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BACOLOD, The City of Smiles

Bacolod, Negros Occidental

Bacolod is one of the most progressive and elite cities in the country. The capital and gateway of the province of Negros Occidental, it is the home of a genteel yet hard working people, the Bacolodnons. It is said that the charm of the city is her people: affectionate, smiling, fun loving, zestful and flowing with optimism, in good times or in bad.  They love to enjoy life and their warmth, sincerity and natural friendliness could make every visitor come again and again to Bacolod. Thus, the city is called the city of smiles.

Quality of life in Bacolod is described as superb.  In a survey by the Philippine Cities Competitiveness Ranking, it ranks as the top mid-sized city in the country.
And in a recent study by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), it tops the list as the Most Business Friendly Highly Urbanized City and it is Number 1 in terms of infrastructure, cost of doing business and cost of living.

Bacolod has flourished after undergoing harsh times from its decades-old dependence on the sugar industry.  When world sugar prices plunged in the early ‘80’s, the Bacolodnons displayed their steel resolve and unbending will to stare down such a crisis.  Nowadays, the city boasts of an evenly distributed growth.  Business and investment potentials have turned into realities that can only get bigger with time.

Bacolod has recently jumped into the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) age.  Two IT parks and six IT buildings have been given PEZA (Philippine Export Zone Authority)-accreditation.  Involved is a total of over 10 hectares of office space.  Four call centers were established in the city in 2005. These call center-facilities are managed by international companies such as Teleperformance, TeleTech, and local call center companies - IO Asia and Focus Pacific.  Convergys Philippines currently has a building under construction as well as a new government center, which is set to be completed within the next 18 months.
The new PhP4.37B airport in Silay City (situated 15 kilometers from Bacolod) is expected to bring in more tourist arrivals and construction of lodging establishments, more roads and transportation facilities are currently being fast tracked.

The sugar capital of the country, Bacolod is rich in natural and man-made attractions. There’s Enchanted Isle, reputed for its white sand beaches and brimming vegetation. Isla Puti is very ideal for all water sports activities. Mt. Kanloan, highest mountain range in the Visayan region, has a National Park with a variety of beautiful orchids and a boundless carpet of ferns and ligneous forest. Historical sites also abound the area like Palacio Episcopal, which served as a home for Spanish military and officials. Remnants of the past include several churches built during the Spanish era such as the San Sebastian Cathedral, Chapel of Santa Clara and Chapel of Cartwheels. The numerous ancestral homes and stately mansions bring you back in time when sugar barons once lorded it over the city.

Old and New

Bacolod is a land that showcases both harmony and contrast— where the old is preserved and the new is embraced.  It lies in the midst of a classic harmony of colors and textures: sweeping tracts of sugar plantations, undulating greens, clear blue skies and rare 1912 Baldwins and 1920's Alco and Porter locomotives slowly making their way to the sugar mills.  Well-preserved ancestral homes still stands in their stately glory testimonies to those opulent times when sugar barons belonging to rich families ruled the land.

Modern Bacolod is juxtaposed in this picturesque backdrop.  It is vibrant, entrepreneurial, forever in motion yet keeping age-old customs and traditions intact.  Vibrant Bacolod is found in the heart of the city where new establishments keep rising: shopping malls, specialty restaurants, fashion boutiques and coffee shops where the usual topics among the elite are the city’s social events— a  charity dance at a hotel ballroom, the recital of a visiting French pianist, a fund raising party at an old family's mansion, etc.

At sundown, the nightspots come alive and habitues make the rounds of their favorite bars and discos. There are a number of bars with live entertainment, video, karaoke, game rooms and discos, many of with are found in the Goldenfields Commercial Complex. In the same area is Casino Filipino where luck is tried at the slot machines, black jack, baccarat, big and small, roulette and pai-gow. Upscale specialty restaurants as well as modest alfresco setups serve Negrense, Filipino continental and Oriental cuisines. American burger and pizza franchises and other fastfood outlets can be found around the city.

Entrepreneurial Bacolod highlights the Negrense's pioneering spirit: diversifying into industries other than sugar. With the export campaign, "Go Global", new products are being developed and old ones improved. Today's Bacolod is no longer just sugar: it is prawns, cut flowers, exquisite handcrafted items and more.
Traditional Bacolod represents much more than precious arts and antique collections, zarzuela (operetta) presentations, lavish balls or legendary Negrense cuisine. It is its people with their endearing, singsong accent, gracious hospitality, and a lifestyle of ease, refinement and generosity.  It is this lifestyle that makes Bacolod different: a refreshing departure from the usual, a relaxing destination for the harried, a breath of fresh air.  It is where you can experience a beautiful land and lifestyle of gentility.

Location

Bacolod City is situated on the northwest part of the island of Negros.  It is bounded by Guimaras Strait on the west, by the municipality of Talisay on the north, by the municipality of Murcia on the east, and by Bago City on the south.

It has the total land area of 16,171,007 hectares or 161.45 sq. km excluding straits and bodies of water. It is accessible by sea through the ports of Banago, the Reclamation area and the port of Pulupandan.

Climate

Bacolod City has 2 pronounced seasons, wet and dry. The rainy season is from May to January with heavy rains occurring during the months of August and September. Dry season is from February up to the last week of April. December and January are the coldest months while April is the warmest.
Population
According to the National Statistics Office (NSO) survey in 2000, the city population has reached 429,076. Bacolod City population comprises approximately 25% of the total population of the Province of Negros Occidental.

Most of the residents of Bacolod speak Hiligaynon, which is also referred to as Ilonggo,  after the neighboring province of Iloilo, where many of the ancestors of the present-day Negrenses originally came from. The rest generally speak the national language, Filipino and the regional language Cebuano. English is considered a second language

History

Prior to the coming of the Spaniards in Negros in 1565, there existed a small village near the mouth of the Magsungay River.  It was a small settlement inhabited by Malayans who belonged to the “Taga-Ilog” group.  The exact date of Spanish contact with this village is not certain, historical church accounts provide a glimpse of the early years of Bacolod as a mere small settlement by the riverbank.  When the neighboring settlement of Bogo (now Bago City) was elevated into the status of a small town in 1575, it had several religious dependencies, one of which was the village of Magsungay.  The early missionaries place the village of Magsungay under the care and protection of St. Sebastian sometime in the middle of the 1700s.  A “corregidor” by the name of Luis Fernando de Luna (1777-1779), donated a relic of St. Sebastian for the growing mission, and since then, the village came to be known as “San Sebastian de Magsungay”.

From the mid 1760’s up to the early 1800’s, the inhabitants of Magsungay were perennially attacked by pirates, the bloodiest of which was in 1887: The moros, in a dozen and half vintas, landed at the mouth of Magsungay and Lupit rivers at about 4:00 in the morning. A few hours later, hundred of people in the village were killed in the raid, the women raped, and all of the houses were either burned down or looted. With the cloud of insecurity hanging over them, the people of Magsungay decided to move a few kilometers inland where upon on a hilly terrain they called “Buklod,” the people established a new settlement.  There, on that hilly terrain, Magsungay became the settlement of Bacolod.

In 1806, Fr. Leon Pedro, having appointed as “propitario” of Bacolod, became the first parish priest.  It was not until September of 1818 when Fr. Juan Gonzaga, the parish priest of Bacolod at that time, encouraged the people to settle once again near the sea.  From there, the young priest from Barcelona envisioned the construction of a church (which was to become the San Sebastian Cathedral) that became the nucleus of the present-day Bacolod.
In 1846, upon the request of Msgr. Romualdo Jimeno, Bishop of Cebu and Negros at the time, Governor-General Narciso Claveria sent to Negros a team of Recollect missionaries headed by Fr. Fernando Cuenca.  The following year, 1849, Gov. Valdevieso y Morquecho declared Bacolod as the capital of the whole island of Negros.

When the island was divided into two provinces, the seat of the government of Occidental Negros was already in Bacolod. During the Revolution of the 5th of November, 1898, Bacolod became the focal point of the conflict between the Spaniards and the Negrenses. The commanding officer of the Spanish forces, Col. Isidro de Castro, surrendered to the Filipino forces, and the signing of the Act of Capitulation was carried out at the house of Don Eusebio Luzuriaga which once stood in front of the City Hall.

At the turn of the century, under American rule, the first Elementary school-the Rizal Institute (which still stands today) was established in 1903. In 1919, La Consolacion College was established to become the first private catholic school in Bacolod.

Bacolod was converted into a city by virtue of Commonwealth Act 328, as amended by C.A. 404, and was inaugurated October 19, 1938, with the late Alfredo Montelibano, Sr., as first City Mayor.

Places of Interests

 Fountain of Justice

In front of the Bacolod City Hall, the former site of the old City Hall where the formal signing of the Spanish surrender to the local forces by Gen. Aniceto Lacson tool place - Col. Isidro Castro, Spanish governor of Negros, signed in behalf of the Spanish forces on November 7, 1898.

The centennial bells of San Sebastian Cathedral were brought down from their places in the belfry and mounted at the right side of the churchyard in 1976, the 100th year anniversary of the Cathedral.

Built in 1876 upon the initiative of Fr. Mauricio Ferrero, a Recollect friar. Was elevated to the status of a cathedral in 1933 and is one of the centuries-old churches found in Negros Occidental.

