Philippines: Bacolod

Bacolod /bɑːˈkɔːləd/, officially City of Bacolod (Hiligaynon: Dakbanwa/Syudad sang Bacolod; Filipino: Lungsod ng Bacolod) and often referred to as Bacolod City, is a highly urbanized city in the Philippines. It is the capital of the province of Negros Occidental where it is geographically situated but governed administratively independent from it.

Having a total of 561,875 inhabitants as of 2015 census, it is the most populous city in Western Visayas and the second most populous city in the Visayas after Cebu City. It is the center of the Bacolod Metropolitan Area, which also includes the cities of Silay and Talisay with a total population of 791,019 inhabitants, along with a total area of 578.65 km2 (223.42 sq mi).

It is notable for its MassKara Festival held during the third week of October and is known for being a relatively friendly city, as it bears the nickname "The City of Smiles". In 2008, Bacolod topped a survey by MoneySense Magazine as the "Best Place to Live in the Philippines". The city has also been declared by the Department of Science and Technology as a "center of excellence" for information technology and business process management operations. In 2012, Bacolod was ranked the most livable city in the Philippines by iKwaderno online magazine after a conducted school survey using research data and analysis. It got a high score of 85.183 while the rest of the top seven are Davao City with 84.80, Marikina with 84.32, Makati with 83.87, Manila with 83.35, Puerto Princesa with 83.03 and Cebu City with 83.00. In 2017, Bacolod is awarded as the "Top Philippine Model City" by The Manila Times.

Historical church accounts provide a glimpse of the early years of Bacolod as a mere small settlement by the riverbank known as Magsungay (translated as "horn-shaped" in English). When the neighboring settlement of Bago was elevated into the status of a small town in 1575, it had several religious dependencies and one of which was the village of Magsungay. The early missionaries placed the village under the care and protection of Saint Sebastian sometime in the middle of the 18th century. A corregidor (English: magistrate) by the name of Luis Fernando de Luna, donated a relic of the saint for the growing mission, and since then, the village came to be known as San Sebastián de Magsung̃ay.

The Cantonal Republic of Negros became a U.S. territory on April 30, 1901. This separated Negros Island once again, reverting Bacolod to its status as the capital of Occidental Negros.

The public school of Instituto Rizal (English: Rizal Institute) opened its doors to students on 1 July 1902. Colegio de Nuestra Señora de la Consolación (English: College of Our Lady of Consolation), the first private institution in the province of Negros Occidental, was established in Bacolod by the Augustinian sisters on March 11, 1919 and opened in July 1919.

A historic event took place in 1938 when Municipality of Bacolod was elevated into a city through Commonwealth Act No. 326 passed by the 1st National Assembly of the Philippines creating the City of Bacolod. Assemblyman Pedro C. Hernáez of the second district of Negros Occidental sponsored the bill. The law was passed on June 18, 1938. Bacolod was formally inaugurated as a chartered city on October 19, 1938 by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 404, highlighted by the visit of Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon. President Quezon appointed Alfredo Montelíbano, Sr. as the first city mayor of Bacolod.

Bacolod is located on the northwestern coast of the large island of Negros. Within the island, it is bounded on the north by the city of Talisay, on the east by the town of Murcia and on the south by the city of Bago. As a coastal city, it is bounded on the west by the Guimaras Strait, serving as a natural border of northwestern Negros Island Region to the neighboring Western Visayas. The global location of Bacolod is 10 degrees, 40 minutes 40 seconds - north and 122 degrees 54 minutes 25 seconds - east with Bacolod Public Plaza as the benchmark.

Bacolod has a total land area of 16,267 hectares (162.67 km2; 62.81 sq mi), including straits and bodies of water and the 124 hectares (310 acres) reclamation area; and is composed of 61 barangay (villages) and 639 purok (smaller units composing a barangay/village). It is accessible by sea through the ports of Banago; the BREDCO Port in the Reclamation Area, and the port of Pulupandan. By air, it is accessible through the Bacolod-Silay International Airport, which is approximately 13 (four is counting from the Lagoon) kilometers away from the center of the city.

Bacolod is ideally located on a level area, slightly sloping down as it extends toward the sea with an average slope of 0.9 percent for the city proper and between 3 and 5 percent for the suburbs. The altitude is 32.8 feet or 10.0 metres above sea level, with the Bacolod City Public Plaza as the benchmark. Bacolod has two pronounced seasons, wet and dry. The rainy (wet) season starts from May to January of the following year with heavy rains occurring during the months of August and September. The dry season starts from the month of February until the last week of April.

Bacolod is the Philippines' third fastest growing economy in terms of information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) activities. The city has been recommended by the Information and Communication Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP) as the best location in the Visayas for BPO activities.

Bacolod ranked 3rd among the top ten "Next Wave Cities" of the Philippines for the best location for BPO and offshoring according to a 2010 report of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology. In 2013, the city was declared a "center of excellence" for IT-business process management operations by the DOST, joining the ranks of Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Clark Freeport Zone.

The Panaad Park and Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in the city. It is currently used mostly for football matches. It is the home stadium of Philippines Football League team Ceres–Negros F.C. It was used for the 2005 South East Asian Games and was the venue of the pre-qualifiers of the 2007 ASEAN Football Championship or ASEAN Cup. The stadium has a seating capacity of 15,500, but holds around 20,000 people with standing areas. It is unofficially designated as the home stadium of the Philippines national football team. Aside from the football field, it also has a rubberized track oval, an Olympic-size swimming pool and other sports facilities.

The stadium is also the home of Panaad sa Negros Festival, a week-long celebration participated in by all cities and municipalities in the province held annually every summer. The festival is highlighted by merry-making, field demonstrations, pageant and concert at the stadium. The stadium itself features replicas of the landmarks of the 13 cities and 19 municipalities of Negros Occidental.

Banago Wharf and BREDCO Port are the vessels entry point in Bacolod. It has daily access to Iloilo, with different shipping lines such as 2GO Travel (as relaunched in 2012), Weesam Express, Ocean Jet, Montenegro Lines, Jomalia Shipping and Tri Star megalink. There were also access routes to Puerto Princesa via Iloilo City, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Zamboanga City, Cotabato, Butuan via Cagayan de Oro route, Dipolog, Iligan, Ozamiz, and Surigao City via Cagayan de Oro route. As of 2012 to present, SuperFerry and Negros Navigation was relaunched into 2GO Travel routes from Bacolod going Manila, Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro. Bacolod is 18–23 hours from the Port of Manila, 2-3hrs from Dumangas Port and 45 minutes-1hr from the Port of Iloilo.

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