Bacolod’s MassKara Festival is coming up, and those who haven’t gone down there for festival weekend should definitely add it to their list this year.
There will be concerts, food fests, and street parties but the main event is a street dancing competition with participants clad in colorful costumes and masks.
This year, the fiesta begins on Oct. 8 and will culminate with a series of events on Oct. 28. Visitors usually fly in on the last weekend, which is enough time to join parties, see popular landmarks, and discover local favorites.
Below, are our recommendations:
The Ruins is known as the Taj Mahal of Negros Occidental.
It’s a monument of love. Don Mariano Lacson had it built for his wife Maria Braga who died in 1911.
Braga was pregnant with their 11th child when she slipped in their bathroom, causing her sudden death. Saddened by the incident, Lacson, later on, built the mansion in memory of his departed wife. It sits on a 440-hectare sugar plantation in Talisay, Negros Occidental.
The mansion was almost destroyed during World War II but left parts of the structure that eventually became known as The Ruins. It became a popular tourist spot when it was opened for public viewing in January 2008.
Aside from getting picturesque shots, there’s also a cafe where visitors can order authentic Negrense dishes while watching the sun set.
The Ruins is open from 8am – 8pm with an entrance fee of PHP100 (US$1.84).
How to get there:
- From the Bacolod-Silay Airport, travelers can take a shuttle ranging from PHP75 – 100 (US$1.39 – 1.84) each, or a cab for PHP400 (US$7.35) and ask to get dropped off there.
- From Bacolod City, travelers can take a jeepney (Bata – Libertad) traversing north. Ask the driver to stop at the tricycle terminal near the Pepsi Cola plant. The tricycle can then take visitors all the way to The Ruins entrance for PHP10 (US$0.18) each. They might charge at PHP30 (US$0.55) if it’s a solo passenger.
Campuestohan Highlands Resort
This might just be one of the most peculiar places people will see in Bacolod. The 5-hectare resort has a mixture of different pop culture icons from movies like The Hobbit, Jurassic Park, Pocahontas, Kung Fu Panda, and Jaws.
It has a panoramic view of almost half of Negros Occidental as it is nestled in the slopes of Mt. Makawili in Talisay.
It’s a bit of a walk which is why it’s best to carry some water along the way, but the cold breeze is a ton of help for powering through.
The place offers different activities such as zip lining, a rope course, a hamster wheel, sky bicycling, and horseback riding among others. Others can take a dip in the swimming pool too.
How to get there:
There’s a shuttle service that goes there from Bacolod City and back every day from 7am – 11am; 1 – 3pm at the Lopues East Imart – Caltex Gasoline Station Circumferential Road in front of McDonald’s. All shuttles have the Campuestohan logo on it. The fare is at PHP60 (US$1.10) each.
There are other islands folks can visit near Bacolod, but nothing quite like Lakawon in the Cadiz province.
Located just a few hours away from Bacolod, Lakawon is derived from the Cebuano word lakaw which means “to walk.” The island got its nickname because while it’s low tide, people need to walk a bit to get to the main island.
It’s a mini paradise with beach doggos to keep visitors company, one of which is a golden retriever named TawHai (nickname: TawTaw). He was named after the island’s TawHai Floating Bar, which is the biggest floating bar in Asia right now.
Travelers only have to pay an entrance fee of PHP250 (US$4.60) to go aboard the floating bar.
Travelers can chill on one of the bean bags, or sit and check out the scenery in one of the lounge chairs. Others can also doze off on one of the mattresses that overlook the ocean to get a complete island experience.
Pro tip: They make a mean mango shake with just the right amount of tangy sweetness.
The whole island is also keeping up with modern technology. Lakawon has a cash card that visitors can load up and use to pay for food and drinks on the island. Visitors can have the remaining cash refunded before they leave.
How to get there:
From downtown Bacolod City, head to the Ceres North Terminal. Get a bus heading to the Burgos Public Market (PHP105/US$1.93/1 and 30-minute ride). After that, get on a tricycle heading to the port (PHP120/US$2.21/15 minute ride). From the port, pay a total of PHP310 (US$5.70) per person.
