(SPOT.ph) Bacolod City in Negros Occidental is one of Negros Island’s busiest hubs. It’s not only a go-to destination for the MassKara Festival (a.k.a. the Philippines’ own Mardi Gras) or a haven for the sweet tooth, but also a hotspot for specialty shops and souvenir stores—especially if you know where to go. Before you know it, you’re already bringing bags and boxes of island souvenirs for your loved ones.
Here are 10 cool places to shop in Bacolod City:
When you visit a new place, it's highly likely to find a shirt with the destination loudly printed on it. If you want to buy some for your friends back home, head over to Azatri Souvenirs. Known for their ethnic, embossed tribal and original design conceptualized by their owners and in-house designers, their shirts are definitely not the kind that can be produced in large quantities and would be difficult to find elsewhere. It is one of the oldest shops that provide high quality and locally made souvenir products to Bacolod and Negros tourists, having been in business for more than 20 years.
Azatri Souvenirs is at Lot 7, Block 9, St. Francis Street, Greensville II, Barangay Villamonte, Bacolod City, Nergros Occidental. It is open from Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bailon Food Specialties
Negros Island isn’t called the “Sugarbowl of the Philippines” for nothing. So of course, some must-visits when you’re in Sugarlandia are the troves of snack shops, such as Bailon—known for its thin, crispy, airy piayas that are almost wafer-like. It has a thin layer of muscovado, but also features layers of nutty and smoky flavors. Claiming to be the home of the original Bacolod piaya, they have been in business for about five decades. The newly reopened food outlet, after its renovation, still retains its past features mixed with more contemporary designs.
Bailon Food Specialties is at 17 San Sebastian Street, Barangay 13, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. It is open from Monday to Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
ChiEvs Stones and Crystals
For those who love colorful and sparkling trinkets to match their mood or outfit, ChiEvs sells fashion accessories made of crystals and precious stones. Though the materials are not sourced from Negros, the items are 100% Negrense for creativity and craftsmanship. You can already find these fashionable accessories at Robinsons Place Bacolod. The owner plans to open a stand-alone store to have a space dedicated to people who want to make their own jewelry, so that's also something to look forward to in your next visit!
ChiEvs Stones and Crystals is at The Association of Negros Producers Showroom, Central City Walk, Robinsons Place Bacolod, Lacson Street, Mandalagan, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. It is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.
Fresh Start Organic
Fresh Start, an all-natural store, café, and juice bar, is known for their Mt. Kanlaon and Negrense Organic Coffee. But you can also drop by if you’re on the lookout for natural essential oils, insect repellants, massage oils, and other personal care products. They also sell well-packed black, red, and brown rice, as well as fresh herbs and vegetables. Don’t forget to grab a smoothie made with organic ingredients while you’re there.
Fresh Start is along Araneta Avenue, Pahanocoy, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. They also have branches at Robinsons Place Bacolod and SM Bacolod.
Jojo Vito Designs Gallery
Your Bacolod collection won’t be complete without a mask. From masks in different sizes to materials (yes, you can find masks made out of papier-mâché and fiberglass here), you can find it at Jojo Vito Designs Gallery. It is Bacolod’s “House of Masks,” after all. And if you want to get creative, you can paint and design your very own mask in this gallery, too!
Jojo Vito Designs Gallery is at 119 Kapitana Dicang-Alunan, Araneta Avenue, Bacolod, Negros Occidental. It is open from Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m to 5 p.m.
Looking for fashionable bags to match your OOTDs? Kiculo Crafts sells one-of-a-kind bags that are intricately woven by skillful women and artisans. They make use of indigenous materials, such as beads and local leather, to make their products truly Negrense.
Kiculo Crafts is at The Association of Negros Producers Showroom, Central City Walk, Robinsons Place Bacolod, Lacson Street, Mandalagan, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. It is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.
If you like art pieces, just look for Negrense Volunteers for Change—a non-stock and non-profit organization that sells upcycled pieces and gorgeous products made lovingly by its members. What’s nice about buying their products is that you help feed undernourished Filipino children that are beneficiaries of the organization. They also sell bags of batwan (or batuan) powder from a Filipino fruit abundant on the islands of Negros and Panay. It's often used as the secret ingredient for many Ilonggo dishes like kadios, kansi, and inasal.
Negrense Volunteers for Change is at M-13H Negros First Cyber Center, Lacson Street, Barangay 39, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. It is open from Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sugarlandia established its name before other pasalubong centers sprouted in the city and all over the province. A family business that started way back in the 1930s, it is the oldest maker of Bacolod snacks, producing the best barquillos and biscocho in the city. They’re also known for their piaya, banana pinasugbo, barquiron, lubid-lubid, galletas, otap, meringue and other special home-processed delicacies.
Sugarlandia is at 36 Lizares-Yulo Street, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. It is open from Monday to Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and every Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tumandok Crafts Industries
Want to shop for furniture or novelty pieces that you can add to your home? Tumandok, which means “native inhabitant” in Hiligaynon, is a handicraft company known for their furniture, lamps, housewares, and wall décor. The micro-enterprise started out in October 1988, adding more products to their shelves over the years and even surviving a big fire that gutted their factory in 2003.
Tumandok Crafts Industries’ showroom is at G/F Cybergate Robinsons, Singcang, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.
Have you seen those colorful flattened bottles turned into wind chimes, ashtrays, serving plates, and other usable wares? Yssa’s Crafts is the main producer of these upcycled décor, and while they don’t have a stand-alone store, you can easily find them at a local mall in Bacolod City.
Yssa’s Crafts is at The ANP Showroom, Central City Walk, Robinsons Place Bacolod, Lacson Street, Mandalagan, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. It is open daily, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. Their production house is at Block 2 Lot 8, Villasor Avenue, Gardenville Subdivision, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.