Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The 24-hour Negros Escape: Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, Manapla

Negros may not have the mighty mountains of Sagada nor can its beaches be compared to the ones in Palawan but its sugarcane plantation in the countryside is amazing and overwhelming. Even from the aerial view, one can already see the sprawling greens of sugarcanes, and true to what I already know, Negros indeed is a sugarlandia.

Known as the Land of the Sugar Barons, Negros Occidental is a good spot to learn the heritage and lifestyle of its opulent residents during their heydays. We visited some of its heritage houses and mansions, and from the stories of the people we met there, it was like stepping back in time when these landed people were living high and languid. Before the sugar industry crashed in 1980s, we were told about their grand balls, the carriage pulled by mighty horses, and their other excesses in life.

Oddly, Bacolod City is home to the famous Masskara Festival which has its roots from, well, the sugarcane industry's economic downturn. It has become a celebration to encourage local poor people to hide their sufferings caused by the exploitation and oppression of the sugar landlords. The people used smiling masks to cover their grief, and it also symbolizes hope in times of depression. At present, this festival, which is held every October, is celebrated with much merry-making -- from street dancing, beer plaza, grand parade and contests. 

Paved roads and sugarcane plantations

A regular scene as we took the bus from Silay to Manapla

Trucks with loads and loads of sugarcane are a regular sight along the roads of Negros

Upon arrival at the Bacolod-Silay Airport, I've already noticed the air of affluence. The airport is first class, the roads are fast and easy, and the smell of the countryside just spells wealth. But these first impressions didn't last long. After my numerous trike and jeepney rides and my long and tiring city walks, I somehow left Negros with a feeling of sadness for the poor street children and the ordinary workers who are not getting their fair share of Negros’ wealth. I should be smiling in the city of smiles, but I could not get myself to because no one around me was showing the perfect smile that I was expecting. 

The new and modern Silay Airport. It is about 45 mins away from Bacolod City.

I was with my sister-travelmate Cha. Our 24-hr trip was combination of eating, taking photos, walking, riding trikes, haggling and asking for directions from strangers. I’d like to share bits of information on how we explored the cities of Silay, Talisay and Bacolod and the municipality of Manapla.

Places  we visited: 

Silay City-

Balay Negrense (entrance fee: 40) - an old mansion turned into a museum. This was the ancestral house of then sugar baron, Victor Francisco Gaston. 

Address: Barangay III, Cinco De Noviembre St, Silay City 6116

Phone:(034) 714 7676

Hours: Sunday hours 9:00 am–5:00 pm  

Caretaker of Balay Negrense

The marker by the National Historical Institute designating Balay Negrense as a heritage house

Interior living room

Silay Church and PlazaOne of my favorite churches. It's huge, grand and beautiful. Located at the center of Silay City, this church is named in honor of Didacus of Alcalá, the Franciscan saint more commonly known in the Philippines as San Diego de Alcalá.

It is the only pro-cathedral outside of the national capital of Manila, and is unique in Negros Occidental for being the only church in the province featuring a cupola or dome.

Bernardino Jalandoni House Museum- One of the old mansions that is preserved as a Heritage House. 

Another old mansion near Jalandoni Museum

Old Silay Post Telegraph Office - I thought how this place could have been useful when telegraph was still the primary mode of long distance communication.

Local scenes in Silay

Manapla City – 

Hacienda Rosalia (Gaston Mansion) - Sitting in the middle of a sprawling mansion, Gaston Mansion is one interesting piece of architecture reminiscent of how rich people then once lived. 

The facade

We spotted this giant shoe house. Kinda spooky. hehe

Chapel of the Cartwheels - Located inside Hacienda Rosalia, this small chapel is said to have been built for the farmers working there. What's interesting is how they have used farm materials to construct this very native looking church. It is made of cartwheels, plows, mortar and pestle, margaha sand and broken pieces of glass of different colors. It is said to have been patterned to look like a "salakot.

The  interior is made of local farm materials

Talisay City -

The Ruins (entrance fee: 50) - It holds the title as the 4th Most Outstanding Landmark in the Philippines and 12th Most Fascinating Ruins in the World!

This breathtaking piece of architecture is one of the main reasons why we took the journey to Negros Occidental. We've seen photos of it online, but nothing compares to the experience of having to see it in real life. After a butt-numbing trike ride from the main highway, it was such a pleasant surprise to see this beauty. 

