Posts Tagged Balay Negrense
Exploring the ‘Paris of Negros’
Hofileña Heritage House
Jalandoni Heritage House
If Ilocos has Vigan, Negros has Silay!
Silay, a city about 14 kilometers from Bacolod, like Vigan, is a place replete in history. It has a number of still existing beautiful old houses, some of which are open to the public for tours.
It is a place I have been wanting to visit for so long because of my fascination with ancestral houses. I would like to explore this place, dubbed as the ‘Paris of Negros’ because of its rich cultural history. I finally had that opportunity when a friend and I took a trip to Negros Occidental, late 2015.
While we landed in Silay City, as the new airport is there, we opted to base ourselves in Bacolod and tour Silay, Talisay and other areas we would like to see from there.
We took the trip to Silay on the third day of our vacation.
From Bacolod’s North Terminal, we took the Ceres Bus bound for Victorias. Like the day before, when we went to Talisay, we asked the bus driver to let us off somewhere in the place we were about to visit. This time, I asked him to drop us at the church in Silay, the San Diego Pro-cathedral, as I have read that the city’s ancestral houses are just near it.
Cesar Lacson Locsin Ancestral House
However, upon reaching Silay, it was not a tour of ancestral houses we ended up doing first! Instead, we went to El Ideal Bakery, the oldest bakery in Silay, located on the ground floor of the Cesar Lacson Locsin Ancestral House. The bus stopped at a traffic light, and lo and behold, we saw the famous bakery. My friend’s sister had asked her to buy piaya there. In our happiness at seeing the bakery, we told the driver that we will just get off there, instead of the church. Thus, we did our tour of Silay backwards, we bought pasalubong first!
We just left our boxes of pasalubong with the nice ladies at El Ideal. Aside from piaya, we also bought butterscotch, ground coffee beans from the area, and muscovado sugar.
San Diego Pro-Cathedral, Silay City, Negros Occidental
My friend and I were greeted with shrieks and screams when we reached the gate of San Diego Cathedral, a short distance from El Ideal. Not only that, a large number of teenagers, still in their school uniforms, came rushing to where we were. We got curious as well and checked what the commotion was all about. We didn’t wait long to have our answer. Enrique Gil, of Forevermore fame, and now Dolce Amore, got out of a red pick-up truck. It turned out, he and Liza Soberano were in Silay shooting the movie ‘Everyday I love You’! We left the happy teenagers and onlookers and boarded a tricycle to take us to Cinco de Noviembre Street where two of the three ancestral houses open to the public are located.
Stopping at the first one, the Hofileña Heritage House, the red pick up truck, the same one that was in the movie, passed by, and that was our third ‘Everyday I love You’ moment as we were also in the same flight as these actors two days before. We have wondered where they were going, then we knew!
The Manuel Severino Hofileña Heritage House is the first heritage house in Silay that opened its door to tourists. The current owner, Mr. Ramon Hofileña still lives in it. He was in the premises when we arrived, but he didn’t conduct the tour himself as I have read he would do at times, or if one booked a tour in advance. Nevertheless, it was a very interesting experience touring my first Silay ancestral home. This was the first ancestral house that I have toured that is still being used as a residence.
Our guide, toured us first on the ground level, with many interesting information about the house, showing us a variety of things that Mr. Hofileña amassed during his travels. The ground floor also showcases the house as it was, with beautiful porcelains, family heirlooms and old photos, dotting the place. Looking at those, one can vividly imagine the generations that had lived and celebrated life there.
The second level of the house is like an art gallery with so many paintings on the wall. Some of them, works of several national artists.
We walked towards the end of the Cinco de Noviembre Street, leftwards, checking out other ancestral houses, after our tour of the Hofileña House. When I started reading about the old houses of Silay, I thought that the houses were clustered in Cinco de Noviembre, I imagined that the street would be like Calle Crisologo in Vigan wherein ancestral houses dotted both sides of a quite narrow road in small clusters. It was not the case with Silay as the beautiful houses are spread all over, but it does not make the place less beautiful, unique and historical.
Having reached the end of the street, we walked back under the intense heat of the noon sun to go to our second ancestral house, the Balay Negrense or the Don Victor Gaston Heritage House.
The house was built by the sugar baron, Don Victor Gaston in the early 1900s. We took the guided tour of the house. We were also lucky to have met one of the descendants of Don Victor when we arrived.
