Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of this Bacolod before in your entire life, it’s a relatively small city in the Philippines, about an hour away from the Capital by plane. You may even call it a province but it’s nothing like the country side — it’s well developed and it’s progressing. It’s also known as the City of Smiles and it’s where I was born in and it’s where I am living in now.
The life in my city is pretty laid back, not like in the Capital (Manila) where everybody’s rushing to go somewhere or rushing to do something. Life’s mellow here during most days but we do have our occasional celebrations — street parties, street dances and other kinds of merry-making activities. The most recent one would be Bacolaodiat — celebrating the Chinese New Year with our Chinese and Filipino-Chinese brethren that reside in the city (and there are a lot, especially in the downtown area where they run most of the businesses).
Bacolaodiat in a Nutshell
The name of the celebration came from the combination of these two words: Bacolod and laodiat. The former is, of course, the name of my city and the latter is a Fookein term meaning “happy celebration”. The city came up with it back in 2006 and it’s slowly evolving into a celebration that’s better (and bigger) every year.
During this 3-day celebration, you’d hear (or read) the phrase “Kung Hei Fat Choi” everywhere. This is the usual greeting every Chinese New Year and it means “Congratulations and be Prosperous”.
Bacolaodiat on the Streets
Well, it’s not really celebrated on all of the streets of Bacolod but we do have our main tourism street (Lacson Street) which the city closes whenever we celebrate something like Bacollywood or Masskara.
I’m not 100% sure what time they closed the main street on the first day but we did attempt to pass by around 4pm and we couldn’t get through anymore because they’ve already set-up barricades, stages, booths, stands and etc.
What to do during Bacolaodiat
1. Get ready to walk
I don’t know how long Lacson street is exactly but you have to get your walking on when you plan to celebrate Bacolaodiat next year. That’s basically how you see everything and that’s how the celebration works — you’d have to walk around to appreciate the sights, the sounds and the people.
2. Try Out the Street Food
While you’re getting your walk on, why not recharge with some yummy street food? The most common street foods that I spotted this year were pop corn, sweet corn on the cob, fish balls (doughy balls that you dip in sauce), cotton candy and etc. It’s a festival so there’s bound to be a lot of eating involved.
3. Check out the Zodiac Animal Signs
Every year, the city displays the different animal signs that are found on the Chinese zodiac. They’re not located in one place so you have to…yes, you guessed it! You have to walk around to see all 12.
4. Do Some Shopping
You’ll definitely find a lot of Chinese goodies during the Bacolaodiat festival. You’ll get a chance to buy souvenirs like t-shirts and Cheongsams (silk dress). There are also other Chinese goodies available for purchase like Tikoy (Chinese New Year’s Cake).
5. Eat Some More
Like I said, there’s bound to be a lot of eating involved. Aside from the street food that I mentioned earlier, you will also find several BBQ shacks that you can eat dinner at. What Bacolodnons (people that reside in the city) do is choose what the BBQ guy should cook and then sit and wait for it.
6. Take Pictures and Lots of it
There’s definitely going to be some really good memories that you’ll want to remember when you celebrate Bacolaodiat. Be sure to charge everything, from your ipad, to your iphone, to your tablet and to your camera. You can also take pictures on picture booths like this one:
See you next year?
There are also a bunch of other stuff that I forgot to mention like the street dances, the lion dances, the dragon dances and so much more. You have to really see it for yourself next year!