La Castellana, Negros Occidental: Where the Light Dances in Grace

Bailes de Luces (Dance of the Lights), a charming festival unheard of by most of the Filipinos; a beautiful celebration that remained hidden in the central part of Negros Island; a stunning feast of lights dancing elegantly in the night. Have you witnessed it even for once?

Between December 30 and January 5 of every year, the Municipality of La Castellana in the Province of Negros Occidental showcases a spectacular dance show featuring LED-light-costumed dancers gyrating and merrymaking in the dark. Usually, each of the town’s thirteen barangays, schools, and other local groups sponsor and represent a team which contends among other glow-in-the-dark dancing squads. The use of lights in this festival is quite amazing: from the costumes, props, and other special effects. Battery-operated lights attached on the dancers’ clothes and the teams’ paraphernalia flicker, sparkle, and dance in rhythm with the music. The sight is a mesmerizing one, making jaws drop as the playful use of colorful lights continue in the dark night.

If you want to join the people of La Castellana in giving thanks to the Lord for the blessings received in the past year and in welcoming the New Year with merrymaking, then go and book your flight bound to Bacolod City. Once you have arrived, hop in one of the hourly busses that go to Canlaon City. You have to take note, however, that you will need to drop off in La Castellana, around two hours away from Bacolod. But if you do not want to experience any hassle, you can always opt to hire a van that will take you directly to La Castellana in a shorter span of time. Be prepared to shell out more money than you have to since private transportation services cost higher than the public buses.

Once you set foot in this beautiful town, you will be amazed at the sight of Mt. Kanlaon on the background which is considered to be the highest peak and the only existing active volcano in the Visayas. So if you also intend to climb this magnificent summit, you can start your trip from La Castellana. In fact, it will be easier for you to acquire your climbing permit since the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park office is located in the said town! Just ask the locals how to get to Barangay Biaknabato and get yourself ready for an amazing mountaineering expedition.

Mount Canlaon
Photo by: Studphil / Creative Commons

In La Castellana, you will also notice wide and seemingly endless fields full of sugarcane, an indication of the town’s large-scale production of sugar. Wherever you go and anywhere you look, the lush scenery will refresh you especially if you come from a frenzied city like Manila or Cebu. If you have some time to spare, use a day or two to explore and learn more about the place. You can check out the numerous natural springs and water falls located in this municipality. Go and take a dip in Mandayao Twin Falls, two 140-feet cascading water forms that offer cool, revitalizing freshwater to its visitors.

You can also visit any of La Castellana’s points of interest: Caduhada Spring Resort (popular for its chilling, refreshing water), Hacienda Luisa Farm and Resort (that houses plants and bonsai as old as 60 years), Baji-baji Spring and Falls, and the ELENJ La Castellan Zoological & Botanical Garden. But of course, before you embark on your tour, it is highly advisable for you to inquire at the La Castellana Tourism Office so that they can give you useful advice in terms of transportation, fees, and the like.

There you have it, your straightforward guide in making your La Castellana trip worthwhile. Enjoy!

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