On our last day in Silay City, I, together with my wife Grace and children Jandy and Cheska, decided to do some trekking at Patag (meaning “flat plain” in the vernacular) Valley, located 45 kms. from Bacolod City in a valley 1,600 ft. (490m.) above sea level, between the highlands of Mt. Silay and Mt. Marapara. After breakfast at Balay Daku, my grandfather’s ancestral house, we left by 7:30 AM and were accompanied by Neil Solomon “Solo” Locsin, my young first cousin, who was familiar with the place. During World War II, the valley was a battlefield, being the last stronghold, in the whole region, of the Japanese Imperial Army’s Nagano detachment. Here, 15,000 Japanese and hundreds of Filipino and American (from the U.S. 40th Division) soldiers died. The Japanese surrendered after 5 months. Today, a wide Japanese altar commemorates the last battle between the two forces and underground, manmade Japanese tunnels can still be found.
|The Von Einsiedel Resthouse|
Throughout the 32 km., 1-hour trip, east of the city, to the valley, we passed huge expanses of sugar fields. We first made a stopover at the beautiful resthouse of Milou von Eisiedel, another first cousin of Neil and I. Designed by her husband and fellow U.P. alumni and architect Nathaniel “Dinky” von Einsiedel, the a resthouse had two bedrooms, living and dining area, kitchen, a mezzanine and a huge balcony that overlooks a terraced garden with beautiful flowers below and the verdant valley and mountains beyond.
Returning to our car, our driver then drove us up to the end of a dirt road. From hereon, it was all footwork as we were to trek to a waterfall. Leading the way, Solo guided us along a well-marked but slippery trail. We were all wearing shorts which seem unsuitable as it exposed our legs to scratches from prickly plants and sharp rocks. At one time, we had to wade through a stream made murky by an unsightly dam. This aside, everything else was beautiful as we passed small waterfalls and beautiful turquoise-colored streams After 30 mins. of continuous hiking, we finally arrived at a beautiful, 25-ft. high waterfall. This was as far as our schedule would allow and, after some photo ops, we retraced our steps back to the car.
This short tour perked up an appetite to explore the valley, in more detail, sometime in the future. The valley is a favorite for ecotours, it being a base for exploring stretches of rain forest and some of its 300 waterfalls, the most beautiful of which is the breathtaking Pulang Tubig Waterfalls (not in our itinerary though, being too far out) whose waters seems red in color because of its red or orange rocks it falls unto. The valley is also home to sulfataras (sulfur geysers) and endangered species of wildlife including the Negros spotted deer (cervus alfredi). This is also the jump off point for the hike going to Tinagong Dagat (Sipalay City) or Mt. Mandalagan and a site for Boy Scout Jamborees and Red Cross Training.