Official duties brought me to the provinces of Negros Occidental and Iloilo last week to turn over classroom donations and look into livelihood possibilities for survivors of supertyphoon Yolanda. It’s been a while since I did these things because in the last couple of years, I had to delegate this to my staff because I was relegated to more “desk work”, but am very happy to this now.
During this trip, I choose to arrive in the evening of the day before our activities than arrive looking haggard very early in the morning. Call time as requested by our partner non-government organization was supposed to be 6:00 a.m., meaning if I took a flight arriving in Bacolod before 6:00 a.m., I had to leave Manila by 5:00 a.m., have to be in the airport by 3:30 a.m., meaning I have to be up at 2:00 a.m.
Anyhow, we got to Bacolod early evening, which gave us ample time to rest as the travel the following day would have us traversing the northern to the central part of Negros along bumpy, mountainous roads.
We stayed in downtown Bacolod at the Circle Inn and Suites. Truth be told, having tried and tested several provincial lodgings around the country, I don’t expect much from hotels/inns/pension houses. But this one was surprisingly nice, clean and modern. For Php1,400 a night for a twin sharing room, it ain’t bad at all. Beddings, sheets all seem new. The only downer is their box-type television, which you would have thought have been phased out in this land where even informal settlers have flat screen TVs. But oh well. Apart from that, I give 4 stars.
Everything in the hotel seem up to date. They even have function rooms, business area, pool, room service, and they serve buffet breakfast albeit with very few selection.
If I ever come back here again, I would book the rooms with direct pool access.
For our dinner, we went to have an authentic chicken inasal. So off we went to Manokan where an array of restaurants serve the famous delicacy. From the choices, we sat down at Aida’s.
The next day, we were picked up and accompanied by our NGO friend to turn over the donated classrooms. We covered four towns – Sagay, E.B. Magallona, Murcia and Binalbagan. The car rides in between feels like we’ve been on the road forever. We passed through what seems to be endless sugarcane fields, a crop Negros is famous for.
On our way to one of the schools, we got to taste real Manapla puto. Very good!
Despite the exhausting travel, I was glad to have seen the look of happiness on the faces of the teachers and kids as the classrooms donated become officially theirs. I thank them for reminding me that my work is relevant.
And of course, no trip would be complete without pasalubong for your loved ones. Thank goodness, there was a Bongbong’s, another famous Bacolod icon right outside the pier. Bought some piaya, biscocho, butterscotch and napoleones before we crossed over to Iloilo.
Of course, we did our best to see The Ruins in Talisay.
Next time, I’ll be sure to drop by the ancestral houses in Silay City, and have more food trips. For now, that’s it for the City of Smiles.