Monday, August 1, 2011

Bacolod, Negros Occidental - July 2011

Date of Travel: 24 - 27 July 2011

Silay, now what?
Early morning chills. The magnificent open fields of sugar canes and mahogany trees and the view of the mountain regions and not to forget the cold baguio like air brought by the pending typhoon in the horizon, somehow fills  me and my wife’s lungs a new sense of adventure as we step out of the new Silay airport. Parang commercial lang ng Listerine... “Ah...”
So we made our way pass the people offering van rides to the city, dodging offers and blocking our ears off, not because we’re rude but because we have a different method in mind. Commute. Our Day 1 plan is to:
Take the tricycle out of the airport, eat, roam and enjoy the laid back scenes of old Silay.
Commute to Bacolod and check in L Fisher Chalet.
It was fortunate that 2passengers are already waiting at the tricycle so we didn’t have to privatize the entire ride.
 It’s a short 20minute ride or so to the main road of Silay (Rizal Avenue) also termed Hiway. Tricycle leaves full with 4 to 6 passengers, but you can also pay for the whole trip.  Fare as of July 2011 is P20 each. Ideal if you plan to wander in Silay before going to Bacolod.
To compare DIY vs Vans, P20(tricycle out of Silay Airport)+P15 (multicab to Bacolod)+P7.50(jeep from Bacolod to your hotel)+inconvenience of transporting huge bags, I say it’s fair enough to take the Airport Transpo priced at P100. But anyway...
It’s fairly easy to navigate Silay, well at least the places of interest, mainly the old houses.
 Standing in front of Dunkin Donut  which happen to be the only commercial establishment in SILAY (Well, before Mang Inasal showed up in the market area), street in front of you is Rizal Avenue.
Across is the Silay Plaza. To your right- leads to the Pink House, Market, RCBC and to the left- El Ideal Bakeshop. Beside the Plaza is the San Diego Cathedral. Two corners from there are the Hofilena House and Balay Negrense Museum.
Tricycle ride is minimum at P8 each, in case you’re not up to walking.

To get to Bacolod City(from Silay, take any Silay-Bacolod multi-cab, faster if BUS. Barker collects fare, parang conductor, so don’t bother asking your seatmate to please pass your fare to the driver. From Bacolod, safe to board off Robinsons Mall and take Bata-Libertad or Mandalagan-Libertad Jeeps depending on where you plan to check in. If you don’t want to feel like an tourist, To say “Lugar lang” means “Sa tabi lang po”. (or something like that). If they talk to you in Ilonggo and you have no idea what to hell say, I usually go “Tagalog lang nong.”
Active spots are commonly along the main road, Lacson Street or Downtown, near Manokan Country- consider those in settling where to check in as they’re usually near prime spots or food or transpo, making it less of a hassle to go wherever.

It’s been a long time since I last stepped foot in Silay- A place serene, and reminiscent of a past life. Old houses, simple day to day life and a dunkin donut along Rizal Avenue to spend a date in.
I’ve always liked the feel of this place. Old and laid back. I remember observing how people kill time at the Silay Plaza after church- old people on 1980’s church clothes, young people haunting for partners, manong photographers haggling for their next deal, street foods beside the plaza, a covered court and people jogging around the area early in the morning, its epically nostalgic. Like the time of voxwagens and frigidairs. That sort.

We were expecting we’d be welcome at least at around 9AM as Balay Negrense Opens at 10. To our surprise, they open any (respectable) time visitors are available. We were there at 8:30, morning.
Entrance with guided tour is P40 each.
One word, Ray PJ Avellana-ok thats actually 3. A descendant from the Hofilenas. Self maintained Ancestral house where unmarried Ramon Hofilena lives to date. Kuya Wilbert, our student tour guide, showed us Mons collection from Family heirlooms, collected artist paintings to National treasures. Very informative tour, just wow friggin’ awesum.
We felt welcome here. Straight from the airport, we have our Huge Backpacks with us, and one of the staff is courteous enough to offer a huge orocan container where we parked our backpacks in. They tucked it in-locked under the stairs.
NOTE: Communicate, ask questions and show interest, respect and acknowledge their efforts and lastly, be generous, erm.. TIP. These people live by tourism- when you want to acknowledge something, reward it so they will know and keep doing what pleases visitors the most.
Bring your Macro and Wide angle lens. I mentioned macro as there are some artworks that are best captured using a short distance focusing lens. Ditch your flash, as per management restrictions. Do you know that it degrades an artworks quality by 3days if you take a picture of it with flash? Besides, it comes out fugly, at least an F4, that’ll do.
 Rice Painting. Macro lens could have been handy, had I had one.
 Ray Pj Abellana, his own spot, actually an entire room of it.
 They also sell, Tektites as Souvernir. What? Go google.

