We love Bacolod-A A +A
As I See It
Thursday, July 19, 2012
I WAS with a group of friends from Manila last Saturday. Our meeting at the Silay airport was some kind of reliving the old spirit of camaraderie. The best place to go from the airport is Balaring. The story was never ending while they enjoyed lison sinigang, stuffed grilled squid, pasayan kinilaw, alimusan paksyo, and talong-itlog-sibuyas bombay pickles. I made the reservation early at the shoreline restaurant. We all paid for what we ate.
We left Balaring at 2:30 p.m. The target was Mambukal. They are here in Negros Occidental for a business-leisure trip. I invited them to drop by at Robinsons Place. Since some of them are first-timers, I wanted them to see the photo display at Rob featuring Bacolod City. I told them to go back on the third week of October for the MassKara Festival.
“What can we have during the festival?” they asked. I gave them the best answer I could: vibrant colors, dizzying movements, blaring sounds and perpetual smiles. The MassKara Festival is a living and animated symbol of the Negrense optimism and zest for life.
They were amazed to see socio-economic-political growth in Bacolod as captured in pictures at the Rob fountain area. They really see Bacolod as a progressive city. The pictures bare them all. Morris, the leader of the group, suggested that instead of going directly to Mambukal, I would give them a walking tour from San Sebastian Cathedral up to Central Market. They wanted to see Bacolod in broad daylight.
San Sebastian Cathedral is very imposing since it was built in 1876. It became the nucleus of the new settlement after Camingawan. The Palacio Episcopal, built by Fr. Julian Gonzaga in 1830, served as a refuge of Spanish military and civil officials after the November 5, 1898 revolution. We proceeded to the plaza and the bandstand constructed in 1927 caught their attention. Engraved near the roof are the names of Beethoven, Mozart and other well-known personalities in the music world. That could be the proof of the Negrense link to European culture.
Their attention was also caught by the plastic wrappers scattered in the area and some areas smelling of urine. We made a round of Central Market so that they could get the feel of Downtown Bacolod. We were met by a massive throng of vendors in the sidewalks selling dried fish, used clothing (ukay-ukay), pirated DVD-CD, peanuts, corn, socks, fruits, vegetables, sandals and they discovered a long stretch in the middle of the street serving as fish section. “So, this is Bacolod!” they exclaimed.
Teresa, another newcomer, discovered puppies for sale and she found them cute. The guy selling the “cuties” kept on following us (or Teresa). Our guests also bumped into a tough-looking guy who was selling “pirated cell phones.”
They asked, “Why are your vendors peddling in the middle of the main street? Are there no policemen assigned in the area? Is this tolerated by the Chairman of the Committee on Market?” Those are some of their questions that I cannot answer. Can someone provide the answers?
My visitors got the impression that the entire Downtown Bacolod is the Central Market. Of course, this should not be. Bacolod is a Clean and Green national awardee. Bacolod is a tourist and investor-friendly city. We position Bacolod for conventions, congresses and high-end meetings. Many LGU representatives from other regions come to Bacolod to replicate our best practices. We also invite hundreds of delegates to attend the Convention of the League of Cities of the Philippines in Bacolod in October.
Very soon, it will be MassKara Festival again! The City of Smiles will again show colorful masked dancers grooving to the infectious rhythm of the musical beat in a stunning display of mastery, gaiety, coordination and stamina. We will have a beauty pageant, carnivals, drum and bugle corps competitions, food festivals, sports events, musical concert, agri-trade fair, garden shows, celebrity night and many more.
Our tourism strip will again be loaded with people from all walks of life, the rich, the beautiful, the ugly, the poor, the investors, the foreigners. They are coming to spend money and join our festival. We love Bacolod so much. Can we repair our Downtown before then? Please?
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 19, 2012.