IN 2017, we had a trial run for our “caro-carabao ride” in Hda. Adela Folklore Village in Silay City. We accommodated foreign tourists, pupils from high-end schools, college students (who have not touched a carabao yet), doctors and nurses from the USA who are doing their medical mission here, and those who mistook carabaos as baby elephants with horns.
This “caro-carabao ride” is only a part of our Hda. Adela tour that has something to do with what is promoted by the Provincial Tourism Office, the “Negros Sugar Story Tour.” Silay could be the classic example because the “hacienda system” (in big scale) started in Silay as early as 1840. Thanks to Fr. Eusebio Locsin for bringing his relatives and friends from Panay.
What makes “caro-carabao ride” fascinating? For those who grew up in the hacienda, a carabao is a brother and a friend. A carabao is a partner in sugar industry… for hauling sugarcane loaded in the “caro” from the harvest area up to the train station. (The canes are to be loaded in the “vagon” or iron box car to be brought to the mill.) The carabao is also used for plowing and harrowing. A she-carabao produces the best milk for human consumption and could be made into “dulce gatas.”
In the hacienda tour, there is a time that the visitors are made to ride in “caro” driven by a carabao with the original “cargador” (cane hauler) on top of the carabao. Some would dare ride a carabao after the cargador. The more daring would “drive” the carabao while the “cargador” is down holding the rope attached to the nose of the “beast of burden.”
Five or more “caros” loaded with tourists go around the plaza of Hda. Adela passing the houses of the “obreros” (sugarcane workers). They are followed by their friends who are taking pictures. The passengers enjoy balancing themselves on top of the “caro” while the carabao is demonstrating its sexy-bumpy walk.
The Hda. Adela folks welcome the visitors passing their houses that could be compared to the “triumphant entrance of Jesus Christ on a Palm Sunday in Jerusalem.” The English-speaking foreigners love to listen to the folks speaking in their best English. At the waiting area, the carabaos become celebrities. Girls are fondling them like their boyfriends.
The carabaos are obliged to smile just for them to discover that the carabaos do not have upper teeth. God made them that way. They don’t need dentists. Some are asking whether the carabao is male or female. The carabaos have ready answer for that. They could be seen physically and the shape is very dominant. The difference could happen in male carabaos that are “kapon” (castrated). They don’t have balls.
Castrated carabaos grow up to be well-behaved, not war-freak… meaning to say they don’t easily joust other carabaos using their horns. The only disadvantage is… the “kapon” cannot be a father carabao. Visitors are always amused with a carabao story.
Their next question is very serious, “How do male and female carabaos make love?” The answer could be demonstrated when there is the presence of male and female carabaos. (I don’t need to explain the shocking part.) That could be very obvious for professionals who have passed their high school Biology.
In good weather (not raining, not too hot), the visitors may opt to visit the “tinapsan” riding in caro to actually see how sugarcane is harvested. In there, visitors may want to cut the sugarcane by themselves.
“Pamatdan” (cane point cutting) is also demonstrated. The activity may end up with the visitors munching sugarcane facilitated by the “tapaseros” (cane slashers).
Everything in hacienda tour is fun. As part of the tour package, the visitors are entertained with a cultural program, featuring ancient chanting, San Roque hymn, folklore songs, children dance, bloodless cockfight demo, and a tour around the hacienda. Common games and sports could also be organized if there is time. Homes could be arranged for the open house visit.
Hda. Adela tour has the support of the Silay City Government under Mayor Mark Golez and Vice Mayor Joedith Gallego with the assistance of Atlas, a tourism club of the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod. The club is under Lynchen Nepomuceno (adviser) and MoiraAbesamis (club facilitator). We have already bookings for January and February for Bacolod, Iloilo and Manila groups. My number is 09285081179.
“Caro-carabao ride” is a part of our cultural heritage. It is a part of the “Sugar Story,” the story of Negros and its people. This is our story.