In a course of 4 days and 3 nights I dragged my father along Bacolod, Ilo Ilo and Guimaras. I was supposed to go with my sister and Manang Tess but the former has only a day off from work and the latter met an accident involving second degree burns on her foot. Scared of me going off alone, my father stepped up. Good thing he’s semi-active otherwise he would’ve killed me because of all the
walking commuting exploring that we did.
As usual I booked the early morning flight (4:40 AM HAHA) so we were already in the Bacolod-Silay airport by 6 AM. From there we rode a tricycle to Silay City proper. The streets were void of people but it’s a good thing that El Ideal Bakery opens early. My father liked their Molo soup.
The famous Guapple pie. Being the ignorant person that I am, I only found out that Guapple and Guava are one and the same. I like the taste of this pie because there was a hint of cinnamon but I think the filling to crust ratio is a bit off. There’s too much Guapple I removed half the filling. Still can’t believe it’s the same fruit that’s soaked in vinegar.
Most heritage houses open at around 9 AM, some even later. Hence, we killed sometime in the town plaza. A backpacker’s life I guess is not full of adventure every second of the day. Sometimes you find yourself taking a nap with your bags sprawled all over. Anyway, this was the motif of this trip. Either we were too early or too late for everything.
It’s nice to see that some of the buildings are being preserved in their original form (unlike Admiral hotel which was demolished under the pretense of a renovation). Recommended are Balay Negrense, Hofilena Heritage House and Don Bernandino Jalandoni Museum. If you have time, I suggest you pass by the City Tourism Office. During our walk around Silay, I met a fellow traveler named Jerika and she was such a blessing because she knew a lot about these kinds of things. How to appraise paintings and frames, how to know if a vase is an authentic Ming, etcetera. She recommended Ayala Museum when I have time because a visit would make me realize that we are one bastardized nation. We were not barbarians and we actually had a rich and thriving culture even before the Spaniards came.
If you’re wondering why there are a lot of mansions in Silay, it’s because of the town’s history involving lots of money from the sugar industry.It was the place where sugar barons built their houses without a care on how expensive the construction becomes. According to the pamphlet, Silay earned the title “Paris of Negros” and during its heyday, complete operas were imported from Europe and balls, carnivals and grand fiestas are a common occurrence. If you want an idea on how lavish the people lived, think about this: at that time, household refrigerators don’t exist. Only the extremely rich are able to afford to eat ice cream or have ice cubes in their homes (they were luxuries imported from Hong Kong). Well, the people of Silay import these ridiculously expensive ice cubes in huge amounts simply to put them in the middle of the plaza to melt just to make the temperature cooler. WOAH.
Sadly, some of the houses are not in optimal condition. According to Jerika, she read an article in a magazine where it says that the owners of these houses would rather let them rot than sell to the government for preservation. Ah, the pride of old money.
At around noon we rode a jeepney to Bacolod City. A bus is more comfortable but the difference between 100+ pesos and 13 pesos is HUGE. First stop was Aida’s in Manokan Country, one of the most famous places to get your fix of authentic Chicken Inasal. Too bad we arrived a couple of days after Masskara Festival. In hindsight though, maybe it’s for the best because I can only imagine the crowd.
After a whole day of walking, we rode a minibus to Mambukal Mountain Resort. The ride can take more than an hour because of multiple stopovers and it might make a city person uncomfortable because it’s the very definition of “far flung” but the view makes up for it. The place is under the provincial government of Negros Occidental so the rates I saw on the internet are within our budget. What I forgot to do though, was to reserve a room. Hence, this welcomed us. We ended up renting a more expensive room outside.
We left early morning the next day because we had to meet up with my sister who was flying in from Cebu. If not for her, I would’ve forced my father to stay in Mambukal for another day. This is the view I was talking about.
Before catching our ferry to Ilo ilo, we stopped by Hyskos Tulahan in Old Pala-Pala which is like Bacolod’s better version of Seaside in Macapagal. We had sizzling blue marlin and buttered shrimp. If I remember correctly, a kilo of shrimps in Manila costs around 600 to 700 pesos. In Bacolod, it’s less than half the price! Plus the style of cooking was really delicious all the other paluto restaurants I’ve tried along Macapagal are no match.
Again, thanks to my lack of direction, we went back and forth and weren’t able to utilize our time efficiently. Still, I find commuting more fulfilling than taxis because after a a dozen jeepney rides, I already got the hang of the different routes. Hehe. Plus everyone on this part of the country is so friendly they offer help with a genuine smile even if you don’t ask for it. Maybe it’s the lost look on my face but a couple of times, fellow passengers say, “Just go with me I will bring you to your destination”. Manila has made me so paranoid over the years that it’s a breath of fresh air to commute in Visayas.
