Cool Negros


Balay Busay’s outdoor dining experience in DSB.

The dry season is coming fast upon us this year, where days seem longer and the chances of rain are slim to none. And whether it’s the rise in global temperatures or the spike in tourism that’s crowding everyone closer together, nobody can deny that each summer feels hotter than the last.

If you’re like us and prefer to beat the heat instead of basking underneath it, then consider a scenic one-hour drive away from the city, up the mountains of Don Salvador Benedicto, where the pine-scented breeze and panoramic views have become a refreshing alternative to the crowded beaches during the season.

Tourism officer Herlando Castillo told us how merely a few decades ago, the rural town of Don Salvador Benedicto was known mostly for its agriculture, and infamous for its barely-accessible roads. But with the development of the North Negros Economic Highway paving the way for business and tourism to flourish, DSB has totally reinvented its facade to be proclaimed in 2009 as the official Summer Capital of Negros Occidental. 

With an elevation of a little over 1,800 meters above sea-level, DSB offers an access point to a stunning view of the island’s landscape during the day, and front-row seats to a billion stars on cloudless summer nights. 

And whether you’re simply stopping over or looking to spend the night, DSB has an extensive list of must-visit attractions that perfectly complement the peaceful mountain ambiance.

Here are a few local establishments which we highly recommend:


Dine out at Kusinata and enjoy the breathtaking view of the DSB mountains.

Tucked unassumingly along the side of the highway is a gastronomical gem whose roots connect us deeper into our culinary heritage as Filipinos. Kusinata, is an ethnic Filipino fusion restaurant owned by Gerry and Lucille Grey with their son, Chef Jay Grey at the helm of their operations. 

The land on which Kusinata stands was initially intended to be a personal rest house for the family. But with the Greys’ active involvement in several philanthropic causes leading them to the Ata tribe of DSB, they committed to convert the property into a restaurant to provide sustainable livelihood for the staff who are all members of this indigenous community. This venture also aims to preserve authentic Filipino cuisine. Chef Jay has put together a refreshingly original menu to ensure a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors. He incorporates endemic ingredients on most of the items, like his use of pakopako - a wild fiddlehead fern that abundantly grows in the forest, as a substitute salad green. Other notable dishes include the laswa lasagna, chicken binakol, and their mouthwatering pudding with dulce de batwan sauce, which had us dreaming about it for days.

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Contact Number: 09331821812 / 09959159229

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Balay sa Busay

Relax, chill, and unwind in Balay Busay’s lounge located at Don Salvador Benedicto. 

Resting nearby is another haven that hosts a truly unique DSB experience. Balay sa Busay started as a family vacation house built during the pandemic, but then opened its doors to the public in 2021. Its Spa Haven, offering an unparalleled rejuvenating experience, sets Balay sa Busay apart. To tired sojourners, this soothing encounter in an idyllic setting is more enticing than summer parties on the beach. The smell of aromatic oils, paired with the distant laminar hum of the Malatan-og Falls, will catch them helplessly drifting out of consciousness while aching muscles are kneaded.

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Contact Number: 09173000594

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Spacious and lavish bedroom with all around mountain-view.

Now, if driving all the way back to the city after all this unwinding seems counterproductive, then we suggest spending a night or two in the mountains to cap off your trip. 

Manggapuri Villas is one of the most sought-after vacation homes in DSB, where guests get to enjoy the calming serenity of nature, especially when left undisturbed. 

For those who seek rest, meditation, and self-reflection, Manggapuri provides the perfect space to relieve you of the toxicity of city-living. Sitting right in the middle of an open field is a stunning seven-sided chapel, where it might feel as if prayers are better heard. 

They currently have 5 beautiful villas to accommodate families or groups looking to stay overnight. Other amenities include a dipping pool, an outdoor sauna, and a playground for the kids. Their staff members are also very friendly and approachable. Accommodations are limited to prevent overcrowding, so reservations are required before coming through. 

While we watch the dragonflies through the sunset, dancing uninhibitedly to the echoes of the wind, it left us little doubt that the mountains of Don Salvador Benedicto were the closest we’d get to heaven while on earth.

Check out the Manggapuri Chapel here:

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Contact Number: 09273010599

Text by: Mayumi Espina

Photos by: Bem Cortez

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