February 16, 2005

The Good Life

I am in the process of "cleaning" and transferring files from my CPU to diskettes because the new CPU that my good sister sent home via a balikbayan box has arrived. Another person's trash is another person's treasure. So, if you want your relatives' used electronic goods sent to the Philippines, have them shipped in our patently Pinoy balikbayan box. Anyway, I was transferring files when I found this article. It was supposed to be sent to Young Blood but I wasn't sure if they were going to publish it. I sat on it, did not finish the entry and left it in the dustbins of my hard-disk. Since I don't have anything to post today, I thought this will suffice. Hehehehe... read on...

Bacolod. Such a word brings back nostalgic memories of the good and simple life
in this young city. Everything you need is within reach, everything is unhurried
and everything is carefree. It is not a bit like Manila- a decrepit decaying
morass of a black hole whose only existence is to justify suffering. It was only
when I transferred here to enter college that I learned to appreciate the charm
of my hometown and to be proud of its lifestyle.

Life in Negros is very laid back and unhurried. Schoolchildren go home during lunch breaks (either by commuting or being fetched by drivers) or eat at nearby eateries, and still be back inside the gates without even thinking of skipping classes. People don’t use street names, but rather, they use landmarks to define a location. For
instance, we would say that our rendezvous for a school project is at the back of this church, or two blocks after this restaurant, but never at so-and-so street unlike in Manila where everything can be located by street names like Sampaloc, Pedro Gil, EDSA, España, Ortigas, Buendia and Ayala.

Traffic in Bacolod is a joke- a far cry from the maddening race here in Manila. The wide roads, adequate sidewalks, good traffic coordination and concrete embankments make every joyride a pleasure. We have traffic lights but we decide to turn it off. On the commuting side, you shall neither see puffed-up sweating commuters packed like sardines in jeepneys nor queue at serpentine lines to buy MRT tickets. You won’t see distraught bus passengers being held up in the middle of EDSA in broad daylight or bus conductors barking for passengers while clogging the road. In Bacolod, traffic is defined by the three cars in front of you, and honking your horn to show impatience is rare. Jeeps are not that packed to the brim and airconditioned
taxis there never scrutinize your destination for everything in Bacolod is reachable within 30 minutes. No stress, no hassle. Less white hairs.

Many will testify that Bacolod is one of the safest cities in the country. There are virtually no muggings or street hold-ups, no high-chase bank robberies, no salvaging, no kidnappings or frat brawls, which can deter a tourist from venturing out. There, one can rarely find vagrants and infant-toting beggars knocking on your car’s windows. It’s fortunate that Bacoleños are spared from mulcting kotong cops unlike here where they are having a field day everyday. Every night past eight, the main street traffic thin out to a point that one can have a drag racing contest on the main artery. And sometimes they do.

One of the best memories any visitor can have in Bacolod is the food. Ilonggo food. Most are unreasonably cheap, delicious and worthy of an all-night pig-out. This brings to mind original Chicken House Inasal, Bailon’s piaya, Bongbong’s Barquillos & boat tarts, Sugarlandia’s squid rings galletas, El Ideal’s buko and guapple pies, Virgie’s mango tarts & butterscotch, Roli’s Napoleones, batchoy, Bob’s Sate Babe, Pala-pala seafood, Aboy’s Sinugba, and countless others too delicious to mention. Each restaurant has its own specialty, and when you’re accompanied by a Negrense, you’ll sure to have a tour of Bacolod’s food spots. And of course, what is Bacolod without the sweet goodies? They say, you will know if someone has arrived from Bacolod by the sheer number of pasalubong boxes he has brought.

Lastly, the thing that makes Bacolod worth the trip is the cleanliness of the city. The streets are free from hills of garbage or pools of urine, and there are lots of patches of green. The water does not have that metallic taste to it unlike in Cebu. And the air, that invigorating air! One can neither find the stench of fetid garbage there unlike Quiapo and Divisoria (well, carabao shit maybe) nor the heavy exhaust fumes like in the 5pm traffic along Taft. I can still remember years ago when the sugarmill operates at night where they churn all those sugar and molasses thus, perfuming the cool midnight air with the aroma of sugarcane. That really lulls you to sleep.
Now that I think about it, I sure miss Bacolod. Hmmmm... vacation, vacation, vacation.

No comments: