Five Days Around Bacolod, Silay, Talisay
Instead of me going away and traveling to faraway places, I toured a friend who spent her five-day vacation in my home province in Negros Occidental, Philippines. It was already more than two years since I moved back home and I have somehow become familiar of various routes from one point of my city to another.
But, it wasn’t the first time for my friend, Alissa, to be in Bacolod and its nearby cities. She has been here twice or more. Thus, choosing the right attractions where I can take her had to be well thought of.
Showing off places of interest was both enjoyable and challenging. It was nostalgic to revisit destinations I’ve been to before and see some changes that have taken place, while it was thrilling to embark on an adventure and go where our feet (or my car, for that matter) will lead us.
Here’s how Alissa’s vacation unfolded, which you can also follow for inspiration should you happen to be in this part of the country. Since my province is known as the sugar bowl of the Philippines and is a popular destination for food trips, let me describe our adventure around Bacolod City and the nearby cities of Silay and Talisay like a five-course meal.
Hors d’oeuvre or Appetizer: Silay Heritage Tour (Day 1)
Morning: San Diego Pro Cathedral
Lunch: Café 1925
Afternoon: Balay Negrense, Hofileña Heritage House, Jalandoni Heritage House
Evening: SM City Bacolod
Dinner: Lion’s Park, Manokan Country
Alissa arrived at the Bacolod-Silay International Airport on a late Thursday morning. So, instead of going straight to Bacolod proper, we spent the rest of the day in the heritage center of Silay. Our first stop was the San Diego Pro Cathedral and I showed her the ruins behind the church, where the Blessed Sacrament is found.
We crossed the city plaza and walked towards J. Ledesma Street to get to Café 1925, where we had our lunch. It’s a tiny café with intimate space, ideal for some chit-chats. We took the table right beside the huge mural of Old Silay and ordered some pasta dishes and mango shake.
In the province, time seems to stretch. We took things very slowly and yet, there is still plenty of time to while away. After a lengthy lunch, catching up with the latest on dits, we strolled J. Ledesma Street, passing by several heritage houses, until we got to Balay Negrense. The good thing about this visit was that we were already allowed to take photos at the upper floor. Alissa remembered having been there at the heritage house-turned-museum before but she said she wasn’t really paying attention to the items on display because she went there with a huge group of our friends.
Then, I took her to the Hofileña Heritage House and the Jalandoni Heritage House, both sites are rich of important pieces of art and history. I have described both houses in detail in my First-time Heritage Walk in Silay blog post. There were new things I discovered even though this was my second time in both museums. The Silay heritage tour was a good start as we revisited the past that shaped the province to how it is today.
We capped our first day by attending the Feast gathering at the SMX in SM City Bacolod, our first time to come to this assembly, and a dinner at the Lion’s Park at the Manokan Country. Yes, a visit to Bacolod is not complete without enjoying a sumptuous meal of chicken inasal.
Soup: Talisay Upland and Negros History (Day 2)
Morning: Campuestohan Highland Resort, Guerrero Farm and Nature Park
Lunch: Rau-Ram Café
Afternoon: Negros Museum, 888 Mall
Dinner: Negros Museum Café
The next day we headed to the easternmost part of Bacolod towards its upland portion, Barangays Granada and Alangilan, until we reached Talisay’s borders and went further. We spent the morning going around the many attractions of the Campuestohan Highland Resort. There were new structures and amenities, such as the Raphaela Mill, the Indian Village, and the Shark Wave. But apart from the many activities and photo-worthy structures in Campuestohan, it was the cloud-covered mountain peak that really captured our attention.
On our way back to Bacolod, since we were going to the northernmost part of the city, I decided to take the road via Talisay until we reach the Bacolod-Silay airport road that will lead us to Bata. While we descended the highway I saw a signage towards Guerrero Farm and Nature Park. I made an inquiry a week before about going to the place but since I couldn’t figure out the map I decided not to include it in our itinerary. But fate must have led us there so I did the detour and entered a small dirt road.
Apparently, the path was too rough, too steep, and too narrow. I pitied my car as I went through the road. The funny thing was that when we arrived there, the farm was closed because there was no running water available. We didn’t even had the chance to go around the place, so we never got to marvel at it at all.
We went back to the highway and went on our way towards Brgy. Concepcion in Talisay. Portions of the highway were still under construction and most of the parts were rough road. After driving through the path with sugarcane fields on both side, we finally reached the airport highway.
I brought Alissa to Rau-Ram Café in Brgy. Bata, which is near to the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club or more commonly called as Marapara. Rau-Ram is a Vietnamese restaurant tucked in this secluded part of Bacolod.
We got the Vietnamese iced coffee, one of the best coffees in the city. We also ordered the Shrimps in Spicy Plum Sauce, Pomelo Salad, and Canh Ga Rang Me or Tamarind Chicken Wings. Lunch was truly enjoyable in this place because of the nice ambiance, the delectable food, and the great service. Alissa was glad that I brought her to this restaurant.
