Bacolod, Philippines

Sweet Philippines

Seeing Life Pass
Visitors on the balcony of the Balay Negrense museum.
Bernardino Jalandoni's Ancestral House in Bacolod.
Line of tricycles, Bacolod
Row of trycicles is the livelihood of many residents of Bacolod, as well as the Philippines in general.
very Angry Christ
Altar of Angry Jesus Church, Vitoria City, Bacolod.
outdoor clinic
Healer attends a baby on a street in Bacolod.
Cathedral of San Sebastian, Bacolod
Cathedral of San Sebastian in the historic heart of Bacolod.
Children play mini-snooker on a street in Bacolod, the capital of Negros Occidental.
Christian Core of Bacolod
Facade of San Diego Cathedral in Silay, Bacolod.
Above all
The gleaming dome of the Cathedral of San Diego in Silay.
Bacolod is the capital of Negros, the island at the center of Philippine sugar cane production. Traveling through the Far East and between history and contemporaneity, we savor the fascinating heart of the most Latin of Asia.

Having just disembarked from the ferry that connects the island of Iloilo to the main town of Negros, we went straight to lunch at a buffet with traditional food from a shopping center in Bacolod.

We were famished and, accordingly, immersed in what we had brought on our plates. Betsy Gazo, the native guide who would accompany us throughout the days, was unfazed. Betsy, is – we have no doubt now – one of the most proud citizens of Bacolod in her city and eager for visitors to admire her for the much she had to praise.

Even so, armed with maps and pamphlets, Betsy serves us the thoughtful suggestion of the itinerary she had outlined. We make an effort to keep up with their cascades of reasoning, all too often in vain, lost among the gastronomic delights of the meal and successive and inevitable thematic detours.

We didn't see Betsy disarm. As we never saw her lose the focus of the mission to reveal to us what in Bacolod most dazzled her.

Negros is the fourth largest island in the vast Philippines. By far the supreme of the Visaya sub-group we continued to explore.

The Families and Historical Mansions of Negros

Outstanding among its historical treasures are the mansions built by wealthy families, some of these families with Hispanic names, others pre-Hispanic: the Lopez, the Ledesma, the Locsin. Still others are the result of strategic mergers carried out, such as Locsin-Ledesma.

Over the decades, several of its old homes have been restored, improved and turned into small museums. On the opposite pole, many others found themselves doomed to an abandonment that Betsy was hard to see.

After lunch, the guide took us and Michael – the guide who accompanied us wherever we went in the Philippines – to one of these last cases. "Well, I'll just give a little push here and it should be resolved, this has owners but I'm sure they wouldn't mind our visit, quite the opposite."

Visiting Malacañang Palace

We pass through a badly closed iron gate. In front, a mansion with a base of bricks with carved stone ornaments shines. Malacañang Palace, as it became known, is considered the first Presidential Residence in the Philippines.

It was erected by General Aniceto Lacson during the 1880s, in a style called “bahay na bato", with the simple translation of Casa de Pedra.

At a time when many Filipinos had had enough without returning to the impositions of the Spanish Crown, Aniceto Lacson took the dissatisfaction to another level. Part of a regional group of insurgents, led the revolt katipunera (anti-Hispanic) general of the Isle of Negros against the colonial garrison of Bacolod, November 5, 1898. Spanish forces were quick to surrender.

During the hangover, Aniceto Lacson was appointed president of the newly formed República de Negros. He established his presidency's office in that same mansion that we admired, first from the outside, shortly afterwards, in its unfurnished interior and from the panoramic balcony that goes around the upper floor.

Throughout the 1970th century, until XNUMX, the mansion was inhabited by a succession of children and grandchildren of Aniceto Lacson. That year, as happens every year in the Philippines, the typhoons came into action. One in particular ravaged Negros and damaged the building's roof.

