is referred to as the “city of smiles”. This tag line for Bacolod is due to the Masskara Festival held in the city every month of October.

Last month, we went to Bacolod to have an educational tour. Well, it is not really an educational tour, but we visited museums and other “educational and historical” places that I decided to label it as such.

I went to the Iloilo City Pier at around 4pm. Before that I already called up Ocean Jet and inquired about their last trip. Mind you, there is a different pier for ferries going to Bacolod and there is another one for ships going to Cebu and Manila. The receptionist told me that it will be at 5:45. I think, among the other ferries, Ocean Jet has the latest last trip. They also have a promo where if you buy a round trip ticket, you only pay half of the second ticket’s price. The best thing about Ocean Jet is that they offer free wi-fi in the ferry itself. I don’t know if other ferries offer this well.

It was dark when we arrived at Bacolod, we hired a “trisikad” to take us to SM City Bacolod. There is no need to ride a taxi if you are from the pier going to SM City because it so near, you can even walk going to it. We were so hungry when we arrived that we immediately thought of eating. The food court was half full-half empty, good thing. It is not as jam-packed as other restos in the mall. We decided to eat at Junie’s. The food is familiar as there is also the exact same food stall here in Iloilo.

After that, I called L Fisher Chalet as I made a reservation there via email. I was not able to get a confirmation reply that is why I did not take the risk of going there automatically. I called their front desk but no one seems to be on duty so I called other hotels as well. It is a good thing that I have a long list of hotels and inns numbers in the city; I was able to call and inquire. The telephone booth costs one peso for every 3 minutes, I spent about 10 pesos before I finally made a decision.

The last time that we went there, we stayed at the Pearl Manor. Unfortunately, I do not have their number so I was not able to inquire. (Take note: I’m the type of traveler who prefers to make prior reservations and inquiries rather than go straight into the hotel and be surprised in case there are price changes, address changes and so on.)

This time, we stayed at the Bacolod Executive Inn Hotel. It is located near the San Sebastian Cathedral. From SM, it was just a 5 minutes walk. We passed by the Manokan Stalls, the city plaza, the Church and La Consolacion College. We paid 999 for a double room with WI-FI, Air conditioning, Personal Ref and a window wide enough to see other buildings as well as the tip of the San Sebastian Cathedral. The room boy was nice enough to let us transfer into another room when we complained about the weak wi-fi signal.

We are night people and Bacolod City comes to life at night. We took a jeepney ride going to Lacson Street. It is said to be the longest street in the city, it is also the home of establishments like McDonald’s, Starbuck’s, Pendy’s and many others.

The next day, we went to Silay City. It was a 30 minute jeepney ride away from Bacolod City. We went straight to the famous El Ideal. It is said to be the oldest bakery in Negros Occidental. The people there are nice as they even gave us direction in going to Balay Negrense. People or shall I say tourists there are in and out of the door. The bakery has an old world charm and I think it is one of the main reasons why people come there. Next stop, we went to the Plaza of Silay City. It is very clean and you can see a lot of people there. They say that Silay is the Paris of Negros and if you are in the Plaza, you will have no choice but to agree with the said label. There are a lot of old houses there. I assume that “hacienderos’ must have owned them.

We went to one of the most famous old house in the city of Silay. The Balay Negrense is an old house of a former governor, I believe. Just like any other old house, it has two stories and very big rooms. The moment you are inside the house, you will get the feel of living in the 1900’s. You also get to familiarize with the typical parts of the house during that time. They have “azoteas’, “pantaw”, “platera” old model refrigerators, old microwave ovens and so on. Some say the house is haunted, I don’t know whether its true or not. All I know is that this house is filled with memories, antiques and old world charm. Entrance to the place is 50 pesos.

Another house worth checking out while in Silay is the Hofilena House. It is one block away from Balay Negrense. You need to make prior reservations if you want to come there, another option you have to be lucky enough to spot the owner/caretaker so that he can invite you to come over. My friends who came there 5 months prior to my visit were lucky enough to spot the owner. They were able to check out his collections and antiques. Good for them, bad for me because I was not with them when they got lucky.

After Silay, we went back to the City. We went straight to the Negros Museum. It is located just at the back of the Capitol. The entrance is 50 pesos but you are not allowed to take pictures while inside the museum. That rule sucks as there are a lot of beautiful paintings as well as a massive doll collection that is worth a thousand clicks. The museum will help you understand the history and culture of the place. If you want to understand Bacolod, you simply have to go there.

After the museum, we went to have a snack at a nearby mall whose name escapes me now. It comparable to the Marymart Mall here in Iloilo City as there is a lot of counterfeit goods for sale in this mall. Though I must admit, the outside appearance of the mall looked classy and expensive.

It was now near sunset so we decided to go to the Ruins in Talisay. Talisay is like 15 minutes away from Bacolod City. The Ruins is very famous among local and foreign tourist. As a matter of fact, it was even listed as part of the Top 12 Must See Ruins in the World at a site whose name sounds like or (So sorry for forgetting!) They say the Ruins is more beautiful during sunset and indeed it is.

You can go to Talisay’s town center and hire a motorcycle to take you there. However, in my case, I just looked around and happen to see the sign “TO THE RUINS” while we were still in the jeepney. The sign is right next to the Pepsi Plant. However, the Ruins is far from that sign, you have to walk a loooong way first before you reach it. Lucky for us that the locals there offered to give us a tricycle ride going there. The Ruins is said to be burned by the owners in order to prevent the Japs from taking over the place. In way its like a sign of the owners “patriotism”. Today, the Ruins is perfect for weddings, playing golf or to chill after a long days work. It has a bar, a mini golf course and a souvenir shop intended for visitors who want to stay a while, to play, take pictures or to simply unwind. Entrance to the place is about 50 pesos as well.

We spent the nigh at Lacson Street, sipping coffee and eating sweet treats of Bob’s. The cafe is said to have been originally from this city. I don’t know about that, but I’m sure that they have one of the best coffees in Bacolod City.

On our last day, we decided to have some sort of “mall tour”. We were already familiar with SM City Bacolod, Lopue’s Mandalagan, Gaisano, Mayfair and Robinson’s. We ate at Pendy’s. It’s famous because of its Half-moon cakes and Napoleones. For most people there, it is considered to be an upscale restaurant, probably because of its price and the accreditation posted on its walls.

Our last stop was the recently build Pope John Paul Building. We were not able to come up there but we took pictures of it. It is a 7-story building, with glass walls. On the glass walls are pictures of the late Pope John Paul II, at the top most part of the building is a huge cross. I don’t know what the purposes of the building is but if my instincts are right, it’s probably for pilgrims who want to pray the “stations of the cross” there, just like a modern version of Guimaras’ Balaan Bukid.

When we arrived at the pier, we were already “chance passengers”. At first there were only the 3 of us and the woman sitting next to me said she bought the promo ticket as well. I thought it was just a coincidence that we both have same tickets and same fate as chance passengers. However, as the time of departure came closer, the more people arrived with the same fate as mine. Same promo tickets, same fate as chance passengers. I think, it is like a marketing strategy on Ocean Jet’s part. It is a good thing that we were able to ride the ferry and go home safe after a long wait at the pier.

Repost from Old Blog.


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