Then wait for a boat en route Lakawon Island (20-minute boat ride). The boats are only available from 7am – 5pm so make sure to get there early.
Bacolod’s Chicken Inasal
Getting hungry? Chicken inasal or grilled chicken (on a skewer) is one of the area’s most well-known delicacies. Most visitors head to Manokan country which is a complex with stalls serving chicken inasal located along Fr. M. Ferrero St. in Bacolod City.
The indoor-outdoor restaurant Chicken House is also popular among locals and visitors.
How to get there:
They have a bunch of branches scattered around Bacolod City, some of which visitors will stumble upon just by walking.
Calea Pastries & Coffee
Negros Occidental is also popular for its sugarcane plantations, so dessert in Bacolod are always worth trying. Serving up a variety of pastries is Calea, which is known for its cheesecakes.
Pro tip: Their chocolate cakes are worth trying too.
Address:15th Street, Corner Lacson Street Balay Quince Building 6100 Bacolod City
The District Ayala North Point, 6115 City of Talisay, Negros Occidental
G/F Robinsons Place Bacolod, Lacson St., Madalagan, Bacolod City
One of the best pasalubongs (souvenirs) anyone can possibly get from Bacolod is the napoleones: thin layers of flaky puff pastry, filled with custard cream and topped with a sugar glaze.
There are tons of stalls that sell napoleones all around the city, even at the airport!
Perth Paradise Resort
Perth Paradise Resort is in Sipalay City which is a 5-hour trip by bus from Bacolod City. It has a panoramic view of a lagoon surrounded by islets which resembles a bit of Pangasinan’s Hundred Islands.
Best to take a dip in the infinity pool to see the edge of the majestic view of the whole place.
How to get there:
Perth Paradise Resort is at Brgy. 4, Sitio Sambulawan in Sipalay City.
From Bacolod City, head to the Bacolod South Bus Terminal. Get aboard a bus traversing Hinobaan and tell the driver to stop at Sipalay City. The ride is a 5-hour trip. A non-aircon bus is at PHP234 (US$4.31) each of which leaves every 30 minutes from the terminal. From Sipalay, take a tricycle all the way to the Perth Paradise Resort. Be warned that it will be a bumpy ride.
The Negros Museum was built in 1925 and is curated to promote a deeper understanding of local culture, history, and artistic practice.
It’s home to various artifacts and artworks that tell stories of the province’s past. It’s located on Gatuslao St. in Bacolod City.
It’s open from 9am – 6pm from Monday – Saturday. General admission is PHP100 (US$1.84), senior citizens are can get in for PHP80 (US$1.47), and students and children get a discounted price of PHP70 (US$1.29).
Address: Gatuslao St, Bacolod, 6100 Negros Occidental
It’s just beside the Hall of Justice and a 3-minute walk from the Provincial Capitol Building.
Mambukal Mountain Resort
The Mambukal Mountain Resort is a popular destination for both locals and tourists in Bacolod City. The 24-hectare resort features seven waterfalls, a swimming pool, a sulfur hot spring, and other recreational activities.
Mambukal Mountain Resort is in Barangay (village) Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental.
How to get there:
From Bacolod City, take a jeepney heading to Libertad Public Market. From there, get on a jeepney plying to Mambukal Mountain Resort for PHP35 each (US$.65). Trips start at 7:20am and run until 7pm. It’s a 35-minute drive from Bacolod City via a private car.
Make a MassKara mask at Jojo Vito Designs Gallery
Jojo Vito is a known designer and entrepreneur in the province. Visitors can design their own MassKara mask at the Jojo Vito Designs Gallery for a range of only PHP100 (US$1.85) to PHP150 (US$2.77). The gallery also holds mask painting workshops for curious learners.
Aside from that, travelers can purchase a Jojo Vito original mask for cosplays, masquerades, or maybe just to use at the MassKara Festival.
It’s open from Monday to Saturday, 9am – 5pm.
Address: #119 Kapitana Dicang-Alunan Avenue, Bacolod City
Of course, the actual MassKara Festival is a must-see.
This year, the main events will be held in the three festival venues: Bacolod Public Plaza, the Lacson Tourism Strip, and at the Bacolod City Government Center grounds.
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