Bacolod, nicknamed The City of Smiles is a friendly city filled with smiling faces in Western Visayas. It is the capital of the province of Negros Occidental and is the second most populous city in the Visayas after Cebu City.
Geographically, Bacolod is in the northwestern coast of the island of Negros, bounded on the north by the city of Talisay, on the east by the town of Murcia, and on the south by the city of Bago. To its west is the Guimaras Strait, which serves as a natural border to neighboring Western Visayas.
Bacolod started as a small settlement by the riverbank known as Magsungay early in the Spanish colonial period. It was not established as a town until about 1775 after the settlement was attacked by a datu, with the villagers transferring to a hilly area named Bacolod. Over the years, Bacolod was opened to agriculture and industry, inviting migration and expansion back towards the sea.
Bacolod was then declared capital of Negros Occidental in 1889 when the province of Negros was separated into two, with the other being Negros Oriental. It was then upgraded from a municipality to a city in 1938 by the 1st National Assembly of the Philippines, during the American colonial period.
The Bacolod of today is a highly urbanized city, with a population of about 562,000 people as of the 2015 census by the Philippine Statistics Authority, representing a 1.79 percent increase from the 2010 population of about 512,000 people. The population density was 3,500 per square kilometer.
Bacolod is most known for its people’s warm nature. Bacolod is popular for its MassKara Festival, which runs through October and culminating at the fourth Sunday of the month. The festival started as a way to create a better atmosphere in Bacolod in 1980, as the city suffered from the Don Juan tragedy where a vessel collided with a tanker, leading to 750 lost lives. The masks worn during the festival helps Bacolod live up to its moniker ‘The City of Smiles,’ signifying that its people will triumph over any hardship.
The MassKara festival is now one of the major tourist attractions of the Philippines, filling the streets of Bacolod with street performances, beauty pageants, carnivals, food festivals, music concerts, and so much more.
PUBLIC FACILITIES & ESTABLISHMENTS
- University of St. La Salle
- University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos
- STI West Negros University
- La Consolacion College
- Negros Occidental High School
- Bacolod Tay Tung High School
- St. John’s Institute
- St. Joseph School- La Salle
- Jack & Jill School Homesite
- St. Benilde School Incorporated
- St. Sebastian International School
- Colegio San Agustin Bacolod
- Dr. Pablo O. Torre Memorial Hospital
- The Doctors’ Hospital
- Capitol Park and Lagoon
- Negros Occidental Multi-Purpose Activity Center
- Bacolod Arts & Youth Sports Center
- Negros Museum
- Art District
- Lakawon Island
- The Ruins
- Don Salvador
- Chicken House
- Bar 21
- Sharyns Cansi House
- Kaisei Japanese Restaurant
- Kimstaurant Korean Restaurants
PLACES OF WORSHIP
- San Sebastian Cathedral
- Redemptorist Church
- San Diego Cathedral
- Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish
- Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol
- The People’s House
- Bacolod-Silay International Airport
- Banago Wharf and BRECDO Port
- Robinsons Place Bacolod
- SM City Bacolod
- 888 China Town Square Complex
- The District – North Point
The city of Bacolod is considered as the third-fastest growing economy in the Philippines in the information technology and business process outsourcing industries. It has received recommendations from the Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communication Technology Office and the Business Processing Association of the Philippines as the best location in the Visayas for BPO activities. Bacolod was also declared in 2013 by the DOST as a Center of Excellence for IT-business process management operations, joining a prestigious group composed of Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and the Clark Freeport Zone.
Major names in the BPO industry have set up shop in Bacolod, including Convergys, Teleperformance, iQor, and Transcom. Showing the importance of BPO companies in Bacolod’s economy, a 2-hectare portion of the 4-hectare Paglaum Sports Complex was partitioned in 2012 for the construction of the Negros First CyberCentre, which is a provincial government-owned IT-BPO Outsourcing Hub with a Php 674 million budget.
Colliers International Philippines, in its Q1 2018 Provincial Property Market reports, also noted that Bacolod remains a preferred location for outsourcing operations, with voice BPO companies in continuous expansion while knowledge process outsourcing companies are considering the city as a potential location outside of Metro Manila. However, Colliers said that Bacolod’s talent pool would need to scale up if it wants to attract the interest of more KPO companies.
OFFICE AND COMMERCIAL SPACE
Colliers expects most office demand in Bacolod until 2020 to come from call centers, as well as KPO firms that provide financial technology, software engineering, and health information management services. The research firm expects office supply in the city to reach 128,500 sq.m. by 2020, which is a 20 percent increase compared to supply in 2017, and also forecasts vacancy maintaining at 4 percent to 5 percent per year to 2020.
