“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” - James Michener
Saturday, March 27, 2010
What a great opportunity I had to visit Bacolod when my friends from Los Angeles were visiting their hometown! I took a local bus for Iloilo that stopped in numerous towns along the way. It was an interesting but long ride with vendors coming up the bus and peddling in a sort of mantraspeak their "puto, bayebaye, bingka". I bought the bingka, a mini version of bibingka (a rice cake). Two hours later the snacks for sale were "balut, mani mani, mais". Arriving at the bus terminal in Iloilo I jumped into a taxi for the port and took the fast ferry to Bacolod. It was just an hour and 15 minutes away. But before boarding the ferry, I bought some mais (corn) as I was starving.
In Bacolod I was met by my friends and we drove to Los Feliz Alegria Resort in the outskirts of Murcia (where there is a large outdoor market). Our gracious hosts, Julie and Joe Torres, are the owners of this lush and secluded resort where the swimming pool is fed by cool spring waters that trickle down the hill to a stream where a little hut sits atop gentle waterfalls.
Lunch is never simple in the Philippines except perhaps in my house. In Bacolod I was treated to an incredible array of local cuisine like Bacolod inasal, chicken soup with malunggay from Julie's herb garden, tortang talong (eggplant omelette), grilled bangus and tangigue, fresh buko juice (coconut juice), mangos and plantains. After such a feast it was perfect to go upstairs in the open nipa hut for an afternoon nap while the guys chatted and swam in the pool.
In the evening Julie and Joe regaled us at Lunok (the restaurant under the enchanted tree) where the special dish is sili (eel). Afterwards, Lina Geronca treated us for dessert at Calea. Calea is best known for its cheesecakes. We slept at the penthouse of Villa Geronca, a six story building in the South Market area. The architect of the Villa drew his inspiration from the works of Piet Mondrian, a Dutch modern painter, hence the geometrical shapes and colors that identify the building and its interior design.
I woke up to the early morning buzz from busy South Market below. Terri Geronca and her husband, Jimmo (or as he likes to call himself, eh di ako) walked to the market to buy some fresh ingredients for our breakfast. But the show stealer of our sumptuous meal were the giant guava and mango from Gloria Geronca's garden. And the mango was sweet!
Can't wait to go back to Bacolod. There's much to see and do and the people are most hospitable. I must see Kaitulari Resort next time with spectacular views of Kanlaon Volcano. Thanks to my friends, the Geronca family, for making my first visit to Bacolod a beautiful and memorable experience.