The Province of Negros: Culture and History

Bacolod Travel Blog

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The Provincial Capitol building at dusk

"Not only is s/he Negrense, but also Filipino; not only Filipino but also Asian and a citizen of the world.  Negrense culture melds traditions and legacies from our historical interaction with Greater Southest Asia, China, Spain, Mexico and the United States."  So reads part of the text next to the JGM Gallery of Intl. Folk Art and Toys.  This exhibit at Negros Museum in Bacolod City is probably the most varied collection of international toys and dolls that I had seen.  Unfortunately, I couldn't take photos.  Let's just say that if you can show the influence of the Galleon Trade and the Silk Road (apparently to Negros) through toys, dolls and fabric, then that's how dense the collection is.

Negros Museum - impossible to find a good angle
  I saw folk toys from Brazil, Mexico, China, Japan, Korea, Central Asia, Russia, the Middle East, Europe, the U.S. and Africa. Hand puppets from Thailand and Indonesia.  Toy scenes of fiestas, Christmas, circus and railroads.  I understood a little bit now how Bacolod City came up with the colorful Masskara (Mask) festival, rooted as it is in both East and West traditions. 

The colors of the Toy exhibit was also chosen with care: red (for happiness), yellow (for hope), blue (for peace) and violet (for whimsy) -- all colors that would be attractive to children.

It was hot and slightly dusty at the museum, as the air-conditioning had been turned off.  Only one other person was there with me when I viewed the exhibit, and when she left, just the caretaker.

One of several statues bordering the lagoon. This one faces a male counterpart.
  She silently followed me from room-to-room up to the second floor where I found the exhibits of the Negros sugar industry, which influenced the fortune and history of the province.  I found it hard to talk to my impromptu guide who spoke almost in gibberish, and I thought at first it was because she was shy in using Tagalog (Filipino).  So far, most of the Negrense that I ask directions from on the street would still speak to me in Ilonggo (the Negrense language). And I thought that only happened in Cebu!  There are similar words to my own provincial language -- Bicolano -- which helped me to understand them a bit.  Only when I was about to leave and she used sign-language to somene who'd just arrived that I finally understood that she was deaf.

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Negros Biodiversity Center

The staff at the Negros Forests-Biodiversity Conservation Center was super-friendly and was responsible for getting me to consider both Patag and Danjungan Island as part of my itinerary.  But first, I was shown around the zoo by Dennis -- a University of La Salle HM volunteer.  Why hotel management?  Seems like eco-tourism is taking a big leap in Negros.  Especially terrestrial tourism in the north, where most of the animals at the farm were found in its forests.  Seems like Northern Negros had retained most of its primary rainforests, and the conservationists intend to keep it that way, while helping to give sustainable livelihood to the communities to be found there.

Visayan Tarctic Hornbill
 

I saw a Leopard Cat, several Visayan Spotted Deers, Warty Pigs, Owls, Visayan Taritic Hornbills -- all endangered animals.  Some of the animals, like the deers, were harder to breed in captivity as they were monogamous.  Plus some, like the owls, have the unfortunate habit of rejecting their young because they grow up very fast and the mother would view her own offspring as competition.

The little zoo can easily be viewed in under 20 minutes (even with commentary), but its value is enormous.  It has several partner zoos from all over the world, and a representative from the Czech Zoo - Pavel - was there at the time.  Most of the staff were young.  When I asked Irish, the resident biologist, which area I should best go to see a rainforest, she mentions Patag foremost.  She gave me a Forestry contact's number, who I could coordinate with if I decided to go.  She also introduced me to Joy who was the island manager of Danjungan for the Tourism Department and was also at the Zoo office.  Prior to meeting Joy, I never though that I could actually visit the island since it was mentioned in my guidebook that tourists weren't allowed.  But it seemed that nowadays a few at a time could now take daytrips or even stay overnight.  Both trips : Patag and Danjungan, however, have to be coordinated through official channels.

The Provincial Capitol building at…
The Provincial Capitol building a…
Negros Museum - impossible to find…
Negros Museum - impossible to fin…
One of several statues bordering t…
One of several statues bordering …
Negros Biodiversity Center
Negros Biodiversity Center
Visayan Tarctic Hornbill
Visayan Tarctic Hornbill
Partner zoos
Partner zoos
Visayan Spotted Deer
Visayan Spotted Deer
Visyan Warty Pig
Visyan Warty Pig
Kuwago (Owl)
Kuwago (Owl)
My volunteer guide, Dennis.
My volunteer guide, Dennis.
Neo-classical facade
Neo-classical facade
Kids at the Capitol Park
Kids at the Capitol Park
Bacolod
photo by: docime30