As a Bacolod-born local guide, freelancer and salesperson for 28 years here, here are first-hand infos that I can share about the City of Smiles. I hope you’ll find them helpful.
For a tourist to maximize enjoyment of a place, I believe he/she needs to get a glimpse of the history, culture and some relevant factors.
Greater levels of appreciation come if you immerse self with a different heritage than your own. You’ll then appreciate the diversity.
Bacolod city belongs to the Western Visayas Region or Region VI. The Visayas is the central portion of the Philippines and is composed of many islands including Cebu, Leyte, and Panay.
The islands of Negros and Panay (Iloilo etc.) are at the west side of this group, hence the name. In this region, you will also find Antique, Boracay, and Guimaras.
This region was one of the first to progress in the Philippines because of the early developments in Iloilo due to Iloilo River, and later on, to the Hacienda systems developed in Negros/Bacolod.
This region’s main income comes from Agricultural such as rice (Panay and some parts of Negros), and sugarcane. Human capital is also flourishing due to the presence of competent schools and universities in this region both public and private.
The sea that connects Bacolod to Panay island is called Guimaras Strait. Between us is the island called Guimaras. The government is planning to build a bridge connecting Panay-Guimaras-Negros soon.
Bacolod’s Region, Western Visayas, is mostly composed of Ilonggo-speaking people. In the west part of Panay, there are the Karay-a speaking people. In the northern part of Negros Occidental, there are some Visaya or Cebuano-speaking people.
From May 29, 2015, to Aug 9, 2017, Bacolod’s Region was named Negros Island Region or unofficially known as Region XVIII.
The officials pointed out that this merger would result in the better development of the whole island which really belongs to the same land but with the different political administration.
So far, Negros Island is the only island in the Philippines that belong to different regions.
This short-lived region was composed of the whole island of Negros. On April 9, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Executive Order No. 38 dissolving the Negros Island Region, making Bacolod return to Region VI.
I read from some speculating sources that when Federalism will be successful in the Philippines, Negros Island and Siquijor will be one region called Region VI-B.
Negros Occidental: The Province Built by Sugar
Bacolod is a highly-urbanized city and is the capital of the province of Negros Occidental.
The island that Bacolod City belongs is called Negros- the 4th largest island of the Philippines with a total land area of 13,309 square km. This island is politically-divided into two provinces, namely, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.
Why the name Negros? The Spanish colonizers called the land Negros because of the dark-skinned settlers that they observed upon arriving in April 1565.
Negros Occidental has been blessed with mostly rich soil because of the presence of the volcano called Kanla-on. This earthly resource led people in the 19th and 20th century to plant sugarcane and other crops. As of 2018, there are still vast sugarcane plantations when you travel around Negros.
Because of the vast plantations, many colonizers and their descendants became ultra rich in this province. Making this as a den of Don’s and Dona’s in the colonial area, while the original settlers are sakadas and negros (black-skinned).
A saying has been widely perpetuated that “basta Negrosanon, tikalon” (People of Negros are braggers), and I believe this has its roots from the socio-economic classification of the original settlers.
Until now, I think there are still a lot of very rich people in this province due to very large and wide plantations. Factories/ Sugar Central are still in key cities.
The name Bacolod is an old Hiligaynon term “bakulod” which means “hill, elevation, bond of land mass or a high ground.” It was given by prehistoric settlers in Negros because of the elevated topography in the eastern section of Bacolod which is now Granada. Granada was the center of Bacolod in the colonial period, hence was named after Granada of Spain. Bakulod has semantic relationship with the Filipino term “buklod” which means bond.
Bacolod language. The language of Bacolod City is Hiligaynon. Actually, Hiligaynon is not recognized as a language but a dialect. We have the same language as Iloilo City and Iloilo province, as well as Negros Occidental, with the exception of some northern places like Sagay to San Carlos (w/c are a mixture of Cebuano already).
The distinctions. Some people call our languange as Ilonggo. I think that is acceptable, knowing the evolutionary nature of language. An ilonggo can be a person who is a local of Iloilo or Bacolod, or the language itself.
To be more precise, the people of Bacolod are called Bacolodnon. The people of Negros are Negrenses or Negrosanon. The people of Iloilo or Ilonggos.
If you travel during wet seasons, most likely you won’t enjoy your vacation if you are after the beach or some outdoor activities. Here are my experiences of the weather:
Because of the presence of the mountains at the central part of the island, the Westerlies or the Habagat winds are being blocked somehow, minimizing their impact. The mountains also serve as a blockage against storms which always come from the Pacific ocean.
Late part of May to Early August: So far this is the rainiest season of the year. It’s the wet season so expect rains, low pressure, tropical depression or even storms. But not all the time. Sometimes its cloudy and sunny. Storms may also come during the “ber” months.
October to January: The coldest months of the year.
Late February to Early May: Summer or the hottest times of the year.
Why I Like Bacolod
Even though it’s my hometown, the top reason why I like Bacolod is because she has the best of both worlds:
Urban and Rural. Within the city or within the radius, you could enjoy both urban amenities and rural restfulness. From the malls in the sea area of Bacolod to the mountain resorts of Bacolod, Murcia, DSB and Silay, you will find such diversity within the area.
Nature within reach. You don’t have to travel more than 3 hours to experience nature. 20 to 30 minutes from the city, you can already find greeneries that provide relaxation points. In the next towns and cities, finding yourself in Mambukal, Lantawan or Don Salvador lush with a cool breeze is not surprising.
