Download your Sweet Spot Timeline Cover!

Welcome to Negros Island, the SWEET SPOT of the Philippines!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Negros Occidental Kicks Off Tour Guiding Course Today

The 21-day Negros Occidental Tour Guiding Course will start this week (March 20-22) with the following speakers and topics:

1. Former Governor Rafael Coscolluela - The Sugar Industry: History, Social, & Ecological Issues

2. Mr. Roque Hofilena, President of Negros Occidental Historical Council and Former Provincial Planning & Development Officer - Understanding Geography

3. Mr. Ivan Henares - President, Heritage Conservation Society - Heritage Conservation

4. Ms. Christina Gaston - President, Association of Negros Producers - The ANP Story and An Intro to Negrense Arts and Crafts

5. Mr. Ramil Basuel - Department of Tourism-Manila - Overview of the Philippine Tourism Industry and the Economics of Tourism

6.Ms. Ruth Cruz - President, Negros Island Tourism Inc. - The Role of Tour Guides in Destination Marketing

7. Mr. Rudy Reveche - Performing Arts Director of Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod & NCCA Committee Member on Dramatic Arts - Understanding Filipino Dance and Music

8. Ms. Mae Buaron - Senior Trade & Industry Development Specialist - Products of Negros and the Visayas

9. Tin Mansinares of the Province of Negros Occidental

The course takes up all weekends from today until the last weekend of May 2015 and will help provide more competent and knowledgeable tour guides for the province.

Interest in Negros Occidental among national tourists is on the upside given the popularity of the Masskara Festival, the Ruins in Talisay, the heritage houses in Silay, Millionaire's Row in Bacolod, the beaches in Sipalay, and many other interesting points of interest.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Street You Shouldn't Miss When In Bacolod City

This summer, more than a hundred thousand tourists from Metro Manila and all over the Philippines will visit Negros Island, the Sweet Spot of the Philippines.  The first stop for those who land on the Occidental side will be Bacolod City.

For those who follow what is usually written on travel books and blogs, the visitors will find themselves seeing the Negros Museum, the Provincial Capitol of Negros Occidental, and the Ruins (which is technically located in the next city of Talisay).

What is often missed in Bacolod is a street which was once known as Millionaire's Row.  This street is hardly publicized because most tour guides can only reach back to Bacolod's glory days of the 1960s and the 1970s.  The importance of this street goes back to the pre-war decade of the 1930s.

It was back in the 1930s when Generoso M. Villanueva, a prominent sugar planter, and his wife Paz, built the first art deco  structure in Bacolod City. Designed solely by the owner, the three-story, poured-concrete steel reinforced building with graceful curved balconies, parapets, and porthole steel-cased windows looks like the Titanic on land. It was known among the locals as the Boat House. Among family, though, it was simply called Daku Balay (the big house).

On the same street, another similar daku balay (big house) also shows the glorious past of Negros and Bacolod City.  This is the house of Don Mariano Ramos.

Mariano Ramos was among the first Presidente Municipals appointed in Bacolod City.  At that time, Bacolod was not yet chartered as a city and thus did not have any mayor yet.  Mariano Ramos was a former classmate of Manuel L. Quezon in Letran and the late president did stop by this house often during his many trips to Negros Island.

Between the two mansions mentioned are other houses which are resplendent of Bacolod's glorious pre-war past.  It is of little wonder then that during the Japanese occupation in World War 2, the head of the Japanese Imperial Army, headed by General Takeshi Kono, took over the houses in Millionaire's Row as these two houses had the tallest miradors (viewing towers) to observe the city from all directions.

The Japanese Imperial Army commanded all forces occupying Negros from Millionaire's Row until the surrender in August 1945.

The street known as Millionaire's Row is commonly known today as Burgos Street.  In the same manner that one visits Lombard Street (the most crooked street in the world) in San Francisco, or the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, or Las Ramblas in Barcelona, one should not miss Burgos Street when in Bacolod City.

All mansions can be viewed from the street as these are all still closed to the public, except one which is the Dizon-Ramos Museum.

Photo credits to Voltaire Siacor (Villanueva Art Deco House) and Lloyd Tronco (Mariano Ramos House)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Visit to the Don Mariano Ramos Ancestral House

posted by Enrico Dee
on September 19, 2011

Last Friday I had the very rare chance of getting inside the Don Mariano Ramos Ancestral House located along Burgos Street in Bacolod City. When I was still in college I get to pass by this house everyday as jeepneys coming from the University of St. La Salle would pass by this area before going to the downtown Bacolod.

During my college years, I can only get a glimpse of its top half, since the gate is quite high and is always closed. But I was so overjoyed when finally, I was able to set foot in Don Mariano Ramos Ancestral House.

The house in painted in white is owned by Don Mariano Ramos. He was appointed to the position of Presidente Municipal of Bacolod.During that time the position is equivalent to the city mayor. The mansion was built in the 30's and was designed with Castilian and Tuscan influences. The house has 3 floors including the octagonal shaped tower on its left side.

