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.
Masai Mara Reservation, Masai Land Travel, Kenya, Masai Convivial
Masai Mara, Kenya

A Journey Through the Masai Lands

The Mara savannah became famous for the confrontation between millions of herbivores and their predators. But, in a reckless communion with wildlife, it is the Masai humans who stand out there.
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).
by the shadow
Architecture & Design
Miami, USA

A Masterpiece of Urban Rehabilitation

At the turn of the 25st century, the Wynwood neighbourhood remained filled with abandoned factories and warehouses and graffiti. Tony Goldman, a shrewd real estate investor, bought more than XNUMX properties and founded a mural park. Much more than honoring graffiti there, Goldman founded the Wynwood Arts District, the great bastion of creativity in Miami.

Mountains of Fire

More or less prominent ruptures in the earth's crust, volcanoes can prove to be as exuberant as they are capricious. Some of its eruptions are gentle, others prove annihilating.
Burning prayers, Ohitaki Festival, fushimi temple, kyoto, japan
Ceremonies and Festivities
Kyoto, Japan

A Combustible Faith

During the Shinto celebration of Ohitaki, prayers inscribed on tablets by the Japanese faithful are gathered at the Fushimi temple. There, while being consumed by huge bonfires, her belief is renewed.
Yucatan Peninsula, Mérida City, Mexico, Cabildo
Mérida, Mexico

The Most Exuberant of Meridas

In 25 BC, the Romans founded Emerita Augusta, capital of Lusitania. The Spanish expansion generated three other Méridas in the world. Of the four, the Yucatan capital is the most colorful and lively, resplendent with Hispanic colonial heritage and multi-ethnic life.
Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

The Fish Market That Lost its Freshness

In a year, each Japanese eats more than their weight in fish and shellfish. Since 1935, a considerable part was processed and sold in the largest fish market in the world. Tsukiji was terminated in October 2018, and replaced by Toyosu's.
Saphire Cabin, Purikura, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

Japanese Style Passaport-Type Photography

In the late 80s, two Japanese multinationals already saw conventional photo booths as museum pieces. They turned them into revolutionary machines and Japan surrendered to the Purikura phenomenon.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.
jet lag avoid flight, jetlag, turbulence
Jet Lag (Part 1)

Avoid Post-Flight Turbulence

When we fly across more than 3 time zones, the internal clock that regulates our body gets confused. The most we can do is alleviate the discomfort we feel until it gets right again.
capillary helmet
Viti levu, Fiji

Cannibalism and Hair, Fiji Islands' Old Pastimes

For 2500 years, anthropophagy has been part of everyday life in Fiji. In more recent centuries, the practice has been adorned by a fascinating hair cult. Luckily, only vestiges of the latest fashion remain.
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

life outside

Roça Bombaim, Roça Monte Café, São Tomé island, flag
Center São Tomé, São Tomé and Principe

From Roça to Roça, Towards the Tropical Heart of São Tomé

On the way between Trindade and Santa Clara, we come across the terrifying colonial past of Batepá. Passing through the Bombaim and Monte Café roças, the island's history seems to have been diluted in time and in the chlorophyll atmosphere of the Santomean jungle.
Principe Island, São Tomé and Principe
Príncipe, São Tomé and Principe

Journey to the Noble Retreat of Príncipe Island

150 km of solitude north of the matriarch São Tomé, the island of Príncipe rises from the deep Atlantic against an abrupt and volcanic mountain-covered jungle setting. Long enclosed in its sweeping tropical nature and a contained but moving Luso-colonial past, this small African island still houses more stories to tell than visitors to listen to.
Oulu Finland, Passage of Time
Winter White
Oulu, Finland

Oulu: an Ode to Winter

Located high in the northeast of the Gulf of Bothnia, Oulu is one of Finland's oldest cities and its northern capital. A mere 220km from the Arctic Circle, even in the coldest months it offers a prodigious outdoor life.
shadow vs light
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
Resident of Nzulezu, Ghana
Nzulezu, Ghana

A Village Afloat in Ghana

We depart from the seaside resort of Busua, to the far west of the Atlantic coast of Ghana. At Beyin, we veered north towards Lake Amansuri. There we find Nzulezu, one of the oldest and most genuine lake settlements in West Africa.
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.
Vila Velha Paraná, Paraná Tropeirismo Route
Natural Parks
Vila Velha Park a Castro, Paraná

On the Paraná Tropeirismo Route

Between Ponta Grossa and Castro, we travel in Campos Gerais do Paraná and throughout its history. For the past of the settlers and drovers who put the region on the map. Even that of Dutch immigrants who, in more recent times and, among many others, enriched the ethnic assortment of this Brazilian state.
Moa on a beach in Rapa Nui/Easter Island
UNESCO World Heritage
Easter Island, Chile

The Take-off and Fall of the Bird-Man Cult

Until the XNUMXth century, the natives of Easter Island they carved and worshiped great stone gods. All of a sudden, they started to drop their moai. The veneration of tanatu manu, a half-human, half-sacred leader, decreed after a dramatic competition for an egg.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
Santa Marta, Tayrona, Simón Bolivar, Ecohabs of Tayrona National Park
Santa Marta and PN Tayrona, Colombia

The Paradise from which Simon Bolivar departed

At the gates of PN Tayrona, Santa Marta is the oldest continuously inhabited Hispanic city in Colombia. In it, Simón Bolívar began to become the only figure on the continent almost as revered as Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
orthodox procession
Suzdal, Russia

Centuries of Devotion to a Devoted Monk

Euthymius was a fourteenth-century Russian ascetic who gave himself body and soul to God. His faith inspired Suzdal's religiosity. The city's believers worship him as the saint he has become.
Flam Railway composition below a waterfall, Norway.
On Rails
Nesbyen to Flam, Norway

Flam Railway: Sublime Norway from the First to the Last Station

By road and aboard the Flam Railway, on one of the steepest railway routes in the world, we reach Flam and the entrance to the Sognefjord, the largest, deepest and most revered of the Scandinavian fjords. From the starting point to the last station, this monumental Norway that we have unveiled is confirmed.
Bright bus in Apia, Western Samoa

In Search of the Lost Time

For 121 years, it was the last nation on Earth to change the day. But Samoa realized that his finances were behind him and, in late 2012, he decided to move back west on the LID - International Date Line.
Saksun, Faroe Islands, Streymoy, warning
Daily life
Saksun, streymoyFaroe Islands

The Faroese Village That Doesn't Want to be Disneyland

Saksun is one of several stunning small villages in the Faroe Islands that more and more outsiders visit. It is distinguished by the aversion to tourists of its main rural owner, author of repeated antipathies and attacks against the invaders of his land.
Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, Wildlife, lions
NP Gorongosa, Mozambique

The Wild Heart of Mozambique shows Signs of Life

Gorongosa was home to one of the most exuberant ecosystems in Africa, but from 1980 to 1992 it succumbed to the Civil War waged between FRELIMO and RENAMO. Greg Carr, Voice Mail's millionaire inventor received a message from the Mozambican ambassador to the UN challenging him to support Mozambique. For the good of the country and humanity, Carr pledged to resurrect the stunning national park that the Portuguese colonial government had created there.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.