When in Bacolod (Last of two parts)

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

NEGROS Occidental was only a ride away from Dumaguete City. But during my college days in Silliman University, I never had the chance to travel to the other side of Negros Island and enjoy its treasures.

When Cebu Pacific launched its Davao-Bacolod route in late January, Cebu Pacific and the Department of Tourism in West Visayas organized a three-day farm tour in Bacolod for the members of the Davao media. But we not only experienced the historical beauty of the City of Smiles but also the rustic elegance of Negros Occidental.

The tour made us fall in love with the love story of The Ruins in Talisay and got us up close and personal with nature in Mambukal Resort.


The Ruins of Talisay is touted as "The Taj Mahal" of Negros Occidental

The Ruins is a mansion built by Mariano Lacson in remembrance of his wife, Maria Braga, a Portuguese. Just a bit of a background, Mariano fell in love with Maria when he was visiting Hong Kong. They love for each other gave them 10 children. In 1911, Maria, who was near to giving birth to their 11th child, had an accident.

To remember Maria, Mariano had a mansion built to immortalize his love for her. The mansion was built in the middle of his 440-hectare sugar plantation in Talisay City.

The mansion is unique with European architectural influences and intricate shell details on the roof. The house was made of solid concrete and its floors were either tiles imported from Spain or hard wood planks. Also the posts carried the initials of Mariano and Maria (MM).

The monument of love was almost burned down during World War II after the United States Armed Forces in the Far East instructed soldiers to burn down structures that may be used as a garrison of Japanese soldiers.
The mansion burned for three days but stood still allowing young generations today to see the testament of love Mariano and Maria had for each other.

In 2008, The Ruins was opened to the public by Raymund Javellana, one of Mariano's great grandson.

The Ruins has been cited as one of the 12 most fascinating ruins of the world. The picturesque structure is a popular venue for banquets, weddings, photoshoots, and a venue for a romantic date.

Within the grounds, a restaurant serving Mediterranean and European inspired dishes, a souvenir shop, mini gold course, and a garden are present.

The best time to come here is during the afternoon wherein you will experience a beautiful sunset.

Mambukal Resort

Get in touch with nature when you come here. There are so many things you can do here, from trekking to swimming to eating.

When we went here we took a trek to their seven falls but we also reached the second falls because it would take a whole day for us. But anyway, there are so many fun things you can see and observe while on the trek. You can go on the hanging bridge for a thrill or be amazed at the wonders of nature as you watch a large colony of fruit bats fly above you.

Tired from the trek, grab your swim wear and take a dip at the hot mineral baths. The hot mineral water is good for the body as it takes away tension and stress, soothes muscle pains, and stimulates the blood's circulation. You can go and take a dip at the Dipping Pool or Japanese Ofuru. But if you want some sexy and private time with your better half, you can go at the Ishiwata Bath House.

For those who can't stay on their seats, you can try their recreational activities like zip line, wall climbing, kayaking, enjoy the butterflies at the butterfly garden or just dip at the pool.

If you think you can't do all the activities in one day, you can spend the night here in their villas and cottages.

Don Salvador Benedicto

This municipality is one of the newest tourism destinations in the province. It is popularly known as the Tagaytay of Negros Occidental.
The municipality is known for its cool weather and breath taking views.

Negros Occidental is not only about Maskara Festival, Chicken Inasal, or Bacolod City but it is also filled with hidden treasures that will surely surprise and entertain its tourists.

Cebu Pacific has a thrice weekly Davao-Bacolod flights utilizing an Airbus A320 aircraft. For bookings and inquiries, guests can go to www.cebupacificair.com, or call the reservation hotlines (02)7020-888 or (032)230-8888. The latest seat sales can also be found on CEB's official Twitter (@CebuPacificAir) and Facebook pages.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 17, 2014.


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