Lacson's descendants still pondered his reparation but, faced with the magnitude of the damage, were forced to abandon him. The Malacañang Palace entered a process of degradation that devastated Betsy.

To his satisfaction, in 2002 a foundation of co-owners bent on raising funds for restoration was formed. When we went around, it was far from finished.

Balay Negrense Museum, Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Philippines

Visitors on the balcony of the Balay Negrense museum.

The Victor Fernandez Gaston Ancestral House…

Betsy's plans dictated that, until the sun settled on her bed off the Strait of Guimaras, we would still visit another old but resplendent home, the Victor Fernandez Gaston Ancestral House.

Victor Gaston was the son of a Norman named Yves Leopold Germain Gaston, who proved to be one of the pioneers of sugarcane cultivation in these parts of the Philippines. The construction of the house took place in 1897, when Victor Baston was still living in his father's house, a certain Hacienda Buen Retiro.

During this same period, his wife died. The house was completed in time to accommodate the widower and his twelve children from 1901 until his death in 1927, the year in which the family no longer lived there. Completely abandoned in 1970, it began to deteriorate.

Unlike what happened with Aniceto Lacson's Malacañang Palace, its restoration has generated one of the most valuable cultural heritages in Negros. One of the heirs, Father Monsignor Guillermo Ma. Gaston, decided to donate it to the Philippines Tourism Authority.

This Authority used its national fundraising capacity, including state-owned funds, and invested five million Philippine pesos (around one hundred thousand euros) to repair and furnish it with period props and furniture. That purpose achieved, he transformed the mansion into the Balay Negrense museum, which we entertain ourselves to examine.

… Now, Balay Negrense Museum of Bacolod

The museum displays a near-living example of the home and lifestyle of a Negro sugar baron. It rests on Filipino hardwood foundations. balayong, and the long, wide, and thick floorboards were cut from the same material.

The upper floor appears covered with a roof of galvanized iron instead of tiles, according to indications released by the authorities in Manila, in the wake of the earthquakes that devastated several locations on the mother island of Luzon.

With quiet and secure Negros, we enjoyed the upper hall of the museum house in all its fresh splendor. A couple of lovers who were visiting her simultaneously arrives at the arched triple window and peers at the lushly landscaped Silay scenery in front of them, under a centuries-old lamp with warm light.

Outside, the sun was about to go out. We were already using the last energy of the day so, moments later, we retired to the modernized shelter of the hotel where we were staying.

The Masskara Festival and the Real Life of Bacolod

We arrived on the Sunday determined for the Masskara Festival, a kind of Carnival created to liven up the city and the island after the tragic sinking of the M/S Don Juan ferry. Little by little, Bacolod comes to life.

As the participants prepared for the masked and bouncy madness of the event, we followed Betsy on yet another series of surgical twists and forays into local life. Under the archway of one of the city's streets, an elderly healer sees patients of all ages.

Healer, Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Philippines

Healer attends a baby on a street in Bacolod.

We have slight back pains, almost unavoidable from time to time due to the weight of the photo backpacks we carry.

More curious about that open-air office than in need, we put ourselves in line, beside a bench used by the weakest patients and a stall full of vials of oils, homemade medicines and the like.

The lady is mainly a pediatrician, but she assists one or another adult with ailments that she dominates. When he finds out what we were complaining about, he enlists the services of a chiropractor who, for the sake of our sins, shies away from radical treatments.

The Taj Mahal of Blacks

Next, we visit the Talisay Ruins, called the “Taj Mahal of Blacks”, what remains of a mansion built by Philippine sugar baron Mariano Ledesma Lacson in honor of his Macanese-Portuguese wife Maria Braga Lacson, who died in a domestic accident while pregnant with the couple's eleventh child.

On the way to what is left of this other mansion burned down by the Filipino resistance to prevent its occupation by the Japanese in World War II, we crossed one of the sugar cane plantations as far as the eye can see of the island.

