Monday, October 29, 2007

bacolod, masskara, inasal, atbp. part 01

the word masskara means two things. “mass,” a collective english word, and “kara” or face in spanish. masskara then became “a mass of faces.” the festival first began in 1980 when the province of negros occidental relied on sugar cane as its primary agricultural crop, and the price of sugar was at an all-time low. in april 1980, the inter-island vessel don juan carrying many negrenses, including those belonging to prominent families in bacolod city, sank. there was a great loss of life. 
so the city's artists, local government and civic groups decided to hold a festival of smiles, because the city at that time was also known as the city of smiles. then gave the birth of the masskara festival. now on its 28th anniversary, the city promises more smiles, and bigger productions, both to the locals and to the tourists.

october 17, 2007. me and james traveled from manila to bacolod city via cebu pacific for only 45 minutes. my friend ricky welcomed us at the bacolod city airport together with his other friends. bacolod executive inn, our hotel host sent out our courtesy service van, driven by mang ricardo. we went straight to the hotel and finalized our itinerary.
first stop was the manukan country. my friend ricky, a local guide, introduced us to his mother's childhood best friend, alice. she is the owner and the operation manager of the karen's grill. please don't tell me that i am exaggerating things but her chicken wings, served with atchara, suka and toyo with freshly squeezed calamansi, is the best chicken meal i've had this year. it was so good that we had to order an additional rice for each one of us. best thing about this place is not just the food; it is also the price. we've paid only php233 for everything. when we left, alice greeted us and said "thank you, welcome to bacolod city," and gave us the biggest smile i've seen yet.

i am not really a mall person but their newly built sm mall is truly unique. i'm not sure what inspired the architect and where he got the design from but it was really something. it looks like two big blocks or wood, suspended by numbers of thick sturdy white wires.

october 18, 2007. if you are a morning person, you might be a little disappointed to know that most establishments in bacolod city open late. it was our first morning in the city and we had no place for breakfast. we walked around the city and ended up eating jumbo burger at burger machine along san juan street, infront of the bacolod bay center. there you will find the bacolod city tourism office. we did a little exploring within the city without the help of our tour guide, and we ended up lost in the city. just a little tip, before you start roaming the city, try to visit the tourism office so you can get a map. believe me, one street looks just like the other and before you know it, you are already lost. also you should not use fast foods like mcdonald's, chinky's, merci, and foodman as your landmarks. with what happened, not only i've proven that my friend james has no sense of humor and sense of time, he also has no sense of direction. whenever i feel like we need to make a right turn, he would tell me that we should make a left turn.
we were supposed to visit silay city that morning as scheduled by our guide but i thought watching the elementary and high school students dancing on their masskaras would be far more interesting. so we decided not to leave bacolod that day. we had lunch at the manukan country again, but this time we tried eating at the nena's bet, which is the restaurant sitting right next to alice's. their chicken is bigger but alice's is tastier.

it was our first time to witness a real masskara parade. there were 11 groups (minimum of 40 and maximum number of 80 members per group) that participated in the elementary and high school division. we took many pictures and shot some videos. afterwhich we ended up watching in the plaza for their dance showdown. each group had to perform their routine and show their dancing skills infront of thousands of people. criterias were the following: choreography, mask, originality, audience impact, and costume. it was such a fun, lively and colorful event. i was so fascinated by the things and people that i saw that i've never noticed that i was right in the middle of the street taking pictures and shooting videos. it was unbelievable. but the weather wasn't cooperating. during the announcement of the winners and the special awards, it started to rain. bummer. just when we had the chance to take our pictures with the children. afterwhich, we had our dinner in a videoke place called "erps and erms" right outside the plaza and headed back to the hotel.

october 19. we decided not to leave the hotel, and just eat our breakfast right in our room. nothing fancy, just bread with strawberry jam, and some chocolate chips. ricky was supposed to pick us up at the hotel around 9am but he never came until 10am. the sun was nice and sunny that day. it wasn't hot at all. we walked just a block from our hotel and rode a jeep with a bata-libertad signage. we off at robinson's place mandalagan and rode another jeep going to silay city. fare from bacolod to silay's php17.

