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: Roxas City, Capiz to Aklan

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THINGS TO KNOW:

  • Roxas City is known as “The Seafood Capital of The Philippines”. It exports to neighboring countries as well.
  • Roxas City was honored by (DOH)Department of Health with the Red Orchid Award for being 100% tobacco free. The local government has managed tobacco control by enforcing bans, investing on public Education and promotion of pulmonary health.
  • It is the birthplace of the 5th President of The Philippines: Manuel Acuña Roxas.

A. La Playa de Roxas People’s Park: Located at Brgy. Baybay, Roxas City faces the Sibuyan Sea. It is one of the best place to watch sunset and sunrise while enjoying the best seafood. It is 3 kilometers away from the circle so I prefer to take a tricycle and stay at nearby accommodations for a couple of days.

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What I love the most is their open seafood foodcourt. Their Managat fish is the best. You may have it grilled or in soup in traditional “sinigang” way. Their scallops are fresh from Carles; no wonder they are huge. When I went to Islas de Gigantes, I ordered scallops (surprisingly 1 peso each) cooked in every way.

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B. Sta. Monica Church: It is popularly known as Panay Church. This stands in Capiz, which is just near Roxas City. This baroque style church is made from coral blocks and declared as a National Historic Landmark. Aside from that, the largest bell in the country is found here which weighs more than 10 tonnes!

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IMPORTANT LANDMARKS:

  • The Roxas City Hall
  • Capiz Provincial Capitol
  • Roxas City Bandstand
  • Manuel Roxas ancestral home (Rizal and Zamora Streets)
  • The monuments of Manuel Roxas and Jose Rizal across the Roxas City Museum
  • The Panubli-on Roxas City Museum
  • The Roxas City Fountain (dancing lights)
  • Immaculate Conception Cathedral located at Rizal Street
  • Roxas City Bridge (century old)/Spanish City Bridge

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HOW TO GET THERE?

  • From Iloilo City, take the Capiz bus at Ceres Bus terminal. Travel time is 3-4 hours though it is just 2 hours via van, the leg room is uncomfortable.
  • From Caticlan wharf (Boracay), get on a bus/van bound to Kalibo. From Kalibo transfer to another bus heading Roxas City. Total travel time is appromixately 4 hours.
  • From Kalibo to Roxas City vans and buses available. Travel time is 1-2 hours.
  • From Roxas City to Carles/ Islas de Gigantes is just 1.5 hours. See my other posts about the itinerary.

IMG_9676Capiz is known for Placuna Shells (Kapiz) that sounds like Capiz. These shells are edible but have been historically used as decoration for making lampshades, ornaments, windowpane, doors and substitute for glass due to its durable, shiny and elegant characterictics. The reason why I keep on coming back to this city is their OYSTER LANE. If you have been to several parts of Panay Island then you will definitely agree that they have the largest and fattest oysters in the Philippines. What’s more? They sell one bucket between 20 to 35 pesos at the most!

C. Barangay Tambak has an entire street of oyster-selling-stalls fronting the sea. Just take a jeep from Kalibo Rotonda heading New Washington. However, the easiest way is to ride a tricyle and stay overnight in one of the accommodations adjacent the seawall.

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Jackstones on Low Tide

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Jackstones on High Tide

These giant jackstones are placed by the shore to break the strong waves before they reach the sea wall. This is my view for two days across a humble abode & seafood haven. Glad to witness its low & high tide, sunrise & sunset of calm & raging water.💙

Check: PANAY ISLAND: Antique

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“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

-Mark Twain

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

ZAMBOANGA CITY

WHY VISIT ZAMBOANGA CITY?

*It is known as Asia’s Latin City.

*Zamboanga is the 3rd largest City by land area and 3rd oldest City in the Philippines.

*It is widely acknowledged as the Sardines Capital and Chavacano Capital as well.

*The biggest and most modern seaport of the Philippines is in Zamboanga.

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WHERE TO GO?

A. MERLOQUET FALLS: From Zamboanga City Integrated Bus Terminal, take the bus bound to Pagadian, Dipolog or Ipil. Travel time is roughly 2 hours or may take longer depending on the traffic. Get off at Vitali Bus Stop and ride a habal-habal. We hired it roundtrip to lessen the hassle. Prepare for a downhill trek on the stairs for 10-15 minutes before reaching the hidden beauty of Merloquet Falls. It is best to visit on weekdays to avoid the crowd. Don’t forget to bring snacks especially drinking water because stores  are not availble yet.