A group of young workers cut cane under the tropical sun. Others carry it on top of a lorry box already half full of withered stems.

The Historical and Artisanal Production of Sugarcane

Betsy is moved: “Incredibly, sugarcane is still cut like this around here. And we still have people like them: so poor that they accept to work from sunrise to sunset to earn a measly peso.”

Centuries after the introduction of sugar cane on the island into the hands of Arab merchants who brought the plant from the Celebes, some time less since the expansion and improvement of the cultivation enriched several of the island's owner families, Negros' economy has evolved. and diversified.

Still, Negros is the largest producer and exporter of sugar in the Philippines, the nation, in turn, the world's ninth producer of this raw material. But it's not just sugar. A large refinery located in Cadiz, guarantees the production of a good series of derivatives: acetylene, fertilizers and even rum.

Later in the afternoon, we return to Silay. Betsy takes us to the top of a building that houses the city's state services. We pass through a series of rooms and offices.

Panoramic Expedition to a Bacolod State Terrace

On the terrace that closed the floors of the building, we admire the green urbanity of the center of that kind of sub-city of Bacolod, with the silver dome of the San Diego Pro cathedral, well highlighted from the life below: that of the conductors of t.Ricycles who roam it without rest.

Trycicles, Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Filipinos

Row of trycicles is the livelihood of many residents of Bacolod, as well as the Philippines in general.

That of teenagers engaged in a basketball game, that of gardeners who water and trim the vegetation at Silay Public Plaza.

Since early morning, we have been given over to the cultural and historical criteria of Betsy Gatso. Possessed by a beneficent spirit of mission, Betsy asks us to use our last energies, to use them in a last trip to a place completely different from the previous ones and that promised not to disappoint us.

We traveled about 20km to the south, almost always on the edge of the Strait of Guimaras. In three-quarters of an hour, we moved from Silay to nearby Victorias City.

At Betsy's orders, the driver drops us off at the door of a St. Joseph the Worker Chapel which we find empty. “I've come to realize that they aren't exactly devout Christians, much less blessed. Better that way. Get ready, you're going to have a big surprise.”

Victoria City's Controversial Angry Jesus

We entered the church's modern nave. Immediately, we only realized that the altar would be the most colorful and exuberant we had ever seen. We calibrate the view and approach.

Angry Jesus Church, Victoria City, Bacolod, Philippines

Altar of Angry Jesus Church, Vitoria City, Bacolod.

Before our eyes, scarlet hands hold with open arms a Christ with fulminating blue eyes and a heart tormented by thorns and fire. Angry, as we didn't know was possible, that messiah seemed to judge us ahead of time.

We confront him for a moment, until Betsy gives in to her anxiety again and clarifies for us how much there was to clarify.

“If you want it to be honest, I'm not even sure how this was possible in Negros and the Philippines in general, where the Church is so conservative. The truth is that it is here and I have enormous admiration for this work.”

The painting in question, created by the Filipino-American abstract artist Alfonso A. Ossorio did justice to the sacro-modern and anti-earthquake architecture of the Czech architect Antonín Raymond. Both were ordered by the largest sugar company in the Philippines, Victorias Milling Company.

The company's relative religious autonomy from the Church gave rise to artistic whim, but, as Betsy confirms, “the strictest Catholic faction in Manila was not amused and tried worlds and funds to have the painting removed. To date in vain.”

In the Sugar Philippines, open-mindedness and the sweetness of character have been above all for centuries.

Bacolod, Philippines

A Festival to Laugh at Tragedy

Around 1980, the value of sugar, an important source of wealth on the Philippine island of Negros, plummeted and the ferry “Don Juan” that served it sank and took the lives of more than 176 passengers, most of them from Negrès. The local community decided to react to the depression generated by these dramas. That's how MassKara arose, a party committed to recovering the smiles of the population.
Talisay City, Philippines

Monument to a Luso-Philippine Love

At the end of the 11th century, Mariano Lacson, a Filipino farmer, and Maria Braga, a Portuguese woman from Macau, fell in love and got married. During the pregnancy of what would be her 2th child, Maria succumbed to a fall. Destroyed, Mariano built a mansion in his honor. In the midst of World War II, the mansion was set on fire, but the elegant ruins that endured perpetuate their tragic relationship.
Batad, Philippines

The Terraces that Sustain the Philippines

Over 2000 years ago, inspired by their rice god, the Ifugao people tore apart the slopes of Luzon. The cereal that the indigenous people grow there still nourishes a significant part of the country.
Bohol, Philippines

Other-wordly Philippines

The Philippine archipelago spans 300.000 km² of the Pacific Ocean. Part of the Visayas sub-archipelago, Bohol is home to small alien-looking primates and the extraterrestrial hills of the Chocolate Hills.
Coron, Busuanga, Philippines

The Secret but Sunken Japanese Armada

In World War II, a Japanese fleet failed to hide off Busuanga and was sunk by US planes. Today, its underwater wreckage attract thousands of divers.

When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

Banned in much of the First World, cockfighting thrives in the Philippines where they move millions of people and pesos. Despite its eternal problems, it is the sabong that most stimulates the nation.
Marinduque, Philippines

The Philippine Passion of Christ

No nation around is Catholic but many Filipinos are not intimidated. In Holy Week, they surrender to the belief inherited from the Spanish colonists. Self-flagellation becomes a bloody test of faith
Marinduque, Philippines

When the Romans Invade the Philippines

Even the Eastern Empire didn't get that far. In Holy Week, thousands of centurions seize Marinduque. There, the last days of Longinus, a legionary converted to Christianity, are re-enacted.
Vigan, Philippines

Vigan: the Most Hispanic of Asias

The Spanish settlers left but their mansions are intact and the Kalesas circulate. When Oliver Stone was looking for Mexican sets for "Born on the 4th of July" he found them in this ciudad fernandina

The Philippine Road Lords

With the end of World War II, the Filipinos transformed thousands of abandoned American jeeps and created the national transportation system. Today, the exuberant jeepneys are for the curves.
Hungduan, Philippines

Country Style Philippines

The GI's left with the end of World War II, but the music from the interior of the USA that they heard still enlivens the Cordillera de Luzon. It's by tricycle and at your own pace that we visit the Hungduan rice terraces.
El Nido, Philippines

El Nido, Palawan: The Last Philippine Frontier

One of the most fascinating seascapes in the world, the vastness of the rugged islets of Bacuit hides gaudy coral reefs, small beaches and idyllic lagoons. To discover it, just one fart.
Esteros del Iberá, Pantanal Argentina, Alligator
Iberá Wetlands, Argentina

The Pantanal of the Pampas

On the world map, south of the famous brazilian wetland, a little-known flooded region appears, but almost as vast and rich in biodiversity. the Guarani expression Y bera defines it as “shining waters”. The adjective fits more than its strong luminance.
Braga or Braka or Brakra in Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 6th – Braga, Nepal

The Ancient Nepal of Braga

Four days of walking later, we slept at 3.519 meters from Braga (Braka). Upon arrival, only the name is familiar to us. Faced with the mystical charm of the town, arranged around one of the oldest and most revered Buddhist monasteries on the Annapurna circuit, we continued our journey there. acclimatization with ascent to Ice Lake (4620m).
Sculptural Garden, Edward James, Xilitla, Huasteca Potosina, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Cobra dos Pecados
Architecture & Design
Xilitla, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

Edward James' Mexican Delirium

In the rainforest of Xilitla, the restless mind of poet Edward James has twinned an eccentric home garden. Today, Xilitla is lauded as an Eden of the Surreal.
lagoons and fumaroles, volcanoes, PN tongariro, new zealand
Tongariro, New Zealand

