Plaza Publica On The Web


Inset: Spanish-era depiction of the Cathedral and the Plaza Publica.

Social Networking has been a stigma that started in my very generation where the world wide web cemented communications. The need to connect back home has been a thirst quenched by social networking sites like Facebook. Negrénses are one of the groups of people that subscribe avidly to social networking being a very sociable in nature. In Facebook, there is a Virtual Bacólod group called “You Know You’re From Bacolod, Philippines If…” which gathers more than 10,000 Negrénses worldwide from all professions, beliefs and facets of life. Yesterday, Virtual Bacólod just turned a page on its third month and still keeps going strong. While Facebook is believed to be dying somehow, this group seems to be keeping it alive with threads ranging from the serious issues to the joke white or green. It is where truly there can be unity in diversity and where everyone seems to know each other though they have never met before in person. This begs the question: How could this have possibly happened?

Inset: The pre-war photo of the Plaza Publica with the historic bandstand still standing today.

While I have mentioned coffee shops as being the radio of yesteryears when there was none, the Plaza Publica has been the scene of afternoon gatherings after mass at the Cathedral. Most of the roadside coffee shops’ patrons are men but after-mass gatherings are people of all genders, profession and social status. What you have here is your primordial social networking long before the internet was born or when the people’s idea of a computer is still somewhere near your ancient abacus. Where your daily diarios forgot to write details, it is here that news or hearsays come to life. Maybe you also have exchange of recipes among women, the latest price of sugar trading per picul among men or the showcase of the latest toys for the kids. Sounds familiar, isn’t it? Because this exactly what is being done in your social networking minus the distracting faces or the occasional bad breaths to say the least. The popularity of social networking and interaction among Virtual Negrénses is no rocket science after all. You have here adaptive behavioral patterns that gels your age old practices with modern technology.

Inset: The aerial view of the Plaza Publica with the iconic checkered flooring.

As recent as my childhood days, I still remember the Plaza Publica as the place where families spend their afternoons and religious debates or evangelistic crusades were a norm. Lately, I have mourned over the sad state of the Plaza Publica on how it is not what it used to be thinking that these are gone. When I think the close knit social atmosphere of Bacólod City is gone, I was proven wrong. After all, technology is rapidly changing and Negrénses have learned to adapt. Your after-mass gatherings was transported form your physical Plaza Publica to an online Plaza Publica. In this sense, Virtual Bacólod is continuing the legacy of the Plaza Publica after all. Your Virtual Bacólod is not totally virtual as well with countless eyeballs or meet-ups happening around the world among the diaspora Negrénse Community. The curious twist that the group’s founder and the administrator is from that same diaspora like me too. Just a little bit of trivia, Virtual Bacólod is the lolo of most “You Know…” and “Taga-” groups that sprouted as of late.

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The Virtual Bacólod photo threads are the source of most photos posted in this article.

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About Mark Mayo - Magallanes

MARK MAYO - MAGALLANES – blogger by passion, cook by hobby, student by life, theater actor by fate, writer by work, and Christian by grace. Part Filipino, Chinese and Spanish by blood, he is proudly 100% Negrénse. His love for his home Island of Negros, heritage and lifestyle has led him to write much about it and full-time, all-time. View all posts by Mark Mayo - Magallanes

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