For our final day in Negros Occidental we headed south for a change, and visited the City of Bago. Travelling between north and south are interestingly quite different, but like all other cities in the province that we visited, Bago City is also packed with history.
Because of lessons learned, we departed Bacolod City earlier and headed to the south terminal. There we were surprised that the buses looked much different than the ones that travel north. Anyhow, the trip down south made us realize how big Bacolod City is—it took us quite some time before we were able to leave its borders.
Arriving in Bago City, we were greeted by a prominent white structure, the Manuel Y. Torres Memorial Coliseum and Cultural Center. We didn’t stop here but instead headed on to our first destination, the house of Juan Anacleto Araneta, leader of the revolt against Spain and considered founder of the Republic of Negros.
The House of Juan Anacleto Araneta
His house was quite unique because of extraordinary height of the ground floor ceiling. Normally, the second floor has the higher ceiling for cooling purposes, but this house is different because it uses its extra ground floor ceiling’s height to accommodate horse-drawn carriages into the house itself. Pretty useful for days of heavy rain or intense sun!
Like many ancestral houses in Negros, this house is made open to the public as a museum. The ground floor has exhibits as the usual museum goes, but the second floor is just an excellent showcase of how well-off citizens lived during the 19thcentury.
Bantayan Park and Bago River
Practically just a stone throw away from the house of Juan Anacleto Araneta is Bantayan Park, situated along the riverbanks of Bago River. In a way, this park is much like riverbank parks in Metro Manila, except that Bago River is wide, alive, and has a beach! It actually looks more like an extension of the sea than a river.
The Rest of Bago City
From Bantayan Park we headed back to the Manuel Y. Torres Memorial Coliseum and Cultural Center area, on foot as expected.
Because we were extremely careful with our time so as not to repeat the expensive mistake of the previous day, we played it safe and headed back to Bacolod City for lunch and “pasalubong,” and later that afternoon to Silay City where we had a chance to revisit the ancestral houses and have one last meal. Because we were not pressed for time, we were able to catch the shuttle service for Bacolod-Silay Airport (fare only cost ₱50 per person), and still had some time to roam around and appreciate one of the best airports in the country. The airport is clean with good restrooms, has concessionaires for food and last minute souvenirs, and lots of seats! Too bad though that the air conditioning was broken and Wi-Fi services aren’t working when we were there, but on a positive note I was able to charge my phone from one of the handful electrical outlets around. I’d say if every airport in the Philippines were as nice as Bacolod-Silay, we’d all be encouraged to travel more around the country. I don’t mind the ridiculous terminal fees as long as we get decent facilities.
Finally, it’s that time to say goodbye, for real. I never expected to enjoy Negros so much as it was unknown to me. Also, more than the festivities, sceneries, and great food, the people of Negros reminded me that the legend of Filipino hospitality still exists; we were just looking in the wrong places. But as they say, there’s a snake in every jungle, so as much as we want to trust everyone we meet, we still have to be careful to protect ourselves—follow your instincts! If something starts to feel awkward or doesn’t feel right, stick to your guts and follow what you think is right because at the end of the day, that may be the one to save you. It may not always be the most practical way, but it’s never wrong to follow what you believe is right. Who knows, doing so may lead you to greater adventures than you expected!
To the people of Negros, thank you for your hospitality! I’m already missing you and I promise to return real soon! (I also hope when we return, we won’t have to deal with “non-metered taxis”)
* * *
The Piaya Chronicles: