Anyway, my friend basically drafted our Bacolod itinerary for us. We hired a cab for the whole day when we went to visit sights in the Negros countryside because we had kids with us, so this post will be pretty useless on how to get to these places. But anyway, if ever you're in Bacolod and going to Manapla (famous for its puto, yes), make sure you visit the...
CHAPEL OF THE CARTWHEELS
This quaint chapel can be found at Hacienda Sta. Rosalia. The first foundation for the chapel was laid in 1967 at the site of the former home of the current owner's great-grandparents. We were lucky to be given a leaflet about the Chapel and in it, Father Guillermo Ma. Gaston (the current owner and former Bacolod bishop) wrote of the chapel:
"We have endeavored to make the construction itself, a sensible witness to our Filipino Christian faith. Herev, every stone, every piece of wood, every native material used in the construction is made to show its natural beauty, symbolizing in visual panorama the eternal truths of Christianity expressed in the language of a Filipino."
Everything about the chapel has meaning...
from the salakot (wide-brimmed hat) shape giving the circular shape that has no beginning and end
the cement floor mized with blue sand to symbolize imperfections of this world
to to the sliding doors on the left and right (for the Old and New Testament) (by the way, all cartwheels used here were used... as a tribute to the work being done in the sugarcane plantations)
GASTON ANCESTRAL HOME at HACIENDA ROSALIA
Now... adjacent to this chapel is the more famous landmark in this area of Manapla. This ancestral home is now the home of Msgr. Gaston. If I am not mistaken, he is a grandchild of the famousYves Leopold Gaston, Father of the Sugar Industry in the country, and one of the 12 children of Victor Gaston (who raised his 12 kids in what is now Balay Negrense).
Anyway, this house is famous back in the 80's because of the Oro, Plata, Mata movie... a masterpiece film by Peque Gallaga. Since then, it has provided a backdrop for other films (since some of the Gaston descendants have married into showbiz). Only, because it is still home to Msgr. GG, there are still many restrictions when filming here and it is not really open to the public. It is only truly open to family, when the Gastons have their reunion (which happens every 4 years, I think... again, sorry, I lost my notes).
For a fee, lovers can be wed at the Chapel of the Cartwheels and brought to these grounds by a carabao-driven cart to have their reception here (last time I asked, a reception here would cost P25,000).
the garden is really well-tended here... absolutely loved this arbor
people interested to go inside can write the Msgr for permission... my hubby and I were permitted to take a peek inside (because there were only 2 of us and it was raining heavily) by the trusted PIC (person-in-charge... because he didn't seem to just be a caretaker). Out of respect for the priest's privacy though, we did not take pictures inside of the many family heirloom that are in his keeping.
view of the Chapel from the 3rd floor of the house
The ancestral home is just surrounded by space and well-tended gardens so it's really a great place for pictorials and events. Msgr. GG also allows for visitors to pre-arrange a lunch in his home (he may even SOMETIMES cook and play host!) through his nephew, Chef Jomi of Café Uma and Trattoria Uma. Check out this link if you want to enjoy a hacienda lunch tour.
I would also like to note that Msgr. GG is involved in a lot of livelihood programs and sponsors the education of some children. It just goes to show that somewhere in his privileged upbringing, he must really have been taught Christian values which makes him a very well-loved personality in this part of Visayas.
(note: I apologize to Mr. Peque Gallaga because I have unwittingly declared him dead already in my original post when I attached the word "late" to his name.)