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October 17, 2011

Bacolod Icons

During the 32nd Masskara Festival in Bacolod City (2011), the organizers highlighted the so-called new icons of Bacolod. I am not sure if I know all of them but they did mention that the following are supposedly the new icons of Bacolod: The New Government Center, the Pope John Paul II Tower, The SM Mall, The Band stand at the Public Plaza and the Flyover. Now, I am not sure if I agree with all of these "icons" of Bacolod. For one, the Band Stand at the Public Plaza is not a "new" icon. In fact, it has become almost as an unofficial symbol of Bacolod City. The New Government Center may be considered a landmark but I am not sure if it can qualify as a new icon, considering how divisive it was during the political season and for at least half of the people living in Bacolod, it is considered to be an icon of excessive loans and alleged corruption. The Pope John Paul II Tower is also a new icon and a tribute to the late Pontiff who visited Bacolod City in the 1980's but in my opinion while it is a worthy tribute it is not really aesthetically attractive. It is a simple building but I don't see any aspect of art incorporated in its structure. The SM Mall is really more of a business establishment and I am not sure whether it can be considered an icon for Bacolod. After all, SM Mall is not endemic and exclusive to Bacolod City and a few other cities can claim that they have SM Malls (and many more other malls) bigger and even better-looking than ours. And the flyover? Oh come on. I think they also included other landmarks such as the East Block (oh my goodness) and a few hotels like the East View Hotel and the L'Fisher Chalet. This is just my opinion but this kind of list only proves how wanting we are when it comes to "tourist attractions" or historic spots or landmarks to feature and boast as Bacolodnons. Don't get me wrong. I am a proud Bacolodnon but I am not sure if we have chosen the right icons to highlight.

I am not sure therefore if the organizers and the "artistic" committee or whoever is in-charged of identifying the icons of Bacolod City were either choosing the icons with a different criteria or were just running out of buildings to tag. What they could have done though was an online poll months before the Masskara festival and ask the Bacolenios this questions: "What symbol (place/building/object/person) can best describe/represent Bacolod City?" Then out of the many suggestions, the top 10 or 5 will then be selected. Given the chance, I might have my own list of icons to feature. My criteria would be aspect of historicity, aesthetic, Bacolodnon in its features (exclusivity) and cosmopolitan (modernism) in nature.

The Public Plaza
Hands down, the Public Plaza must always be considered as an icon, new or old. In fact, it has to be declared as an eternal icon of the city. Filled with history, the public plaza is definitely the symbolical face of Bacolod City, the heart and center of convergence of Bacolodnons. I am having a problem with the aesthetic part though. While the architecture and design of the plaza was originally intended to be very attractive and conducive for public gatherings, the present condition of the plaza has robbed its original glory. The leniency on street vending and lack of implementation of ant-vagrancy and anti-littering laws of the city has made this plaza into almost an area to avoid, especially at night time.

The Capitol Lagoon
Again, it is not new but I still believe that the Capitol Lagoon, though belonging to the Provincial Government, is still an icon of Bacolod City, almost at equal footing with the Public Plaza. Unlike the Public Plaza though, the Capitol Lagoon is well kept and really very conducive for public outings or family gatherings during those lazy afternoons. It is definitely iconic and it defies the element of time, thus it cannot be classified as an old or new icon. After all, Bacolodnons who no longer live in Bacolod still associate Bacolod City with familiar icons that defied the test of time.

The Panaad Stadium

I was surprised that I did not hear the Panaad Stadium included in the new icons of Bacolod City. While it is not recent, it is definitely a new icon in the contemporary history of the city. The Panaad Stadium is a testament to the Bacolodnon's fondness for sports and it has hosted a lot of national and international events. It was in this stadium that the Azkals were first discovered and thrown into the limelight. Every summer, Bacolodnons and Negrenses flock here to celebrate the Panaad festival, dubbed as the Festival of all Festivals, even copied and replicated by other provinces in the country. The Panaad is definitely an icon of Bacolod.

USLS Gymnasium

Since its erection in the early 1990's, the USLS Coliseum has been the biggest covered court in the entire city. In fact, it is the largest indoor facility in the entire Western Visayas. It hosted a lot of events, from sports to entertainment, bringing spectacular boxing and basketball matches to thousands of Bacolodnons, including concerts and plays both from here and abroad. It cannot be denied that this venue has become a gateway of artists and athletes from around the country and the world into Bacolod City.

St. John's Institute Church

The Church of the Queen of Peace at the St. John's Institute campus is also another historic icon for Bacolod City. It is not new and yet it is one those familiar icons in Bacolod City with its architecture following the pattern of a crown. Dedicated to Filipino-Chinese Catholics, it is teemed with history and now an almost favorite location for weddings and baptismal ceremonies in Bacolod City.

Manokan Country

We definitely cannot ignore our local delicacy; the Chicken Inasal. Despite the emergence of new "Inasalans" like Mang Inasal, nothing still beats the original which you can find only in that familiar strip beside SM Mall: The Manokan Country. Since its rehabilitation, the place still attracts both tourists and locals alike. With their secretly guarded recipes, the stalls at the Manokan Country has kept the tradition of chicken inasal alive, passing it on from generation to generation. Manokan Country is definitely an icon.

Add to the list of Bacolod icons.

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