Pacete: John Van Steen Choir on tour

THE John Van De Steen Male Choir, formerly known as the Manila Cathedral Choir, will be coming to Bacolod for an Easter Concert on April 8 to 11 at the San Sebastian Cathedral. The group is headed by former Department of Tourism (DOT) undersecretary Oscar Palabyab. The choir will have their four-day familiarization tour of the religious and cultural sites of our province.

Bacolod rolling tour includes the historic November 6 plaza, the Provincial Capitol and Lagoon Park. “Balay ni Tana Dicang” in Talisay will let them know that a strong matriarch runs her family and the government (bigger family). The heritage house was built in 1876 for the couple, Enrica Alunan and Efigenio Lizarez. Majority of the pieces of furniture are dated as early as 1900.

The shrine of San Vicente Ferrer (famous for the “Viernes Palapak”) is at San Nicholas de Tolentino Parish. It was constructed in 1880 by Fr. Fernando Cuenca. The devotees of San Vicente believe that their faith in God will provide solutions to their physical problems if the small wooden image would be made to walk on the parts of the body having pain.

Running tour of Silay, the “seat of arts, culture and ecotourism in Western Visayas”, will let them see the 29 well-preserved ancestral houses that showcase the affluent lifestyle of the “hacenderos” and the “hacendados.” They will kneel before the altar of San Diego Pro-Cathedral. The Church was designed by Architect Lucio Bernasconi (Italian). It has a dome similar to the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome. This bastion of faith features the original portrait of the “Barangay sang Birhen.”

The group will have their lunch at Domus Dei. It is located at Hacienda (Hda.) Maquina in Silay City. This “heaven on earth” is the retirement home of the priests from the Diocese of Bacolod. (This is the newly added attraction in the long list of tourist attractions in Silay.) Next to this area is Fresh Start Organic Farm of Chin Chin Uy.

After Silay, Victorias will be explored. The visit is not complete without touring the Church of St. Joseph the Worker. The Church features Jesus Christ with a craggy face. Papa Jesus is always mistaken as the “Angry Christ” by those who do not know liturgical arts. The work of modern art at the back of the altar is a psychedelic painting. All the symbols are about faith, love, compassion, purgation, and forgiveness. Christ there is never angry.

The Church was designed by a Czech architect, Antonin Raymund. The mural was painted by Alfonso Ossorio, the son of one of the original owners of Victorias Milling Company. The “via crusis” frames inside the Church are unique. The Roman characters (Pilate and soldiers) are wearing the modern military uniform. During the Martial Law reign of President Marcos, this place of worship was called by the Marcos sympathizers as the “Church of the activists.”

Not to be missed is the Chapel of Cartwheels in Manapla. It is the brainchild of Msgr. Guillermo Gaston. The “salakot” chapel has the ingredients of faith and Negrosanon culture. All the materials used in the construction came from the community, Hda. Sta. Rosalia. When I brought Zoraida Corazon de Amor (my poetess friend) there, she called it “a piece of dream”. “It describes of faith so strong, of passion so red, and of life so real.”

The last in the itinerary is the tour of The Ruins in Talisay. This used to be the mansion of Don Mariano Lacson and Maria Braga. This was intentionally burned before the break of World War II so that the Japanese Imperial Army could not convert it as headquarters. After the rage, only the framework was left. “Big Brother Roger”, the famous house guide, will be there to make things fun and funny.

This familiarization tour allows our visitors to discover what is poetic in Negros… our food, our scenic spots, our loving hospitality, our sweet surprises, and our brand of Negrosanon culture.
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