Artistic Negros Occidental Pt. 1 – Entering the “Sweet Island” through Bacolod City: Feast Upon the “Barangay sang Birhen” Chapel

NOTE: Pictures displayed in this series are taken during the blogger’s Humanities class tour last year. Taken specifically on September 9, 2010, the pictures may not resemble the present state or physique of the places, works of art, and even of the people caught with these pictures. This blog series serves to inform and offer eye candies of the beauty of the place featured. Thank you for reading this note. I hope you understand why this is written. Until then. Bonne lecture!

Negros Occidental is approximately 500 km from Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and there are daily trips to and fro NAIA-3 and Bacolod-Silay Airport, respectively. But I am from Iloilo, so our class boarded a fast ferry from Iloilo City to Bacolod City.

Our Humanities 1 class, under Prof. Celia F. Parcon of the University of the Philippines-Visayas, merged with her other Hum1 class and with Dr. Rose Asong’s class to have this trip to Negros Occidental. Those who could not this field trip were told to visit churches and local art galleries for their reaction papers. I expected that we would also visit places like these in Negros.

First of all, Negros Occidental is not a new place for me. Both of my parents hail from Cadiz City, and since I was a child, we were traveling back and forth to visit relatives. These trips were only lessened when I attended high school.

I was also a bit excited about this trip. I woke up at 4 and went to the Muelle-Loney wharf of Iloilo City. We boarded the Ocean Jet Ferry with a 300 Php roundtrip ticket. I have no idea if the fare’s still the same, but this is cheaper than the other fast ferry traveling from Iloilo to Negros.

The usual travel from Iloilo to Bacolod is 45 minutes to one hour. This is ample enough to rest or maybe take a nap, but with excitement seeping, one cannot sleep. We arrived at the Reclamation Area in Bacolod City and were fetched by our tour guides with buses and vans to carry us throughout the tour. I was blessed to be with my friends and hurried to go inside a brand-new-looking van. Add to it, and we had local-personality, John Arceo, with his SLR camera as our tour guide. From the wharf, we traveled to our first destination.

While traveling, we saw this tower that will be discussed in another post later. This tower has a great significance and impact not only for the Negrenses but also for the whole Filipino Roman Catholic community.

We were brought to a subdivision somewhere in Bacolod. This was the Sta. Clara Subdivision. I really admit to friends that I have no idea how to travel in Bacolod even if I had been there many times. Bacolod City is a chartered city in Negros Occidental, and more can be learned about Bacolod City here and here.

We then knew where we are going. We will be observing the Chapel of the Barangay Birhen sang (Barangay of the Virgin, “Village” of the Virgin). Archbishop Norman Campus designed it. The chapel is named after the mosaic of the Barangay Sang Birhen made to be the background of the altar. This is said to be made of 95,000 shells by Leticia Sia Ledesma together with other saint icons.


My teachers were very eager to see the works of art featured in the chapel, especially when knowing that almost everything in this chapel, perhaps the Sto. Niño encased in glass, as the exception, are made of shells.

The Birhen sang Barangay, for which the chapel is dedicated to is presented in a Madonna and Child position with Mary carries baby Jesus in her arms. In this mosaic, Mary is standing upon the island of Negros and looks over to the island of Panay. This spoke about the mutuality and the brotherhood of the two islands and said that the Virgin and the baby Jesus bless both of the islands.

Together with the crucifix, the chapel boasts shell replicas of famous saint icons in history. Here, we see the Pieta of Michaelangelo together with the Divine Mercy and the Our Lady of Guadalupe, all in shell grandeur.

These are the other saint images found all over the place, together with the mosaic stations of the cross.

This is the encased image of the Child Jesus, which I started to be the only non-shell image in the chapel.

All in all, the trip to the chapel was very refreshing in terms of my aesthetic view. I am not a Roman Catholic, yet I appreciated the RC community there at Sta. Clara subdivision had envisioned. This is just part one of my series. I hope you will read the coming parts. 😉


  1. i really love the place.hope one day,i and my family could visit barangay sang birhen,one of the places that i really dream to go to.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here