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While on a food trip in Bacolod and booked at The Inns By The Oriental, I realised that I still had enough spare time to visit the Negros Museum. After a satisfying lunch at Manokan Country for an obligatory taste test of the city's delicious chicken inasal, I cleansed my greasy hands at the wash area and asked the young waitress at Aida's Chicken if she knew where the provincial museum was. In response, she gave me a look that I'd remember for the whole afternoon because it was accompanied with a confused reply. It turned out she didn't know that there's even one in the city proper.
Negros Museum is actually just a three-minute stroll from the Provincial Capitol Building which is a short jeepney ride away from the Manokan Country. I would have loved to take the young waitress to see it, but she was clearly uninterested and was focused on her shift like the rest of the city was.
As I approached the neoclassical capitol structure that houses the museum, I started having second thoughts. If a local like that waitress I met has not even set foot in it, is there even anything interesting to see there? Will I be met by a banal display of relics that have no relevance to today's hustle-and-bustle?
Impressive From The Facade
Thankfully, the museum building's architecture was so impressive starting at the facade with its imposing pillars that a sense of calm took over me. The vintage tile flooring was also inviting to look at and is effectively part of the whole tour. I was suddenly in the mood to see the rest of it. After paying a P100-admission fee (students are charged P70), I went on my own tour inside in lieu of a museum guide who was already upstairs with a small group of visitors. I'm always better off nosing around on my own anyway since I'm not scared to ask questions from anybody who's at the closest distance from me even if he was a janitor. I actually love learning neighborhood stories more than scripted ones. So I spent my first few minutes at the ground floor, marveling at large paintings on one wing of the interior.
Soon, I was out on the other side of the property where the courtyard is. And, even in subsumed shades of the afternoon, this side of the old 1925-built structure looked historic and opulent. It may be peeling off with paint in some parts, but it's not as decrepit as some crumbling mansions I've seen in other places. It used to be the city's Agricultural Building until it was turned into a museum in 1996. Scattered in unassuming sections of the courtyard under age-old trees were culinary antiques and other vintage possessions that locals might have used in the island of Negros.
Rich Stories At The Second Floor
I proceeded to check out the second floor where displays of different kinds from dioramas to personal paraphernalia could be seen. Interestingly, most of them were curated for the purpose of telling rich stories of the island way back when the colonizing Spaniards were still around in the Philippines.
Exciting Toy Gallery
With no artifacts to boast of, the museum itself is less intimidating to appreciate and is, therefore, child-friendly. It even has an air conditioned section that houses an impressive gallery of toys -- from the traditional to the bizarre -- that have been donated by one of Negros Occidental's locals. Since taking photos inside this particular gallery is not allowed, visitors of Bacolod City can always have something look forward to by checking it out for themselves.
Unlike other museums in the country, the Negros Museum can be accessible on a Monday provided appointments are made prior to the date of visit.
I might have decided to spend the night in Bacolod City primarily for its culinary reputation, but I was glad I made this afternoon side trip despite feeling discouraged by a local who was oblivious of its presence where she lives. Even without a guide to spoon-feed me with facts and figures, the displays alone spoke for themselves. Negros Museum is a time capsule worth visiting in Negros Occidental before discovering the old houses of Silay and hitting the beaches of Sipalay.
Address: Old Agricultural Building, Gatuslao St., Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines
Phone: +6334 4334764 and +6334 7085080
Check out my Negros Occidental-related posts:
• Melba's Farm in Talisay City
• Jamont Hotel in Sipalay City
• Exploring The Maricalum Mines of Sipalay• Best and Worst of Bacolod City
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