The center of Catholic faith in Silay City, the San Diego Pro-Cathedral is said to be the only church in Negros Occidental with a dome. It is also the only pro-cathedral in the Philippines outside Metro Manila.
Negros Occidental is one of the biggest provinces in the Philippines in terms of land area and population. Yet, a big part of its territory remain unknown to many non-residents. But at the rate that the country’s tourism is growing, it looks like it is only a matter of time before many of its best kept secrets will be discovered and rediscovered by the travel-crazy public.
The City of Silay’s love for history and beauty can be traced back to the roots of a tree, the Kansilay, from which it owes its name. Legend has it that the first Kansilay tree grew over the grave of a beautiful maiden who lived during the days of the rajahs and datus, way before the Spaniards arrived.
There was a knock on the door. It was Arvee, a member of the Punta Bulata staff, informing us that the boat had just arrived, ready to pick us up.
“Are you sure it’s safe to go now?” The rain seemed to be getting heavier and the waves stronger. Honestly, my two friends Celine and Ronnie and I had been having second thoughts. We were not sure whether we wanted to brave the downpour and the waves to go to Danjugan Island. But we figured that the 4 hours of travel time from Bacolod to Cauayan would be pointless if we chose not to push through with our daytrip. But as it would turn out, we would miss so much had we chosen otherwise. Our visit to Danjugan Island was the highlight and the most memorable part of our Negros Occidental trip.
It sounds like a tale straight from a fantasy film. A remote island far far away is brimming with beauty. The inhabitants, in an attempt to make a living, have started a small quarry to extract lime mineral from the ground and burn trees for charcoal. One day, a group of “outsiders,” who frequent this island to scuba dive, find some locals on their way to the tallest tree on the island — a tree that has been home to a number of species of eagles and other birds. At a loss, the outsiders convince the locals to spare the tree for a fee until such a time that they have figured out how to resolve the situation.
Hidden 156 kilometers south of Bacolod City, Punta Bulata White Beach Resort and Spa is a tropical paradise in Cauayan, Negros Occidental. Cauayan is the municipality just before Sipalay City, which is also very well-known for white beaches. It’s 4 hours away from the city center of Bacolod. You might be asking, “Why do I have to travel 4 hours to go to this resort? Is it worth it?” Well, let this post give you an answer.
There was a drunk man speaking Mandarin seated in front of us while waiting at the Ceres Liner South Terminal and he was talking to us, to my friend Celine in particular. The man didn’t look Chinese at all but he kept on uttering Mandarin phrases.
Apparently, the drunk man thought Celine was Chinese and he must have been enamored by the feminine charm beside me that he felt the need to impress. Unfortunately for the drunk man, Celine was not Chinese and she did not understand a single word he had said. Unfortunately for us, he kept on following us even into the bus.
It was almost midnight and there we were at the Capitol Park and Lagoon in Bacolod City, walking around like excited tourists. Well, that was exactly what we were — excited tourists.
Coming from Calea, we walked a short distance to this park at the heart of the city. Although one of the first things we noticed about Bacolod was that the city was generally darker than the other cities we had visited, we actually felt safe exploring the place. Unlike the rest of the city, the park was well lit and there were a number of people killing time. In fact, there was a group of what seemed like high school students playing patintero somewhere in the park.
“Hello. This is Calea,” said the woman on the other end of the line.
“Hello, good evening,” my friend Celine perkily responded. “Until what time are you open?”
“Eleven, ma’am.” Right on cue, we went hysterical. There we were, all three of us, standing in front of San Sebastian Cathedral, worried as hell that we would not get to Calea on time. It was a few minutes before 9pm and we thought the store would close at around 9:30 or 10. But we were wrong. Thank God we were wrong.
The facade and exterior of San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod City look stunning. I’m pretty sure its interior looks just as amazing. If only we were able to enter.
That’s probably one of the biggest mistakes we made in this whole trip. On the way to Manokan Country, our jeepney passed by the Cathedral. It was a bit before 8pm and it was wide open. We decided to visit the church right after dinner since we were all hungry. FAIL!!! Had we known that the church closes at 8pm, we would have dropped by first and then have dinner. It was a decision that deprived us of a would-have-been awesome experience inside the religious structure. Quel dommage.