Exploring The City of Smiles (Day 1)

It has been weeks since my short trip to Bacolod, the City of Smiles, but the urge to go back and explore this quaint city again hasn’t died down.

The people here are just so nice and the places just as good. But what made me fall in love with Bacolod is the FOOD. We had to stop by museums and landmarks because these deterred us from trying all the restaurants we had on our list (thanks to dear friend, Nic for the fabulous tips! :) ). In a nutshell, our 3D/2N in Bacolod turned out to be three days of glorious food tripping around the city.

DAY 1

From the airport, you need not worry about catching a cab to your hotel as there are shuttles that charge Php150/pax. This is a good deal already because the new Bacolod-Silay International Airport is quite far from the city.

We stayed at <a href="http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g298464-d1822204-r256418167-The_Suites_at_Calle_Nueva-Bacolod_Negros_Occidental_Negros_Island_Visayas.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT">The Suites at Calle Nueva</a>. They offer the basic necessities, huge room, free buffet breakfast and good location. And best of all, the staff; they're just wonderful! TripAdvisor has never really failed me when doing my research on places to stay. The feedback and tips posted here are legit and will help you plan your trip.

We stayed at The Suites at Calle Nueva. They offer the basic necessities, huge room, free buffet breakfast and good location. And best of all, the staff; they’re just wonderful! TripAdvisor has never really failed me when doing my research on places to stay. The feedback and tips posted here are legit and will help you plan your trip. 

After checking in, we walked to SM City Bacolod and crossed out one food destination on our list: Bob's. Their big serving of 2-piece satay barbeque is just Php117!  Namit gid!

After checking in, we walked to SM City Bacolod and crossed out one food destination on our list: Bob’s. Their big serving of 2-piece satay barbeque is just Php117! Namit gid! 

Once you get here proceed to the main house and look for Roger Lucero, the hilarious tour guide at The Ruins. It was his day off when we get there so I hope you catch him when you visit.

Once you get here, proceed to the main house and look for Roger Lucero, the hilarious tour guide at The Ruins. It was his day off when we get there so I hope you catch him when you visit.

Tip: How To Get Here-

From Bacolod City ride the jeepney bound for BATA, or ride the jeepney with the route Libertad-BATA. Tell the driver to drop you off at the nearest trike terminal going to The Ruins (there are at least two terminals there). They charge between Php25-30. 

Proceed to the main house and look for Roger Lucero (he’s the funny tour guide at The Ruins).

Visit The Ruins in the afternoon and stay there until sunset. There is a restaurant there where you can just lounge around and do people watching. Or there are stalls there selling fresh sugar cane juice.

Visit The Ruins in the afternoon and stay there until sunset. There is a restaurant there where you can just lounge around and do people watching. Or there are stalls there selling fresh sugar cane juice.

We had to drag ourselves from the magnificence of The Ruins to have dinner at another place on our list: Manokan Country.

Manokan Country is packed with stalls but I suggested Aida's because this one has a little stall in Makati Square that we frequent during lunch.

Manokan Country is packed with stalls but I suggested Aida’s because this one has a little stall in Makati Square that we frequent during lunch. 

Bacolod inasal is unlike the sweet inasal in Manila. It's spiced enough to taste good but so much better with dipping sauce of soy sauce, calamansi and chilis! Namit kaayo!

Bacolod inasal is unlike the sweet inasal in Manila. It’s spiced enough to taste good but so much better with dipping sauce of soy sauce, calamansi and chilis! Namit kaayo!

Manokan Country is within walking distance to the hotel so we just walked home and capped the night off with some sweets we bought from Calea.

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Day Hike at Pico De Loro

Scaling a mountain was something that I’ve always wanted to do but never really put enough fuel on that thought to get it going. Good thing a dear friend was very keen on doing it and we soon found ourselves booked for a day hike at Pico de Loro with Trailadventours.

It was uneventful ride to Ternate, Cavite. Only because I’ve slept through most of the 2-hour ride, which began at 4AM. Scroll through the photos and I’ll let you in on tips along the way.

Your shoes will define your trek.

