Back in 2009, my friend Mariel and I accompanied my brother and his friends to a trip to Bacolod for the Masskara Festival. It didn't matter that it was exam time when we went, and we had tests to attend to and pass once we got back to Manila - this was my first time to ride a plane without parental supervision, and it was exhilarating. I wish more of my friends came, but Mariel was the only one available at the time, so we felt like two kids tagging along the bigger kids. Le sigh. But oh, well.
In any case, Bacolod, we found out, was one of the nicest places we'd ever get to visit in the Philippines. If I had to be assigned to a provincial post, I'd probably choose this teeny city in Visayas, tucked away in Negros Occidental, enjoying the laid back culture that only true southerners, I would like to believe, revel in.
While Masskara was what we had come for, it came as a pleasant surprise that there were plenty of things to do elsewhere. You could hike, visit seven waterfalls, enjoy lunch in what is left of the frame of a once grand mansion, visit a rather psychedelic church with funky murals, swim, learn of the historical sugar cane industry of the region, etc. Masskara gave way to almost a week of street parties and celebrations, until the final parade of the masks (which, unfortunately, Mariel and I had to miss, huuu. Stupid exams and flight back to Manila!).
My friends and I intend to go back again soon, if only to experience this wonderful city once more and rediscover its awesomeness! :)