BACOLOD

Yes, there is more than rice in Sipalay

Betsy Negrense

"SIPALAY" is said to come from "Si, paray" unveiling its kinaray-a provenance.

Yes, there is rice. And this is true Sipalay City has vast fields planted to the grain and nothing is as bucolic a Philippine scene as a carabao plowing a muddy field while migratory birds circle above, wade through the mud, and peck at their "lunch." Some fields are a lush verdant tone, others have turned golden and the farmers are in the midst bending at the waist to harvest.

Rice fields may provide for Sipalay's households, but the real crowd drawer is the beaches that fuel the Tourism industry of the city.

Proofs of the increasing number of visitors are the revival of the airstrip of the Maricalum Mines into an airport to accommodate once-weekly flights from Cebu via Air Juan, and the new grand City Hall emerging from the earth like a white jewel. In fact, this city is called the Jewel of the Sugar Island. The glittering sands of its beaches made it so.

Sipalay's lovely coast may not be made up of the powdery white sands of Boracay. But then, why settle for "powdery" when you can have "gold-flecked." Sipalay was once known for its copper mines. Little did I know that there is gold all around, too. How rich! I liken the seemingly endless stretch of beach to the endless charms of beguiling beauty. The wide sweep of coast, the mountains, and hills rising like emeralds from the mineral-rich earth, the lushly-forested dots of islands, the bountiful waters, the charm of the inhabitants, the healthy and thriving tourism industry, and the pleasant, promising vibe.

After visiting Sipalay's numerous resorts along Sugar Beach (formerly known as Langub), Punta Ballo, and the public beach Poblacion, one big question lurked in my mind all the while. That question was: As a Negrense, why seek sand and surf outside the island when Negros offers this piece of paradise? Non-Negrenses may also ask themselves, "Why not Sipalay?" Imagine that the locals have the whole strips of beaches to frolic on. Now, that's a staycation!

Sipalay is an innocent toddler devoid of complexes and just contented to play quietly (lazing around on the beach). It is also a child, eager to please, proud to show off to guests his toys. The kind of kid you'd like to pat on the head because he had been a good boy who made an effort to store his toys and clean up afterward.

Good job Sipalay for making environmentally-conscious efforts.

Sipalay can be the teenager discovering himself to be on the cusp of adulthood, who had a growth spurt and found out he is good-looking and people are taking notice (gorgeous islets, and clean and expansive coastline). Sipalay can be the blissful quiet retreat a busy executive needs (the stillness of Sugar Beach); Sipalay can be the exciting, but not raucous, adventure friends seek to seal their friendship (diving, island-hopping, riding around in tricycles); and most of all, Sipalay is the beauty that can take one's breath away (the sunsets).

Many thanks to Sipalay Vice Mayor Gina Montilla Lizares, Mark Torillo and Tourism Officer Jerick Lacson for showing me the many faces of Sipalay.


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