Solo-Backpacking: Tourist Spots in Negros Occidental, Iloilo

After my successful Cebu Solo-Backpacking, another solo-backpacking in the Visayas was planned - this is it, a solo-backpacking in Western Visayas. Language barrier wasn't a problem because Hiligaynon has similarity to our native language in Romblon. During my travel, I found out that the Negrenses are really accommodating and has a good sense of direction. In a simple question like: "where is it located?" they provided me a detailed instruction. In general, Negros Occidental and the province of Ilo-Ilo are Must Visit provinces in the Philippines. Sorted according to my itinerary, historical, heritage and tourist spots below were my destinations.

1. Cinco de Noviembre

 Cinco de Noviembre is a small landmark in Silay City that played a huge part during the revolution. It served as the drugstore and a hideout. It was also the place where the Negrense Revolutionaries secretly helped plan the revolution against the Spanish Colonial Forces on November 5, 1898. This is the perfect location where Negros Republic was created.

2. Balay Negrense

Balay Negrense is just one of the century old houses along Cinco de Noviembre Street, Silay City. This street is remarkable because of the historical value that transpires to the people. Balay Negrense is a Hiligaynon phrase which means: Balay or a house and Negrense refers to the people living in the province of Negros. It is a century old house in Silay City which was owned by Victor Fernandez Gaston, the eldest son of a prominent sugar baron Yves Leopold Germain Gaston and Prudencia Fernandez. It was built between 1897 to 1901, then abandoned in the mid-1970’s, repaired by the government and was inaugurated on October 6, 1990.

3. San Diego Parish Church

San Diego Pro-cathedral formerly known as San Diego Parish Church or St. Didacus Parish Church before, it was declared as a pro-cathedral in 1994. It is the only church in Silay City that features a dome which is like St. Peters in Vatican City. 

4. Negros Capitol

5. Bacolod Cathedral

Known as the San Sebastian Cathedral, the original structure of Bacolod Cathedral is made from the wood and other locals products in 1825. However, its original structure was damaged and was replaced by galvanized iron and coral stones. The bell towers were constructed in 1885. Bocolod Cathedral is in the business center Bacolod City and is in front of the plaza, thus, it is always busy.

The next day, from my hotel, I walked on the streets to SM City  for my breakfast. Then, walked on the street again to the port near SM City. Bought a ferry ticket and traveled to Domangas Port. Rode on a motorcycle and alighted at the jeepney terminal where I took a ride to Ilo-Ilo City. Though the lady beside me gave me an idea where to alight, but  I easily recognized Jaro Belfry, so I alighted at the crossing near the belfry and Jaro Cathedral. Had my lunch at the food court nearby and proceeded to my next destinations.

6. Jaro Belfry

7. Jaro Cathedral

Jaro Cathedral is another example of the historical baroque architectures in the country. Built in 1864 by the order of Mariano Cuartero, who is the first bishop of Jaro. In 1948, this structure was destroyed by earthquake and was restored in 1956 by the order of the first archbishop Jose Ma. Cuenco.

In front of Jaro Cathedral, with the help of the traffic enforcer, I rode in a jeepney with "Super" signboard and alighted in Super - a huge marketplace. In Super, with the help of the tinderas and tinderos, I found the terminal of the jeepneys to "Miag-Ao." It was couple of hours before I notice the dome of Miag-Ao Church. After Miag-Ao Church, rode in a jeepney back to Ilo-Ilo City but decided to visit Guimbal and Tigbauan Church.

8. Miag Ao Church

The construction of this Miag Ao Church began in 1787 while Fray Francisco M. Gonzales. O.S.A. was the parish priest of Miag-ao and Domingo Libo-on  was the Gobernadorcillo. The Church was completed in 1797 and it served as the fortress against Muslim Raiders. In 1898, during the revolution, this church was destroyed but then it was rebuilt. In 1910, it was damaged by fine, and then it was badly damaged by earthquake in 1948. Restoration work began in 1960 and was completed in 1962. During the term of office of the Most Rev. Dr. Jose Ma. Cuenco, D.D. Metropolitan Archbishop of Jaro, of Msgr. Fernando S. Javillo, D.P., Parish Priest of this town and Dioscoro Mueda, Municipal Mayor.

9. Guimbal Church

Guimbal Church or St. Nicholas of Tolentino Church  doesn’t have any record to when I was erected or established. But however completed between 1769 and 1774 under Friar Juan Campos. In 1893, it was further enlarged but later was destroyed by fire during the Revolution in 1896 to 1898.

