Amy Fancourt looks at three ways to soak up the colorful attractions of the Philippines’ Bacolod City, also known as ‘the City of Smiles’
Every October, the people of Bacolod pay tribute to the economic crisis that hit their city in the 1980s. Rather than hosting a somber affair, the local Negrenses throw a party highlighting their staunch positivity and showcasing their ability to wear a happy face in times of misfortune. Thousands of locals and tourists take to the streets wearing vibrant masks decorated with broad, bright smiles. Activities on offer include pig-catching, pole-climbing and mask-making competitions. The celebrations start in early October but the main event usually takes place on the weekend closest to the 19th. philippinestravelhub.com/events/masskara-festival/
Bacolod City hosts a number of professional and amateur street dance competitions and performances throughout the year. Watch local dance troupes putting on a show or keep an eye out for indoor events to see adults and children dancing to the beat of Latin-style music. Dance enthusiasts will have a ball in this city famed for its rhythm.
Swimming with Turtles on Apo Island
Those wanting to escape the bustle of Bacolod City can travel by bus from Cebu to Damaguete, a city on the island’s southern coast, for around P250 ($5.30). Charter a fishing boat and take a day trip to Apo Island, where you can snorkel in turquoise waters and swim alongside giant sea turtles. Fishing boats can be hired for around PHP2150 ($46).