The Volcanoes of All Discords

In the late XNUMXth century, an indigenous chief ceded the PN Tongariro volcanoes to the British crown. Today, a significant part of the Maori people claim their mountains of fire from European settlers.
Ceremonies and Festivities
Look-alikes, Actors and Extras

Make-believe stars

They are the protagonists of events or are street entrepreneurs. They embody unavoidable characters, represent social classes or epochs. Even miles from Hollywood, without them, the world would be more dull.
Glamor vs Faith
Goa, India

The Last Gasp of the Goan Portugality

The prominent city of Goa already justified the title of “rome of the east” when, in the middle of the XNUMXth century, epidemics of malaria and cholera led to its abandonment. The New Goa (Pangim) for which it was exchanged became the administrative seat of Portuguese India but was annexed by the Indian Union of post-independence. In both, time and neglect are ailments that now make the Portuguese colonial legacy wither.
Singapore Asian Capital Food, Basmati Bismi

The Asian Food Capital

There were 4 ethnic groups in Singapore, each with its own culinary tradition. Added to this was the influence of thousands of immigrants and expatriates on an island with half the area of ​​London. It was the nation with the greatest gastronomic diversity in the Orient.

A Market Economy

The law of supply and demand dictates their proliferation. Generic or specific, covered or open air, these spaces dedicated to buying, selling and exchanging are expressions of life and financial health.
Swimming, Western Australia, Aussie Style, Sun rising in the eyes
Busselton, Australia

2000 meters in Aussie Style

In 1853, Busselton was equipped with one of the longest pontoons in the world. World. When the structure collapsed, the residents decided to turn the problem around. Since 1996 they have been doing it every year. Swimming.
Ross Bridge, Tasmania, Australia
Discovering tassie, Part 3, Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania from Top to Bottom

The favorite victim of Australian anecdotes has long been the Tasmania never lost the pride in the way aussie ruder to be. Tassie remains shrouded in mystery and mysticism in a kind of hindquarters of the antipodes. In this article, we narrate the peculiar route from Hobart, the capital located in the unlikely south of the island to the north coast, the turn to the Australian continent.
Train Fianarantsoa to Manakara, Malagasy TGV, locomotive
Fianarantsoa-Manakara, Madagascar

On board the Malagasy TGV

We depart Fianarantsoa at 7a.m. It wasn't until 3am the following morning that we completed the 170km to Manakara. The natives call this almost secular train Train Great Vibrations. During the long journey, we felt, very strongly, those of the heart of Madagascar.
Sunset, Avenue of Baobabs, Madagascar
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio

days like so many others

Vittoriosa, Birgu, Malta, Waterfront, Marina
Birgu, Malta

To the Conquest of the Victorious City

Vittoriosa is the oldest of the Three Cities of Malta, headquarters of the Knights Hospitaller and, from 1530 to 1571, its capital. The resistance he offered to the Ottomans in the Great Siege of Malta kept the island Christian. Even if, later, Valletta took over the administrative and political role, the old Birgu shines with historic glory.
Seixal, Madeira Island, pool
Seixal, Madeira, Portugal

The Island of Madeira at the Heart

Visitors to Madeira are enchanted by its almost tropical drama. In this case, the author must confess that it was the destination of his first three plane trips. That he has a friend from there, who made him be a bit from there. From the Madeira facing the endless North. From the fearless and welcoming Seixal.
Maksim, Sami people, Inari, Finland-2
Winter White
Inari, Finland

The Guardians of Boreal Europe

Long discriminated against by Scandinavian, Finnish and Russian settlers, the Sami people regain their autonomy and pride themselves on their nationality.
silhouette and poem, Cora coralina, Goias Velho, Brazil
Goiás Velho, Brazil

The Life and Work of a Marginal Writer

Born in Goiás, Ana Lins Bretas spent most of her life far from her castrating family and the city. Returning to its origins, it continued to portray the prejudiced mentality of the Brazilian countryside
Suspension Bridge, Cabro Muco, Miravalles volcano
miravalles, Costa Rica

