“The.. highway is indeed one of the scenic arteries that one can travel through in the country”Four hours across the north Negros highway and I was reliving memories of more than a decade ago passing this very artery going back and forth Cebu and Bacolod during vacations at my best friends place. I can vividly remember the ancestral houses of Silay with its imposing 1930s church along the road. Or how I am always captivated with the massive Mt. Mandalagan, a pemament fixture in the Negros landscape, lording it over the land. The same feeling of awe that you experience with the Malindang Range in Misamis Occidental or Mt. Mayon in Legazpi or even the Daguma Range in West Mindanao. One is humbled.
Or how can I forget a midnight trip from Bacolod on a VHire (van for hire) sandwiched between the driver and a passenger, ill seated for the duration of the trip to San Carlos without being able to sleep? It was the first time that I have experienced such inconveniences as a traveler that I swore never to do again.
The Negros landscape is peculiar with its extensive monocropping of sugarcane. Fields and rolling hills, especially between Talisay and Escalante can go into the horizon with such greenery or when during harvest time, a wide expanse of brown with workers tediously gathering the stalks of cane hauling it from ground to awaiting trucks. These images sometimes haunt you especially when the negative connotation of sacadas come to mind. Overworked, underpaid and exploited, these poor people seems to be forever bound and tied to the ground they help till but never own.
At town and city centers, the old mingles with the new. Negros is not only known as Sugarlandia, but it has the most number of cities in the Philippines. Much of it new. Here, a rapid transformation is in the works. Not in a way in pace with Bacolod with new buildings sprouting but how the residential areas are being developed. Within the city, old houses like the one above can still be found side by side with new ones. At the periphery are billboards announcing new villages/residential estates.
From fields of green to rural and urban towns and cities. Sweeping vistas of Mt. Mandalagan or encounter pockets of culture and heritage, the long and meandering north Negros highway is indeed one of the scenic arteries that one can travel through the country.