Average office rental rates in Bacolod meanwhile is expected to increase by about 2% to 4% annually over the next few years, due to the sustained demand from both BPO and traditional companies.
REAL ESTATE OVERVIEW
The City of Smiles seems to be on a roll. Thanks to a booming economy, Bacolod’s real estate sector has been progressing remarkably well over the last few years and is expected to continue soaring to new heights in the next few years. With more and more property developers answering the growing demand for residential and commercial properties in and around Bacolod, the real estate landscape of Negros Occidental’s crown jewel is expected to evolve and be at the forefront of a property development boom in the Visayas.
Growth in property interest
According to data culled by Lamudi, the Philippines’ premier real estate platform, since the first semester of 2016, there has been an increasing trend among property seekers looking for potential homes in Bacolod all the way to the second semester of 2018. The average growth rate between 2016 and 2017 was somewhere between 14 percent and 15 percent, However, this average figure grew to 21.9 percent in 2018, a reflection of the increasing interest among property seekers looking for properties in the City of Smiles.
Key areas for real estate activity
Data from Lamudi show that the last quarter of 2018 had the highest volume of searches on residential properties in Bacolod. Comparing this period to 2017’s fourth quarter, there was a 50 percent increase in page views.
Similarly, in both 2017 and 2018, the most searched for areas in Bacolod among property seekers were those in Alijis, Estefania, Mansilingan, Tangub, Bata, Mandalagan, and Villamonte, where Megaworld’s The Upper East is located.
Close to 22 percent of property seekers who used Lamudi searched for potential homes in Alijis, a big jump from the 7.09 percent of property seekers who were interested in that area in 2017. Estefania, which ranked as the second most searched for area among property seekers looking for homes in Bacolod last year, also saw a big jump from the 2017 figure. In 2018, 13.99 percent of those who used Lamudi searched for potential properties in Estafania compared to 6.12 percent of property seekers who were looking for homes in that area in 2017.
Although Mansilingan was most searched for properties in Bacolod in 2017 among property seekers, it dropped to the third spot last year. Nonetheless, Mansilingan continued to be a sought after area in Bacolod, with 13.99 percent of property seekers looking for potential homes in that area last year. Other areas in Bacolod that property seekers have searched for last year were in Barangay 10, Barangay 28, Pahanocoy, and Sum-Ag.
As of 2018, the average price of a property in Bacolod is 5.46 million pesos while the average size of one is 932 square meters. In Alijis, the most searched for area among property seekers, the average price of a property there is Php3.76 million, with the average size of a property there is pegged at 228 square meters. In Villamonte the average price of a property there is Php28.2 million while the average size of one is 842 square meters.
In terms of monthly rentals, the average monthly rate for a property in The City of Smiles is Php19,934 while the average size of an area being rented out is 277 square meters.
FUTURE PROJECTS AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas – Bacolod Extension Office
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is constructing a 5,000 sq.m. property at the city’s reclamation area to offer improved services, particularly involving currency management, financial inclusion, and financial and economic awareness.
Provincial Administration Center
The government is allotting Php900 million pesos on the construction of a new Provincial Administration center, a 16,000 sqm lot located in front of the National Bureau of Investigation-Bacolod building.
Bacolod Economic Highway
This project is targeted for completion by the end of 2022. The project is a 21.8-kilometer, 4-lane road, including 3 bridges and a 2-way bike lane, that will serve as an alternate circumferential road bypassing Bacolod’s central business district.
Redevelopment of the Bacolod-Silay Airport
The project is meant to decongest the Bacolod-Silay Airport and enhance operating efficiency, safety, and security, as well as improve passenger amenities and the airport’s networking and marketing.
The project is slated for completion by the end of 2021.
Township projects by Megaworld
Megaworld is building The Upper East in Bacolod, a Php 28-billion township development that will host the city’s new and iconic 34-hectare central business district. The project will feature a mixture of residential condominiums, One Regis and Two Regis, shopping malls, mixed-use buildings, hotels, and state-of-the-art office towers, among many other structures. One of the highlights of the township is a New York-inspired lifestyle mall with several interconnected buildings, with one of those buildings to be inspired by the iconic Grand Central Station in New York City.
Another Megaworld township development in Bacolod is Northill Gateway, which will have upscale residential villages, a mixed-use office and retail development, and leisure and recreational amenities, located on the border of Bacolod and Talisay. The township will cover 50 hectares and will have direct access to the Bacolod-Silay Airport. It is also where the Philippines’ first Las Vegas-style ‘welcome marker’ is located, an iconic attraction that greets incoming and outgoing visitors.