A Quick Escape To Bacolod, And A Road Trip Around Negros Occidental Aboard A Maserati Levante
The Ruins in Talisay, Negros Occidental
Bacolod was indeed the perfect backdrop to showcase the wondrous lineup of cars by Maserati, the iconic Italian luxury car brand. The city is a place of old world sophistication, fabulous wealth, and (fortuitously) long well-paved roads—perfect for letting out the speed demons inside all of us.
Maserati Philippines recently flew media representatives to the second Maserati Negros Polo Invitational, held in the prodigiously sized playing field of La Provincia Polo Club, about half an hour away from Bacolod City.
Travelling Negros in style
Our flight departed Manila at 8am. We arrived at the Bacolod-Silay Airpot at around 9am. Upon landing, the organizers informed me that they were waiting outside the airport with the car that would bring me to my hotel in Bacolod City. Usually, for out of town press junkets, a van or perhaps a sedan is used to transport guests. To my surprise (and absolute glee), a Black Maserati Levante was waiting outside for me.
A gaggle of airport staff, security, and locals were staring at the luxury car; the onlookers were obviously curious as to who it was this car was picking up. I sheepishly approached the luxury vehicle; the doors opened, and the driver stepped out and ushered me in.
The Maserati Levante that picked us up from the airport.
I will not deny it, it felt good. A journalist seldom becomes the center of attention in any event (in fact, they should not be), but once in a while, it feels good to have one’s ego stroked. And what better way to do that than to ride a Maserati—in Bacolod, no less.
The car was embellished with a striking red leather interior trimming, a perfect foil to the dark gray interior aesthetic of the car. The leather trimmings were designed by Ermenegildo Zegna, an Italian luxury fashion house. The seats were unnaturally comfortable and snug. The ride was smooth, even when negotiating the occasional swaths of unpaved roads typical in provinces.
The purr-like sound made by the engine was like music to one’s ears—even to a car novice such as myself. The driver, a Maserati representative, explained that Maserati cars have a Ferrari engine: “So when you own a Maserati, it’s like you have a Ferrari as well.”
From the airport, we went to a very popular Bacolod attraction, The Ruins. The derelict mansion is found in the middle of a sugar plantation, and is a perfect monument to the glorious wealth of Bacolod in the past.
The romantic structure is visited by thousands of tourists monthly, and is deemed as one of the most iconic Negrense destinations today. It was also declared as the Best Heritage Destination in the Philippines and was chosen as one of the 12 Most Fascinating Ruins in the World. The Ruins is designed in Italianate architecture, complete with Renaissance-like balustrades.
After the sightseeing, we drove the Levante to a popular dining destination in Bacolod City, Diotay’s Eatery, deemed by locals and tourists alike as a “seafood haven." Diners can choose from freshly caught fish, shrimps, and scallops, all laid out in front of you when you order. You can feast in sizzling tanigue, garlic butter shrimp, barbecued chicken, and chili crab. The service was excellent, and the dishes were scrumptious.
Before heading out to the Polo Field, we first checked in at L’Fisher Hotel, now an iconic establishment in Bacolod City. The hotel is aged, but still retains a sense of class and swank, a perfect representation of Negros—like an aged, dignified gentleman, still with plenty of gusto within.
From the hotel, we proceeded to the Polo field, where the 2nd Negros Polo Invitational was held. The drive was 40 minutes long. The well-paved provincial roads served as the perfect playground to test the speed and comfort of the Levante.
The game was already well afoot when we arrived. Trestle tables were placed on the grass. Cocktails, whiskey, and wine were already being served to guests. All-in-all, the event was a decidedly chill affair. The vibe was comfortable and laid-back, the entire event felt like a family gathering or a backyard party.
After the games (the Blue team won), Maserati Philippines then showcased another model for guests to slobber over: the Ghibli.
The Maserati Ghibli is an altogether different beast from the Levante. It’s sleeker, sexier, and has a more risqué look to it, when compared to the more toned down aesthetic of the Levante.
The Maserati staff, all of them speed demons, regaled us with the speed of the Ghibli. Expert drivers drove us along the straight paved farm roads encircling the Polo fields, and showed us the true meaning of speed. I found myself subconsciously pushing down the brake pedal as I was sitting on the front passenger seat.
The Maserati Ghibli
After driving through the sugar fields, drunk on speed and the smell of the Zegna leather trimmings, we then proceeded to wile the night away with good food and drinks in the Polo field. Our hosts were the soul of hospitality, an exemplar of Negrense open-handedness.
We came back to Manila missing the food, the hospitality, the happy memories left in Bacolod, as well as the experience of riding a luxurious Maserati car.