On that very moment, I stood there and glanced on the verdant slopes of Don Salvador Benedicto. The chilling breeze blew through my hair as I patiently waited for the azure clouds to give way for the sunlight. The wind whistled through the air and slowly, streaks of light from the sun flashed upon its unspoiled perfection.
These were the exact words that I wrote on my travel journal to describe my experience with Negros Occidental’s Little Baguio. It was such splendor that I was blown away by its simplicity. More so, I just sat there for hours and had my peace.
Don Salvador Benedicto is dubbed as the “Summer Capital of Negros Occidental” because of its cool temperature. It is good timing to escape the fierce heat from the city and enjoy a more laid-back visit to the highlands of this province. You will feel that complete transition from the bustling street scene filled with people to a long and winding road lined with pine trees. That’s the unique welcome you will receive when you get to this destination.
This place is so captivating because of the multitude of man-made rice terraces that are mini versions of the popular Banaue Rice Terraces of the Ifugao Province in the Philippines. Don Salvador boasts a little of everything in the country. The various shades of luscious-green illuminated the beauty of these staircases of nature. The best view for me can be seen from the farthest point of the Viewing Deck
The plantation is not limited to the Viewing Deck alone. If you happen to walk along the highway (probably a few kilometers), you will see more terraces sitting mutely on the base of the mountains.
Further along the route of Don Salvador to San Carlos, is the locally known “Cigarette Falls” called Malatan-og Falls. From the accessible viewpoint, the shape of this waterfall is similar to that of its name, a cigarette stick. It is stunningly positioned in the middle of the mountain range which gave it that contrasting look
Trekking towards the falls will take approximately 30-45 minutes depending on the weather as well. If the bipolar weather decides to shower upon heaps of rain, then it is advised not to push through with the trek. That was my unfortunate event. However, if it is dry and sunny, you could ask for a guide from the Tourism Office to accompany you in your journey. (Note that the ground will be a bit slippery when rain drizzles).
I got the chance to marvel at the site from the deck but it did not stop me from exploring more of Don Salvador. Walking further and further, I managed to pass by the Codiawan Bridge and went down to have a glimpse of the river. It was not a huge river but it is a small stream of fresh water that piqued my curiosity. I wanted to know where it originates. I thought it was from the Malatan-og Falls but sadly, it was not. It was too steep to trek to that side and I could not risk it – although it would be great to know where it came from though.
The clouds once more hovered over me and the rain slowly poured. I went to the nearest community and had a hot cup of coffee with the locals. Mind you, the people there are very friendly and hospitable. They are speaking a bit of recognizable Cebuano and Hiligaynon dialects. Out of the blue, I asked them about the “Chocolate Hills” in their area and they told me that it is far from where we were. It is already located near San Carlos.
In the city full of heat and unavoidable trickling of perspiration, a trip to Don Salvador Benedicto is never a waste of time. It is a moment to convene with nature and discover peace in you and around you. Live in a world of serenity and avoid noise even for just a day.
Do you want to know how to get to Don Salvador Benedicto? You could read a detailed guide
on a separate article to be published within the week here.