San Carlos City Blooms

November 21, 2012 Travel

Never mind the scorching heat, which bordered on unbearable; people flooded the streets to revel. It was the one time of the year when San Carlos City in Negros Occidental become a must-visit on every tourist's map. 

Vamos San Carlos! This is the annual Pintaflores Festival.

Pintaflores Festival

On November 5th each year, the streets of San Carlos come alive with energy and enthusiasm as vibrant young dancers parade in their intricate, ethnic-inspired costumes adorned with floral body and face paintings.

Posing with the parade dancers

Colorful costumes

The Pintaflores Festival, which originated in 1992, is a fusion of two events - the Nabingkalan Tattoo Festival and the Dances of Flowers. The name is derived from the words "pintados" and "flores." Over time, it has been steadily gaining popularity and recognition, joining the ranks of other well-known festivals in the Visayas, such as Cebu City's Sinulog, Bacolod City's Masskara, and Aklan's Ati-atihan.

One of the festival beauties

one of the Pintaflores Festival Queens

Nice details on the costume

Pixies at the parade

Dancers ready

San Carlos beauty

the costumes are very intricate

Dancing at the parade

Another festival queen contender

Party on the streets


Party time

Judging area

one of the well choreographed group

another festival queen


Enchanting festival queen

Contingents from different schools and barangays gathered early at the San Carlos City port to assemble. Locals, photographers, and other tourists, like us, took this time as an opportunity to appreciate the costumes up close and take souvenir shots.

At exactly 12NN, the parade rolled, and it was also our cue to proceed to a local watering hole on the parade route to join San Carlos City's Gentlemen's Club to watch the merry street dancing.

Everyone was animated and full of life. San Carlos City danced to one beat, including our parade hosts, who are mostly foreigners and former Filipino expats who decided to settle and retire in San Carlos City, last year's second most livable among cities with a population of 75,000 to 150,000 in the world.

A Livable City

San Carlos City, whose original name was “Nabingkalan,” being referred to the Negrito settlement of inhabitants, is located two hours away from Bacolod City through the scenic Negros Translink Eco-tourism Highway and four hours through the coastal highway.

It was easy to figure out why these foreign gentlemen chose to move to San Carlos City, cited as one of the world's most livable because of its environmental best practices, healthy lifestyle, and community involvement.

I am closely considering it as my own, being my mother's hometown and, of course, being close to both the mountains and the sea, which I both love.

Next Tourism Destination

San Carlos City has a lot to offer both retirees and tourists.

Before the street party, my travel companion, Third, and I explored some of San Carlos City's best tourist attractions. On our first night, we stayed at Waddy's Place, a mountain villa that provides a breathtaking view of San Carlos City and the nearby Sipaway Island.

That is where we met the friendly Dr. Eugene Antonio III, who guided us to the nearby La Vista Mountain Resort. There, we had the opportunity to experience San Carlos City's first zipline. He also treated us to some of the best restaurants in San Carlos.

With the number of foreigners settling in, San Carlos City is also getting to experience the best of overseas food like American and Mexican dishes at Burgers and Beer and international delicatessen at Skyland Hotel. Of course, there are other favorites like old-timers Carmel's and La Magdalena, plus old and new breeds like 10-9 Restaurant offering good Chinese food, Palma Coffee Shop, Apin's, Gene and Cris, and Mom's.

The day after, we stayed at Whispering Palms Resort in Sipaway Island. It was not my first time visiting Sipaway Island but my first time staying at Whispering Palms, and it was impressive. Owned, managed, and mostly visited by Germans, we were minorities on our own island but nevertheless experienced a really good time. 

Everyone was primed to party at the Pintaflores Festival. We did not see our German friends though at the parade, but we had a great time with San Carlos City's Gentlemen's Club, who also invited us to witness a grand fireworks display and concert at the City Hall Grounds.

View from Waddy's Place

Room with a view

Zipline at La Vista Mountain Resort

La Vista Mountain Resort at night

The massage and diving area at Whispering Palms

View from the top

Whispering Palms

Jungle Trail, which leads to the zoo

This is where to go during happy hour

Whispering Palms at night


If the energy and big smiles (mouth open wide, tongue stuck out) of the parade dancers are the indicators, San Carlos City is indeed coming to full bloom as the next retirement and tourist destination. ¡Vamos!

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