Your shoes will define your trek.

You always have the option to wear trekking sandals but on a hot summer day, the ground is dry and little rocks can creep between your sandals and your soles and that will hurt. DO NOT wear sneakers and flip flops as those will make you slip and slide… or worse.

I wore a pair of good running shoes with ridges on the sole and it worked for me. ;)

Yes, they have halo-halo on the mountain!

Yes, they have halo-halo on the mountain!

After an hour or so of trekking, I was surprised to see a little sari-sari store selling halo-halo! A tad weird and expensive too. Well, transporting ingredients from the base is really difficult so that accounts for the price.

Sneak peak of the gorgeous landscape after some two hours of trekking.

Sneak peak of the gorgeous landscape after some two hours of trekking.

From the Trailadventours site, the hike to Mount Pico de Loro has a difficulty of 4/10. But for a first time hiker, it could very well be a 6. Though the trail is very defined, there are a lot of steep ascents that newbies like me will find a bit daunting but still manageable.

Coby, one of the lead guides imparted some bits of trekking wisdom: take small but sure steps and when in doubt, use your ass. Very helpful tips I must say. Your goal is to reach the summit and go back to base in one piece.

We reached the campsite around 10AM.  On the photo   are Shie,a solo traveler from Mindoro and Kaye, a blogger and good friend who managed to keep in touch long after she left the company I'm still in.

We reached the campsite around 10AM. On the photo are Shie,a solo traveler from Mindoro and Kaye, a blogger and a good friend who managed to keep in touch long after she left the company I’m still in.

I have expectations of a campsite is and what I saw was a let down. There was too much litter and waste segregation bins are nowhere to be found either. It’s supposed to be a protected landscape, yet it looks as though it’s in dire need of protection. It made me wonder what the Php25 fee that hikers pay at the DENR registration. I’m thinking they should just charge Php50 so hikers don’t pay Php5 every time they use the restroom to pee or wash up.

I’m not very prissy but let’s just say that I need to be desperate to use the restroom there. It’s that bad. Putting up decent restrooms doesn’t mean defacing the mountain (maybe put up nipa huts to make it blend with the surroundings?). If makeshift stores are built there, then they can build these restrooms too, right? It doesn’t have to be hotel grade but it sure needs to be clean.

From the campsite, another half an hour and you'll reach the summit.

From the campsite, another half an hour and you’ll reach the summit.

The monolith is a challenge I will conquer on my next trip. I think the mere fact that I returned to Manila in one piece is already an achievement for me. :)

Tips:

  • Eat heavy breakfast and bring energy bars. This is your best excuse for carb-loading and chocolates. The energy bars really helped us as we didn’t bring lunch; we decided to grab lunch at Manong Wilson’s carinderia. Food is really good!
  • Bring just enough water. I brought along a liter because two liters is too heavy for me.
  • Wear comfy shoes and bring extra slippers.
  • Bring a complete change of clothes (including underwear) and toiletries; you’ll need this when you go back to the base.

From experience, this is something you can do on your own; you don’t need to sign up on a group tour. Being on an organized trek has its advantages as they guarantee your safety, you meet new people and the Trailadventour guides are really a fun bunch. But honestly, the Php1800 fee is quite steep given that it just includes transportation and tour guide fee. Should you ever do a DIY trek, I overheard a group that they paid Php600 for their tour guide. Not a bad deal! :)

 

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The Confinement of Forever

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Sorry to burst your bubble. But there is no forever. Non. Nej. Nein.

And I say that with nary a trace of bitterness or sadness.

It’s just is.

When someone you love passes on, you cannot say you will be forever sad and cannot be happy anymore.

Believe me, you will be. At some point.

Time has a way of healing our pain. We start feeling better again and it’s nothing to be guilty about. Being ok doesn’t equate to forgetting them. Life is about accepting what is and recalling moments with them with fondness and maybe sharing a few laughs with people who knew them.

I think that’s what our loved ones wants for us. To continue living in their death.

When you finally found The One (nope, not Jet Li); that happy ending to your own fairy tale, you cannot say, “I’ll be forever happy because I’ve found you”.