The house was restored and turned into a lifestyle museum with prominent families donating furnitures, our guide told us. It showcases life as it was lived by the hacenderos in the area.
From Balay Negrense, we walked the length of Cinco de Noviembre, rightwards, and saw other old houses. We also passed by the Cinco de Noviembre Marker. It was at this site the Negros Revolution against Spain was launched in 1898.
Cinco de Noviembre Marker
While on our way to lunch, on board the tricycle we took, we saw other ancestral houses in Silay which are not open to the public. The driver took us around a bit and showed us these houses which, otherwise, we would have missed.
The driver dropped us of at the Ann Co Cakes in Rizal Street. I wanted to see this as well as my Negros-based friend told me that it has more artworks than the one in Bacolod.
It surely has more art, much more beautiful and spacious than the one we have been to the day before. The food and the coffee are good.
We hailed another tricycle after we had our delicious lunch, coffee and cakes.
The third and final house on the list is the Don Bernardino Jalandoni Heritage House, finished in 1908, and most popularly known as the pink house because of its color. It too, had been turned into a lifestyle museum.
From the Jalandoni House, we walked back towards the church and the plaza. We saw more old houses along the way, some were converted into commercial establishments.
We wanted to check the Silay Museum before we head back to Bacolod. However, it was closed as they were doing renovations. Nevertheless, the nice and accommodating staff at the cultural office, opened it for us.
They also gave us some materials on Silay ancestral houses, and told us where we can buy delicious Silay food. We were directed to an ancestral house, near the branch of the Bank of the Philippine Islands in the city.
The last stop of the day was El Ideal, where we started. We retrieved our boxes and waited for the bus that would take us back to Bacolod, feeling very happy to have fulfilled a dream!
• We got this tourist brochure after we have been all over the place! If I had it beforehand, I could have put captions on the other houses we toured by foot or by tricycle. I hope it would help you, instead. The brochure also has information on the rich history of Silay.
• Flyer which contains some information on the Jalandoni Heritage House.
• This post is the third and my final post on my Negros trip. Long overdue one, I know! If you had missed or would like to check the Bacolod one, please click on this link and the Talisay and its share of beautiful ancestral houses post in this link.
Happy travels! 🙂
It all started over coffee, one afternoon. I told one of my best friends that one day, I would like to go to Negros Occidental and see for myself the beautiful ancestral houses there. I told her that, in particular, Silay City is on my bucket list of places that I would like to see in my lifetime. Since I have been to Vigan three years before, Silay is my next goal.
She sipped her coffee, smiled at me and then she said, “Tara!” I looked at her, quite surprised as normally, being a mom like me, she needed to arrange things at home before we can go somewhere, even for our ‘coffee and movie dates’. I asked her again to be doubly sure that she would like to go with me and that we will do it now, instead of in the future. She said yes! And so we planned our trip, the first out-of-town one we took together.
I got in touch with one of my old friends who is now based in Negros Occidental, as well as a former colleague who is from Bacolod City. My friend gave me a list of places I can check out when I asked him for a recommendation on accommodations. My friend and I would like to stay within our budget, so a simple, clean one will suffice. We only need the place for sleeping and to park our things. However, I have another requirement – that it should have a TV as I don’t like to miss an episode of On the Wings of Love, even while on vacation!
He also suggested we base ourselves in Bacolod as the places I want to see are not that far from the city. That way, he said, we can travel around, and at the same time explore Bacolod. His idea is actually brilliant and it saved us from packing and unpacking and moving from one place to another. That way, we also got to explore more places, like he said. I chose the cheapest on his list, if I remember correctly, and the most accessible from Bacolod’s main street. I also read the reviews, looked at photos online, and the place seemed okay.
We took the first flight out of Manila via Philippine Airlines towards the end of September as it was cheaper than the other schedules. By taking that flight, my friend and I had our first ‘Everyday I Love You’ moment, as Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano were on the same flight! We wondered if they have a show in Bacolod since it was around the start of the Masskara Festival season. Our question on where they were going was answered two days after, when we made it to Silay. We saw Enrique getting out of the pick-up they used in the movie near the church there! He and Liza were in the area for the location shoot of their movie!
We landed at the Bacolod-Silay International Airport more than an hour after we left Manila. I was told by the pension house where we will be staying that there are shuttles from the airport going to hotels and inns in Bacolod at Php 150 per person. However, my friend and I opted to take a taxi as it would just cost Php 100 extra each on our part. We have one luggage each, plus our carry-on bags. The taxi costs Php 500. The guys manning the taxi line were very nice and as promised, and after passing through a bit of only sugarcane fields and not much houses, we arrived in Bacolod, and at Pleasant Travellers Pension House after 30 minutes or less, I think.