Budget in Php: (Bus 150, habal-habal 100 roundtrip, 10 parking, 5 entrance fee)

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B.YAKAN WEAVING VILLAGE: I keep on coming back to Yakan Village for the intricate designs and colorful weave. Some of my favorites are their table runners (350-1500 depending on the seater), fashionable body bags secured with zippers, cellphone pouch, purse, coasters and hairbands. Visit in the afternoon when they’re actively weaving and witness how they create the impressive geometrical designs. I strongly encourage you to patronize local products; they’re not just sturdy and cultural but patiently hand-woven by the locals.

From Zamboanga City, go to Valderosa Street at the public market and ride a jeep headed to Upper Calarian. It will take more or less 30 minutes. The Village is on the right side of the road.

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C. STA. CRUZ GRANDE ISLAND: (Little Sta. Cruz Island is restricted to the public due to military use). The bigger Island is called the Pink island of Zamboanga due to the presence of red organ-pipe corals (Tubipora Musica). Its pinkish coraline sand illuminates in broad daylight. There are usually some Vinta/s (traditional boats with colorful vertical sails) along the shore. This is the perfect place to find South Sea Pearl sellers of all kinds. It is a must-visit-island because The National Geographic recently recognized it as “one of the 21 best beaches in the world”.

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Register at the Department of Tourism Office of Zamboanga located inside the Lantaka Hotel By The Sea, Valderosa Street. You will be escorted by designated personnel or armed police officers. Camping and overnight are strictly not allowed for security reasons. You may bring packed meals or ask the care takers to cook freshly caught seafood if there are any available. In our case, we had a large bucket of crabs.

Budget in Php: (Roundtrip motorboat costs 1,000/group of 10 persons, 5/person terminal fee, 20/person entrance fee, 100 small cottage for sharing)

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D. CANELAR BARTER TRADE: This is the best place to buy souvenirs like sarong, malong, cloth bags, duster/bestida and local goodies. What I hoard the most every time I visit are assorted coffee. To be specific: macadamia and almond; noodles, chocolates and matcha sweets that come from neighboring countries in the south are my take home. It is just one trike away from the city center or walking distance to most backpacker’s inn.

Other places to visit are: The Pasonanca Park, Pasonanca National Park, Fort Pilar, Pettit Barracks, Plaza Pershing, Tagbilat Falls, Bayangan Island, Pandilusan Island.

FOOD TRIP:

1. Curacha at Alavar: Curacha is often referred to as the red frog crab or spanner crab. Curacha is sold per kilo like most seafood servings. Zamboanga visit is hyped by these must-eat-seafood (Curacha, ginataang shrimp & seafood platter) in special sauces. My favorite is Alavar’s sauce which base on my tastebuds consist of the dominance of coconut milk, chili, ginger and crab roe. Try their lychee shake; it complements every viand.

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2. Knickerbocker is a dessert similar to halo-halo only that this seems healthier considering the tropical fruits in it (ripe mangoes, banana, watermelon, melon or apples depending on the season). Gelatin and milk are part of the ingredients topped with strawberry ice cream; heavenly! Try their version at Paseo del Mar (Valderosa St. beside Fort Pilar) or Hacienda de Palmeras Hotel & Restaurant (Sta. Maria Rd.)

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3. Dennis Coffee Garden: This cafe and restaurant serves Kahawa Sug (Authentic Sulu coffee). It is a family heritage business that started in 1962. They specialize on Tausug cuisine and sells native pastries like: Pastil, Daral, Wadjit and Panggih-panggih. I tried their Chicken Pianggang (marinated in charcoaled spices), Chicken Satay (marinated in spicy peanut sauce) and Beef Kulma (curry paste) all served with Sambal (hot paste mixture of spicy condiments) usually found in Malaysia, Indonesia & Singapore. For the adventurous: try the special Tiula Itum, a Tausug soup dish made with charcoal. Their branches are at KCC Mall and San Jose Road, Balisawan-my preferred ambiance.

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4. Bay Tal Mal: According to the locals, “Bay Tal Mal” was derived from the Arabic word Bayt-ul Mal meaning “House of Wealth”. The atmosphere itself felt grand and rich yet the menu is affordable. It is the first Muslim restaurant in the region that is Halal Certified by HICCIP thus accredited by the Department Of Tourism. I had to try the Moro cuisine: the Patier Rice, Indo-Malay Beef Adobo, Shrimp-coconut cake and Chicken Kiyaliya. They’re at a very accessible location: Mayor Jaldon Street Canelar.

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“Today, power is gained by sharing knowledge,not hoarding it.”

-Dharmesh Shah