Believe me, that “forever happy” will be tested with dirty clothes strewn on the floor; dirty dishes left lying on the sink; outfits haphazardly thrown in the closet that in your head looks so much better than the one they chose to wear… and the list goes on.

Even that most perfect person in your lovestruck eyes has flaws. And that goes both ways; your partner maybe thinking that too. It takes acceptance and a whole lot of love to see beyond those flaws.

So there really is no forever. We only have this lifetime. Make good of every single day. Be thankful that you get to wake up and start anew. That’s as forever as it can get.

Even tomorrow is promised to no one.

What makes you think you can promise forever to someone?

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#AngLoveParang : Commuting Edition

You’ll be surprised at how love can be easily associated to our daily commute.

#AngPagibigParang pagsakay lang yan sa tren.

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#AngPagibigParang EDSA at C5.

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#AngPagibigParang pag-abot ng pamasahe.

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At ang huli, #AngPagibigParang paghingi ng sukli.
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From the Outside Looking In: The Pope’s Visit

Back in 1995, I was one of the millions who camped out and waited for then pope, St. John Paul II.

This time, I watched the live stream with my mom at home as going to the venues will be a challenge for her. It’s a chance to exchange opinions with her too (but she still defends her favorite local channel (“who am I to judge?” but can’t help some serious eye-rolling. Hahaha).

Local  vs. International Coverage
Sorry but our local coverage can be too emotional and a tad shallow at times. Light news and trivia about the pope are welcome though these are just a Google away but sometimes it gets so vapid that one female news anchor actually asked her reporter, “Willard, tama ba nakikita ko na may ilaw yung pope mobile?” I’m like, gawd woman! Seriously?! I’m almost sure that if they switched places, the poor guy won’t hear the end of it. In case you’re wondering, that was Korina Sanchez.

That made me switch to international coverage. More than lauding the “incredible” and “waterproof faith” of the Filipinos, they discuss the pope’s message and other issues at length more than if the lights of the pope mobile are on.

But I like how one local female news anchor let go of her composure, went down from the media platform and cheered her heart out when Pope Francis passed by and she was rewarded with that infectious smile. I thought she’ll faint. She’s Vicky Morales.

Enterprising Pinoys
We can still go to the venues wearing a regular shirt, right? Our religious festivities like Sinulog and Feast of the Black Nazarene, become a blackhole for consumerism. We get manipulated into thinking that you need to wear a shirt to feel that you’re a part of the event.

We’re in a world where consumerism rules; but if those enterprising Pinoys (not the street vendors but those big time papal souvenir manufacturers) donate part of the proceeds to streetchildren and the poor (I mean, really donate), I think that will be consistent with the teachings that the pope hoped we took from his 5-day visit.

President’s Consistency
The Pope is not only the leader of the Catholic Church; he is also a statesman hence the courtesy call in Malacañang. I have to give it to PNoy’s unwavering consistency to blame the previous leadership. If he could blatantly say and get away with it, he might have said, “….Gloria Arroyo, all caps, bold, underscored, italicized, font 75… #AllCapsParaIntense”. Naman! He’s on the fifth year of his term pero daig pa ang bumyahe sa EDSA ng rush hour. Hindi maka-move on.

The Aftermath: Piles of Garbage
Twenty years later, Quirino Grandstand still looks the same after a similar huge event: garbage everywhere. The same people who was inspired by the pope were the same people who littered and made the street sweepers’ day extra difficult all because one decided to leave his water bottle somewhere and another decided to throw her candy or biscuit wrapper since there’s litter anyway. Multiply that attitude by millions and before you know it, the place has been transformed into Garbage Ville.

The Pope Francis Effect
It’s very surprising how this pope’s charisma comes through a tv screen; something so far removed from the actual venue yet you smile when he smiles, you actually feel wonderful and part of you wants to be part of his advocacy.

It’s been two days and we still have the papal hangover. But for me, more than missing his presence (and the 5-day long weekend too ;) ), this is our chance to prove that much as our faith is waterproof, it is not spasmodic episodes of religious fervor either.

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