|A scenic river runs through the city|
|The laid-back Sugar Beach|
B E Y O N D
B A C O L O D
Set your sights beyond the tourist-favorite Bacolod City when visiting Negros Occidental. Like a sheltered middle child or a vintage jewelry, Sipalay City takes time to warm up to anything new. To be exact, three hours aboard a chartered cab and twice that long aboard a Ceres Bus from the provincial capitol. The burgeoning coastal city between the towns of Cauayan and Hinoba-An boasts a serene shoreline where relaxation is pure tropical bliss and devoid of tourism's excesses. Its attractive gloss comes from its reputation as the sugar island's jewel. So, why haven't you gone there yet?
|The city hall of Sipalay|
|Farming plains of the city|
|Inside the city hall|
Getting There and Staying At Sipalay Suites
When visiting this city south of Negros Island, it's essential that you book yourself a base for a tour. Sipalay Suites at the Poblacion Beach is a stylish beachfront resort that I recommend as I've tested staying at its La Veranda Suite where the view of the sea was spectacular straight from the bed. Besides, it's right next to the terminal of Faith Taxi that visitors are bound to board back for Bacolod after the vacation.
To reach the city, I opted to ride the Faith Taxi that's normally parked across the Ceres Bus terminal in Bacolod. Leaving as early as 9:00am was enough for me to make it to my scheduled check-in at the resort since the commute usually lasts 3 hours compared to a bus ride that lasts twice as long.
|Relaxing at the swimming pool of Sipalay Suites|
|At the roof deck of the city hall|
|The farming plains of the city|
Gazing At The Farming Plains From The City Hall Roof Deck
After check-in, I made sure to set foot at Sipalay's city hall which I learned received a commendation for Good Housekeeping from the Department of the Interior and Local Government under the late Jesse Robredo in 2011. It's impossible for any visitor to miss it since it sticks out in all its white-washed glory from the farming plains of the city's terrain along the Negros South Road. From its roof deck, I was able to gaze at the expansive view of the surrounding farming plains which was a stark contrast to the sugarcane plantation views that I had back in Silay City after arriving at the airport.
Visiting The City's Distinct Beaches
There are popular diving sites at the city's coast because of the presence of shipwrecks and numerous islets. For those like me who fancy less adventurous places, beach bumming at Sugar Beach and Poblacion Beach can be great alternatives. Making a side trip to the hamlet of Matlag where Lat-asan Cove's Tinagong Dagat is can even reward you of a charming sunset view.
|Tinagong Dagat of Lat-asan|
|Cansibit Pit of Maricalum Mines|
Touring The Maricalum Mines
The whole island of Negros is known to be rich in minerals and Sipalay is where most of them are in large concentration. As a result, the place has several mining claims from different operators since the late '50s. This is why an abandoned mining site called the Maricalum Mines has become an attractive side trip for learning about the city's recent past. There is a viewing spot for the public, but gaining access inside the site will need the necessary coordination with the city's tourism office. As an annual reminder of this aspect of the city, the festival called Pasaway is held every last week of March.
|The tour bus of Sipalay Suites|
There are a lot more to discover in Sipalay City. Lingering for a week is not a bad idea to really have a full grasp of the serenity that's been veiled by bad publicity about NPA rebel attacks. From what I've learned in my Philippine travels, the more locals become interested with neighboring towns and cities, the less ferocity there is in the landscape. So, go ahead and see what's beyond Bacolod.