NEGROS OCCIDENTAL: Silay City Heritage Houses

REASONS TO VISIT SILAY CITY?

  • It is referred to as the “Paris of Negros” and “seat of arts, culture and ecotourism” due to the numerous preserved heritage houses, artists, cultural shows and its rich history. No wonder it was acknowledged by the Department of Tourism (DOT) as one of the top travel destinations in the Philippines.
  • 31 Ancestral Houses are declared by the National Historical Institute as cultural landmarks.
  • The world’s oldest Steam Locomotives(train) is at Hawaiian Philippines Co. a.k.a. “Iron Dinosaurs” are found and can be rented here (15,000/day).
  • Home of Kansilay Festival (A legend: the heroism of Princess Kansilay and her love story with Lawaan) and Adobo Festival (November 5: people showcase various versions of Adobo).

HOW TO GET THERE?

Silay City is more than 25 minutes away from Bacolod City and vice versa, hence the traffic. Exploring Silay is best done via pedicab or trike. Ancestral houses can be reached by foot if you are a walker like me.

If you are heading to Bacolod City: I personally prefer to take a taxi though it may cost more (200-250Php) due to the distance. However, you may take a shuttle van service (150Php) from Silay International Airport with drop off points at nearby hotels within the city, Robinson’s, SM or Bus terminals. From Bacolod City, Robinson’s is a major pick up point going to Silay.

MUST VISIT ANCESTRAL HOUSES:

Silay is like a Museum City with a laid back ambiance and Spanish feel. It is like Marinduque and Ilocos wherein you can see well-preserved ancestral houses mostly turned into a museum or cafe.

A. BALAY NEGRENSE or Victor Fernandez Gaston Ancestral House: It is the first museum in Negros Occidental. The house was owned by Victor Gaston, son of Frenchman Yves Leopold Germain Gaston. Before sugarcane became a staple crop, he discovered Negros’ fertile land and was the first to bring an iron mill for sugarcane production and produce quality sugar. He was regarded as the “Father of the Sugar Industry.”

This literal “house of stone” (bahay na bato) housed his 12 children and was later on donated to the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) repaired and opened for public viewing. This Neo-Renaissance architecture was built in 1897.  Entrance fee is 60/adults, 40/students or seniors and 20 /children. Open between 9:00-5:30 PM and closed on Mondays at Barangay III, Cinco De Noviembre Street.

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B. BERNARDINO JALANDONI HOUSE/MUSEUM: This is called the “Pink House” probably because of the notable color. Don Bernardino Jalandoni and Doña Ysabel Lopez Ledesma were the original owners but now in the care of Silay Heritage Foundation, Inc. It is walking distance from the Church of San Diego de Alcala. Nowadays, this 1908 house is a common venue for cultural and artistic events. It is located at Brgy II, Rizal Street open between Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

C. SOLEDAD AND MARIA MONTELIBANO LACSON ANCESTRAL HOUSE: This landmark is owned by the family of Montelibano Lacson sisters: Soledad and Maria. According to history, it was where General Lacson and revolutionary leaders constantly secretly meet and where they first raised the Philippine flag. It is just at the corner of Rizal Street stop light.

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D. MARIA LEDESMA GOLEZ HERITAGE HOUSE: The house was restored in 1992 and is being used by Silay Branch of Republic Commercial Banking Corporation in 1992. Today it serves as a bank and shops building.

There is a popular backpacker’s inn across the road and an old cafe on the ground floor. It would be a perfect homestay if you are planning a day at Silay then head to Bacolod.

E. HOFILEÑA ANCESTRAL HOUSE: This beautiful home was built in 1934 by Hofileña for his 12 children and former Miss Silay wife. These days, it serves as a museum exhibiting the work of popular Philippine artists, antiques and private collection of Ramon H. Hofileña. The world’s smallest dolls are found in their collection too.

F. BALAI VERDE or Angel Araneta Ledesma Ancestral House: This 1933 “Green House” is an American clapboard-Colonial plantation architectural combination. It was later on sold to the local government. Currently it serves as the Office of Culture, Arts and Tourism of the City of Silay. It is located along Plaridel Street near The City Hall and San Diego Pro-Cathedral.

G. EL IDEAL BAKERY or Cesar Lacson Locsin Heritage House: This is the oldest 2-storey-home or “bahay na bato” in Silay. The ground floor is concrete while the upper floor is classic wood with metal grills and glass windows. Silay’s original bakery was established in 1920’s located at 118 Rizal Street. They serve home-made pastries and Filipino-Spanish viands. Their guapple pie is a must!

