My Saturday mornings are usually boring times for me that I sleep until lunchtime but yesterday was meant to be a different one. I am in Bacólod and it was the day for which purpose I am back in my hometown. With a few people from Negros Bloggers, we hitched a ride with Atty. Eli and Elena Gatanela of BusinesSphereConsulting.com, the couple who sponsored my ticket for this event. While I was waiting for the Gatanelas in front of the former Sweet Greens Restaurant, fellow Negros Blogger and Skyscrapercity Bacólod forummer Glady Tomulto of ExperienceNegros.com passed by and let me have a lift to the lovely residence of the good couple. Picking up the tokens for the event, we headed out from the bustling streets of Bacólod City to the historic Silay City.
Cruising along the city’s prime thoroughfare, the car passed by Two SanParq, the current title holder of Western Visayas’ tallest building at 70m high. These kinds of structures are just the usual in my daily runnings in Metropolitan Manila but for a city that saw a rise and fall of the economy, this heralds a changing lifestyle for the Bacoleños. Give the city 5 more years of an economic boom and you will see a city filled with more of these and taller. For now, my hometown is not the star of the day for we will also revisit the beauteous wonder of Silay City. As we cruised on, the scenery changed from the bustling construction booms of Bacólod City to the sugarcane fields of the suburbs and the countryside.
All around, I saw sugarcane and the sugarcane flowers are in bloom too, an indication that the sugarcanes are ready to be harvested anytime soon. Sugar was and still is the province’s prime export crop, with this same product building and enriching the lush and pomp of Silay City. Silay City is the Paris of Negros for its beautiful ancestral houses financed by the fat income of the sugar industry. This scenery in fact repeats itself all over the island which supply the country’s need for sugar. Buying sugar from your grocery store, more than likely, that sugar is from Negros. As we went near the Silay City downtown, the scenery of sugarcane fields are now changed to these famed heritage houses towered by the mighty San Diego Pro-cathedral.
As we entered the vicinity of the Sen. Jose C. Locsin Cultural and Civic Center, the first cultural center in the Philippines, we were greeted by the Kabataang Silay Rondalla Ensemble practicing their pieces. The Rondalla Ensemble is a group composed of young Silaynons that won several prestigious awards in the country and abroad. Their presence is proverbial because the main purpose of the Cultural Center is to present the best of local talents, a decade and a half longer than the Cultural Center of the Philippines itself. The same original but highly renovated structure of the Civic Center still stands after half a century and is now named after a great Silaynon statesman, a testament to the late Senator’s contribution to the city.
The mayor arrived just in time for the 2pm schedule and had a little chit chat with Negros Bloggers and other bloggers present. I was fortunate enough to have exchanged cards with the great man. I have never seen a politician his age that is actually well versed with the latest of technology, someone who did not need to ask what a blog even means. This actually also translate to the fact that the Silay City Plaza is one big wi-fi zone. No wonder why he gave a resounding yes to the Negros Bloggers in having the blog awards in Silay City for he knew the power of technology which can help in promoting Silay City to the world. New media like blogs and social networking is now a strong force to reckon with, going where traditional media cannot reach.
The program started well and highlighted the Mayor’s good sense of technology which he invited the bloggers to write about Silay all the more. A pretty good number of bloggers arrived from all over Western Visayas to receive their respective awards. The winners of the Philippine Blog Awards Visayas are as follows:
- Culture and Arts – Tumandok
- Food and Beverage – Flavours of Iloilo
- Lifestyle – RandomThoughts
- Personal – The Young Pinoy Blogger
- Photoblog – onethirdpoundpatty
- Technology – Leon Kilat: The Cybercafe Experiments
- Travel – Backpack Traveler
As heaven’s answered our prayers, a Negros Blogger won an award in the awards but in a curious providence, he not only won an award but won two for two of his blogs. Sir Gil Camporazo, a Negros Blogger and a school principal from La Carlota City bagged the day with two awards. He and other winners received the “arado” token as a symbol of their labor of love in their blogs. Each will also receive a trophy in the likeness of Kansilay, a legendary pre-colonial Silaynon princess who embodies the very trait of Silay: courage, resilience and grace.
During and after the program, the bloggers munched on local treats from Silay and Merci Pasalubong which was in abudance. Leo Vision did a good service too in documenting the whole occasion so expect a good quality post of pictures and videos later on. We were also graced by the representatives of AirPhil Express and Smart Communications who listened attentively to the bloggers’ notes. Despite a few cliches, the event was an astounding success. This was possible because of not just 100% but 200% support of the City Government of Silay and the sponsors. Tomorrow, the City of Silay is extending further their help by hosting a free tour of the city to be led by the Tourism Officer of Silay City himself, Mr. Ver Pacete.
Just like the tall yet humble image of Jose Rizal standing by the door of the Cultural and Civic Center, Silay City and Negros Bloggers has proven well. Silay City is continuing to bustle in economic activity yet still aware of the rich cultural heritage that lies on its doorstep. This city was, is and will be a model of other cities in balancing history with modern progress. Negros Bloggers on the other hand has proven well and will continue to bring light to the beloved province by blogging. Everything does not end with the Philippine Blog Awards Visayas 2011 for there are other major activities that Negros Bloggers will be hosting. For later, Negros Bloggers and the rest of the Visayan Bloggers will see Silay up close in the not so usual yet beautiful sceneries and culinary adventure.