Although we were 30min early to 10AM, we were let in. P40 outright entrance fee. No tour guides at that time (or none at all?), but interesting enough, looking at a couple of generations worth of belongings inside the house guided our creative minds to speculate and visualize life simple yet, back then, so grand and class. They have once limited people from taking photos inside the house as there are those who sabotage the oldness of the house with stories of ghosts backed up with photos from their visits. These days, they are lenient enough that we swore we could have gotten away had we took with us stuff from the Souvenir shop.
NOTE: By comparison, we enjoyed the Hofilena Ancestral House better- well maintained, interesting artworks and informative guided tour . Balay Negrense is degrading, tourism and structure wise. (2011)

A bakeshop known for their Pies, pastries and pasalubongs. Epic old structure-a place to cool down after touring the ancestral houses. Order anything with El Ideal, like El Ideals-Cheeseburger. That a say it’s a specialty. Skip the usual rice meals if you’re not that hungry.
NOTE: Service water is cold but tastes like waterpump water with rust flavour. It was uber refreshing with the “Gaaaaaaah what the fuck” after taste. Didn’t give me tummy aches though. 

Off to Bacolod...

Chalet (pronounced sha let) is just at the back of L Fisher Hotel, a cheaper alternative to A1 hotel accommodation with same excellent service and amenities.
NOTE: You can enter L Fisher to get to Chalet.
Free Wifi anywhere-they will provide you an auto generated and thermal paper printed login credentials for every wifi device you have and request.
Free use of swimming pool and gym-located at the 4th floor roof deck.
Free breakfast, Chorizo, Tocino, Danggit, Corned beef, choice of scrambled or sunny side up egg, coffee or juice, garlic or plain rice.
Huge room, with ref, programmable safebox, Cable tv, Water heater for coffee, pair of coffee cups and drinking water glasses, small  bottle of complimentary mineral water every day, spacious comfort room with hot and cold shower, retractable string to hang self laundried clothes, room phone and comfort room phone (yes they have one in the cr too, beside the toilet), every day cleaning and automatic change of bath towels, hand and floor towels, room is RFID secured. Only downside is, no Bidet.

Not awesome food, but the P100++-- meals are relief for a traveller on a budget.
We ordered Battered Petso, Bulalo Steak and Calamares. P450 with drinks. They also cook, dampa style if you’re into more demanding cravings and fetishes. Battered chicken used to be sooo tasteful and my tummy aint difficult to please.

8AM to 10PM Monday to Thursday
9AM to 11PM Friday to Sunday
You’ll go crazy with the wide selection of sugary treats you’ll find here. P100++-- for coffee or cakes. We tried the Mudpie. A cake slice of choco ice cream, sandwiched in cookies, sprinkled with cookie crumbles and finely sliced nuts. My wife had coffee, and she got me cold coffee with ice cream float.
NOTE:  Balay Quince, where Calea is housed offers free unsecured wifi. Yeah they moved just across L fisher from the old one beside the same hotel. Chismaks is that C3 (another L fisher business brudda) started selling similar stuff as Calea’s.

From L Fisher, we took the Mandalagan-Libertad jeep and boarded off UNO-R(Pronounced Yuno-Are-University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos). The corner just a little to the left of the Waiting shed leads to a Save-More grocery. In front of that is the Murcia-Mambukal terminal. Fare is P35 each and the one hour trip ends in front of the Mambukal resort mismo, no hassles-panis.
Entrance fee is P30. Walk straight, have your pictures taken at the huge Mambukal Sign and take the left path to the Food court. Start your journey there. If you’re up for a 2 to 3 hour hike, locals offer their services on a donation rate basis. You decide how much you’ll pay em. Make sure to bring rain protection-umbrella, water proofing and drinking water -Knee support to prevent injuries- although I myself didn’t bring mine. Don’t come here on your party dress as mostly, it drizzles here. Remember that hiking mountains require no disregard so always prepare the basics.
Other option is to go dipping in their swimming and sulphur pools or have yerself pampered in their Spa. It’s probably not the best time we’re there, as the Zipline and Boat Lagoon were closed -not so tempting by the way. Separate fees for these services.
To the 7 waterfalls we went.
The path to waterfall number 4 corroded in a past landslide.
You can hardly see waterfall number 5 but number 6 is just a stone throw away.

I can’t remember the last time I went animalistic with em Pecho’s with Garlic oooozzing Rice at Manokan, But I remember opposing that it’s a myth and is comparable to Mang Inasal. Big mistake. When again I returned and feasted with an experienced tongue for food, pare, Inasal at Aidas is just so tasteful. One serving of Garlic rice is almost like Fried garlic with rice and not the other way around.
Come here hungry. Order the same with what you see on Mang Inasals menu. Wash hands up as they provide utensils upon request only (keep hepa safe and besides everyone who eats here dines with no pork nor spoon). Order softdrinks. Order Baticolon. Extra Garlic Rice, sauce it up with chicken oil. Toyo with kalamansi and sili. Feast.

Mon - Thurs:
9:00 am
11:00 pm
Fri - Sat:
9:00 am
11:45 pm
9:00 am
11:00 pm

A cosier place to drink coffee and chow sweets.
Coffee with Baileys. Pampatulog na pangpagising.