A historical and humanities museum that does not collect historical artifacts but stories about the people of Negros Occidental. It showcases important historical events which made Negros “The Sugarbowl of the Philippines." Also referred to as “The Sugar Museum.”
Palacio Episcopal

Older than the San Sebastian Cathedral by approximately 50 years, the Bishop's Palace was built by Fr. Julian Gonzaga but was eventually finish only in the 1890's. During and after the revolution of 1898, the Palacio served as refuge for the Spanish military and civic officials.

 

Museum Negrense de La Salle

The only school-based museum in Bacolod City that was born out of a dream to preserve vital documents, photographs, cultural artifacts and the history of Negros.

Bacolod Plaza Bandstand and Gazebo

Right at the center of Bacolod Public Plaza, the bandstand was constructed in 1927 to complement the weekend cultural activities of the early Bacoleños, Names of world-famous composers like Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Wagner circle the sides of the roofing, attesting to the early Bacolodnon's familiarity with European culture.

Yulo's Park

The park is the site of the ancestral home of the prominent Yulo family. The Yulos belong to a clan of politicians that helped shaped the status of Negros Occidental as a premier province of the south. The Park used to be the center for social and recreational affairs in Bacolod at the turn of the century.

Barangay Sang Virgen Chapel

The Sta. Clara Subdivision chapel features a unique mural mosaic measuring a 9 ft. x 21 ft. of the lady of the Barangay Sang Virgen done on a collage of 95,000 pieces of shells of various sizes, shades and colors.

San Antonio Abad Church

This crown-shaped church features “stations of the cross” done by Bacolod's top artists. It also features an altar sculpture titled "The Risen Christ" by  National Artist Solomon Saprid.

Rizal Centennial Park

Fronting the Rizal Elementary School along Araneta Street, the city's contribution to the Centennial Celebration was inaugurated in December 30, 1996. The park is the tribute of Bacolod to the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal and provides an oasis for many city commuters, students and professionals during early morning and late afternoons.

Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club, Inc.

This golf course provides challenging 18-hole adventures for amateur and professional golfers, with panoramic views of scenic Mounts Marapara and Patag.
Negros Forest Ecological Foundation & Biodiversity Center. A breeding and rescue center for endangered and endemic animals found in Negros Island as well as other places in the Philippines Visayan spotted deer, Luzon bleeding heart pigeon, Philippine Visayan Tarictic hornbill, Philippine hawk-eagle, monitor lizard, Philippine serpent eagle and the sailfin lizard.

Bacolod Western Visayas Clonal Nursery

The Bacolod Western Visayas Clonal Nursery lies on a one-hectare flat and gently rolling grassland terrain located 2.5 kms. away from Barangay Alangilan which is about 17 kms. from the city proper of Bacolod. The only one of its kind in the Province of Negros Occidental, this nursery has been put up in order to provide continuous supply of quality planting stocks for the reforestation and greening program of the city. It has an orchard of hedge plants for vegetative propagation, a nursery for seeds and planting stocks; a hardening shed and a potting area for rooted cuttings to pots.
Recuerdos de Bacolod "Recuerdos" (souvenirs) is known for its collection of excavated items and heirlooms, wooden saints, furniture and pottery pieces as early as the 7th and 9th century. These antique items were taken mostly from Bohol and Panay.

Panaad Park and Stadium

Located in Barangay Mansilingan near the boundary of Barangay Alijis, this 25-hectare sports complex and park is known to be one of the best in the country and has already been host to a lot of national sport events. It has a rubberized oval tract, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and other sports facilities. Its unique feature is the replica of the landmarks of the 13 cities and municipalities of Negros Occidental.

Provincial Building

An imposing structure of Romanesque neoclassical architectural design.  This is the official seat of the government of the Province of Negros Occidental. It served as the headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Army during the World War II.

Paghimud-os Provincial Capitol Park


"Ang paghimud-os" which literally means "The Struggle" is a fine sculpture erected at the east entrance of the Capitol Lagoon Park. This magnificent work of art was done by one of the country's noted sculptor, Eduardo Castrillo.
Provincial Park and Lagoon

Located in front of the Capitol Building. To the north and south ends of the rectangular lagoon stand the statues of a woman and female water buffalo and a man and a male water buffalo, respectively. The woman standing beside the female water buffalo is a massive sculptural work said to have been done by a Italian artist whose work was never been duplicated until a Negrense artist who finished Fine Arts from the University of the Philippines duplicated the Italian's work of art by coming out with a man and male water buffalo. Presently, the lagoon grounds is a favorite jogging area of Bacolod residents.

Getting Around

Modern air-conditioned taxis & metered taxis (PUs) are numerous in the city. Public utility jeepneys are common mode of transport within the city. There are four jeepney routes: Banago-Libertad; Mandalagan-Libertad; Bata-Libertad; and Shopping-Libertad routes. Buses and jeepneys provide service for inter-town travel. Car rental services are available with rates depending on the type of vehicle and distance traveled. Information about car rental services is available at most hotels' front desk.


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