Lizares Mansion in Angelicum College.
Netong’s Batchoy in LaPaz Public Market. Ted’s is the more popular and visible choice but skip it because it has a branch in Manila and it exudes the same vibe as fast food chains. Netong’s gives the more authentic feel (also better in terms of taste).
I did not encounter a lot of jeepneys in Guimaras so I assume tricycles are the preferred means of transportation. There’s a flat rate for renting tricycles and it’s pretty steep at 1,200 (or was it 1,400?) pesos. Just use your haggling skills to bring the price down.
Gas station 3rd world style. Most people don’t even know the color of gasoline.
The drivers double as tour guides and they’re the one in charge of the itinerary unless of course you’re a list freak and you want to visit everything. As for me, I’m weaning myself so I let kuya drive us to where he wants. Smallest plaza, Trappist Monastery (BUT THEIR MANGO BARS), Capitol etc. We asked him to recommend a carinderia because you can’t make my father eat in a fancy restaurant and he brought us to Galvez Kainan. It’s pretty decent and my father liked it so much he requested we eat there again before leaving for Ilo Ilo.
I’ve island hopped before but it’s my first time to fear for my life while doing so. First off, our boat didn’t look like it was in perfect condition. The motor kept on dying on the middle of the sea and it takes about 5 to 10 minutes of continuously restarting it before coming back to life. Second, my previous island hops were in pretty calm waters but the waves in Guimaras are wilder because it’s the open sea. Half the time, one of the boatmen was scooping out water from inside the boat. Pangs and I were drenched in seawater even before we began to swim.
SEAFDEC or the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center. This is where they breed and study different species of fishes and other marine life (they have a 20 kilo Lapu-Lapu!). Grabe, there are a lot of research facilities in the country. I just hope we are actually benefiting from them instead of us only teaching other nationalities.
Guisi point light house. Despite the heat (imagine how hot a metal can get under the noontime sun) and my father’s warnings, I still climbed the lighthouse. It was challenging because the pessimist in me kept imagining the rusty stairs giving under my heavy weight.
MANGO PIZZA. At first I only wanted to try this for the sake of novelty without expecting much in terms of taste but I was pleasantly surprised. It was unexpectedly good thanks to the ample amount of CHEESE. There’s something about this pizza that I can’t pinpoint. My father on one hand didn’t like it. In his words, “kung ano ano na naman inoorder mo“.
Looking back, I realized that almost everything that made me happy during this trip involved food. You will never go hungry in these places and you will never run out of things to eat that are budget-friendly. JD’s bakeshop is a perfect example.
Looking at this makes me really hungry. The price ranges from 7 to 12 pesos a piece. My favorites are butterscotch, revel bar and the one with popcorn. BUT EVERYTHING’S GOOD. I’m not really into pastries but I found myself finishing all the packs I bought which were supposed to be pasalubongs. Some things make you selfish.
Camina Balay nga Bato. 150 pesos gets you a tour around the house headed by the owner herself, Ms. Luth Camina (you learn that the number of rooms depends on one’s social status plus a demo of how the Maria Claras climb the stairs with their traje de boda)
Here we go again with food. Blame it on my upbringing but the only chocolate drinks I’m used to are Milo, Chocolait and other versions sold in the supermarket. I’ve tried Tsokolate Eh! from Cafe Adriatico once and realized I wasn’t born to like chocolate drinks made from real tablea. This one’s different. It’s so rich and thick and smooth. Plus, it doesn’t have the sandy texture afterwards nor the nakakaumay feeling. Perfect with bread from Molo Bakery. If chocolate came in this form, I’d probably be a lover. Before I left, Ms. Luth said that I should go back for dinner so I can try different Ilonggo dishes. Too bad I was leaving for Manila. If only re-booking flights were free, I would have gladly filled my stomach and spent All Saints Day there. Nasayangan talaga ako.
Rooftop of the Municipal Hall where you can see Guimaras and other prominent landmarks. You are not allowed there without someone from the tourism office accompanying you but it was chaos in the whole building because of a Trick or Treat program so I went alone hehehe.
Our flight back to Manila was delayed 3 times. THREE TIMES! We were spending October 31 stranded at the airport! Good thing there was an electrical outlet and a branch of JD’s Bakeshop inside (but they only serve microwaved dishes and only a fourth of the pastry selection).
And that concludes my most hassle sem break ever. I remember feeling really tired afterwards because it was Isabela from October 16 to 20, Cebu-Bohol from 22 to 25 and this trip from 28 to 31. But it’s okay because it sort of energizes me and gives me the necessary everything to face another semester.