The check in at the pension house is at 1PM so we had to wait. We were unable to check-in early as our room was not yet available. The staff showed us to the area where we can rest and wait. We left our things there to eat breakfast. First, we checked their canteen, but the food there didn’t appeal much to our stomachs at that time. We decided to venture out to Lacson Street, Bacolod’s main street, even if was raining a bit. Luckily, a taxi dropped off some people at the pension house when we were about to brave the drizzle. The first place we checked out, base on my Lonely Planet guide-book and my map, was undergoing renovations, so we walked a bit more, and found this very nice coffee shop at the L’ Fisher Hotel complex. We thought it would be on the expensive side, it being in a hotel complex, but it’s not. They offer nice and very filling breakfast meals, breads and mouth-watering cakes and pastries, and nice coffee too!
We went back to the pension house after breakfast and waited until we managed to check in past 12nn.
Our room is at the second floor, at the back part of the inn. It was okay, big enough for my friend and me, with two single beds, a bedside table, a closet, a dresser, a bathroom with hot and cold shower, and of course a TV! The place is clean and cost Php 780 per night (the one without a TV is around Php 200 cheaper). The blankets were thin (those white ones, and it got very cold at night, even if we adjusted the air conditioning). We requested for extra blankets (and pillows since there was only one each) at an extra, but minimal cost. I also wore socks to bed. Problem solved!
Bacolod’s streets are laid out in a grid form, along Lacson Street, so it is easier to find your way around. Our inn is at 13th street, parallel to Lacson. We usually just walk to Lacson and travel from there. All jeepneys and taxis pass through this street. My Bacolod colleague told me that Lacson is also their national highway. Indeed, you can access the North Terminal going to say, Talisay, Silay, through Lacson.
In between traveling to Silay and Talisay, we managed to explore quite a number of places Bacolod in the four and half days we have stayed there. Here are some of the activities we did, and you can do, while in the City of Smiles:
Food trip/coffee time moments along Lacson Street. Aside from the usual chains of restaurants you can find in Metro Manila and other urban centers, there are quite a number of local restaurants, and cafes along this busy main street. Here are some of the places we have been to:
- Ann Co Cakes
4. C’s at L’ Fisher Hotel
5. Starbucks (for the Bacolod mug)!
• Walk around Negros Occidental Capitol Park and Lagoon!
• Visit the Negros Museum.
• Have another coffee time at the Negros Museum Cafe.
• Explore Downtown Bacolod!
• Dine at Aida’s Chicken at Manokan Country
• Shop for souvenirs and pasalubong at the Negros Showroom along Lacson Street. The place has a lot of beautiful and very nice local products. Aside from these two, I also bought a beautiful abaca bangles which is now a favorite accessory!
• Go to Panaad Park and Sports Complex. Our Negros Museum guide told us that a real train that was used in the transporting sugar canes in the old days can be found in this place, so off we go, especially after we decided not to go to Victorias Milling on this trip. I was also curious about this place as I remember that a Philippine Azkals game was played at the Panaad Stadium. Panaad is far, if we will measure the distance from where we have been, which was the Negros Museum.
• Mall fix at The District. Getting out of Panaad commuting became a bit of a challenge as we were not familiar with the jeepney routes, and the area itself, anymore. Not much taxis either in that area. Luckily, we found this very nice taxi driver after a while. We asked him to take us to The District in the neighboring Talisay for our mall fix. He was also the one who took us back to the airport the following day for Php 500. We ate lunch there, had coffee, and then just went around.
• The Art District in Mandalagan. We managed to reach it after getting lost. We missed the stop to Mandalagan. There was not much activity in the area when we went there in the afternoon. Maybe, it is best to go there in the evening as I noticed there are several places where you can sit out and drink. After braving a dark stairway, we found the Gallery Orange and the current exhibit there.
Next, and that is after I have written the update to my fan fiction, my trips to Talisay and Silay! 🙂
Note: Sorry, this one is very long post. I put more information and photos, more than I would normally do, (including rates, prices of stuffs, fees, and also some links for more information) for those of you who would like to go there as well, and also for people who will end up in this blog, looking for information, like I do, before going to a place. I hope you will find this post useful!