The house was once used by the Japanese forces as their headquarters. Today, the house is occupied by the family. That is why this mansion, though rich in history, is still off limits to the public unless you know a family member there.

I also got a glimpse of its sala and dining area and it is still intact. The tiles, hard wood floors have never been changed. The stair case is really beautiful.

The long stretch of Burgos Street is used to be called Bacolod’s Millionaire’s row as five mansions have been built here adjacent to each other. But actually the owners of all the five houses are related to each other either by bloodline or by marriage.  And just like the Don Mariano Ramos Ancestral House, the other houses in this area is also off limits to the public.

 It is said that Former President Manuel L Quezon is a classmate of Don Mariano Ramos, and he is just one of the very prominent personalities who have been to this place.

It was an afternoon of information overload, tracing the family tree of the Ramos family. I am so happy to learn about their family history. I was able to picture out what was Bacolod during its time.

Many thanks to Manong Lloyd for bringing us inside the house!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bacolod Jazzfest 2015 : Claude Diallo

The Bacolod Jazz Festival which is now on its 6th Edition this year, heats up with featured artist, Claude Diallo.

Passion. Joy. Love. Life. These words only begin to describe Claude Diallo`s musical universe. With nine self-produced CDs and a live DVD, Claude Diallo continues to aim at his goal: to present his unique compositions and singular style of playing to loyal audiences all over the world. His latest CD project, Live at No Black Tie, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was released on the label NBT Records in 2011.

Claude Diallo was born to a Swiss mother and a French father in St. Gallen, Switzerland, in 1981. He was destined to become a musician, as both parents played violin in the symphony orchestra. Inspired by Oscar Peterson’s fiery music, the young pianist was turned on to his true love- Jazz!

Between 2004 and 2006, Claude Diallo completed his Bachelor Degree in Performance, under the guiding hands of Danilo Perez, Raymond Santisi, and Frank Carlberg, at the renowned Berklee College of Music. During his studies in Boston, he had the extraordinary privilege of learning from the late Charlie Banacos- truly one of the best jazz educators of our time! Acclaimed musicians Joe Lovano, Andy McGhee, Kenwood Dennard, and Bob Moses further helped Claude Diallo find his own voice.

In 2007 Claude Diallo followed his dream; to live and play jazz in New York City! He earned his Master`s Degree from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queen`s College in 2008. While there, he studied with David Berkman (piano), Michael Mossman (arrangement and composition), Antonio Hart (improvisation), and Dr. Howard Brofsky (jazz history).

Claude Diallo`s many accolades include: finalist in 2009 at the Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition and the 2008 and 2011 recipient of the Cultural Achievement Award from his hometown of St. Gallen.

His performances range from solo piano to small bands as a leader and sideman, in locales including: New York, Boston, Washington D.C, Montreux Jazz Festival, Lucerne Festival, Zurich, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Tel Aviv, Sao Paulo, Tirana, Luxembourg, Berlin, Hannover, Munich, Stuttgart, Vienna, Paris, Madrid, the Dominican Republic and even the Islands of the Maldives.

Claude Diallo organized his ASIA TOUR- 2010 through Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong, taking his trio, Claude Diallo Situation, with him. The trio was founded in April 2007 with Swiss drummer Massimo Buonanno and French electric bassist Laurent Salzard. Some of the tour`s highlights were a performance at the Taipei International Jazz Festival, and a VIP gala dinner performance for the Swiss President, Doris Leuthard, in Singapore.

Claude Diallo has been privileged to accompany and record with such jazz greats as Andy McGhee, Denzal Sinclaire, Luques Curtis, James Williams, Louis Cato, Daniel Schnyder, Julian Chan, Brad Leali, Bruna Caram, Jennifer Holliday, Beat Kaestli, Angelita Li and Kenwood Dennard.

In 2012, 30 year old, New York-based Claude Diallo continues to use his international network by reaching out to new destinations in Europe and exploring the Asian Jazz Market.

Join Claude Diallo’s world of music and be part of his musical journey!

Claude Diallo performs at the Bacolod Jazzfest 2015.

Tickets available at the L'Fisher Hotel.

Bacolod Jazzfest : Homegrown talent Mari Pena

The Bacolod Jazz Festival which is now on its 6th Edition this year, heats up with homegrown talent(guitarist) Mari Pena. Mari is the son of Reena Gamboa-Pena and Boy Pena.

Tickets available at the L'Fisher Hotel.

Bacolod Jazzfest Update : Kristen Fletcher Trio

The Bacolod Jazz Festival which is now on its 6th Edition this year, heats up with featured artists, Kristen Fletcher Trio.

Tickets available at the L'Fisher Hotel.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kabankalan All Set with Negros Sinulog Queen

Hot on the heels of his work directing the coronation night of Pinay Beauty Queen Academy, Direk Edu Pillora seems to be the indefatigable director these days as he ramps up preparations for Negros Sinulog Queen to be held in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental mid-January 2015.

Everything is coming into play as Kabankalan celebrates Sinulog for 2015.

Great work Direk Edu!
Direk Edu Pillora at work with the ladies from Negros Sinulog Queen.