silay city is the place where you will find old spaniard houses built during the early 18th century. there are a total on thirty-one old houses but only two of them are allowed for public viewing, others were converted into commercial establishments, and some can be visited by appointment or by invites only. bernardino jalandoni ancestral house and balay negrense are just the only ones that can be visited by tourists.

nardino jalandoni ancestral house was built in 1908, the owners don bernardino and ysabel jalandoni had this two-storey house constructed with strong materials of hardwood from the province of mindoro. it is currently owned by the heirs, mr. and mrs. antonio montinola. declared on november 6, 1993 as the first national historical landmark in the city of silay by the national historical institute. it was eventually converted into a museum and a venue for cultural, educational, and artistic happenings. the bernardino jalandino museum opens from tuesdays to sundays (closed on mondays), 9am - 5pm. for guided tours and further information, you can call 034-4955093.

balay negrense is located along in cinco de noviembre street. it is also a two-storey house, built in early 19th century. victorino gaston, a really wealthly man was the owner of this ancestral house. he also owned a rice field, and also a ranch. the house is a 12-bedroom house, built intendedly for his twelve children, but due to an unfortunate event, he wasn't able to see it because he was already dead after the completion of this house. it has a souvenir shop where you can buy local products like keychains, paintings, literatures, and others. it is now currently being renovated and the fees paid by the tourists are being used for its restoration.

we also took a quick look at the san diego pro-cathedral. the building is really huge and it has an incredible ceiling. great architechtural design and nice warm colors will greet you the moment you come inside the building. its clock was installed 69 years ago (1938), imported from paris, and donated by don vicente montelibano. the clocked stopped working sometime 20 years ago and was fixed only in 2005.

we were so hungry right after the tour. we had no time to visit palamunitan which is a famous seafood place in silay. we cannot afford to waste another hour so we looked for another place where we can really fast food. we found this place along the highway where they serve pancit and batchoy. i thought it was a good time to eat soup for i have been eating meat since i got to bacolod. it was really a big disappointment after tasting them. the pancit was so salty and it barely had meat in it and the batchoy doesn't taste like batchoy at all and it was also salty. it was so bad that i've decided not to finish it. i left silay that day with a big grim on my face.

we had a quick rest at the hotel while i was eating mango which i bought in a nearby fruit store. we had our dinner over ressy's which is located along lacson street. the food wasn't so bad because they're hot and the price was so affordable. if you are in a tight budget, try visiting ressy's.

we attended the first ever electric masskara along lacson street. this was the first time i've visited lacson at this time of the day. the place was so lively, full of nice people, good food and good music. i've also noticed that the not-so-rich crowd prefers to hangout in the city plaza, while the rest can be found in lacson.
there were three masskara groups that showed up and it wasn't really a big parade as expected. it was still fun though because of the nice costumes that the dancers were wearing. the masskara organizers predicted that this could be the future of masskara.

it was my first time to attend a bikini open that day. it was held at the bacolod pavilion, located at the back of the sm mall building. the place was packed and so we had no chance to get in. we tried to find a spot where we can at least get a glimpse at the event. i could have taken better pictures. too bad, we came in late.


Anonymous said...

too bad you were a bit dissappointed with the food in Silay. As from Silay myself, you should have tried El Ideal, Hestia's, or Golden Foodpark. If you really fancy batchoy try 21 in Bacolod. Cant wait to go home myself this new year after 5 yrs here in UK.

biyahengpinoy said...

wow, thank you ANONYMOUS for the tips. sayang, i've never heard of those place but i will definitely look them up when i visit silay again.

Marco said...

coool blog!! i always wanted to travel!!

Sidney said...

One of the best fiestas in the Philippines I saw so far.

We probably crossed each other in the streets of Bacolod... but then there were so many photographers and people...

Too bad I missed the bikini open!

Great pictures!