Bacolod is idyllic and dynamic

(Maan is a seasoned journalist with more than 20 years of experience in the media industry. Now freelance, her writing clients include major Philippine publications and many top private organizations.)

The mental imagery of Bacolod is of a charming old-world town populated by hacienderos with their sprawling fields of tall sugarcane shoots; of lazy afternoons on a balconaje fanning away the tropical heat, a cold beverage in hand.

That is still possible in some ancestral houses today, we were told, but the more modern iteration of the “City of Smiles” is a more dynamic one, with growing IT hubs, with business centers being built to accommodate thriving industries. The National Competitiveness Council has named Bacolod as one of the most competitive among highly urbanized cities in the country in August 2018.

This growth has attracted the attention of the real estate industry that now looks at Bacolod as a highly-viable location for their latest projects. In the case of Megaworld, they are building not just one, but two townships. Megaworld is investing P35-billion in the next 10 years to build The Upper East, along with Northill Gateway, in Negros Occidental.



The Upper East township is located on a 34-hectare property that used to be the Bacolod-Murcia Milling Company on the eastern side of Bacolod City. This prime location, which the locals simply refer to as “East,” is now known to be Bacolod’s booming commercial and business process outsourcing (BPO) district.

It is set to the urban upscale vibe one gets from the Upper East Side district in New York, with residential condominiums, lifestyle malls, and commercial centers, BPO office towers, tourism and leisure facilities as well as recreational parks and open spaces.

Megaworld Bacolod’s vice president for sales and marketing Rachelle Peñaflorida says that the 12-story Regis condominium tower at the Upper East has had a strong response from the market, which is why just six months later, they have already opened up Two Regis.

“The overwhelming success of our first residential tower is a clear indication that Bacolod has embraced the convenience of both condo living and township living,” she adds.

One of the exciting features of the lifestyle community will be a boutique hotel that will embody the old world elegance that Bacolod is known for. It will feature 48 suites, amenities such as a pool and fitness center, an all-day dining restaurant and bar, plus a ballroom that can fit about 1,000 guests in a banquet setting.

The hotel’s main lobby will be a retrofitted heritage house that used to be the old ‘guest house’ inside the Bacolod-Murcia Milling Company compound, and the project will be designed by heritage architect and conservationist Dominic Galicia, the hotel will have the old structures undergo ‘adaptive reuse’ to form part of its complex.

To give a wider connection to the complex’s heritage, a train that was used by the Bacolod-Murcia Milling Company will be preserved and is set to become the centrepiece of the complex.



Up on the northern side, a few minutes away from the famed Ruins of Bacolod and from the airport, Megaworld’s Forbes Hill at Northill Gateway is a community that has upscale amenities for its residents. The clubhouse, which is nearing completion, has a fitness center, lap pool, game room and entertainment center, basketball court, and an events hall for special occasions.  This brand of upscale living is different from the haciendas of old, with a different definition of luxury. If Upper East is New York, Northill is Beverly Hills.

A monumental Grecian-inspired fountain, set against a sweeping view of Negros’ mountain range greets potential homeowners is indicative of the luxe feel that the property strives to embody. As with the haciendas of old, there will be open spaces with manicured gardens and tree-lined streets to give it that feeling of pampered country living. As it is close to the airport, it will have a row of shops offering pasalubong for tourists who want to bring home Bacolod’s gourmet goodies, along with popular retail brands.


Peñaflorida says that most of their clients for the two townships come from Bacolod and nearby areas in Negros. “Some are looking to invest in properties, while others are the locals who have gone abroad and are now looking for a home back in their province.”

The high level of interest in these two Megaworld properties, and in ones from the other developers that have started locating in the area, is a sign of the good market conditions. As many of the sites are at pre-selling stage, buyers are wisely taking advantage of the lower rates of properties that are projected to have high-market value due to Bacolod’s continuous growth.     One would note, though, that even with the dynamic growth of the real estate scene, elsewhere, one can still feel the vestiges of Bacolod’s laid-back charm, with gracious people and good food. Every other shop along the main road is dedicated to food, particularly sweets, their famous chicken inasal, and restaurants offering what one might imagine to be Spanish-inspired heirloom recipes enjoyed in hacienda comedors.    

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