Just like any other place in the Philippines, Bacolod City has a rich Chinese influence, which is evident in its Chinese temples, prominent Chinese businessmen, and the existence of a Chinatown. It's not surprising then that Bacolod is one of the few cities outside Metro Manila that takes its Chinese New Year celebrations seriously.
Every Chinese New Year, Bacolodians experience the merging of two cultures as the City of Bacolod and the Filipino-Chinese Community celebrate the Bacolaodiat Festival. The Bacolaodiat was first held in 2006 under the leadership of Mayor Bing Leonardia. Inspired by the Chinese New Year celebration in neighboring Iloilo City, Mayor Leonardia thought of having the same festival in Bacolod to show support and appreciation to the contributions of the Filipino-Chinese community to Bacolod's economy.
Bacolaodiat was coined from "Bacolod " and "Lao Diat", the Fookien word for celebration. Those who have been to Bacolod would attest that Bacoleños have their own brand of celebration, which is evident in the Masskara Festival. The same zest for celebration is brought to Bacolaodiat.
The Bacolaodiat Festival is meant to showcase the best of the Filipino and Chinese cultures in its many facets. The festivities commence with a colorful parade of illuminated floats, lanterns, lions and dragons along the main streets of Bacolod.
Mouthwatering Chinese food can be enjoyed at the Chopsticks Alley located along the North Capitol Road. You may also learn Chinese cooking through demos at the Chopsticks Alley. Moreover, it's not just a food festival it's also a night market where you can buy Chinese arts and crafts as souvenirs. Nightly live band, cultural shows and fireworks entertain the guests.
Bacoleños take the Chinese New Year Celebration a notch higher with the Lantern Dance Competition, which attracts a multitude of visitors every year. The competition is held at night Dancers wear colorful Chinese costumes and use lanterns as they dance to the Bacolaodiat theme song.
Don't just visit Bacolod for the Bacolaodiat Festival but take time to experience Chinese culture around the city, especially for the food. Lacson Street is called Bacolod's Tourism Strip because of the various restaurants that line the whole street. Famous Chinese restaurants along Lacson are Mai Pao, L'Sea Dimsum, and Mushu.
City Mayor Bing Leonardia has recently signed an ordinance officially naming the Bacolod's Capitol Shopping Center as the Bacolod City Chinatown Center. Most businesses here are owned by Filipino-Chinese, and this is where you go if you want to savor authentic Chinese dishes.
Chinese fried chicken was made famous here by Luisa Fried Chicken long before a fastfood chain. It's manned by the owner who also takes your order, serve your food and receive your payment. Don't expect much of the ambiance, but they serve the tastiest fried chicken in Bacolod.
Siopao is probably one of the Chinese food that has been embraced by Filipinos with open arms and the best place to have it in Bacolod is at City Lunch. It has the perfect filling of chicken, pork, egg and Chinese chorizo. City Lunch may look like a cafeteria but they serve the best machang in the Bacolod.
Filipinos also have an opportunity to experience how the Chinese celebrate the New Year at the Yuan Thong Temple, where there will be chanting and lighting of lotus candle, incense offering, ceremonial beating of the drum and releasing of Chinese lanterns.
Chinese New Year is more fun in Bacolod City so don't be left behind. Next year, come to Bacolod and experience the Bacolaodiat Festival. Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!