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Why I wish I didn’t travel alone to Bacolod

Colorful masks. Genuine smiles. Authentic chicken Inasal. These are some of the words we associate with—yes, you guessed it right—Bacolod.

It was another awesome solo travel experience, although I wish I spent it with someone, with family, or with a bunch of friends, as there were moments that were far better shared. It was thrilling nonetheless.

A huge colorful mask on display outside a commercial building in Bacolod City.

Another thing that got me excited about my Bacolod trip was my first time to fly via Philippine Airlines, thanks to the promo fare that I chanced upon way back March, 2017. Roundtrip airfare for only P1,300 was absolutely a great deal. It’s not every day that you get to fly via the Philippine flag carrier for that amount. Plus, seat selection on the airline’s online check-in portal is free!

The hassle-free departure from Manila and arrival at the Bacolod-Silay International Airport were a good start, but those were just the appetizers. The main course was my three-night, two-day stay in the City of Smiles.

And the dessert? We’ll get there somewhere in the middle of the narration. Now, this is where I’ll tell you what went well and what went not so well during my solo trip. Dig in.

YAY

I ate authentic Chicken Inasal…twice!
Your Bacolod trip never happened if you didn’t eat authentic chicken inasal at the Manokan Country, the famous strip of food joints that serve the specialty in downtown Bacolod.

So, as part of my first night’s agenda, I headed towards the spot for a sumptuous treat after putting down my things at the hotel. I promised I wouldn’t miss out on that one, as my Bacolod trip was almost 6 months in the making.

Hotel room at The Suites at Calle Nueva
I was surprised to see that I got two beds in my room at The Suites at Calle Nueva. I’m not sure if it was upgraded, but I spent only P900+ per night on this one–with breakfast!

I found a brightly lit, spacious eatery where I settled. My palate and taste buds were rolling in excitement as I waited for the pecho and isaw I ordered along with two cups of steamed rice. While the waiting game was on, I concocted a mouthwatering mix of soy sauce, calamansi (Philippine lime), and chili pepper.

Authentic Bacolod Chicken Inasal at the Manokan Country

Remember to feast on the savory treat with your bare hands. Respect the chicken.

On my second night, I had another round of inasal. A funny and silly story explains why, but I’ll get to that later on.

I tried BongBong’s piaya right at the store
For those unfamiliar with the delicacy, piaya is made of unleavened bread with muscovado sugar filling. Bacolod is rich in thousands of hectares of sugarcane plantation.

BongBong's piaya

Besides being undoubtedly delicious, you’ll love BongBong’s piaya, because it comes at a cheap price.

You can also eat freshly cooked piaya at the store for only P4 a piece.

I marveled at a magnificent product of a disaster
Described as the Taj Mahal of the Philippines, The Ruins in Talisay City is a glory to behold. The grandiose mansion was built by Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, a sugar baron, for his late wife. Unfortunately, it burned for three days during the Japanese occupation, turning into an uninhabitable ruins.

But it rose from the aftermath of the disaster, becoming one of the most visited places in the country and now serving as a wonderland for the Instagram enthusiast.

The facade of The Ruins

And oh, keep admiring the structure while sipping a good cup of the café’s house blend coffee.

House blend coffee in front of The Ruins

I ate dessert at Calea
Calea Cakes and Pastries is exclusively Bacolod, so if you want to taste their products, you must go to Bacolod. I asked the server why they’re not branching out in Manila. She said that the owner doesn’t want to, because he wants Calea to mean Bacolod and vice versa.

A wide array of cake flavors await, but I didn’t hear the other choices after the server mentioned triple mousse. I ordered a slice and devoured it.

Calea's triple mousse

I drank cup after cup after cup of coffee
I started my first full day in Bacolod with a cup of coffee during breakfast at the hotel. Then, I finished a cup of Kanlaon blend—my second cup for the day—at the Museum Café (beside the Negros Museum). The third cup, as I mentioned earlier, kept me company while admiring The Ruins. It was 30 percent Arabica and 70 percent Robusta. The fourth was paired with my triple mousse slice at Calea. It was a good cup of mochaccino, although I regretted that later on, because it was sweet—not a good pair for a sugar-heavy dessert.

