|San Sebastian Cathedral|
R E A L I T Y
P O I N T S
I'm familiar with the adage that a frown can only happen when there's no more smile to give. Being in Bacolod City for a layover from Manila a few weeks ago, I was hoping to be less gloomy at my booked hotel -- The Inns By The Oriental. It turned out that my first few hours in the city gave me a lot more reasons to hold out on smiling. To begin with, a rally led by teachers welcomed my stroll of the city at the plaza. When I crossed the street to check out the San Sebastian Cathedral, I surprisingly walked into a rabid homily of the priest about the country's supreme court. At the public market, a pimp approached me to peddle a few provocative services while a vendor segued about the vice mayor suing the mayor. On my way back to the hotel, just when I thought that things couldn't get worse, the taxi driver failed to determine my destination. We ended up circling the city for extended minutes to my bewilderment until I spotted a familiar corner. Next thing I knew, the hotel appeared on my peripheral view.
Submerged in my booked room's bathtub, I was ready to give up and just switch to snooze mode in the middle of day. For some reason, I suddenly remembered the city being called as one where people actually smiled a lot, so I felt that there was no way I'd be sleeping with a frown. The defiant urge to find a clearing in the urban clutter where I was in led me to clean up, drain the water, and visit the city's museum. It seemed to be the ideal diversion anyway. Learning about Bacolod's past at the Negros Museum to understand its present made perfect sense, so I went in, paid the hundred peso entrance fee, and toured myself in the safe confines of the city's old Agricultural Building. Surrounded by meaningful mementos of the province, I discovered the journey that the city's early Bacolodnons had to go through to establish the highly urbanized present that I recently came face to face with.
|Chicken inasal at Aida's in Manokan Country|
|Inside the San Sebastian Cathedral|
|The Perky Room of The Inns By The Oriental (formerly Sylvia Manor)|
|The lobby of The Inns By The Oriental|
Tasting The Chicken Inasal Versions of Aida's and Chicken House
An old friend once told me to begin with food what everything else have ruined. And so with a realigned mindset, I left the museum and kicked off my discovery of the city with a taste of its iconic chicken inasal (derived from the Spanish term asar which means to roast). The venue? Aida's at the Manokan Country which jeepney drivers pointed to when asked about the best place to get one. It's a strip of eateries serving grilled specialties with the chicken dish as main attraction. My verdict? All-around tasty. Consumed with bare hands, the pecho that I had was extremely succulent. I couldn't help but be nostalgic because it reminded me of another version that I had in Roxas City more than a year ago.
I actually ended my day with another chicken inasal brand, but this time at the more upscale Chicken House. Just when I thought that this one couldn't taste differently, I was wrong. Surprisingly, this second version for dinner was more loaded in smoked flavor. As final verdict, I like this more because of the taste and the fact that the restaurant got it right with the presentation (served on a piece of banana leaf).
|(top) Aidia's; (bottom) Chicken House|
|Felicia's Pasty Cafe specialties of ensaymada, sans rival, and moist chocolate|
Indulging At Felicia's Pastry Cafe For A Sweet Stopover
In between main meals, I lounged at Felicia's Pastry Cafe. Over samplings of its moist chocolate and sans rival cake slices, I delighted in what the sugar island of Negros could deliver in terms of desserts. As I determined, both flavors were sinfully sweet, the kind that lingers in the palate. The snack takeout of ensaymada was also memorable. For tasting so great, I tried to save half of it for my 3-hour commute to Sipalay City the next day.
Provincial Capitol, Park and Lagoon
I also got the chance to unwind at some of the city's other tourist-thronged spots like the Capitol Park and Lagoon where a sculpture of a man and his water buffalo can be seen in one end. Beautifully done by Negrense artist Felix Garzon, it glimmered from various points in the area where a lot of local youngsters were practicing stints for school.
|A sculpture by Negrense artist Felix Garzon|
|The grounds of the Provincial Capitol|
|The Provincial Capitol of Negros Occidental|
|The Provincial Capitol of Negros Occidental|
A convenient stroll from it is the imposing structure of the Provincial Capitol which exudes of Romanesque neoclassical architectural design. For being the headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Army decades ago, it serves as a gritty reminder of the whole island's World War II experience with the invading forces.
On my way back to the hotel, I figured in a few more setbacks like an insane traffic and the difficulty to hail a taxi during rush hour. However, I was willing to overlook such things as part of a burgeoning city that's known as the second most populous one in the Visayas next to Cebu City. With a reputation for being the best location in the same region for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) operations, I doubt if the place will be reverting to a laid-back mood anytime soon. The only direction is forward. Here, the pace is clearly pulsating and the present still has a lot of things worth smiling about despite a few points of reality.
+ Melba's Farm in Talisay City
+ Exploring The Maricalum Mines of Sipalay City
More Photos Below:
|Approaching the island of Negros aboard Cebu Pacific|
|Bacolod-Silay International Airport|
|Local pupils at the public plaza|