While everyone is going gaga over the exciting and colorful Masskara Festival - I'm guilty about this one too before - did you know that Negros Occidental, primarily, its capital, Bacolod City, has a lot more in store for all of its guests. I was lucky enough to somehow see and experience its Sweet 16 that I think Masskara party-goers could and enjoy and made them realize why they should keeping exploring the province.
Sit back, and enjoy the ride as I take you to the City of Smiles and the Sugar Bowl of the Philippines!
One: The Ruins
A famous landmark in the province, The Ruins, which is located at the northern part of Negros Occidental, is this mansion, which is owned by Mr. Mariano Ledesma Lacson. Rich in stories of love and compassion, this spot is also made popularized by its funny and great story-telling tour guides, who gives life and shares laughter to the guests who wanted to see the beauty of this place. Perfect to visit at sundown, you'll immediately feel the love and effort the province has devoured to this place because of its perfectly mowed lawn and decorative lights. Entrance fee will be collected upon entrance.
Two: Balay Negrense
A few minutes away from the famous The Ruins is this another favorite tourist spot, Balay Negrense, which means House of the People of Negros. An ancestral house of the Gastons, who are credited as one of the pioneering families of sugarcane cultivation in the country, this old mansion was turned into a museum and currently under the caring hands of Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA). Entrance fee will be collected upon entrance.
Three: Panaad Park and Stadium
For those who doesn't have much time to go around the province, visiting Panaad Park and Stadium will give a feel of what's in store for you here in Negros Occidental. If you've been to Nayong Pilipino, well, this is Negros Occidental's Nayong Pilipino. Complete with miniatures that represent the cities and municipalities of the province, kids and kids at heart will enjoy having fun and some learning about the province.
Four: Negros Occidental Capitol
A visit to the province capitol will complete this kind of trip that you have, just don't forget to wear something nice, because with its Romanesque look, having your group photo, selfie or #OOTD here will be so picture-perfect.
Visiting Negros Occidental is easy. May you be flying from Manila or taking a boat from Iloilo City, Negros carries different accommodation that are ready to give you what you want. If you want something that is close to nature or maybe you want something new but unique, the Mambukal Resort is still open to the public for some R & R, and then there's the Campuestohan Highland Resort, which is basically new and ready to give you that relaxing and enjoyable stay.
Five: Mambukal Resort
Six: Campuestohan Highland Resort
Both places accept day trips - you just have to pay a small entrance fee, and both are also capable of housing a nice number of guests. But comparing the two, even though Mambukal is like a household name already in the country, trying the new themed resort of Campuestohan is an option that would bring out the kid in you. I immediately fell in love with its Hobbit-like houses upon seeing them.
Yes, they are guests rooms, so I can't wait to go back and experience what it's like to be a Hobbit. ^_^
Aside from Mambukal, another waterfalls that tourists like to see and visit in Bacolod is this Malatan-og Falls in El Salvador, Negros Occidental. Towering at 120 feet, this waterfalls can be seen in a viewing dock, and you can see it for free. Looks enchanting, right?
Seven: Malatan-og Falls
Step by step, Negros Occidental is starting to get another name, but this time it is gearing towards something sustainable and earth-friendly. Slowly being named as te Organic Farming Capital of Asia, Bacolod City is housing a great number of organic farms that produce organic products that are not just for the country's consumption but also worldwide.
One of the most popular and most visited organic farm in Bacolod is the May's Garden of Uy Family. Located at the heart of Bacolod, May's Garden is hectares or hectares of land made not just for farming but also for learning and special events.
Eight: May's Garden
More than its well manicured and maintained space, another thing that you must experience here is meeting the owners of the farm in person. Such a heart-warming and direct couple, Mr. and Mrs. Uy were so welcoming to their guests that they would really take a time off from their schedule to tour you around.
The place also offers delectable organic dishes too, and I tell you, if you are coming here, better contact them first so that they could prepare something nice for you.
Nine: Penalosa Farm
For those who are coming in with a big group, the Penalosa Farm in Talisay is another must-visit organic farm in Negros. A place which is at the first sight would already tell you how much love and effort were devoted to put it all up, Penalosa Farm is another great place of learning about organic farming. Their whole lot is filled with different herbs and leafy vegetables that fill the air with amazing and relaxing aroma that you could enjoy.
When I went here, I met the owner of the place who taught me a lot about organic farming and the other things goes with it. Another great place to dine in, just don't forget to make a reservation, okay?
Ten: Rapha Valley Farm
If you wanna go out of the city, two other organic farms that you can visit, and both are located down south of Bacolod, are the Rapha Valley Farm and Catiempo Organic Farm. Rapha Valley offers not just an amazing tour of the whole property, but also an awesome dining experience with such a lovely view. While R. Catiempo, since it is fairly new, the place is perfect for those aspiring organic farmers.
Eleven: Catiempo Organic Farm
Though organic products are abundant in Negros Occidental, I personally cannot deny the fact how Bacolod's Chicken Inasal are so delicious. In fact, you don't have to go far to taste the best-tasting chicken in the province. Just a few steps away from SM Bacolod is the Manokan Country where about a dozen of Chicken Inasal-offering food shops are located - and yes, everything is so affordable!
Twelve: Manokan Country
They say that your Bacolod trip wouldn't be complete without trying Bacolod's best-tasting chicken dish, and true enough, despite of Mang Inasal being available all over the country now, the Chicken Inasal from Manokan Country is still far more tasty, juicy and big than those well-known names.
And just like Chicken Inasal, being the country's Sugar Bowl, Negros Occidental is also gaining popularity for its decadent pastries, two of the brands that's been attracting foodies all over the world are Calea and Felicia's.
Comes in very affordable price, the delicious cakes of Calea are simply sinful due to its great-tasting flavors and style. I can't say what's my favorite, but if it is your first time to visit Calea, the Bluberry or Strawberry Cheesecakes are great choices.
Opt to try something different buts still delicious and affordable, Felicia's is a great place too for pastries. The Sansrival, which is their most ordered kind has been gaining so much attention from foodies all over the world that Felicia's made it available in other variants too. They have other cakes too, like Chocolate Cake, which is a personal favorite of mine.
Those delicious products are perfect for pasalubong too, since you can't find them anywhere but only here in Bacolod. But if you are looking for something that will last, well, feel free to take home our fellow Bacolodnons' ingenuity and creativity from The Negros Showroom.
Fifteen: The Negros Showroom
Haven for Negros' awesome products, from T-shirts, home decors, painting, and processed food, The Negros Showroom is a one-stop shop for all your Negros souvenirs. Though, if you wanna take home the real Masskara Festival stuff, I suggest that you visit Jojo Vito's Designs Gallery still. Who knows, you might get a glimpse of him there. Hehe.
Sixteen: Jojo Vito Designs Gallery
The Jojo Vito Designs Gallery of Bacolod is one store of inspiration and creativity that will burst colors of fun and excitement on your face - just like the masks that he has created.
I'm pretty sure that there'll be a lot more to come for this city and for this province, and I honestly can't wait to see and experience them all. For now, I'm just happy to share that aside from being one sweet province, Negros Occidental is a home to 16 sweet places every tourist should see and experience.
I miss you, Negros! I hope to be back soon!