Earlier this year, I found myself doing a fast detour to Bacolod City en route to Cebu. While I do have a blogger friend there, this was a spur-of-the-moment trip and I felt it improper to come on short notice. After all, some surprises are unwelcome for working folks, and I don't like that. So I deferred contacting my friend. There will be another time. The good news: we got to visit the Pope John Paul II Tower.
You can walk from the mall to the tower, although when the sun's up, some people prefer to take the "trisikad" at just P10 (P5 per person, but you have to pay for the 2 available space). There is an entrance fee (P20 for adults, P10 for students) at the first level. And you can leave your stuff at a locker.
You climb your way up the floors, checking out the memorabilias of the Papal Visit, some photos of young Karol Wojtyla, and a good collection of paintings from talented local artists. Each floor is enclosed by glass panels so navigating around, even with children, is safe. The lift wasn't operational during my visit.
The best part of the tower is the 8th floor which has a gradual ascent, with bars (grills) enclosing the top floor (instead of glasses). This drastically improves ventilation from the lookout point. An elevated stage could further raise your vantage point, though it doesn't really make much difference. Students mill around the top floor. Since there are no benches, you may slouch down the floor to relax.
While the collection here seems sparse, reaching the 8th floor balcony is pure pleasure. In fact, I could stay there all day. The view is less than spectacular, but it isn't bad either. You get to see a 360 degree sprawl of the city: the ocean stretching all the way to the Guimaras strait, the grassland at the adjacent lot; the newly developed City Baywalk, SM Mall, etc. There isn't much view further afield because the urban skyline is kinda flat and the tower isn't high enough for us to appreciate even Lacson Street where our hotel was. But the rush of the wind up there is like a rejuvenating blow, a balm to the weary soul. While there's hardly wind below, it's another story up there. If it blew harder, I surmise it could repel every burden that human kind carries on his shoulder. Designed as a pilgrimage center, the landmark feels less of a religious site than a tourist attraction, though very few actually come for a visit (if we're to base this during my visit).
There's a bronze statue just outside the tower. Across the road, Bishop Antonio Fortich has his own monument, the city government's homage to the bishop who significantly contributed to the "social, economic, educational and moral development" of the city and its populace.
If you're in the city, this landmark is not to be missed. Finally, I join the rest of the country (and the world) in rejoicing for the canonization of our beloved Pope John Paul II. We've loved him dearly even before he was saint so his sainthood is just icing on the cake.
This is the Eye in the Sky!
|Cross from the top of the tower.
|Bacolod City Baywalk (above and below). It opens from 3 PM onward.
|SM City Bacolod
|Pope John Paul II canonized as a saint.
|Bishop Antonio Fortich Monument