Next stop was the Negros Museum where we came to see more historical snippets of the province. By the way, did you know that Negros was a separate entity from the Philippines at some point in our history? Yes, we were once the Republic of Negros but it was only short-lived.
After the museum tour, we went to the nearby 888 Mall before we had our sumptuous dinner at the Negros Museum Café, one of the bests in the city, especially with its organic food. We tasted the Roselle tea that was harvested from Negros itself.
Salad: Bacolod and Farmers’ Produce (Day 3)
Morning & Lunch: Negros Farmers Weekend Market
Afternoon: Jojo Vito Designs Gallery, May’s Organic Garden and Restaurant
Evening: Our Lady of Perpetual Help Shrine
It was already Saturday and I really planned for Alissa to experience the Negros Farmers Weekend Market, which is open only during Saturdays and Sundays from 7:00am to 4:00pm. I toured her around the place, showed her the fresh produce of our province, and sampled the food while listening to soothing music played by volunteer musicians, the Acoustic Sonata. Ruby Cruz also had us taste her acerola-pineapple juice mix. Acerola, also known as Barbados Cherry, is a tiny fruit with sour taste. The juice was delightfully tangy, much to our surprise.
What luck we were in because while we were lounging at the dining area, we spotted my fellow Negros bloggers Sunshine Dacudao, Jojo Vito, and Mea Pabiona. I was meaning to bring my friend to Jojo Vito Designs Gallery as I haven’t been there yet myself. But not before we shared a sumptuous lunch at the Weekend Market, capped by the delectable halo-halo by Mea’s mom at the Desserts Plus stall to help ward off the noontime heat.
We hurriedly went to Jojo Vito Designs Gallery where masks of all kind, color, and sizes were on display. The gallery will even become busier as the Masskara Festival approaches. You’ll see a lot of these masks in October.
Right after, we went to May’s Organic Garden in Pahanocoy, the southern part of Bacolod, so that Sunshine can inquire about their buffet meals for a food feature in Jojo’s blogs. Their staff eagerly drove us around their farm aboard the golf cart, while they agreed to set an appointment at a later date for the food feature.
I have toured the place when I attended a seminar here so I was glad to see things I didn’t know existed there, like the rows of sunflowers and the other facilities at the old lot, including some meeting rooms and a smaller pool. By the way, you can opt to stay overnight at May’s Organic Garden to fully enjoy its amenities.
We went straight to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Shrine, or more known as the Redemptorist Church, for the anticipated mass. It is where the Bacolod chapter of Bukas-Loob-sa-Diyos (BLD) Covenant Community, where Alissa and I are members back in Manila, hold their weekly prayer meetings every Tuesday. I always show my BLD friends from Manila this church because there’s a huge BLD signage in front of the church.
Main Course: Lakawon Island (Day 4)
For this day, we met up with another BLD friend from Manila, but originally from Bacolod, Loida, who arrived the day before for a short vacation to visit her family. Since this is my first time to be at Lakawon Island, it deserves a separate post. Watch out for it in my next blog. 🙂 It will be meaty!
Desserts: Bacolod Sweets (Day 5)
Morning & Lunch: Robinson’s Place Bacolod (Fresh Start, ANP, Chikaan)
Afternoon: Calea, Bongbong’s Lacson
Alissa was bound for Manila at night. We spent the mornings shopping for pastries and foodies that she can bring back to her family and friends. First, we went to the Fresh Start store at Robinson’s Place Bacolod so she can see the different organic products that are locally made in Negros. I have visited the Fresh Start Organic Farm in Silay so I know that their products are reliable and trustworthy. They have stores and restaurants in major malls in the metropolis apart from the one in Robinson’s Mall.
Loida joined us at the Association of Negros Producers (ANP) store in this mall. The ANP members are those who participate in the yearly Negros Trade Fair (one is coming up this year in Glorietta). They were able to buy the goodies they wanted to bring as pasalubong (a Filipino tradition of bringing a local produce or item to friends back home). They bought muscovado, barquillos, and other local sweet cookies and candies.
I was supposed to bring them to Welcome Home Foundation Garden Café near Villa Valderrama. Since it was raining, we opted to have our lunch at Chikaan in Robinson’s so we need not leave the place. We ordered my favorites – the baked scallops and the kinilaw (raw fish soaked in vinegar).
Of course, dessert is something we seldom skip in Bacolod. Right after lunch, we proceeded to Calea at Balay Quince along Lacson St. We selected the cake that Alissa can bring to Manila while we ordered slices to eat at the café. I chose the Lemon Meringue cake, one of my favorites in Calea.
We walked to the next block at the large BongBong’s Store for more pasalubong items like piaya, barquiron, butterscotch, among others.
Finally, it was time to bid Alissa and Loida adieu. I brought Alissa to the airport. Her five-day vacation in my hometown has come to an end. On the other hand, Loida was bound to return to Manila the day after. It was a fun experience exploring my own land, taking along a friend to see the attractions, and revisiting places I haven’t gone to for a long time. I hope that you, too, had a sumptuous read of this five-course travel adventure.