Before ending 2017, with my cousins, sibling, niece and friend, I had the privilege of visiting Philippine’s City of Smiles – Bacolod City in Negros Occidental.
December 25 – Monday
We boarded our flight at the Manila International Airport and arrived in the early morning of Monday at the Iloilo International Airport. From the aiport, we went to SM Iloilo to meet another member of our tour group and traveled to the Iloilo domestic port where we boarded a fast craft ferry to Bacolod.
Upon arriving in Bacolod, our first stop was the Remote Translation Office (RTO), where we had a short tour and lots of inspiring conversations with the friendly and zealous local translators and volunteers. In this office, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (the modern and most accurate version of the Bible) and Bible-based literature and publications are translated from English to Hiligaynon, the local language.
In the evening, we attended the Sign Language Congregation Meeting and met a lot of signers and deaf-mutes. All of them are really friendly and accommodating. We got their contact numbers since we will be joining them in the field ministry in the coming days.
Then we were ushered to our host family who also provided our accommodation for the duration of our stay. Anywhere we go, we are glad and delighted that a spiritual family is always ready to provide a warm home for us.
December 26 – Tuesday
We woke up really early the next day since we need to take turns in using the bathroom. Then came our would be partners in the ministry.
Since we were able to visit the deaf-mutes in the territory assigned to us, and because of the heat (the sun was glaring – whew!), we’ve decided to enter a restaurant along the highway and have a mid-morning break. According to our local partner, it was called The Farmhouse, adjacent to May’s Organic Garden. We ordered their Coolers, I had the fresh Passion fruit juice while my service partners had iced dalandan and calamansi juice. They were all refreshing and healthy since they are made from fresh and organic produce.
Because of the long walk under the sun, we really got famished and decided to have lunch at Hanok, an authentic Korean restaurant located at the Goldenfield Commercial Complex in Bacolod City. After our lunch, much to our delight, the owner of the restaurant gave us small cakes as freebies. We felt that we were really blessed to have prioritized our ministry in the morning.
In the afternoon, we continued working in the sign ministry.
Then we decided to treat ourselves to a relaxing stroll at a well-known tourist spot:
The Ruins – one of the beautiful tourist spots in the area. Situated in Talisay, Negros Occidental, this attraction showcases the remains of a mansion of a well known local family.
Visiting the place in the afternoon as the sun starts to set is really different – the environment becomes and feels more dramatic.
I can say this since I was able to visit the place in the early parts of the day in 2015 … Here are some of the images we had then.
And during 2015, there are more parts of the structure that are open and accessible to the tourists, like the staircase going to the 2nd floor and the 2nd level itself. But these parts were closed when we visited again since they are undergoing repairs.
December 27 – Wednesday
We have decided to visit an ecological sanctuary the next day called the Mambukal Resort.
One of the major attractions of this nature sanctuary is the Mount Kanlaon: Mambukal Seven Falls. With a minimum entrance fee for its maintenance and tour guides, we were able to see the majestic falls once again.
For Levels 1-5 of the waterfalls, you either need to climb stairs or even hike somewhat steep and slippery slopes … but for the 6th and 7th, you need to cross a river and as advised by the tour guides, rent and ride a motorbike.
In 2015, I was able to reach level 5 and then decided to go down when I felt tired and it started to rain. But this time, I opted to go with the tour members only until the 2nd level, while those who are still young and strong, bravely faced the challenge of reaching the 7th waterfall. Only 3 of our tour members were able to conquer the Seven Falls of Mambukal. They were so tired and famished upon going down.
After having a hearty lunch, some of us decided to take a dip and relax in the hot springs, while the others visited the other attractions of the resort. It has swimming pools, dipping pools, picnic areas, sulphur springs, a butterfly sanctuary and a boating lagoon, camping grounds and tourist lodgings. The canopy walk and wall climbing amenities were not available during our visit.
Here are some of the images we had in 2015.
My favorite shot in 2015 was this.
So I was really excited to see this part of the resort once again. It was a part of the boating lagoon, but despite the heavy rains to my dismay, there was less running water in the area as shown in this picture. I think it looked better during my first visit.
After spending almost the entire day in the resort, it was now time to go home and rest since we need to wake up early the next morning and go out in service.
December 28 – Thursday
In the morning, we again joined the sign language congregation members as they do their return visits and bible study sessions. Again, we have decided to have lunch together afterwards.
Another favorite local cuisine in Bacolod is Chicken Inasal. They have their Manokan Country near SM Bacolod and everybody agreed to have lunch in one of the eateries in the area. There was no airconditioning – just ceiling fans. But since we are really famished, we still enjoyed eating chicken inasal despite the heat.
Since SM Bacolod is on the other side of the eateries, we decided to cool ourselves inside the mall, stroll and visit the shops, and then later on bought keepsakes and “pasalubong”, since two of our tour members will be going home the next day.
December 29 – Friday
In the early morning, we accompanied two of our tour members to the Bacolod-Silay Airport. After sending them off, we returned to our accommodation.
In the afternoon, we visited our friends in the RTO and that night, we decided to look for Diotay eatery – a seafood restaurant.
Upon reaching the place, a lot of people are in the counter looking at the display of fresh fish and other seafood. The local restaurant was buzzing with excitement, most of the tourists like us are excited to try their seafood menu.
We really enjoyed our dinner. I like the garlic shrimp and the crabs 🙂 … we are truly grateful for heeding the advise of our service ministry partners.
December 30 – Saturday
In the morning, we attended the Tagalog Group’s Weekend Meeting near the RTO and met another set of our spiritual family in Bacolod City. Again, we were welcomed warmly by our spiritual siblings.
In the afternoon, the five of us decided to visit and take a tour of Campuestohan Highland Resort also located in Talisay, Negros Occidental. It was raining hard during our visit and since it’s situated on top of a mountain, it was somewhat foggy. We were able to roam the place after waiting for the downpour to subside into a drizzle and had photo opps.
We have seen a lot of families touring the different attractions. Most of the rides are closed since its dangerous to operate them because of the heavy rains. But the swimming pools and other areas are full of children and adults. Some are even enjoying getting soaked in the rain despite the chilly wind.
After 2 hours or so, we decided to leave and go back to our accommodation. We have to pack our things for our early morning flight the next day, and we still have a farewell dinner with our host family and friends.
That night, we bonded with our old time and newly-found friends through a hearty dinner – prepared by our host family and enjoyed videoke afterwards. After saying our goodbyes, we returned to our quarters for a restful sleep.
December 31 – Sunday
In the early morning of Sunday, we bid our friends goodbye and three of them accompanied us to the Bacolod-Silay Aiport, where we boarded our flight bound to Clark International Airport.
I can say that our trip in Bacolod was really enjoyable and relaxing. We saw and experienced different beautiful tourist spots and local cultures, met old and new friends, and most importantly, used parts of our vacation in sharing the good news of the kingdom to the local deaf-mutes.
We have surely ended 2017 with a bang!
Note: Pictures used are from the fb pages of the tour group members.