Sweet Bacolod City
Travellers relish the split personality of the Philippines, with its interesting mix of Southeast Asia and Spain. Bacolod City is similarly split, being both the City of Smiles and the Land of Sweets – two things that you’d think would be mutually exclusive. So armed with high-quality toothpaste, travellers come to Bacolod City in droves to enjoy its lust for life and its culinary sweet tooth.
The city is dotted with historic trinkets, including the Iron Dinosaurs, a series of vintage steam locomotives from the early days of the sugar industry. A strong sense of faith is evident, with the Sacred Heart Church and Seminary a magnificent example of the strong European influence on the islands. Nature is equally well-represented, with the restorative Buro-Buro Springs a particular highlight. With all this on offer, it’s no wonder Bacolod City residents are so prone to flashing their pearly whites.
Bacolod City’s Top 10
10. Pope John Paul II Monument Dedicated to the late pontiff, who blessed over a million Filipinos on this very spot.
5. San Sebastian Cathedral Coral and cement foundations help this cathedral keep its rep for being one of the largest traditional buildings still standing.
9. Negros Museum Historical indigenous and sugarcane artefacts in a gritty warehouse setting.
4. Bacolod Public Plaza Bacolod City’s version of Central Park is a popular meeting spot for weekend excursions.
8. Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol Building The home of the provincial government is no less snazzy than its title suggests.
3. The Ruins The grounds of a sugar plantation burnt during World War II is a popular photo op for tourists and wedding parties alike.
7. Fountain of Justice The site of the Spanish surrender to Filipino forces is a gathering point for modern-day protests.
2. Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation Incorporated This conservation foundation includes rare examples of near-extinct local species.
6. Christmas Village Good things come in small packages at the end of the year, when this handcrafted miniature city goes on show.
1. Capitol Lagoon Park A favourite among local stargazers and writers, it is incredibly peaceful and the lagoon is perfect for relaxing beside.
Bacolod City History
- San Sebastian Cathedral – One of the oldest cathedrals found in the Bacolod City area.
- Palacio Episcopal – Built to house the bishops, but during and after the 1898 revolution, it became the hideout of Spanish soldiers and civic leaders.
- Sugar Museum – This place does not house antiquities or artefacts; instead, it has a collection of stories on how the province became the “Sugar Bowl of the Philippines”.
- Fort San Juan – A visit through these walls will let you feel like you’ve travelled back in time.
- Museu Negrense de La Salle – Learn about the history of the city when you visit this home to vital documents, rare photographs and astonishing artefacts.
Bacolod City Art & Culture
- San Antonio Abad Church – Famous for its crown-shaped facade, it is where “The Risen Christ” sculpture can be found.
- Barangay Sang Virgen Chapel – Be amazed at the unique mural mosaic created from 95,000 pieces of various shells.
- Paghimud-os Provincial Capitol Park – A magnificent sculpture, which literally means "struggle".
- Maskarra Festival – This is what Bacolod city is known for. Pamper your visual appetite with vibrant costumes and awe-inspiring dance steps coupled by the transcendent beat of the drums.
- Art Association of Bacolod Gallery – The art centre of the south. Various works of revered national artists are displayed here.
Bacolod City Shopping
- Bong-bong’s – You don’t have to worry about what to bring home to your friends. Everything you need is here.
- Negros Showroom – You will be amazed at the wide selection of local handicrafts.
- SM City Bacolod – It’s truly a one-stop shop. It practically has everything, from restaurants to fashion boutiques.
- Samodal’s Woodshave – Quirky souvenirs that are made from, you guessed it, wood shaves.
- Robinson’s Place – With tons of shops, you’ll definitely shop until you drop.
Gay & Lesbian Bacolod City
- Maskarra Street Party – Meet locals and tourists, plus the place is just overflowing with booze.
- The Goldenfield Commercial Complex – The locals call it the “aquarium”, mostly frequented by gays.
- Club Sibeeria – The hippest club in Bacolod City for non-stop partying.
- Mo2 – Located in the Golden Fields, it’s where the crazy stuff happens.
- Offshore Bar – If you prefer live acoustic music and something mellow.
Bacolod City Outdoor
- Panaad Park and Stadium – One of the best sports complexes in the country.
- Bacolod Western Visayas Clonal Nursery – Features different types of greenery.
- Negros Forest Ecological Foundation and Biodiversity Centre – Spot the spotted deer, the monitor lizard and other endangered animals that are native to the region.
- Rizal Centennial Park – Bacolod City’s tribute to the Philippines’ national hero.
- Provincial Park and Lagoon – Take a stroll and enjoy the park’s lush landscapes.
Bacolod City Sport
- A three- to four-day trek to Mt Kanlaon is perfect for the adrenaline junkies.
- Enjoy a close encounter with wildlife wonders and go bird watching at the National Park.
- Try the 18-hole adventure near Bacolod City at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club Inc.
- Burn some calories at the Pong Hang Badminton Centre.
- Grab a pair of trainers and your camera and embark on a journey to Mambukal Resort.
Bacolod City Events
In January, the Chinese community celebrates the spring rejuvenation festival of Bacolaodiat with both fervour and nauseatingly bright colours.
A festival celebrating a love of festivities? There’s nothing not to love about April’s Panaad sa Negros.
Commemorating St Helena’s finding the ‘True Cross’, the religious procession of Santacruzan is celebrated nationwide.
Local neighbourhoods battle it out in October at the Masskara Festival, each vying to be crowned the best-costumed district.
December’s Christmas Tree Contest is equally competitive, with 61 districts putting their decorating skills to work.
When To Go
Being sheltered from the monsoon winds means that the wet season in the Negros is not as excruciating as in other parts of the Philippines.
January and February are the most pleasant months, as temperatures are warm and the humidity is bearable.
Bacolod City is buzzing during Easter, but it’s hard to find a hotel that isn’t full.
Walking is the best way to explore Bacolod City, as there are many hidden treasures to be uncovered. Just keep in mind that jaywalking is illegal.
Jeepney travel is by far the quickest and cheapest mode of transport, particularly as most attractions are quite far apart.
Rental cars are a good way to explore the city and the countryside. The roads are well-designed and traffic jams are minimal.