San Carlos City Blooms

November 21, 2012 Travel

Never mind that it was scorching hot, which was bordering on unbearable. People came to the streets to party. It was the one time of the year San Carlos City in Negros Occidental is marked on every tourist's map.  Vamos San Carlos! It was the annual Pintaflores Festival.

Pintaflores Festival

Every November 5, the streets of San Carlos are filled with energy and enthusiasm as vibrant young dancers parade the streets in their intricate ethnic-inspired costumes and floral body and face paintings.  

Posing with the parade dancers

Colorful costumes

Pintaflores Festival, which started in 1992 is a hybrid of two activities - the Nabingkalan Tattoo Festival and the Dances of Flowers. It was coined from the words pintados and flores and is slowly catching up in terms of popularity with the other festivals Visayas has been known for like 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 joinSan 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, which 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 practice, 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, fellow mountaineer Third Marquez and I toured some of San Carlos City's best tourist attractions.  During our first night, we stayed at Waddy's Place, a mountain villa, which offers a breathtaking view of San Carlos City and the nearby Sipaway Island.

That is where we met the affable Dr. Eugene Antonio III, who toured us at the nearby La Vista Mountain Resort, where we got to experience San Carlos City's first zipline and some of San Carlos' best restaurants.

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 the other favorites like old timers Carmel's and La Magdalena, plus 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 to visit Sipaway Island but my first time staying at Whispering Palms and it was impressive.  Owned, managed and mostly visited by Germans, we were minorities in our own island but we nevertheless experienced a really good time, and everyone was primed to party at the Pintaflores Festival.

We did not see our German friends 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

Coming to full Bloom

If the energy and big smiles (mouth open wide, tongue stuck-out) of the parade dancers are the basis, San Carlos City indeed is blooming as the next retirement and tourist destination.  Vamos!

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