Juaning messed up our 3rd day plans to go watch the sunset at the Talisay Ruins. Rain is all over and is not an ideal day to visit. We bummed all day at the Chalet watching the Dog Whisperer. At that point, the only thing we’re looking forward to is dinner with a Flickr friend, Anne. We met up with her at 21 Restaurant just a few blocks away from our hotel. It should have been a quick walk, but halfway it rained. So there goes the night, mood changed and we just wanted to flee the small rain clanging roof we got stuck in. When a pedicab (traysikad in Ilonggo) passed by, we took it, even when the resto is just a block away. Rain can be a relief for poets at times but a disaster to those stuck in the matrix.
We had to recalibrate our composures a little to prepare for Anne. It wasn’t successful enough so we mainly focused in conversing rather than take pictures.
I ordered scallops and my wife ordered steak. I guess this is not the best place to order em scallops. We heard of Aboys but it’s a bit far off the old Bacolod airport.
We headed to Bobs Cafe across the street just to let food sink in and continue with the chit chats. Anne offered to take us to Talisay before our flight the next day. Goodie!
 Manong Photographer, checkin' out teh leydies.
 Jehovas Witnesses, witnessed witnessing.

Had we gone here, DIY plan is to take the Bata-Libertad Jeep, and board off where tricycles line up going to the ruins. From there, ask the Tricycle driver to return and pick us up at a specified time.
After about 4years, this place has changed a lot. It has been commercialized. Back then you can freely see the ruins from afar even at its devastated state, a jem standing tall amongst the sugarcanes.  A bamboo fence guarding visitors from its huge Bermuda grassed garden. Unrestricted.
Today, tall fences guard the Ruins from being seen outside. Tough it offers a parking space at the back, they also charge P50 entrance fee. If you plan to bring a model for a photo shoot, they charge P500 for the first 5 photographers. You can see a souvenir shop in front of the structure as well as a restaurant inside. It has not lost its serenity that much but its disappointing to see how this place evolved.
Enough yada.
 Illuminati infiltrations. This structure aint here back then.

Bacolod city is a sweet escape from city life perfect for those who hate the beach and likes pastries. Small enough to wander about but not too busy as your typical Makati or Cebu. I'd return to Bacolod if I'd like to just bum around, probably do my usual Downtown to Lagoon early morning walks or probably even jog next time. They got rid of the Dunkin Donut-jollibee-size-store, removed its huge donut- mcdonald-like-arc (what do you call those?) and downgraded it to a small stall, but every time i walk that part of Lacson street, I still smell freshly prepared donuts, sweet and cold. Like a piper calling out the child in me to follow the scent. This place will always be special.

Accounts from teh wife.

BACOLOD TRIP – July 24 to 27, 2011 (Itinerary)

July 24, 2011 - Sunday

245 AM – 315 AM
Taxi fare, from Pasig to Naia T3

Terminal fee

Café France
615 AM

Arrived at Silay Airport

Tricycle from Silay Airport to Silay Plaza

Brekafast at Dunkin Donuts
830 AM – 930 AM
Entrance fee and tip at Hofilena House
940 AM – 1030 AM
Entrance fee – Balay Negrense

Tricycle to El Ideal
1045 AM
Brunch at El Ideal
1145 AM
Jeepney fare from Silay to Bacolod City

Jeepney to L’Fisher
1227 PM

Arrived at the hotel

Convenient store
730 PM – 830 PM
Dinner at Enting’s
1000 PM – 1100 PM
Calea’s pastries
1105 PM


July 25, 2011 - Monday

630 AM

730 AM
Jeepney to Libertad
755 AM – 855 AM
Libertad to Murcia

Entrance fee to Mambukal

925 AM – 1145 AM
Trail to 6 Waterfalls

Tricycle back to Mambukal

Lunch at Mambukal
125 PM – 310 PM
Back to Bacolod City
335 PM
Jeepney to Hotel
715 PM
Jeepney to Manukan Country
730 PM – 815 PM
Dinner at Manokan Country

Taxi to Felicia’s

Coffee + cake
930 PM
Fare to L’Fisher

July 26, 2011 - Tuesday

700 AM


Whisper pad (LOL)
845 AM
Jeepney fare to Bacolod Plaza

Paper bag at National Bookstore

Deco’s at SM Bacolod

Jeepney to Lagoon

Jeepney to Negros Showroom


100 PM

Back to hotel
430 PM
Late lunch at Crave Burger
530 PM

Back to hotel
730 PM
Side car to 21 Resto


Café Bobs

July 27, 2011 - Wednesday


Hotel accommodation

700 AM

1130 AM
130 PM
Lunch at Café 1925

BongBong’s pasalubong
300 PM
Airport Terminal fee

Kuppa’s coffee
600 PM

Naia Terminal 3
630 PM
745 PM


Php 2,225.00
Php 1,702.00
Php 1,661.00
Php 7,153.20
Php 12,741.20
Php 1,149.12

Php 13,890.32