After a week of going from the hotel, to the University, to dinner and back to the hotel it was nice to have a chance to get beyond our five block radius and see a little of the Island. In fact, our exploring started a little earlier than planned when our friends at St. La Salle University (Kooks, Jeff and Shiegred) took us out for an excursion to the mountain resort of Mambukal once we finished our morning meetings. We had a fantastic trip. I loved getting out to the country side and seeing the fields of sugar cane and rice. I was fascinated just observing the locals in their daily routines from our the van window: transporting the sugar cane, placing the rice on the roads to dry, catching a nap in the back of a tri-cycle, working in the road-side shops, etc. I would have loved to stop many times and capture the scenes on film.
We arrived at the lush resort and the first thing we noticed were the "flying foxes": the nickname they give to the enormous bats hanging from the trees. There were hundreds hanging from the trees.
We enjoyed another delicious lunch (some more great seafood) before exploring the resort.
After lunch, Duke, Janna and I played batman by taking the zip line ride which had only opened a couple weeks earlier. We got a great view of the lake and terrain from above. Then we all headed up the trails to the first two waterfalls. It was great to get some fresh air and enjoy the view. After the falls we took a quick look around the rest of the resort before heading back home.
The rest of my weekend was spent enjoying the MassKara festival. It's the largest festival of the year for the Island of Negros. It was started 30 years ago when the Sugar Cane industry here took a big hit: they decided to have a festival with smiling masks and bright colors to demonstrate their optimism for the future. Friday night we enjoyed the Electric MassKara: there must have been a couple hundred thousand people filling the streets to see the various team dance on four stages with their costumes and lights.
Saturday and Sunday I went to the town plaza to see the street dance competitions. Most of the Barangays (or districts) of the city had a team of 50 dancers with elaborate costumes, props and giant poppers that sent streamers in the air. The reigning champion went last and they put on quite a production. We didn't stay around to hear the final results but I'd be quite surprised if they didn't hold on to their crown.