Home is where the heart, so goes the cliché. That’s how I’d sum up my recent visits to some of Negros Occidental’s cities. It felt as if I never really left home as I basked in the warmth and generosity of its wonderful residents, a few of whom I’ve made friends with for many years now, not to mention those new ones who I came into contact with in the places I’ve been to.
|Scenic view of the mountains and valleys from La Vista Highlands|
Three other charming cities in Neg Occ, two of which I’ve seen for the first time, have only strengthened my conviction about the sojourns I’ve been doing. That hitting the road doesn’t mean you’d have to leave your heart at home. Home is a state of mind; it’s that place where you see the sincerest smiles, cozy up with the coolest chums, taste the tastiest homegrown treats, no matter where you are.
|A glimpse of Lakawon Island in Cadiz City|
Cadiz. Located in the northern part of the province, Cadiz, some 65 km away from Bacolod, can be reached through an hour-and-a-half ride by private car or any of the public transportation going there. Facing the vastness of the Visayan Sea, the city serves as the center of the agro-fishery resources of the island of Negros. It is also one of Neg Occ’s sugarcane producing areas whose produce are taken to the sugar refineries in nearby Victorias City.
|Boracay of Negros|
Though I never got the chance explore the poblacion itself, the sojourn offered me the rare opportunity to see one more dream destination—the spectacular Lakawon Island—the latest buzz among beach bums in that part of the country. Shaped like a banana, the island is a 16-hectare slice of paradise located off the coast of Cadiz Viejo, one of the city’s coastal villages.
Dubbed as the “Boracay of Negros”, Lakawon is fast becoming one of Neg Occ’s promising tourist magnets because of its pristine white sand, calling to mind that of another world-famous destination in Aklan—what else but Boracay!
Roughly 64 km away from Bacolod City, Lakawon can be reached by land via a one-and-a-half hour trip aboard any of the buses bound for Cadiz. Upon reaching the Martesan Bus Terminal in the village of Burgos, guests should disembark and hail a tricycle to take them to the port at Cadiz Viejo, the jump-off point for a 20-minute boat ride to the island. For more about the island, visit my post at http://scorpio-sojourn.blogspot.com/2017/09/lazing-around-lakawon-island.html.
San Carlos. About 86 km away from Bacolod lies San Carlos, the other city (aside from Cadiz) that I saw for the first time. We took the route via Murcia, passing by the picturesque town of Don Salvador Benedicto (which, by the way, reminds first-timers of nippy Tagaytay) to cut the distance but the road is quite steep and winding, but exhilarating and fascinating, nonetheless.
|Picture-perfect scenery along the highway in Murcia|
I heard there’s a longer route, which is the coastal road passing through the northern part of the province, which is less winding—but then again, it’s quite far. For commuters, there are buses shuttling between the two cities, with travel time of almost two hours.
|A zipline at the resort|
There’s something about this last city in the northern part of Negros Occidental that perked up my mood during our quick escapade there. No, I didn’t have the chance to explore it to the hilt but a few hours of hibernation in one of its popular destinations, La Vista Highlands Mountain Resort and Hotel, left a positive impression.
Owned by an architect, La Vista, which was built on top of hill, boasts of a breathtaking scenery of nearby mountains and valleys, including a panoramic vista of Mt. Kanlaon and Mt. Marapara. The resort-hotel, donning a modern Asian-inspired architecture, has nine rooms, including ridge villas overlooking the pool area.
In those brief moments at the mountain resort, I felt saucy, confident and full of myself but in a good way. I got game before the cameras as I took in the beauty of nature around me, posing here, there and everywhere. Uhm, must be the airy ambience, not to mention the al-fresco dining experience, that lifted my spirits to new heights of euphoria. Geez, I hope to return to San Carlos someday and get to know more about it!
|A glimpse of VMC's sprawling golf course|
|A verdant playing field |
By 1921, its sugar factory started operations; its refinery operations followed suit seven years later, said to be the second sugar refinery to be established in the entire country. Today, VMC operates today as one of the largest sugar refineries in the Philippines.
For this second visit to the city, I was fortunate to have a quick tour of one of Victoria’s wonderful attractions—the sprawling golf course right smack inside the sugar refinery! With Minnie as my guide, I gained access into the exclusive playground of the province’s privileged set.
Undoubtedly, I left my heart in Neg Occ anew. In the six days that I spent going around some of its wonderful cities, I fell in love once again with its distinctive sights, smells and sounds. In that span of time, I’ve grown more rooted than ever to this wonderful destination. As expected, the part when I bid goodbye was heartbreaking.
It wasn’t long before I started scribbling my thoughts about Neg Occ that I learned about the psychology behind my affection for it, discovering that such feeling matters in no small way to one’s physical and emotional well-being. And there’s a jargon for it: place attachment.
Psychologists say that place attachment is that love we hold for a place, a sense of belongingness to it, an emotional bond based on several factors, including history, genealogy, affection, and the like. Simply put, I’d like to think of it as the love I feel for a place that made me feel I was home, even for a short time.