Foodtrip at Silay

Left Corner: Cubana, porkchop, empanada and cassava at El Ideal bakery and Restaurant. Right Corner: ison, atay, corazon, pakpak and sizzling gambas with egg at Silay Food Park

H. GENEROSO GAMBOA ANCESTRAL TWIN HOUSE: A very interesting twin house wherein the other is painted while the one next to it retained its original wood finish.

I. JOSE LEDESMA ANCESTRAL HOME: This 1917 house has a beautiful entrance of two. The flights of stairs connects in the middle of the veranda.

J. DR. JOSE CORTEZA LOCSIN ANCESTRAL HOUSE: He graduated at University of Sto Tomas with a degree in Medicine at 21 years old and also became the President of the Philippine Medical Association in 1938. He was elected in various government positions and is considered the “Father of the Filipino First” policy. His Art-Deco architectural house has 3 prominent elongated arcs in each floor facing the entrance.

Other additions are: LEANDRO DELA RAMA LOCSIN ANCESTRAL HOMEHOUSE OF RENE AND JESSICA VELEZ DIMACALI and you may visit SAN DIEGO DE ALCALA PRO-CATHEDRAL, a Romanesque design by architect Lucio Bernasconi.

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“A mind that is streched by A NEW EXPERIENCE can never go back to its old dimensions.”

-Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

 

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PANAY ISLAND: Antique

HOW TO GET TO ANTIQUE?

*From Iloilo City: Ride a cab going to the Ceres Terminal (Notable yellow terminal). Take the bus going to San Jose, Antique. Remind the conductor to drop you off at Brgy Importante, Tibiao or “the crossing”. Travel time is 2-3 hours on non airconditioned bus (130Php). Ride a habal-habal/motorcyle around 15 minutes (70 Php) to various kawa bath resorts.

*From Caticlan Airport walk to the bus terminal across Jetty Port. Ride a bus bound to San Jose, Antique. Travel time is 2 hours at 100Php then motorcycle (70Php).

*From Kalibo Airport, take a trike for 100Php to Ceres Bus Terminal. Make sure to ride a bus bound to San Jose, Antique. Travel time is a little more than 2 hours then take the motorcycle (70Php).

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I personally prefer the Kayak Inn for the Kawa Hot Bath because of the picturesque view. Aside from its popularity among travellers, it was also featured in some TV programs. Give them time to prepare every kawa because they need preheating. During peak season, kawa sharing is advised at 250 Php per head for 30 minutes. On weekdays given that there are minimal or no next customers, you can have an entire kawa for yourself at an extended period of time. Overnight accommodation ranges between 250-1,500 depending on the resort.

REMINDERS:

  1. Signal is limited in Tibiao.
  2. Bring insect repellants, a hammock or sleeping bag, drinking water and snacks.
  3. It is best to hire habal-habal if you are planning to engage in two or more activities.
  4. Avoid crowded days and always consider the weather if you are opting to do sidetrips on neighboring islands.

IMG_9682.JPGOther activities and places to visit:

  • Tibiao Eco Adventure Park (TEA): Entrance fee (50Php), Zipline fee (300Php)
  • Bugtong Bato Falls: Tour guide fee (100)
  • Tibiao Fish Spa: Entrance fee (20Php), Habal-habal ride (30Php)
  • River kayaking in Tibiao River (P3000)
  • Soak in hot kawa (other resorts have flavored baths like milk, coffee and flowers)
  • Seco Island; rent a boat: Kite surfing, snorkeling or Camping
  • Malalison Island: Van from Tibiao to Culasi Town (20Php); rent a boat : Trek the Rolling Hills, check out pitcher plants
  • Malumpati cold spring and Bugang River
  • Visit Boracay, Roxas or Iloilo City

 

KAWA is a huge fryer turned into a tub for bathing. It is traditionally used in “fiestas” or large gatherings in the Philippines to cook dishes. The practice of cooking in a kawa is still widely done especially in the provinces. KAWA HOT BATH has recently been popularized as a traditional jacuzzi wherein dried coconut leaves and some twigs are set on fire for a few minutes to warm up the tub. It is said to be therapeutic in so many ways. It relaxes tense muscles while the aromatic add ons like flowers or bath flavors relieve stress. It is said that it even cures some skin diseases and promotes sleep. I couldn’t help it, I brought my own loofah!

Check: PANAY ISLAND: Roxas City, Capiz to Aklan

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“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”

-Dale Carnegie