After nearly a couple of centuries from its founding as small settlement, Bacolod is now a bustling modern metropolis in the Western Visayas region and it is also the “Gateway to the Sugarland” because Bacolod is highly accessible to air or sea from its neighboring region.
Bacolod City is located on the northwestern coast of Negros Occidental, Philippines. It is bounded on the north by the City of Talisay; on the east by the town of Murcia; on the south by the City of Bago; and in the west by the Guimaras Strait.
Bacolod has a total land area of 16,145 hectares, including straits and bodies of water and the 124 hectare reclamation area; and is composed of 61 barangay (villages) and 639 purok (smaller units composing a village). It is accessible by sea through the ports of Banago; the BREDCO Port in the Reclamation Area, and the port of Pulupandan. By air, it is accessible through the New Bacolod-Silay International Airport, which is approximately 13 (four is counting from the Lagoon) kilometers away from the center of the city.
Bacolod is ideally located on a level area, slightly sloping as it extends toward the sea. Bacolod has two pronounced seasons, wet and dry. The rainy season starts from May to January of the following year with heavy rains occurring during the months of August and September. Dry season starts from the month of February until the last week of April.
Bacolod is the Philippines’ third fastest growing economy in terms of information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) activities.
There are two major golf courses in the city; the Bacolod Golf and Country Club and the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club. The city hosted the 61st Philippine Airlines Inter-club Golf Tournament and the 2008 Philippine Amateur Golf Championship.
Bacolod City hosted the 2005 Southeast Asian Games Football tournament, the 2007 ASEAN Football Championship qualification, the 2010 AFC U-16 Championship qualification and the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualification play-off first leg was held at the Panaad Stadium where the Philippines won 2–0 over Mongolia.
The Panaad Stadium is also the home of Panaad Festival, a week-long celebration participated in by all cities and municipalities in the province held annually every summer. The festival is highlighted by merry-making, field demonstrations, pageant and concert at the stadium. The stadium itself features replicas of the landmarks of the 13 cities and municipalities of Negros Occidental.
The Bacolod Public Plaza is one of the notable landmarks in Bacolod City, the capital of Negros Occidental, which is found right in the heart of downtown area, very near to the city hall and right across the San Sebastian Cathedral. The plaza is a trapezoidal park with a belt of trees all around the periphery and a gazebo/bandstand at the center. Scattered within the trees are four circular fountains.
The Plaza was constructed back in 1927 as a place for recreation, political, spiritual and cultural activities; it seems to be quite a popular site for outdoor picnic and concerts. The gazebo/bandstand is often where the stage is located and this is quite apt since inscribed along the sides of the roofing are the names of Western musical composers like Beethoven, Wagner, Haydn, and Mozart.
The plaza is the celebrated place of MassKara Festival. It is a week-long festival held each year in Bacolod City every third weekend of October nearest October 19, the city’s Charter Anniversary. Bacolod public plaza is the final destination of MassKara street dancing competitions which is the highlights of the celebration.
Bacolod’s most popular fiesta, is celebrated on the third weekend of October closest to October 19, the city’s charter day anniversary. Festivities kick off with food fairs, mask-making contests, brass band competitions, beauty and talent pageants, a windsurfing regatta, drinking and eating contests, trade fairs and exhibits. The climax is a mardi-gras parade where revellers don elaborate mask and costumes and dance to Latin rhythms Rio de Janiero style.
Pasalamat, held every Sunday nearest the first of May or Labor Day, is a harvest thanksgiving celebration by the people of La Carlota City. The festival is based on an age-old practice of offering thanksgiving to the god of agricutlure living inside Kanlaon Volcano. The celebration features an Ecumenical Thanksgiving mass, games, sportsfests, agro-industrial fair, and streetdancing competition with “tribes” dressed in indigenous materials and swaying to the beat of Sambita. The celebration is capped with the selection of Ginoong Pasalamat and Pasalamat Queen. La Carlota City is 42 kilometers southeast of Bacolod. City.
Ati-Atihan in Cadiz City is held annually on the week of January nearest the 20th highlighted by a street parade in honor of their patron saint, Señor Santo Niño. Garbed in Ati costumes, various tribes dance to the beat of their drums while carrying the image of the Santo Niño. Devotees believe it was the Holy Infant who saved the village from the attack of pirates in the past through His intercessions.
Pintaflores of San Carlos City highlights the feast of Saint Charles Borromeo, its patron saint, celebrated on July 1st. It features street dancing by “tribes” dressed in colorful ethnic-inspired costumes, their bodies painted with flower designs reminiscent of the tattooed Visayans of pre-Spanish Negros. People who have witnessed this spectacular revelry will surely attest that the colorful ethnic-inspired costumes and synchronized steppings keep the spectators on their feet as they dance with the contingents to the snappy beat of the drums and nusic along the main artiries of the city.
Sinulog sa Kabankalan City is held on the third weekend of January as a thanksgiving celebration to mark the feast of the Santo Niño. Its highlight is a street dance contest with sooted, costumed “tribes” gyrating to the beat of drums.
Kali-Kalihan, an annual February celebration of cultural and traditional activities in the mountainous town of Don Salvador Benedicto. It is highlighted by the seach for the “Diwata sang Kali” and the Kali dance parade competition wherein performers, garbed in indigenous costumes, thump to ethnic music using Kali sticks in graceful movements. The dance culminates with an offering of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. An interesting feature of the festival is prayer worship by the natives highlighted by a firewalking ritual.
Kansilay is Silay City’s festival about a folktale showing the bravery of beautiful Pricess Kansilay who offered her life for justice and freedom. The dance-drama is the highlight of the week-long city fiesta that ends on November 13.
Sinigayan, the emerging festival of Sagay City, showcases street dancers attired in costumes made of seashells called Sigay, from where its name originated. It is week-long city fiesta that ends on March 19.
CINCO DE NOVIEMBRE
Cinco de Noviembre is a historical festival that commemorates the victory of the Negrenses’ bloodless revolt against the Spaniards in 1898. The Spanish authorities in Bacolod then capitulated after seeing advancing troops armed with rifles and cannons which turned out to be made only of nipa stalks and rolled sawali painted black. November 5 has been declared as a special holiday in Negros Occidental.
Babaylan Festival of Bago City is a unique festival that explores the babaylan folktale, rediscover music, dances, rituals and other artistic endeavor of the early Bagonhons. It is held during the city’s charter anniversary celebration on February 19.
Mudpack Festival in Mambukal, Murcia is a symbolic celebration of man’s return to primitive times when he was closer to nature. It seeks to instill in people the awareness and care of environment and the use of natural materials in arts and craft. The highlight of this emerging festival which fall on the 22nd of June is a merry-making with dancers’ faces covered with mudpack and bodies painted with Mambukal clay.
PANAAD SA NEGROS
Panaad sa Negros is the “Festival of festivals”, a week-long summer event every 3rd week of April that brings together the 10 cities and 22 towns in one showcase of trade, tourism, commerce and industry, arts and culture, beauty and talent, as well as games and sports. It features the individual festivals in a colorful and jubilant street dance around the Panaad Park and Stadium in Mansilingan, Bacolod City.
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