Category Archives: Travel

Merci Contributes to Negros Tourism with Tourist Bus Launch

Inset: The new Merci Bus, a tourist bus, parked outside the new City Hall.

Merci Pasalubong, the largest pasalubong retail chain in Negros Island and one of the largest in the Philippines, gives back to the Island’s tourism industry as they will launch their latest contribution – Merci (tourist) Bus. Tour groups wishing to travel around Negros can now enjoy the comforts offered by this spacious 31-seater bus with reclining seats and an inbuilt entertainment system for long travels. The bus medicine kits, fire extinguishers and a variety of communications systems in case of possible emergencies.

Inset: The interior shot with the reclining seats of the 31-seater Merci Bus.

As Merci Pasalubong is known for its yummy pasalubong delicacies, they will also be offering for sale Merci food items onboard for a smooth trip without having to go on a stopover to buy food. For a special package, the food items will be served onboard the bus while those interested can get a bonus package of touring the Merci Commissary Compound to see first hand how the quality Merci products are made. Tour participants will be given complimentary bottled water and fans, fit for summer tours in the Negros Island.

Inset: The Merci Bus now ready to service guests visiting Negros Island.

The Merci Bus will be ready to service our valuable guests and tourists around the wonderful attractions of Negros Island as it will be launched at the steps of the Provincial Capitol of Occidental Negros on October 3, 2012, Wednesday, 3pm in Bacolod City graced by Governor Alfredo Marañon, Jr. For more information on the Merci Shuttle Bus, please call Landline (034) 702-3189 or mobile numbers Globe 0917-3048267, Smart 0928-5041751 or Sun 0922-2813181 or email Ria Akamatsu at


Experience Nature and Adventure at Mambukal Resort

Family weekend getaway at Mambukal Resort, June 2008

Fed up with the heat of summer down at the bustling cities? Why not take a break and go to somewhere cooler and refreshing? My family would always have a certain place as the top choice – Mambukal Resort. Mambukal Resort has been a household name in the City of Smiles. A trip to Mambukal has been a sort of nature pilgrimage for the family every summer when we used to live in the Bacolod City or every visit since we moved to Manila with relatives from the United States.

Main Entrance Driveway of Mambukal Resort

Greeneries and old forest trees dot the Mambukal Resort

Less than an hour‘s drive from the capital Bacolod City, Mambukal Resort boasts a wide array of attractions which includes the famed hot springs, cold springs, trek to the seven waterfalls, boating lagoon, green camping grounds, fruit bat sanctuary and a butterfly garden. The whole property, while situated in the town of Murcia, is an independent resort township and is managed by the Province of Negros Occidental. In fact, there is a Governor’s Mansion in the secluded part of the resort which functions as the official retreat house of the Provincial Governor.

Mambukal Resort's Hot Sulfuric Pool

Boiling Sulfuric Mud near the Hot Sulfuric Pool

The best know feature of Mambukal Resort is the Hot Sulfuric Pool located near the Camping Grounds. Mambukal Resort is one of the heat vents of nearby Mt. Kanlaon and the water at the sulfuric pool is boiling hot which can cook an egg. You would not try to mess up and fall in the pool for the extremely hot temperature at the bottom of the pool. Water from the Sulfuric Pool is channeled and cooled to bearable limits for the Dipping Pool. The high sulfur content of the red mud by the Sulfuric Pool makes for a good mud pack. In fact, some tourists make it a point to take some mud for skin care use since sulfur mud is known to treat skin diseases and makes the skin soft and supple.

Mud-Pack Festival Dancers pose for a photo-op at Mambukal Resort

Tita Titing with the festival models in a photo circa June 2008

Mambukal Resort‘s sulfuric mud and its medicinal properties has so gained fame by itself that the resort-township has organized an annual Mud-Pack Festival every June. Local festival dancers take it to the streets and driveways of Mambukal for fanfare. Models display artistic body paint works by local artists, drawing tourists in the normally lean season. Tourists are also welcome to be painted by local artists and join in a show of joie d’ vivre.

The Philippine Fruit Bat or the Flying Fox in the sanctuary at Mambukal

Flying Foxes perching by a tall tree near the Dipping Pool

Did I mention that Mambukal Resort is also a sanctuary for the Philippine Fruit Bat or what we know as Flying Fox? Bats are a common sight in Mambukal, perching on tall trees and their usual spots are those near the Dipping Pool by the Bridge which happens to be one of the areas where these bats have their dwelling and proven by the deposits and stench of guano. The small river under the bridge is actually an upland body of Bago River which finds its source up in the mountains.