We were toured inside by Roger, and learned a lot about its history. This was once the grand mansion of the Lacson Family, another affluent family in Negros. It was burnt down during the Japanese Occupation. It was not restored back to how it was once before, but the grandeur is still etched even in its ruins.

The best time to go there is at dusk, as the its hues change as the sun sets. 

How to get there (From 

Proceed to Bata (PEPSI bottling plant) and turn east. About 600 meters, you will see a cellsite above a 2 story building on the left. Opposite that building you will see a big sign that says "THIS WAY TO THE RUINS". You will enter that narrow street leading to Rose Lawn Memorial Garden. Follow the small red and yellow signs on the electrical posts which will lead you all the way to The RUINS.


Contact Number:
(+63 34) 476-4334

This used to be the chimney for the azucarera
amazing pillars

Roger, the very nice and informative guide of The Ruins

Bacolod City - 

San Sebastian Cathedral/ Cathedral of Bacolod - This present cathedral was built from 1876-85.  The coral stone church, now covered with a thin layer of cement, is classical. "The slender bell towers flanking the facade give an eastern European look to the church. The entrance to the church is through a portio composed of three arches of equal dimensions. Flanking the main door is a statue of the church builder Fr. Ferrero. The church interior is simple, its pleasing appearance comes about because of the pleasing modulation of arches and pillars rather than ornamentation."

The facade 

Negros Museum - This child-friendly museum showcases the history and culture of Negros. It tells the story of the local people, the leaders who ruled the province and mostly how sugar became part of the lives of the people there.

The Negros Museum is open from 10am - 7pm Tuesdays to Sundays.

Entrance Fees:

General Admission - Php 50.00
Senior Citizens - Php 40.00
Students and Children - Php 20.00

Address: Former Agricultural Building, Gatuslao Street, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines.

How to get to The Negros Museum:

Landmarks would be the Provincial Capitol Building of Negros Occidental and the Hall of Justice. We are just located beside the Hall of Justice and a 3-min walk from the Provincial Capitol Building.

+6334 4334764
+6334 7085080
+6334 4319451


Portraits of former governors of Negros Occidental

Provincial Capitol Building, Park and Lagoon - the capitol building has the remarkable neoclassical architecture, while the park and lagoon are ideal places to relax and stroll around.

The capitol lagoon

Central Market and Negros Showroom - This is where we bought souvenirs. They also have on display local handicrafts and masks for sale.

Cha and I infront the hundreds of mask on display


Manukan Country (near SM-Bacolod) - a must-visit place if you want to have an authentic chicken inasal and barbeque experience. 

Calea (Beside L’Fisher - Bacolod) - must-try cakes! Delicious!

Bongbong's pasalubong ( at the airport or at SM- Bacolod) - must not go home without buying these yummy treats from Bacolod.

Chicken House (near ABS-CBN Bacolod) - another good place to try chicken inasal.

Merci (at SM) - their sweets confections are to die for. We brought home this yummy napoleones. :)

El Ideal (near Silay Plaza) - Cha and I sampled some local snacks in this small rustic carenderia in Silay. Namit gid! :)

Overnight stay: Saltimboca Pension House. It’s reasonably priced, good breakfast and the ambiance is quaint.

Roadtrip Notes: 

  • The jeepney fare around Bacolod is only P7 (2010). 
  • The One-stop buses of Ceres Transport have selected loading/unloading areas. 
  • There are not so many pedestrian lanes around Bacolod City so crossing the road was a hassle. 
  • Walks around Bacolod City at night may not be the safest. Always be on guard. 

Overall, our Negros Occidental experience is all worth it. Great food and charming mansions, chapel and cathedrals! 

(Oct 5-6, 2010)


  1. Replies
    1. kulang.

      You did not even mention sipalay, Buenos Airis in Bago City, the capitol lagoon, Punta Bulata etc...

    2. Hi Joy,

      That was just a 24 hour visit to Negros Occidental. So since pressed with time, we were not able to see the places you've mentioned. But we are hoping to come back again to explore other areas in the province that we've not been, as well as to experience the MassKara festival. :)

  2. yah correct Mambucal pa gid wla nila na kadtoan..buenus aires..twin falls...kag damu pa hehe....

  3. Hi! My friend and I (in our 50's and 60's) will be in Bacolod for a day so I'm wondering if the order of the places you visited is your actual itinerary. How did you go about going from one place to the other in terms of transport? Like from Airport to Balay Negrense, Balay Negrense to Silay Church and Plaza... to Manapla City... to Talisay... then Bacolod City. Would appreciate your inputs. Thank you for your help!


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