10. Tigbauan Church 

It is believe that there had been no parish priest when Tigbauan Church was established, but it could be possibly between 1575 to 1580 when F. Luis de Montoya was assigned as Prior. This church underwent a lot of repairs because of the natural disasters like earthquake. The said repaid was lead by different people who served as the church leaders.

It was already dark when I reached Ilo-Ilo city and I still need to look for a hotel or a pension house. I stayed in Robinsons and had my dinner while searching for hotels on mobile phone. I FINALY FOUND ONG BUN PENSION HOUSE. A taxi brought me to the pension house. With all my luck, a fan room for 330 pesos was still available upon my arrival. My room has free WiFi and a cable TV. Toilet and baths are common.

The next day, had my breakfast at the cafeteria. Tidy up and proceeded to my next destinations. Before checking out, I asked the lady at the reception the exact location of the Molo Church. As instructed, I rode in a jeeney and alighted at  the Molo Church. Then, by the plaza in front of the church, I rode in a jeepney with a "Timawa" signboard and alighted at the plaza near the City Hall.

11. Molo Church

Molo Church (St. Anne Parish) is situated in front of the town plaza.  Molo is actually one of the seven districts of Ilo-Ilo City which formerly called Parian (Chinatown). Then it was changed into Moro because of the frequent arrival of Muslim pirates from Mindanao, but later evolved in Molo – info from

This church is the first church in the city of Ilo Ilo which was built by the Jesuits around 1607.  But, on April 29, 1617, the Augustinians established San jose, a house of the order. It was saved from being bombed by the Americans during World War II.  As the years goes by, renovations were made. 

I stayed there for a less than 30 minutes and walked to the port nearby. Bought an Ocean Jet Ferry ticket for Bacolod City. Travel time from Ilo-Ilo to Bacolod: 1.5 hours. Took a ride in a pedicab to SM Bacolod. Had Lunch. Walked on the street to the plaza and rode in a jeepney with "Mandalagan" signboard to Negros Museum.

12. Negros Museum

Negros Museum is almost in front of the Negros Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City. It serves as the provincial museum of Negros Occidental which was opened on March 16, 1996 at the Provincial Capitol Building. May 2003, it was transferred to its current location which is the former Agricultural Building. The Agricultural Extension Building was built in 1941 and was renovated in 1991.

After Negros Museum, I walked few meters going to street near the Capitol, and then I took a jeepney with "Bata" signboard going to PEPSI.  The driver doesn’t know the place of the world famous The Ruins but thanks to some students and the old lady who instructed me well.  She’s the one who informed the driver about it.  I alighted at PEPSI, and then took a tricycle going to The Ruins.

13. The Ruins

The Ruins of Talisay City was the largest residential structure built at that time.  This mansion belongs to sugar baron Don Mariano “Anoy” Ledesma Lacson (1865-1948.) Built after the death of his wife Maria Braga (1911) and served as the residence of their unmarried children. But, early part of World War II, USAFEE and then guerrilla fighters bunt this mansion to prevent the Japanese forces in making this structure as their headquarters. It was burning for three days, leaving no traces of its glorious past, but still the effort of the workers paid off, because it’s gorgeous RUINS are still standing and part of our today.

I stayed there for an hour and waiting for the sun set, but it wasn’t successful, although I took a lot of gorgeous photos of The Ruins.  After The Ruins, I took a tricycle going back to PEPSI.  Then, crossed the highway and walked going to BATA North Terminal.  At the terminal, I took a van going to the Airport.

This solo-backpacking was a three day itinerary. I did not use the GPS  mobile application this time, instead, I used a map from National Book Store. It was a life changing experience and if I will be given a chance to do it again, in this province, and it's a YES for me! This itinerary was in 2013.

Rates, Budget Friendly and Affordable Place to Stay in Negros Occidental and Iloilo
My itinerary was for 3 days and 2 nights. My first night was in Bacolod City where I stayed at Check Inn Bacolod near the plaza infront of Bacolod Cathedral. Other hotels in Bacolod City are Go Hotels Ph, East Square Inn,, Khokoon Inn, LOC Residences, Carefully Yours, Nirvana Pension House, Java Pension House, Mainstreet Pension House, and Tamera Plaza Inn. My second night was in Ilo-Ilo City and I stayed at Ong Bun Pension House near Robinsons. They have the cheapest price ever.