What a sight to behold: the sun waking from its slumber but still hidden by low lying clouds as mist hasn’t yet lifted across the land that is Bicol. A familiar orange hue envelops the still halfshut break of morn as the plane hovered thousands of feet above.
A striking silhouette with a trace of smoke billowing from its tip, rising from the land, perfect, majestic Mt. Mayon.
Iloilo is a beauty that beckons. I have long read and heard of its rich history, culture, food, people and many wonderful things that it has to offer. Unfortunately, in my lifetime, I have only stepped on its hallowed ground thrice: a half day’s trip from Bacolod just to gaze at the marvel that is the fortress church of Miag-ao and to eat the much touted La Paz batchoy in the La Paz district of the city; a brief stop in transit to Bacolod and, again, in transit from Bacolod but this time, spent a night before boarding a boat bound for Cuyo, Palawan.
What a loss. If only I have more time to kill in my hands and I would want to soak in its built religious wonders with its multitude coral and brick Spanish era churches and cemeteries; fill my tummy with Ilongo cuisine sampling the much written and praised gustatory delights ranging from fresh oysters offered at seaside diners along the highway going west of the city, angel wings shellfish, a Thai food from a known Thai restaurant turo-turo style, and various homegrown dishes in restaurants that are sprouting in the city.
If only my trip pushed through and I would’ve done all this and more.
Above, the neogothic style church of Molo known for its architecture and the all female statues of saints in its interior. Talk about female power!
While I have been to this island sporadically, it is still not enough to familiarize me with the many wonderful things that the province has to offer. Below are additional photos from La Carlota and Villadolid, Negros Occidental. These are towns south of Bacolod.
The imposing late 19th century church in La Carlota (above). Its massiveness is really impressive. Like the churches in Bago City and Villadolid, it seems that the belfries doesn’t last as either these are gone or, as in the case of this church, its not original.
A fisherman trawling the shallows late in the afternoon in Villadolid. Just along the highway, this is a common scene just before the sun sets.
Negros to a non local conjures images of Masskara, extensive sugarcane fields, old rich sugar barons with their haciendas and elegant turn of the century homes. Malnourished children during the height of the devastating economic situation in the 80s when world prices of sugar plunged or the ever suffering and long exploited plantation workers, the sacadas and many others. Well, while some of it are still true, our other images of the province needs to be updated.
I have been visiting Negros sporadically since I was in college since my best friend is from Bacolod. I was impressed with the clean and wide streets of the city. There is always good and fresh seafood in Palapala or enjoying napoleones from a bakery that I’ve already forgotten the name.
If all things went as planned, I would’ve touched down in Dumaguete last Thursday to spend two days there and visit Dauin, Zamboanguita, Bacong, Amlan and Manjuyod for those old colonial era churches as well as have a taste of budbod kabog (steamed sweetened millet wrapped in banana leaves) that can often be found in the southern city. Or taking a whiff of fresh air in the coastal boulevard that is well lighted at night. Or visiting the park to watch city folks enjoying a night of dancing.
But instead of being there, I’m in Makati ruing on my supposed Negros/Iloilo trip. All I can do is look back on the photos that I’ve taken almost exactly a year ago.
Endiosdada Abellana-Eskarpnes, a balikbayan from Scandinavia boogies away the night with her dance partner as one of the couples enjoying a good time at the park in Dumaguete City.