Spontaneous. That was the first word that popped into my mind while writing this blog post. I’ve always wanted to go to Bacolod but I never had plans of visiting the place this year. However, that changed after SMART Communications sent me an invite last Wednesday to fly to the City of Smiles on Friday, 21st of October until the 23rd to experience the sought-after Masskara Festival.
At first, I felt quite anxious because I only had two days to prepare (Yes, I tend to be a worrywart sometimes). But later that day I realized it was gonna be my first time in Bacolod which got me really excited.
Bacolod, for those who don’t know, is a city located in the province of Negros Occidental. Every year during the month of October, this city celebrates one of the most-attended festivals in the country, the Masskara Festival. It is a festival of smiles where cheerful and colorful masks are worn by the locals to display the happy spirit of the people of Negros.
Here’s a summary of my three-day visit in the City of Smiles:
Since there were no direct flights from Cagayan de Oro (CGY) to Bacolod (BCD), I had to take an early flight to Manila then from Manila, I flew to BCD. I couldn’t sleep during both flights probably because of excitement, so to pass the time, I watched a new series I’m currently hooked on, How to Get Away with Murder (You guys should check it out!).
Upon my arrival in Bacolod, it was raining hard. Good thing, the driver was already outside waiting for me. Kuya Marian (His contact number will be placed at the bottom part of this post) then took me to the hotel we were staying at, GT Hotel. The airport was a little bit reminiscent of Laguindingan because it was quite far from the city proper. During the ride, I noticed that the city was very urbanized, didn’t have much traffic, and was relatively clean which made me like Bacolod even more.
I then arrived at the hotel and met my #SmartMasskara crew (Except for Mikyle since he arrived around 10PM). We rested for a while and changed to our rave-friendly outfits then set off for dinner before proceeding to Lacson Street, where all the street parties were being held.
We ate at Aboy’s Restaurant, one of the must-try restaurants in the city. They’ve got a wide-selection of different Filipino dishes plus they have this made-to-grill section where you choose fresh meat or seafood then they’ll grill it. We ordered so much that we didn’t even get to finish everything! It was also my first time to try oysters which actually tasted pretty good.
After the feast, we first dropped by the Smart Dome in Lacson Street since it was still too early for the party. There, we got to take some photos for the blog and also got to play with the VR headset.
A few hours later, we walked towards the #SmartMasskara stage just a few meters away from the Smart Dome and joined the hyped up crowd.
Around 2AM, we decided to cap off our fun-filled day by eating at Bacolod’s famous Manokan Country. It’s strip of stalls all serving the city’s best-tasting chicken inasal! I’ve heard a lot of people say that the inasal in Bacolod is really good and now that I’ve tried it, I can attest that it’s to die for! Indeed, a must-try when you’re here in the city.
I got up around 9 in the morning but stayed in bed till 12 because I was still tired from the previous night. We went out for lunch at Manokan Country (yes, again because it’s that good). But this time, we tried the one from Aida’s because Mikyle said it was the best of the best. And it was true, but for me both were equally great! Writing about this makes me regret why I didn’t bring some home. *flies to Bacolod for chicken inasal*
Now this is my favorite part of the trip. We got to visit the so-called “Taj Mahal of Negros”, The Ruins. I’ve seen some of my friends post photos of it on their Instagram and it always makes me want to visit Bacolod everytime.
Around the early 1900s, this mansion was built and owned by Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson for his first wife, Maria Braga who was a Portuguese from Macau. It was built in honor and proof of his undying love for Maria (since she died while giving birth to their 11th child) which took 3 long years of construction.
Why then is it called The Ruins? Well, during World War 2, Don Mariano and his family decided to leave and burn the mansion since it was rumored to be used by the Japanese soldiers as their headquarters. Since the place was made with hardwood, it took them days to fully burn the house down. For plenty of years, the remains of the mansion were left unattended.
Today, The Ruins is now one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines. It was through the owners who firmly believed that the mansion should be a reminder of the unfading love of Don Mariano.
It amazes me how this place is so full of history and beauty. If ever I get a chance to visit Bacolod again, this is one of the places I’d surely come back to.
The tour at The Ruins left us quite hungry so we opted to have merienda at Calea. Their cakes and pastries are really good as well! You know what, I feel like everything tastes good in Bacolod! For food lovers out there, you’re surely gonna enjoy this city!
We dropped by the Smart Dome for a few minutes then went to Pendy’s to buy some pasalubong specifically Napoleones, a sweet Bacolod treat that’s pastry-like filled with custard and topped with sugar glazing.
Exhausted from our afternoon trip, we took a nap before getting ready for the Homegrown Invasion that night. We got up at around 8PM and to maximize our time, we ate dinner at the hotel. They served really good roast beef but I didn’t eat much because I wasn’t that hungry.
While on the way to Lacson Street, I was quite sad that I was already leaving Bacolod the next day. I felt as if three days was super bitin. However, I brushed it off and instead thought of how fun Invasion was gonna be since a lot of people said Invasion always has the best parties.
After the party, guess what we did. I’m not sure if you guessed it right but we ate at Manokan Country again! By now this should convince you that the inasal in Bacolod is really good.
I woke up early even though I was having a bit of a headache and rushed to get ready. Good thing I already finished packing the day before, so all I had to do was take a bath and eat breakfast before leaving for the airport.
I had to leave for the airport first since my flight was earlier compared to the others since there was no direct flight from BCD to CDO. I really hope next time I visit, there will already be a direct flight both ways.
Currently, I’m missing everything about Bacolod most especially my #SmartMasskara crew! Shoutout to SMART Communications for having me on board this trip. Indeed, it’s definitely one of the books!
If you’re planning to visit Bacolod, you should get our driver as your tour guide/driver. He’s really nice plus he knows a lot about the city such as good places to eat or go to.
Here are his numbers: 0928-957-1334 and 0927-752-7955
Anywhoo, I can’t wait to go to Manila next week for Blogapalooza! Hope to see some of you there 🙂