Bacolod City: City of Sweet Smiles and Entrepreneurs

My last blog was about Iloilo, and today, we will try to show you a glimpse of the beautiful city of Bacolod where the people wears a “sugar-sweet” smile.

Bacolod City is situated on the northwestern part of the island of Negros, it is bounded by the Guimaras Strait on the west, the municipality of Talisay on the north, the municipality of Murcia on the east, and Bago City on the South.

Bacolod is known as the “Sugar City in the Philippines,” it is one of the most progressive and elite cities in the country. Along its highway, sugarcane plantation is a typical scene, coconut and rice are also grown. The people are engaged in livestock, fishing and pottery. The majority of the people speak Ilonggo and the rest speak Cebuano.

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Mr. and Mrs. Federico Cuervo

The first time I saw Bacolod was when I attended the wedding of my brother Federico Cuervo and my favorite sister-in-law Amparo “Gingging” Bustamante Cuervo.

Bacolod’s famous landmarks include beautiful 19th century mansions of sugar barons, historical monuments and churches during the Spanish era.

The San Sebastian Cathedral, is located in downtown Bacolod. It was originally a small chapel which became a cathedral in 1933. The structure, made of coral stones from Guimaras Island was completed in 1882. Beside the cathedral is the Palacio Episcopal or Bishop’s Palace constructed in 1830.

The Sta. Clara Chapel in Sta. Clara Subdivision, features a large mural mosaic of Barangay Sang Birhen, a local version of the Virgin Mary made of 95,000 pieces of polished shells. The Stations of the Cross, the images of the saints and altar pieces are a collage 30,000 Philippine shells.

The San Antonio Abad Church, showcases national artist Solomon Saprid’s masterwork “The Risen Christ.”

The Provincial Capitol Building, was built in 1927 using the Neo-Roman architectural design of American Daniel Burnham executed by Filipino Architect Juan Arellano. In July 2001, Gov. Joseph G. Marañon initiated the rehabilitation of the Capitol. It was inaugurated on June 23, 2004.

They also have this colorful festival called the Masskara Festival which takes place every October 1 to 20. Local and foreign visitors get a chance to enjoy 20 days of merry making, beer-drinking, dining and street dancing. The symbol of the festival is a smiling mask that was adopted by the organizers to dramatize the Negrenses happy spirit, in spite of periodic economic downturns in the sugar industry.

There is also the ancestral house of General Aniceto Lacson in Talisay City. You might ask who is Gen. Aniceto Lacson is? He was the general who led the revolutionaries North of Negros which led to the surrender  of the Spanish Forces in Negros thus liberated the island of Negros from Spanish rule on November 5, 1898.

Don Aniceto Lacson Ancestral House Photo source: www.viajenegrense.info

Don Aniceto Lacson Ancestral House
Photo source: http://www.viajenegrense.info

Hence, Negros Day is commemorated on that date to honor the Negrense revolutionaries who fought against the Spanish forces. It was constructed in the early 1880 using Filipino-Chinese design with colonial Spanish influence, the farmland was bought from Nicolas Loney who first introduced sugar farming in Negros, General Lacson became the first and only president of the Cantonal Republic of Negros in 1889 and this house became the Malacañan Palace of the short-lived Republic.

Bacolod City was known for producing sugar before, and when the sugar industry crisis occurred in the province, sugar workers struggled, they then opt into livelihood projects and making bags, baskets or handicrafts that is now being exported to different countries.

I have my Bacolod friends one of them is Arsenio “toto” Barcelona President of Harbest Agribusiness Corporation and ITX DISTRIBUTORS CORP. He became also a member of Governing Council at Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquaculture and Natural Resources Research and Development and a member of the Board at Negros Economic and Development Foundation.

Another good friend of mine is Ms. Anna Balcells, born and raised on the beautiful island of Negros Occidental where she spent many happy and precious years, Anna Maria Claparols Balcells, at the age of 16, left for Barcelona, Spain, the land of her father to continue her studies and to establish a career. Soon after she arrived in Spain, she was shocked to see the great difference between this first world country and the third world country she had been living where poverty was so pronounced and widespread. With this realization, Anna found herself participating in projects in Barcelona spearheaded by organizations that helped the poor in her country, the Philippines and eventually Negros Occidental, the place of her place of birth. She became a Top Executive in a hotel in Europe but chose to give up her career and committed herself into social works.

In June 2007, after some funds started to come in to help the homes,  Anna sought the advice and help of some close friends,  who urged her to put up a foundation to ensure the continuity of her advocacy. Thus the Kalipay Negrense Foundation, Incorporated (KNFI) was born. The Kalipay Negrense Foundation aims to ‘bring joy to disadvantaged children’. It seeks to make a difference by supporting the causes of these disadvantaged children.

Ms. Anna Balcells with the children from KNFI

The children from KNFI with Ms. Anna Balcells in the middle.

I have so many beautiful experiences in Bacolod, and I can say that this place is where good people who always wears a sweet smile lives.

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