Bacolod City is the capital of Negros Occidental in the Western Visayas Region of the Philippines. The city’s famous annual MassKara Festival gave rise to the now-ubiquitous nickname â€œCity of Smilesâ€.
The center of Ilonggo culture is full of superb food, monuments, heritage sites and people who exhibit the best of what the Western Visayas Region has to offer.
Here are some notable items to check off your Bacolod list:
Fountain of Justice
The historic Fountain of Justice in front of Bacolod City Hall commemorates the Spanish colonial surrender of 1898. The area is now a vital recreation and civic space.
Photo courtesy of Kristone Bayoneta.
San Sebastian Cathedral
The central cathedral in Negros Occidental province is the most significant place of worship in Bacolod. Other important religious sites include the Carmelite Monstery and Monument to Pope John Paul II.
Artist Bamboo Tonogbanua’s festive Christmas Village in his home on San Juan Street is open to the public throughout December. The exhibit features 3,000 miniature items, all meticulously handmade by Tonogbanua himself.
A popular recreation spot with locals and visitors alike, Buro-Buro features cool natural springs and a man-made water park of sorts. Excellent for a day of family fun.
Photo courtesy of George Parilla.
The â€œMother of Festivalsâ€ in Negros Occidental is a massive annual celebration in Panaad Park with plenty of revelry, fireworks, local customs and handicrafts. Copious food stalls showcase the best indigenous cuisine and feature delights such as chicken inasal chicken, lumpiang ubod, piyaya and napoleones. Panaad Festival takes place every April.
Punta Bulata Beach Resort
Some 154 km south of the city, this beach resort has fine white sand on what is probably the best coastal enclave in the province. Schedule your visit between November and May to avoid the rainy season.
This festival lures hundreds of participants to don masks and parade through Bacolod. Held every third weekend of October since the early 1980s, the MassKara Festival brings a carnival-like atmosphere to the city and features concerts, cultural performances, art exhibitions, garden shows, beauty pageants, food fairs and many other events.
To get to Bacolod City hotels from Manila, take one of several daily flights from Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Alternatively, you can catch a ferry from Metro Manila and take a 24 hour trip to Bacolod City.