Kanlaon coffee

I got freebies!
The Museum Café in Bacolod City is owned by a Negrense and her Dutch chef husband. While savoring my cup of Kanlaon blend coffee, I happily engaged the server in a conversation that lasted for almost an hour. A few moments later, she served a glass of breadfruit yogurt upon the instruction of the Negrense owner. It was for free! I finished the yummy yogurt in a jiffy.

Breadfruit yogurt at the Museum Cafe

The conversations went on until I was given a slice each of two homemade cheese varieties. They were so tasty it felt like my taste buds were partying.

A slice each of two cheese varieties at the Museum Cafe

Joy filled my heart even more when the server handed me a pack of homemade cookies before I left the café. That was such a sweet heartwarming gesture.

I dined at the oldest bakery in Negros
Housed in a heritage site along Rizal St. in Silay is Negros’s oldest bakery, El Ideal, which was established in the 1920s. From outside, you wouldn’t think it’s open for diners. Inside, though, you’ll find a wide array of food items for sale and, of course, baked specialties. Nowadays, El Ideal is most famous for its guapple pie which, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to taste test, because it was being served only in the afternoon.

So, I just ordered native coffee (brewed coffee served with milk and muscovado sugar on the side) and a pudding.

Brewed coffee at El Ideal

NAY

I decided not to eat seafood
It’s almost unforgivable for me to skip eating mouthwatering seafood, one of the things I was most excited about before my Bacolod trip. I went to Diotay’s Eatery near the Pala Pala Seafood Market on my second night, but I backed out when I saw the weighing scale—just as I did when I was in Davao last year and realized I couldn’t finish 300 g of seafood. That was why I ended up eating inasal for the second time.

I tried visiting museums on the wrong day
What’s utterly unforgivable is not researching enough before the trip. Silay City is known for heritage houses-turned-museums. I planned the itinerary. I knew exactly where to go first and where to proceed next. I listed every heritage house I would visit. What I didn’t check was the days they’re open.

After sipping hot native coffee at El Ideal, I hurried off to the first museum on my list: Balay Negrense. I was anticipating the ambiance, the feel, and the picture perfect scenes I would find. But when I got there, it was closed

Balay Negrense in Silay City

I just shrugged and said there were other museums to visit, so I went to my second stop: Hofileña Museum. To my surprise, it was closed, too. I thought I wasn’t having the best of luck that day. Maybe, the museums decided to close to prepare for the big event that is the Masskara Festival happening in October.

Hofilena Museum in Silay City

I was busy taking photos of the structure when the owner of the house came. I was about to ask him why it was closed when suddenly, he said, “Did you know that almost all museums all over the world are closed every Monday?”

Blood rushed to my head. Suddenly, I was red because of shame. Truth be told, I didn’t know that for a fact.

I walked away, feeling a sense of defeat. I decided to rest inside the church. Upon sitting on the pew, I ran a search on Google about museums closing every Monday. I found an article explaining that museums open their doors on weekends because that’s the only time working people and students have got to visit museums. They close once every week for maintenance and rest, and the chosen day is usually Monday, because that’s when people are least likely to visit museums since it’s a busy day.

Moral of the story: Check even the tiniest bit of detail when traveling. Anyhow, I don’t think I wasted my time there. It was a lesson learned, and I’ll be back anyway.

VERDICT
There were moments I wished I wasn’t traveling alone, like when I wanted to go to Campuestohan Highland Resort, or to Mambukal Mountain Resort for more rounds of adventure. I didn’t visit the two, as I couldn’t stand looking weird and awkward while being alone in the midst of an adventure-filled park that’s meant to be enjoyed as a group.

Or that time that I wanted to feast on seafood, but decided not to, because I knew I couldn’t finish everything.

But that’s the beauty of not doing every single activity in one trip. There’s a whole bunch of reasons to go back.

MORE PHOTOS

Mini workstation/entertainment nook in my room at The Suites
The Suites at Calle Nueva offers great value for your money. Key spots such as San Sebastian Cathedral, the plaza, market, and SM in Bacolod are only a 5- to 10-minute walk from the hotel. That’s a great location right there especially if you want to explore downtown Bacolod as I did on my first night.

 

San Sebastian Cathedral
San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod at night

 

Entrance to the plaza

 

Photo with the server and the owner of the Museum Cafe
It felt great to experience the warmest welcome from people I barely knew in a place I was hardly familiar with. In the photo with me are (from left) Ate Weng and the owner.

Gazebo at the plaza

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