Project 7107

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Silay City: Trace Negrenses’ Ancestral Trails*

Silay, the center of Western Visayan culture, arts, and ecotourism, was the seat of Negros’s sweet and colorful past.

The first known village in Negros—Carobcob —was found in Silay in 1565. For their subsistence, Carobcob (means “to scratch”) villagers scratch for shells (Tuway) from the beaches. In 1760, Silay was declared a pueblo or town by the Spanish colonizers. It was named after a tree called “Kansilay” which was then endemic in its forests.

The sugar industry in Negros began in the mid 1800s when Gaston Yves Leopold Germaine, a french man married to a Filipina from Batangas, installed the first sugar mill. The opening of an international port in Iloilo a few years later led to the growth and expansion of sugar trade and industry in Negros, and hence the proliferation of European colonial architecture in Silay.

Balay NegrenseBalay Negrense San Diego Pro CathedralSan Diego Pro Cathedral

Today, 29 of the remaining ancestral houses in Silay depict the lifestyle of old rich families of Negros and their colonial past. It would take a full-day tour or even two to visit all of them. A guided cultural day tour of Negros Occidental is conducted by Ramon Hofilena annually (all Saturdays of December except those near holidays),

Here’s a guide to a half-day do-it-yourself (DIY) walking tour of the main ancestral homes in Silay City. It starts at the Cesar Locsin y Lacson’s Ancestral House and ends at the Bernardino-Ysabel Jalandoni Ancestral House (for walking tour map and details, click here ).

1. Cesar Locsin y Lacson’s Ancestral House

2. Victor Fernandez Gaston’s Ancestral House

3. Manuel S. Hofilena Ancestral House

4. San Diego Pro-cathedral

5. Bernardino-Ysabel Jalandoni Ancestral House.

How to get there and around:

By air: From Manila, Silay City is only 45 mins to 1 hour by air. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines fly 3x to 5x daily to Silay v.v. Air PhilExpress and Zest Air also fly daily from Manila to Silay (20-30 mins.). Cebu Pacific and Air PhilExpress fly 2x daily from Cebu to Silay v.v.

From Bacolod-Silay Airport, take airport shuttle to the city proper (PhP 50/pax). There are tricycles and jeepneys that could take you around Silay. Traveling by foot is still the best way to trace the ancestral trails of the Negrenses.

By land: Silay is 14 km or 30-45 min. away from Bacolod City. there are buses and mini vans that ply the Bacolod-Silay route.

Where to stay: There are several lodging places in Silay (e.g. Silay Pension, Christina Pension House, and Sunburst Bay Resort). Another option is to make a sidetrip to and stay in Bacolod City where there are more lodging options.

Where to dine:

El Ideal El Ideal (cor. Rizal and Fr. Eusebio Sts). Must try: Guapple Pie, Chosilog 

Café 1925 (Ledesma St.; near cor Rizal and Ledesma Sts. near El Ideal. Must try: Beef Salpicao, all desserts

chozilog - flickrEl Ideal’s Chozilog for breakfast Café 1925's Beef SalpicaoCafé 1925’s Beef Salpicao for lunch

References:

Silay History. Available at: http://www.dakbanwangsilay.com/content/silay-history (accessed last 14 August 2010).

Negros, the Island that Sugar Built. Available at: http://www.admu.edu.ph/offices/mirlab/panublion/negros.html (accessed last 14 August 2010).

*Special thanks to Erik Villagracia, Mhyke Yee, and Charisse Barilea for providing useful tips and other info about Silay City.

This is part of an ongoing series on exploring the Negros islands.

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