Friday, October 21, 2011

Negros Occidental - Silay City (Part 2)

Since we have a limited time to visit Negros, we maximize our time. Our itinerary brought us straight from the airport to Silay's downtown.

Silay City is located 16km North from Bacolod. The City is where life is sweeter. In Silay, the past comes alive in the architecture and fine craftsmanship of its ancestral homes. It is sugar that made Silay one of the richest towns in the country and the sugar barons or hacienderos spared no expense in the construction and furnishing of their homes. Silay earned the title as "the Seat of Arts, Culture and Eco-trourism in Western Visayas".

Silay City was founded in 1760 and was at the forefront of sugar production at the turn of 20th century. Built between the late 19th century and the pre-war years, 29 surviving ancestral houses were identified by the National Historical Commission as national treasure. Silay is a living Museum. It is my favorite amongst other town in Negros Occidental.

The Balay Negrense (Don Victor Gaston Ancestral House)

Since no one explained to us the history of the house, I just mirrored a brief history of the house from wikipedia.

The Balay Negrense was originally the ancestral house of Victor F. Gaston, a son of Yves Leopold Germain Gaston and Prudencia Fernandez. The elder Gaston is credited as one of the pioneers of sugarcane cultivation in this portion of the Philippine archipelago. A native of Normandy in France, he married Filipina from Batangas where he initially began experimenting with sugar production before relocating to Negros.

The house is of the type called bahay na bato, literally "house of stone", however, reflecting American colonial influences, the lower storey is not constructed of stone but of concrete. The foundation posts are made out of trunks of the balayong tree, a local hardwood; the floorboards are of the same material. The house's upper storey is constructed of wood topped with a roof of galvanized iron instead of tile.

How to get there: From Silay City Public Plaza, ride a tricycle or walk to Cinco de Noviembre St. cor. Zuelueta St.

Address: Cinco de Noviembre, Silay City
Museum Hours: Tuesdays to Sunday, closed on Monday, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Entrance Fee: Php40 (US$0.90)

Photos of Balay Negrense

Hofileña Ancestral House

The Hofileña house was the first ancestral house opened to the public in 1962. Located a few meters from Balay Negrese on a nondescript neigborhood on Cinco de Noviembre St. Let Mr. Ramon Hofileña, the son of the original owner and the unofficial first Filipino bikini model, fascinates you to the story behind in every pieces you can find the house. He is the untiring and the most passionate preserver of Negros Occidental's cultural heritage. The house is a massive depository of artworks. When you entered the house, you can see the 200-year-old piano belonging to Sir Mon great-grandmother sits innocently on the living room. Also on the first floor, potteries, authentic period pieces,furniture,miniature dolls, and photographs of the first owner of Negros Navigation and so other original pieces.

When you go upstairs, you can see one of the Philippine's finest and rarest art collections. Works of Manansala, which I am proud of carrying the same surname :), Juan Luna, Amorsolo, Hidaldo and Jose Rizal are displayed on the wall. If Mr. Mon said he talked to much and consuming your time and ask you if you wanted him to stop, don't stop him because he has so much interesting stories to tell about the life of those artists. One particular interest among the featured painters is the unknown artist to many, Conrado Judith. Even in google you can not find any article about this artist but Mr. Hofileña can tell you more about him. Conrado Judith died of tuberculosis at 34, befitting the life of the starving artist. His abstract impresionist pieces made the cover of international publications and won prizes overseas.

The house's gem is over 70, once he is no longer around to provide these great tours and share these interesting stories, he says he is adamant in training a successor like the one who toured us at the first part of the tour in the house. However, finding like Mr. Hofileña of such caliber to tell its stories from generation to generation is a challenge.

Did you know that Rey PJ Abellana, the father of Carla Abellana, is a grandson of Mr. Ramon Hofileña? His mother is a sister of Mr. Mon who's also an artist, a singer.

Mr. Ramon Hofileña is conducting an Annual Cultural tour of Negros Occidental (ACTNO), the longest-running cultural tour in the world, all Saturdays of December except holidays.

How to get there: From Balay Negrense, walk towards North of Cinco de Noviembre St. It's only a few meters away from Negrense

Address: Cinco de Noviembre, Silay City
For appointment please call 034 4954561
Entrance Fee: Php40 (US$0.90)

Don Bernardino Jalandoni Ancestral House (Pink House)

The house was first owned by Don Bernardino and Doña Ysabel Jalandoni. It was completed in the year 1908. Although grand scale and strong in its construction, its design follows the typical Philippine Nipa Hut. The exisiting wooden structures are the same hardwood that the couple had originally shipped from faraway Mindoro. Most of the embosed tin ceiling trays on the second floor are the very ones imported then from even more remote Hamburg, Germany. Its wooden transoms done in "callado" or cut out style, using elaborated visual aesthetics and function. The creative use of glass, "capiz" shells, steel grills, wooden louvers and panels foe windows continues to maximize light, ventilation and security today as it has since it was designed a century ago.

In 1993, the National Historical Institute recognized it as the first museum and heritage house in Silay City. The heirs, Mr. & Mrs. Antonio J. Montinola ahve entrusted its care to the Silay Heritage Foundation, Inc., a non-government organization.

How to get there: From Hofileña House, Cinco de Noviembre St., walk towards East of Burgos St. until you get to the National Rd., Rizal St. across the street you can already see the Jalandoni house also known as the "Pink House"

Address: Rizal St., Silay City 6116
Museum Hours: Tuesdays to Sunday, closed on Monday, 9:00am - 5:00pm
Entrance Fee: Php25 (US$0.56)

The Cathedral of San Diego de Alcala

The Cathedral of San Diego de Alcala lies in the center of Silay City. Designed by Italian architect Lucio Bermasconi in 1920, the cathedral's silver-colored Byzantium dome was inspired by that of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Its architectural grandeur and treasury of religions art is testament to the people of Silay's deep faith and religiosity. The ruins of the old church whose foundations date back of the present church and is now an adoration chapel.

Silay is a small town that you can go around by foot. Silay's surviving ancestral houses and old buildings.

the Ruins


  1. Hi FlyingBoar nice trip. bibisitahin ko ulit ang mga to next month hihi

  2. Hi Chino. It was worth visiting the place =)


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