Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday, June 03, 2016
Negros Occidental: (L-R) Silay City, Bacolod City, Talisay City and Sipalay City
Jamont Hotel in Sipalay City


T O U R 

Visiting Negros Occidental for the first time and Bacolod City seems to sum up all that you think you know of the province?

You're in the right direction anyway because it's the neighboring city where you'll deplane from Cebu or Manila. It's also where the Port of Bacolod is located for tourists who opt to travel by sea from the Port of Manila or Port of Iloilo. The city is the capital of the province after all and it's where the provincial museum called Negros Museum is also located for that time capsule experience. If your date of visit doesn't coincide with the city's annual Masskara Festival that's held every third weekend of October, the place is really just good for a hotel layover and food trip of Chicken Inasal at the Manokan Country. What you need to do is to weave through the countryside to extract the sweet juice out of the terrain like how the locals have been crushing sugar cane for decades to filter and treat the collected juice at the Sugar Island.

Beyond Bacolod

Beyond Bacolod City's famous festival lies other cities and towns that you can visit on a tight itinerary or even on a whim. Check out the following attractions I've personally experienced when I toured the province for 5 days:

Balay Negrense
Cinco De Noviembre
Teodoro Morada Ancestral House
Get Inspired By Silay City's Old Houses

Although pockets of sugarcane fields can be seen in parts of Bacolod City, the more vast ones are located in the neighboring city of Silay where the Bacolod-Silay International Airport is. If you arrived by plane, it's the perfect welcome you'll receive -- the dulcet sound of rustling grass from scattered plantations.

At the city proper, though, sits a charming neighborhood of more than 30 ancestral dwellings, most of which are well-kept. There are some crumbling ones but they only add an authentic texture to the gloss. The upkeep entailed in freezing time for these old houses come naturally to the locals as they're aware of the value of tangible heritage. As a result, strolling this place is a quaint experience while munching on tasty products from the city's 1920-built bakery called El Ideal.

Hofileña Heritage House
Have a walk tour that starts from the landmark called Cinco De Noviembre at the street corner of the same name. It's where the elite of old Negros secretly planned the bloodless uprising against the Spanish forces in 1898. Just a few steps from it is a well-preserved two-storey structure known as the Teodoro Morada Ancestral House, a heritage house of neo-classical inspiration declared by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). Make the Balay Negrense (also known as Don Victor Gaston Heritage House) your next stop. It's an odd 12-bedroom Spanish-American stone house that has a charming facade. You can also visit the Hofileña Heritage House which has interesting displays of art works and vintage trinkets. If you still have time, drop by the so-called Pink House which is actually the Don Bernardino Lopez Jalandoni Heritage House, a 1908-built home that's now a museum of Silay's rich past.

Melba's Farm
Hiking in Talisay City
A guestroom at Melba's Farm in Talisay City
Reset With Nature In Talisay's Cabatangan

Thirty minutes from Bacolod is the city of Talisay which doesn't only have its own version of sugar mills and plantations. It also has a rural hillside where the fruit-growing hamlet of Cabatangan sits. Should you want to linger for more than a day, spending the night at Melba's Farm is the most ideal way to go.

Melba's Farm
The idyllic and breezy woodland of the village veils this destination where one can be intrepid. I actually sipped a hot cup of coffee in my skivvies from the private veranda of a cliff-side cabin while booked at the resort which also has a swimming pool.

During the day, I had a fulfilling 30-minute hike surrounded by bamboo and mahogany trees. The same route can also be an interesting ATV trail if ever Melba's Farm decides to have that add-on to its guests' wilderness experience.

A river in Sipalay City
Jamont Hotel's La Veranda Suite
En route to Sugar Beach in Sipalay City
Linger In Sipalay City's Laid-Back Beaches

A good three-hour commute from Bacolod City is the underrated destination of Sipalay City. Next to Dumaguete, it's fast becoming the alternative place to retire in the Philippines by foreigners because of its laid-back beaches, 22 islets for island-hopping, and shipwreck sites for diving. It has the tourist-thronged Tinagong Dagat which can feel timeless because the serene cove is naturally tucked away from the harsh waves of the sea. Most foreign tourists who have grown tired of Boracay hie off to the more relaxed Sugar Beach which is just a few minutes from the city proper. It's also where the quirky Takatuka Lodge Beach & Dive Resort is located with its odd-themed rooms that are Instagram-worthy. An interesting side trip is a visit of the Maricalum Mines which is a few minutes from the coast.

Sugar Beach
Should you wish to stay at the city proper, highly recommended is Jamont Hotel. Located at a vast beachfront, it has its own swimming pool and restaurant. It's also where I spent a luxurious night at its sea-view La Veranda Suite that offered me great sunset views from the bed.

Negros Occidental is worth a revisit if 5 days can only accommodate that much destination in one's itinerary. Heck, I was not able to visit Sipalay's caves during my overnight stay. I will definitely check out Mount Kanlaon next time and even explore the town of Cauayan where the marine sanctuary of Danjugan Island is located. For sure, the province can be sweeter the second time around.

Check out my Negros Occidental-related blog posts:

 Melba's Farm in Talisay City
• Jamont Hotel in Sipalay City
• Sipalay City: An Attractive Jewel of Negros Occidental
• Sipalay City Beaches
• Hiking In The Woods of Talisay City's Cabatangan
• Exploring The Maricalum Mines of Sipalay City
• Best and Worst of Bacolod City
Where To Stay In Bacolod?

More Photos Below:

Aida's Chicken Inasal at the Manokan Country in Bacolod City
Silay City sugarcane plantations
Balay Negrense in Silay City
The scenery at Sitio Cabatangan in Talisay City
El Ideal Bakery in Silay City
Tinagong Dagat in Sipalay City
Hofileña Heritage House in Silay City
Pink House in Silay City
Felicia's ensaymada and sans rival
Bacolod City


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