- MITCH M. LIPA
Tourist destinations may be closed or limited to a number of guests because of the COVID pandemic, but this did not stop the provincial government of Negros Occidental from launching its new tourism promotion for various sites surrounding the Capitol area in Bacolod City.
The circuit includes a landmark, a display of Negros products, endemic species, learning the Negros culture, artworks, and the newly opened food terminal.
“We are proud to present to the public the Negros Culture Hub, a pioneering first for Negros Occidental,” Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said in his message during the June 5 launching rites held at Capitol Park.
Lacson said that the culture hub tour, which centers on the splendor of the Provincial Capitol and Lagoon, is a complete and excellent experience in itself and an inventive way to give guests a glimpse of what the province has to offer.
“A culture such as ours needs to be discovered by the world and rediscovered by our own,” he added.
The governor led provincial government officials, tourism officers of the towns and cities of the province, tour guides and other guests in a walkathon to discover the sweet culture of the province, in a project dubbed the “Negros Occidental Culture Hub Circuit Tour”.
It started at the Capitol Lagoon Park, with the Capitol building as its landmark. The building was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines on on July 19, 2004.
The second destination is the new Provincial Tourism Office, where well-trained and friendly staff members are ready to answer queries on tours, tourist sites, tourism data, and activities in the province’s 13 cities and 19 municipalities.
The new Mambukal Resort Office is adjacent to the PTO, and offers information on the mountain resort in Murcia town that is being managed by the province.
The natural amenities of the resort include seven waterfalls, hot springs, a view of the forest wildlife, and fresh air to soothe and heal the minds and hearts of guests.
With the establishment of an al fresco area at Capitol for its employees and those in neighboring private offices, the provincial government also introduced Cafetolyo at the Capitol Lagoon Park. It offers native coffee made from fresh beans from organic farmers in the province.
The fifth stop in the circuit is the permanent site of the Association of Negros Producers. This is a new hub for visiting families and friends to see products from Negros, like housewares, decors, handicrafts, foodstuffs and fresh fruits and vegetables.
A group of Negros producers also held their first online Negros Trade Fair during the launch of the Circuit Tour. The NTF was used to be regularly showcased in Makati and other big malls in Metro Manila, but because of the pandemic, the new products were shown at the ANP showroom and can be seen online by prospective buyers, who want to place individual or in-bulk orders.
The sixth stop is reserved for the Negros endemic species, inside the Talarak Foundation Forest Park. It is a spot of lush endemic trees and birds beside the Capitol lagoon.
The visit to The Negros Museum, home of Negrense stories and arts, is the seventh stop in the circuit.
Formerly housed at the provincial Capitol main building, The Negros Museum, which also houses the Office of the Negros Occidental Cultural Foundation, presents in a capsule the bounty of artifacts and the history of arts and culture of the people of Negros Island.
A walking distance away is the Ayala Malls Capitol Central, where a fiesta market offers an array of native food products and delicacies. One can also take a selfie on the Fiesta Negrense Mural.
To cap off the circuit is a place to dine, known as the original pala-pala. The Negros Occidental Food Terminal Market boasts of a bagsakan, a seafood section, more popularly known as pala-pala and a favorite place of destination in Bacolod since the 1970s. It is where people can buy fresh sea foods and have those cooked and consumed in the place.
The Food Terminal Market is another place for Negrense cuisine, with a host of restaurants to indulge one’s gastronomic desire. The building also has a second floor for small meetings, seminars and conferences, and can accommodate up to 300 persons. The food terminal market caters to both retail and wholesale.
With the Negros Occidental Culture Hub Circuit Tour, one need not drive or transfer from one vehicle to another to go places. A guided Hub Circuit Tour should be coordinated with the Provincial Tourism Office. – NWI