Laidback Cities. You may even be surprised to find that some places in Negros are called cities even they would look like a relaxing town.
Bacolod Tourist Spots
Below are Bacolod’s tourist spots which I curated. Please note that some of them are located within radius of Bacolod which include neighboring towns and cities. I have classified them according to some categories.
Bacolod Resorts & Within Radius
- May’s Organic Garden
- Campuestohan Highlands and Resort
- Water Garden Forest Park Resort
- Grace Land in Murcia
- Mambukal Resort
- Punta Tay-Tay Beaches
- Resorts Negrense
- Palmas Del Mar
Historical / Iconic
- Negros Museum
- Provincial Capitol and Lagoon
- The Ruins (Talisay-Bacolod border)
- Balay Negrense Museum
- Pope John Paul Tower
- Bacolod Public Plaza (The Bandstand)
- Bacolod New Government Center
- Panaad Park
- Manokan Country
- Roli’s Cafe
- Masskara Chicken Inasal
- Inasal & Co
- Nena’s Beth
- Chicken House
- Dana’s Buko Cafe
- Sanders Coffee & Sausages
- Bar 21
- Cafe Molinos
- Lord Byron’s Backribs
- Chong’s Sizzlers
- Los Trez Amigos
- Eat healthy meals at BAMC
- Mercy’s Talabahan
- Diotay’s Pala-pala
- Ading’s Pala-pala
- 18th Street Pala-Pala
- Tolda Kansi & Talaba
- Coffee Culture and Roastery
- Twopans Cafe
- Cafe Oriental
- JG Coffee
- Kape Danay
- Chess Kapehan
- Rust Coffee
- Cafe Molinos
- Studio Cafe
- Kirk’s Kapehan
Attractions in Neigboring Towns
What Locals Usually Do
As locals, we visit iconic / tourist places when we have visitors but there are some things we usually do when we are just the ones around. Below are some eating and entertainment areas of locals. Things that are within the daily budget and where other locals usually hang around too.
Survival Ilonggo Phrases
Note: I crafted the translations as the daily conversational ilonggo words, skipping the formal versions I can see in Bibles.
- Good morning!
- Good noon!
- Good afternoon!
- Good evening!
- Good night!
- How are you?
- How much is this?
- Where is this?
- May I know your name?
- My name is….
- I would like to go to….
- Please bring me to….
- Where is the bathroom?
- Where is my hotel room?
- How can I go to….?
Ilonggo / Hiligaynon
- Mayong aga!
- Mayong ugto!
- Mayong hapon!
- Mayong gab-i!
- Mayo nga pagtulog!
- Kamusta ka na?
- Tagpila ni?
- Sa diin ni?
- Sin-o gni ngalan mo?
- Ako gale si….
- Gusto ko tani magkadto sa (polite)
- Paki dul-ong ko sa… (with command)
- Din gani ang banyo?
- Din gani ang room ko?
- Paano ko gani kakadto sa…?
Tour A: Iconic Places Tour within Metro Bacolod
- Breakfast at Sanders Coffee & Sausages
- Visit The Ruins in Talisay – for better experience, I suggest going before before 11AM before the intensive noonday light or after 5PM, just when the the sun sets and the lights of the archaic mansion turn on.
- Negros Capitol Lagoon
- Negros Museum
- Visit New Government Center
- Dinner at Aida’s in Manokan Country
- Eat dessert at Calea
Tour B: Eat with Locals
- Coffee at KKD or Kape Danay
- Eat at Chong’s – a rising tapsilogan and sizzlers sprouting key places in Bacolod.
- Hangout at Rust’s
Where to stay?
Here are affordable accommodations you may consider. I personally have seen them and heard reviews from my friends, so I only wrote what I can recommend.
Rates: Starts at P425/bed/night.
Location is at Roli’s Aracade, La Salle Avenue, Villamonte. Near University of St. La Salle.
Has good parking (for 8-12 cars) with a stay-in, 24-hour guard. Roli’s Cafe in front from 7:00am to 9:00am, 24-7 convenience store in front called i-Mart, Arendo Co-working Space in the same building, 711 in front of the USLS gate, Eclipse Gym, 24/7 Jollibee and 24/7 McDonald’s.
Contact Numbers: (034) 432 2663 / +63928-987-6003
Below is their Price List from their Page:
If your business is along or near the tourism district in Lacson Street, this place is good for you. It is not so near Lacson that it’s disturbed by the busy street, but it also not so far that you will get exhausted by the access of it. Check out here.
Starts at P745.
Bacolod Pasalubong Ideas
Food- bring a piece of Bacolod with you.
- Bong-Bong’s Pasalubong
- Address: So far the store with the most complete set of pasalubong that I found along Lacson Street, cornering 13th street.
- Original Piaya (tell your recipients to oven them for best taste)
- Thin Hot Piaya
- Egg Rolls – this is my favorite and I suggest you to try it
- Merzci- a rising competitor of Bong-Bong’s and also offers delicious treats.
- Mila’s- bring home buko pie, camote cake or bitchokoy.
The Negros Showroom
Located at Robinson’s Citywalk, Robinson’s Place Bacolod, Mandalagan, Bacolod City. Here you can bring a tangible piece of art or craft from the City of Smiles or Negros.
You can drop by Jojo Vito’s Gallery for Masskara items and other pasalubong goods.
P.S. Please don’t forget to share my work to your friends! I would appreciate if you drop a message and say hi so i can personally thank you.
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