The volcano that Miravalles

At 2023 meters, the Miravalles stands out in northern Costa Rica, high above a range of pairs that includes La Giganta, Tenório, Espiritu Santo, Santa Maria, Rincón de La Vieja and Orosi. Inactive with respect to eruptions, it feeds a prolific geothermal field that warms the lives of Costa Ricans in its shadow.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Rhinoceros, PN Kaziranga, Assam, India
Natural Parks
PN Kaziranga, India

The Indian Monoceros Stronghold

Situated in the state of Assam, south of the great Brahmaputra river, PN Kaziranga occupies a vast area of ​​alluvial swamp. Two-thirds of the rhinocerus unicornis around the world, there are around 100 tigers, 1200 elephants and many other animals. Pressured by human proximity and the inevitable poaching, this precious park has not been able to protect itself from the hyperbolic floods of the monsoons and from some controversies.
Miyajima Island, Shinto and Buddhism, Japan, Gateway to a Holy Island
UNESCO World Heritage
Miyajima, Japan

Shintoism and Buddhism with the Tide

Visitors to the Tori of Itsukushima admire one of the three most revered scenery in Japan. On the island of Miyajima, Japanese religiosity blends with Nature and is renewed with the flow of the Seto Inland Sea.
Ooty, Tamil Nadu, Bollywood Scenery, Heartthrob's Eye
Ooty, India

In Bollywood's Nearly Ideal Setting

The conflict with Pakistan and the threat of terrorism made filming in Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh a drama. In Ooty, we see how this former British colonial station took the lead.
Boat and helmsman, Cayo Los Pájaros, Los Haitises, Dominican Republic
Samaná PeninsulaLos Haitises National Park Dominican Republic

From the Samaná Peninsula to the Dominican Haitises

In the northeast corner of the Dominican Republic, where Caribbean nature still triumphs, we face an Atlantic much more vigorous than expected in these parts. There we ride on a communal basis to the famous Limón waterfall, cross the bay of Samaná and penetrate the remote and exuberant “land of the mountains” that encloses it.
The Crucifixion in Helsinki
Helsinki, Finland

A Frigid-Scholarly Via Crucis

When Holy Week arrives, Helsinki shows its belief. Despite the freezing cold, little dressed actors star in a sophisticated re-enactment of Via Crucis through streets full of spectators.
white pass yukon train, Skagway, Gold Route, Alaska, USA
On Rails
Skagway, Alaska

A Klondike's Gold Fever Variant

The last great American gold rush is long over. These days, hundreds of cruise ships each summer pour thousands of well-heeled visitors into the shop-lined streets of Skagway.
Women with long hair from Huang Luo, Guangxi, China
Longsheng, China

Huang Luo: the Chinese Village of the Longest Hairs

In a multi-ethnic region covered with terraced rice paddies, the women of Huang Luo have surrendered to the same hairy obsession. They let the longest hair in the world grow, years on end, to an average length of 170 to 200 cm. Oddly enough, to keep them beautiful and shiny, they only use water and rice.
Ditching, Alaska Fashion Life, Talkeetna
Daily life
Talkeetna, Alaska

Talkeetna's Alaska-Style Life

Once a mere mining outpost, Talkeetna rejuvenated in 1950 to serve Mt. McKinley climbers. The town is by far the most alternative and most captivating town between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
Lake Manyara, National Park, Ernest Hemingway, Giraffes
Lake Manyara NP, Tanzania

Hemingway's Favorite Africa

Situated on the western edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the smallest but charming and richest in Europe. wild life of Tanzania. In 1933, between hunting and literary discussions, Ernest Hemingway dedicated a month of his troubled life to him. He narrated those adventurous safari days in “The Green Hills of Africa".
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
Scenic Flights
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.