Expats looking for a pretty smaller Philippine city with a wealth of amenities should definitely give Bacolod City a close look. We did so in 2008. Here are our impressions. We have been living in Iloilo City for nearly two years. Our Iloilo stay was supposed to only be for a month and then we were to go on to Bacolod City. We liked Iloilo so well we just stayed, but after this visit to Bacolod we can see that it’s an excellent choice for those seeking a mid-size Philippine city. Iloilo City’s expansion sprang from the core of an old Spanish settlement. Bacolod is newer and has a more modern plan with some wide roads and a more spacious layout. It also seems more prosperous than Iloilo City, its civic buildings and museums better maintained. It has also planted and maintained trees which grace its streets. I don’t know if Bacolod can match Iloilo’s medical care or educational facilities, but it’s certainly worth a long look. This account is of a May 2008 visit to Bacolod and environs.
BACOLOD CITY RESTAURANT TIP >>>: We had lunch at the Cafe Uma, 15th & Lacson Streets, just across 15th Street from the L’Fisher Hotel. (34) 709-9966. A very pleasant place to dine. The food was as good as we’ve had in the West Visayas region. We wish (for our sake) the Cafe Uma was located in Iloilo City!
We took the Weesam Express fast ferry from Iloilo City to Bacolod. Roundtrip economy fare is P210. It can be rough, take your Dramamine!
We’re told that income disparities are especially wide in Negros Occidental. We were taken aback by the number of people begging in Bacolod and Silay. I recall that there were also many beggars in Dumaguete, on the other side of Negros Island. I am rarely approached by beggars in Iloilo City. There are certainly many poor persons in Iloilo but perhaps most are too mayabang (proud) to ask for help.
Since I worked in the field of historic preservation, I have visited dozens of historic house museums. This one is definitely worth a visit. The building sits on extensive grounds. The house itself and the furnishings epitomize how to live graciously and comfortably in the tropics without air conditioning. What a contrast with the concrete boxes being built in so many Philippine subdivisions, concrete houses surrounded by high concrete walls, houses which were designed with little regard for the Philippine climate.
Our next stop was “The Ruins”. The concept of “stabilized ruins” is common in the United Kingdom as a way of preserving and interpreting crumbling hulks of old buildings, especially country churches and abbeys. Enough restoration of the ruin is done to help prevent further deterioration but without the expense of trying to rebuild, restore and maintain the building. This concept has been wonderfully implemented here. The building was a lavish early 20th century concrete fantasy of a residence built by a local sugar baron. The Ruins are on extensive and beautifully landscaped and maintained grounds.The road in is VERY rough but on the way out our driver found a much easier route through a residential subdivision. The location is actually in Talisay City, not Bacolod.