Football fans in the country would always remember that first major win of the Philippines against Mongolia and that I remember very well. I was not able to see the game but I have a close personal connection with the place where it was held, Panaad Park and Stadium. The almost decade and a half stadium was built just in time for Palarong Pambansa in 2000 the at dawn of the new millenium. Since then, it has hosted local, regional, national and international events with the Southeast Asian Games as this Stadium’s highlight, and was adopted as home stadium of the Philippine National Football Team or Team Azkals.
Aside from being host to a number of football games and sporting events, Panaad Park and Stadium is also home to theme booths of the Negros Occidental’s thirteen cities, including Bacólod City, and nineteen towns. Once a year on the second week of April, the booths come alive as week-long Panaad sa Negros Festival is celebrated in the Park Grounds. Cities and towns in full prep up of their booths showcase the products and that they can offer. In some of booths, they even serve local cuisine to hungry visitors who want to experience the food that one may expect to see when they visit these towns or cities in Negros.
Panaad Park is a lovely refreshing place full of eucalyptus trees and I do remember the place as a eucalyptus grove before it was developed. It was part of my routine to jog in the area amidst the cool fresh air or walk to the house of my grandmother in another village. Panaad sa Negros Festivals are always fun days when people from all over Negros with tourists suddenly flock the area by the thousands. Cars stream to the area and making the two-lane streets jampacked. Since there are activities everyday, I would go there to check out the native items up for sale or try out every free tastes that city or town booths offer.
Last December, I did not pass the chance to go around the area to cool off and relive wonderdul childhood memories. A lot has changed but it is still the same refreshing park. The booths are grouped by their respective legislative districts on a large block bordered by the Entrance Road, Exit Road, and the Stadium Road. The booths nearest the stadium are those from District I and District VI which from the District I booths, the sequence traverses the Entrance Road and terminates back at the Main Stadium Road with District VI. A tour around Panaad is liking touring around Negros Occidental already minus the hours-long travel.
THE THEMED PAVILIONS FOR DISTRICT I:
Composed of the cities of San Carlos and Escalante with the towns of Calatrava, Toboso and Don Salvador Benedicto, District I is a dynamic mix of mountain greens and blue seas. By the seaside, you have the ports in San Carlos and Escalante as the province’s gateway from Cebú and by the mountains, you have Don Salvador Benedicto touted as the Summer Capital of Negros Occidental with its cool environment with organic greens and the sweetest pineapples. San Carlos City nipped the international scene by winning as a world-class city with a big thanks to the city’s green sustainable industrial and urban planning programs.
THE THEMED PAVILIONS FOR DISTRICT II:
The District II is composed of a dynamic trio, the cities of Sagay and Cadiz with the town of Manapla. Sagay and Cadiz are port cities but the busiest one is the Port of Cadiz being the Seafood Capital of Negros Occidental and a jump-off point to the Island of Bantayan in Cebú. Both cities are tourist destinations as well with the white sand Lakawon Island a major drawer while nearby Sagay on the other hand is known for its marine biodiversity being the home of Carbin Reef. Manapla is the home of the famous Manapla puto. Its major attraction is the Gaston Mansion with the Chapel of Cartwheels as represented in their Panaad pavilion.
THE THEMED PAVILIONS FOR DISTRICT III:
District III, composed of the cities of Talisay, Silay and Victorias with towns of Enrique B. Magalona and Murcia, is the richest of all districts in Negros Occidental. It is an industrial and commercial center with two of its cities, Talisay and Silay, being part of Metro Bacólod, host to Bacólod-Silay International Airport and home of Victorias Milling Company, the largest sugar mill in the Island. Silay City is the cultural center being host to thirty ancestral homes while Talisay also hosts a few notably the house of Negros Republic President Aniceto Lacson and The Ruins, the skeleton of the former mansion of his brother Mariano Lacson.
THE THEMED PAVILION FOR BACÓLOD CITY:
Constituting a single legislative district, Bacólod City is the capital of Negros Occidental and the heartland of the Sugarlandia. This is my hometown, loving all its developments yet keeping natural greens into the picture. Moneysense Magazine featued it as the country’s most liveable city. A trip to Bacólod is an ultimate foodtrip and heritage foods like the original and authentic chicken inasal is a must try in Manokan Country or seafood treats at Pala-Pala. Desserts are good at Calea, Felicia’s, Bob’s and many more cake shops. The new City Hall and the Plaza Bandstand are iconic structures blended in the City’s Panaad Pavilion.
THE THEMED PAVILIONS FOR DISTRICT IV:
District IV comprised of the cities of Bago and La Carlota with the towns of Pulupandan, Pontevedra, Valladolid and San Enrique are curious mix of industries. Just crossing from Bacólod, big industrial facilities can be seen at Bago City but after passing by the city center, the Rice Belt of Negros that supplies the province’s rice supply starts here. The main port of jurisdiction for the province is in Pulupandan that includes BREDCO Port in Bacólod. Pontevedra is the ancestral town of my family and home to Conjuangco’s ECJ Farms while diwal and other shellfishes are must tries in the towns of Valladolid and notably San Enrique.
THE THEMED PAVILIONS FOR DISTRICT V:
The Rice Belt of Negros continues and terminates here at District V, a historical district. Composed of the towns of Isabela, La Castellana, Moises Padilla, Hinigaran and Binalbagan with Himamaylan City, it is what we can call the cradle of Negros for the settlements first started here. Brgy. Payao is one of the oldest Spanish settlements while Himamaylan was the second capital of Negros before Bacólod. The crops planted in this town is mostly rice with sugarcane but town of La Castellana has been the Coffee Capital of Negros while Hinigaran is known for oysters. This was the district of the late Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” T. Arroyo.
THE THEMED PAVILIONS FOR DISTRICT VI:
The CHICKS Area, the informal common name for District VI is the last district of the province. CHICKS stands for the towns and cities that composes it namely Candoni, Hinobaan, Ilog, Cauayan, Kabankalan City and Sipalay City. This district is better known for its beautiful white sand beaches which are foreign tourist drawers of the province, especially that of Sipalay City that has earned its monicker as the Jewel of Negros. CHICKS Area was the scene of bloody insurgency and poverty but its rise from a backwater to an economic power second only to that of Metro Bacólod is an administrative miracle due to good leadership.
Just to add to your information overload, Panaad means “promise” in Hiligaynon and Panaad sa Negros means “promise in Negros”. Indeed a promise fulfilled indeed since the province has risen our from the sugar crisis that has hit it in the 1980’s during the height of the Martial Law Era. Learned a lot about Negros from our photo tour? You’ll learn more and to know the locals better if you go to Panaad sa Negros Festival. This year’s weeklong Festival will start on April 9 with the highlight on April 13 for the Lin-ay sa Negros Pageant and will end on April 15, 2012. The full schedule will be posted in this blog after this post soon.