Bacolod is one of the cities in the Philippines that you should definitely see. Not only is the “City of Smiles” a culinary haven (famous for its sweet treats and Chicken Inasal), it is also home to some of the most interesting spots and attractions.
The best way to see this local destination is to make SM City Bacolod your jump-off point, as it is close to several tourist sites in the city.
Where to Go
1. San Sebastian Cathedral and the Centennial Bells
I only had two days to see Bacolod City, so I made sure to visit the local attractions that were close to one another. Coming from SM City Bacolod, I walked to my first site: the San Sebastian Cathedral – a late 19th century baroque style church. Made out of coral stone, the basilica is said to be the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bacolod. It was only in 1933 when it was declared a cathedral.
Before you leave the church, make sure to look to your left (when facing the front entrance), where you will see the Centennial Bells. These longstanding pieces were originally placed on the bell towers; until they were taken down and repositioned to its current location, which was done as part of the cathedral’s centennial celebration.
You can reach the San Sebastian Cathedral by getting on a Bata-Libertad Jeepney. It’s just along Rizal Street.
2. Bacolod City Public Plaza
The Bacolod City Public Plaza is also a short walk from the cathedral. You can make your way to the plaza by crossing to the other side of the road. You’ll know that you’ve reached your destination once you see a concrete gazebo in the middle of the grounds. During my visit, I was able to encounter crowds of different people. An ideal place for casual meetings, you’ll see anyone from male senior citizens conversing about current events, to teenagers doing dance-offs.
3. Pope John Paul II Tower
Not too far from SM City Bacolod is the Pope John Paul II Tower. The tall structure was built to honor the coming of the Pope in 1981. It was also the same site where the late Pontiff celebrated mass.
You can admire both the tower and the Pope’s sculpture from a distance (located in the city’s Reclamation Area), or you can visit the tower firsthand. Do take note that there is an entrance fee of ₱20 per person.
4. Bacolod City New Government Center (NGC)
It was already nighttime when my friend brought me to another famous landmark: the Bacolod City New Government Center (NGC). “The White House”, as labeled by the locals (situated within the Circumferential Road), can be seen next to a wide boardwalk and a lovely fountain.
You can reach NGC by riding a jeep from SM City Bacolod, one that is Central Market-bound.
Go On a Side Trip to Talisay City
5. A Visit to Tana Dicang’s House
The Tana Dicang House in Talisay City was the home of a great Negrense matriarch. It was built in 1872 for Don Efigenio Lizares and Dona Enrica Alunan. This time-honored abode now stands as one of the most well-preserved ancestral homes in Negros Occidental. This ‘bahay na bato’ turned museum still contains many of its original furniture and décor.
Tana Dicang’s House is spacious and well ventilated. It is also home to 18 rooms (built using Filipino hardwoods like Molave, Balayong, and Narra), most of which were used as shared bedrooms by her children. Tana Dicang’s daughters solely used the rooms upstairs, while her sons occupied the quarters by the ground floor. But the largest areas on the second floor were turned into dining rooms and a formal living room.
There is an entrance fee of ₱100 per person. You can visit the museum daily, from 10 AM to 5 PM. It is located at #36 Rizal Street, Talisay City.
6. The Ruins
If there’s one really famous attraction in Negros Occidental, it has to be The Ruins. Its owner, Don Mariano Lacson, had this Talisay City charm built in the early 1920’s. He had the house extravagantly developed because of his great love and devotion for his wife, Maria Braga, who passed away after giving birth to their 10th child. While it was burned to the ground during World War II (as a means to stop the Japanese from occupying the house), the foundation of the house remained intact despite its demise.
An entrance fee per person is different for adults (₱95), senior citizens and students (P40), and children (₱20). You can visit The Ruins daily, from 8 AM to 8 PM. It is located in Talisay City, and can be easily reached by public transportation.
Where to Eat
Bacolod City has some of the best dishes in town. During my short time in the city, I was able to sample the creamiest Palabok, and the tastiest Breakfast Bacon at Roli’s Café (located at The Hostelry at La Salle Avenue). I also got to try an authentic chicken inasal at Aida’s in Manokan Country (located just across SM City Bacolod), using only my bare hands! It definitely is the best way to eat inasal.
Where to Stay
If you’re looking for an affordable and clean accommodation in the city, you can check out The Hostelry. This hip hostel isn’t just Instagram-worthy, they also have the nicest staff in town. But for other lodging alternatives, you can also check Go Hotels Bacolod or Pleasant Travelers Pension House.
Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
+63 34 435 2934
How to Reach Bacolod City
The gateway to Negros Occidental is through Bacolod City. You can reach the city in less than an hour, if you’re flying from Manila via Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific Air. Public transportation is available at the airport, so you won’t have a problem traveling to town.