New Trail by the river to the First Falls

Mambukal Resort's First Falls

Tracing the source of Bago River, you will be led to another famed attraction of Mambukal Resort, the Seven Falls. Mambukal Resort has a guided trail that will lead you all the way to the Seventh Falls up in the mountain. The trail is for those with solid stamina and have an adventurous heart since the trail is steep even though a path has been cleared. Even though the First to Fifth Falls are closer, a no-swimming policy is imposed since there are occassional rock slides from the top of the falls but swimming in the Sixth and Seventh Falls are allowed.

Tourist jumping to the deep pool by the foot of the Sixth Falls

Shallow Dipping Pool by the refreshments hut above the Sixth Falls

The Sixth Falls is usually the last stop for most trekkers since the trek to the Seventh Falls would take a few more minutes up. While the falls here is not as grand and big as the other falls, one feature that sets it apart is the natural pool at the bottom which is approximately seven to eight feet deep, making it appropriate for cliff jumpers. Those who are afraid of the height and depth would usually wallow instead at the shallow pool above the Sixth Falls.

Trekking trail by the potable drinking stream to the Seventh Falls

Wild Flower growing healthy by the trail to the Seventh Falls

Mambukal Resort is all about adventure and it would not be real adventure until you have reached the Seventh Falls. This falls is the most isolated of the Seven Falls but the excellent view along the way is what makes it special. Unlike the previous trails, the trail leading to the Seventh Falls is situated in a flat plateau where a curious variety of plants grow. If you are lucky enough, you will be able to have sightings of forest creatures and some non-venomous snakes.

The last leg of the trail before reaching the Seventh Falls

The Seventh Falls with some local and American Tourists circa 2011

The trail finally ends at the Seventh Falls and the advantage of it situated far from the rest of the falls is that there are lesser people except on certain days. Waters are cooler here, almost ice cold in fact since the falls is shaded the water is rushing fast to the other falls below. In some pockets, waters can reach up to six feet but most parts are just well within five feet. Even in its seclusion, the area is carefully guarded by the resort personnel to make sure no one would leave trash. If you happen to reach the Seventh Falls, do stay up to an hour or so to cool yourself down since its another hour’s hike back down.

Rice terraces in the upland community of Mambukal Resort

Organic Rice being sun-dried at the upland community near Mambukal Resort

The hike back down to the main area of Mambukal Resort is in itself another experience worth taking. On your way down, you would pass by an upland community that is officially part of Murcia‘s Brgy. Minoyan. Some people ignore this part of the trek and hastily go back but I recommend staying by and enjoy native coffee among the residents. Rice is their main crop and some raise pigs for a living. Some do sell rice grains to passersby for a cheap price and those are organic produce, if you are lucky, you may be able to find red rice too.

Flying Foxes perching on trees with the view of Guimaras Strait

Beehive at the bottom of the tree on the trail back to Mambukal Resort

The plateau above the Mambukal Resort premises offers a good view of Bacolod and Talisay Cities by the Guimaras Strait. Curious attractions like the occasional beehives also dot the trail back down while there are rare sightings of green vipers and other kind of snakes by certain bamboo groves along the way. The end of the trail would lead you to the Boating Lagoon where you can rent a paddle boat or just simply stroll by the mini-dam. A wonderfully-kept Butterfly Garden is just nearby just below the mini-dam for those who wants to appreciate the different species of endemic butterflies bred in the facility.

Boating Lagoon near the Family Cottages in Mambukal Resort

Mambukal Resort Main Swimming Pool

For those with endless energy, you may also try the Zip-line or what is called the Slide for Life at Mambukal Resort. There is also Rock Climbing spot for those who are in the mood to climb or a Canopy Walk for the view above the tree line. Mambukal Resort also has two swimming pools depending on your preference and proximity to your cottages. Over at the hot Dipping Pool, you may avail of the services being offered by the Blade Spa. If you want more privacy for a nice hot dip in a sulfur pool, you may opt to occupy a private pool inside the Ishiwata Bath House which actually is the oldest structure in the resort dating back to the pre-war American Era. The bath house was named after its Japanese architect, Kokichi Paul Ishiwata.

