Bacolod: Belle of the Bowl wows Winter Escapaders
BACOLOD — The belle of the Visayan sugar bowl, that is! Bacolod, the capital of Negros Occidental, is a study in contrasts: flirty and frisky, yet sedate and conservative. The busy city center is surrounded by the greenery of sugarcane fields and mountains. Rustic yet modern.
The warm hospitality of the island caught Winter Escapade 5 participants by surprise, as Masskara dancers in their colorful costumes of feathers and masks spilled over the airport foyer. Catchy drum rhythms and ecstatic dancing by the Masskara troupe enticed the tour participants to join in. Bacolod, dubbed the “Land of Smiles,” certainly lived up to its name as the visitors sported wide smiles and jived to the beat.
WE5 participants were then bused from the airport to a running tour of the sugar cane plantations along the circumferential road to the city. The group visited Sum-Ag Elementary School, where the students sang and danced and showed off their projects. There was even an honor guard of Boy Scouts to welcome the visitors.
The participants toured various sites, among them the Museum of Vintage Glass in Sum-ag and the Lacson Ruins, dubbed “love’s legacy in stone.” The imposing mansion was built in the early 1900s by a distraught Don Mariano Lacson for his beloved wife, Maria, who passed away after a slip and fall accident while pregnant with their 11th child. The structure was razed by the guerilla forces under American command during World War II, to prevent the Japanese from using it as headquarters. The structure’s stone skeleton remains impressive and is frequently used as an event venue now.
Participants savored the Lakawon Island Resorts’ all-you-can-eat buffet of fresh seafood and Bacolod specialties like chicken inasal. There were also opportunities to swim, snorkel, kayak, or just stroll on the white sandy beach.
The evening of the first day in Bacolod, the mayor, Evelio “Bing” Leonardia, hosted a Masskara Fiesta for tour participants at the city’s Government Center. The following evening’s meal was a seafood “kamayan” dinner at Ading’s Pala-Pala. The final dinner event was the Governor’s Ball, hosted by Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., held at the provincial capitol grounds.
All the places in Bacolod that were part of Winter Escapade 5 are outstanding, but Mambucal Resort deserves a whole feature devoted to it. (To be continued)