The Philippine Experience Program, Western Visayas focuses on food, ethnicities, and the performing arts of the area.

When thinking of Western Visayas, the pristine white sand beaches of Boracay are typically the first thing that stands out in one’s mind. Visiting this part of the Philippines offers more than just the sun and sand – the Department of Tourism Region 6 shines the spotlight on all there is to love about Western Visayas. We enjoyed three days where we were able to explore the cultural offerings abound in the region, as well as sampling their cuisine, heritage and art. As part of the Philippine Experience Program by the Department of Tourism, the aim is to diversify cultural tourism, preserve heritage, and boost Filipino pride. Our tour began with a Slow Food excursion and Sugar Heritage Trail Tour in Silay City, Negros Occidental where our first stop was at Casa A. Gamboa. We enjoyed the taste of the food which was fresh, pure, and just. The Slow Food Community from Negros got ready a brunch for us. We had the pleasure of tasting kesong puti pandesal, binatwanan nga chicken and pork adobo, and blue crab buns. This all having the aim of preserving and highlighting the traditional food of Negros Island. We sampled some of the Negrense dishes, like panara (a turnover pastry stuffed with mung bean sprouts), puto lanson (a cake made from cassava, glutinous rice, and coconut milk), piaya (the classic pastry with muscovado sugar in the middle), and binandoy (a sweet potato treat with toasted coconut flakes). The Iron Dinosaur from the Hawaiian-Philippine Company was also present. We had a substantial breakfast before setting out to the Hawaiian-Philippine Company in Silay City, the oldest running sugar processing factory of Negros Occidental. Here, we had the chance to ride one of the last existing steam locomotives in the nation that is employed for moving sugar cane from the haciendas. Negros Occidental is identified as the sugar capital of the Philippines, even considered integral to its culture and character. The luxurious mansions seen in Silay City, labeled the “Paris of Negros” as well as other areas of the province, were made possible by the haciendas. At Hawaiian-Philippine Company, our lifestyle and cuisine were strongly impacted by Negros. We were known for some of the region’s most delicious baked goods and treats. One of these favorites was señorita, made from butter, condensed milk, and flour.