LGU Cottages good for a family near the Main Entrance Driveway

Yours truly, my Tita and my cousin in front of the LGU Cottage

If the nature and resort activities are just too much to accomplish in just a single day, you may stay in the cottages offered by Mambukal Resort for accommodation. If you want utmost comfort, you may opt for a Family Cottage which has two separate bedrooms with a hot and cold shower bathroom each and a formal receiving area. If you want a cheaper accommodation, you may opt for the LGU Cottage which is just a single room with beds side by side. Both cottages though are airconditioned and has a kitchen where you can cook your own food. Just book in advance since the resort is often full most of the year.

Photo with my Titas and my Cousins at the First Falls

Why suffer in the sweltering heat if you can just enjoy the lush green sceneries of the mountains? Mambukal Resort definitely remains a top destinations for both tourists and locals alike. The Province of Negros Occidental has recently launched the website of Mambukal Resort for more infos and photos that will surely entice you to come. The undying beauty of the place, the kind and accommodating staff would make you come back. I hope to see you in Mambukal Resort in your next visit to Negros.

Bacolod City Hosts Google Map Maker Summit Visayas

View of the Visayas Islands from Google Maps

Everyday, we spend our time moving from once place to another for whatever purposes. For most of us who travel a lot or simply have a lot of client meetings in places other than your office, you may have consulted Google Maps one way or the other. Indeed, Google Maps have replaced conventional maps in finding your way to your destination especially in an increasing mobile culture. Download Google Maps in your Android, Blackberry or iPhone and you have directions in a click. In terms of tourism, Google Maps has helped one find tourist spots one has never heard or seen before. Places like Guiuan, SamarSipalay City and Apo Island in Negros; and Siquijor Island are beginning to be known for tourist thanks to Google Maps.

Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, part of Panay Islands in Google Maps

In the Visayas, major cities have been accounted for with the latest satellite images. Bacolod City is one of the most updated cities with its numerous constructions happening around the city and its metropolitan component cities of Silay, Talisay and Bago. Even as it is regularly updated, only a few volunteers are doing their part of the editing and is beginning to be a challenge with more building and road constructions. Blind spots or areas without a high-resolution satellite image still exist in Negros Island. While Mambukal has already been accounted for after being in the spot for three years, a big chunk of Sipalay, Candoni and the entire Hinobaan still falls within the blind spot. Daunting since Sipalay and Candoni are home to  nice white-sand beaches with dive spots while Candoni is home to countless unexplored caves in pristine condition.

The Blind Spots of Negros Island in Google Maps: Sipalay City, Candoni and Hinobaan

Not only is Google Maps helpful in tourism, it has proven its worth time  again in dispatching relief in times of disaster. Two disasters have hit the eastern portion of Negros Island in Negros Oriental with the onset of Typhoon Sendong and the Negros Quake in Tayasan, Negros Oriental. Google Maps was used to tag places damaged by the disasters and in need of relief goods with relief centers and relevant facilities. With the increasing importance of Google Maps, there is a need to update and revise some areas of the Google Maps from time to time. Editing is by contributor basis with all of the editing done in a Google Maps support application called Google Map Maker which is a free for all access for geographic and map enthusiasts.

Adding a Perimeter Boundary for Ikthus Bacolod in Google Map Maker

The Philippine Group of Google Map Maker Editors and Enthusiasts are organizing a Google Map Maker Summit in the Visayas at the University of St. La Salle – Bacolod City on April 12, 2012 to promote Map Maker awareness for Visayans, particularly Negrenses. The session from 8:30am to 5:00pm will delve on introduction to Google Map Maker, current work undertaken by Philippine editors with current and potential uses of Google Maps and hands on lessons for first timers or neophytes to Map Maker editing, Panoramio and Sketch Up, a Google Application that makes 3-D models of buildings found on Google Maps and Google Earth. Since it involves computer work, so everyone is requested to bring their own laptop.

Google Maps showing results for a search on Calea at 15th Street, Bacolod City

Worried with what could be the registration fee? No problem since its completely free, an advocacy to help promote disaster relief and tourism efforts especially the recently-launched “Negros Island. Sweet Spot of the Philippines!” tourism campaign. Everyone is welcome but you need to register online with your Map Maker account and niche indicated. Unfortunately not in Bacolod City for that Summit? No problem since they will also be holding summits in Luzon at the University of Baguio on April 14 and in Mindanao at STI College, General Santos City on April 21. Make your summer productive by being part of something that can help you and others in the long run, so log in and join Google Map Maker Summit in the Visayas now.