The Piaya Chronicles: The Ancestral Houses of Silay City

Silay City is the gateway to Negros Occidental, being home to the modern Bacolod-Silay Airport.  It may not be as popular as Bacolod but it is a must to be part of your Negros Occidental itinerary.  It is home to “living” historic houses, and much more!

This is part of a series

Silay was the first and last place we visited during our tour so this is about the best of both visits.  We weren’t able to fully cover Silay the first time so we made sure to do a second visit.

The Ancestral Houses

Our first visit was pretty much a “museum tour.”  It may sound “boring” but museum tour in Negros is much more than educational tours as we have discovered.  By Silay (and pretty much Negros) standards, a museum normally refer to an ancestral home made open to the public, complete with guided tours, to educate visitors of the history of the house.

Victor Fernandez Gaston Ancestral House

This is the first house cum museum we visited.  We didn’t know then that there’d be a guide so we went on as we normally would a typical museum.  We could say that this one of the poster houses of Silay.

Victor Fernandez Gaston Ancestral House
A beautiful huge tree in front of the ancestral home
Grandiose living room
An old electric fan
Who has a piano in those days?
The grand staircase
Beautiful chairs
Collection of crystals
Anyone recognize what this is? 😀
Look at the details

Manuel Severino Hofileña Ancestral House

This is the first “living” ancestral house/museum that we visited.  This ancestral house is still being used by its owner (like many ancestral houses in Silay) but it’s the only one opened to the public.  And mind you, the current owner of the house, Mr. Ramon Hofileña, himself will tour you around, if you’re lucky to catch him (which we were).

Manuel Severino Hofileña Ancestral House
Like other mansions of the era, they too have a piano. This one dates back before electricity was in use.
Flat irons before there was electricity

This house is a must visit with Mr. Hofileña as your guide.  He’s just one of the most passionate artists I’ve met and his enthusiasm on the arts is just contagious!  I was in awe for most of the time he was sharing his knowledge so I actually just listened to him and forgot to take pictures.  Anyways, his art collection include Rizal (yes, Jose Rizal), Luna, Manansala, and more national artists.

“Meteor Rocks”
Possibly the smallest dolls in the world: each one is smaller than a grain of rice
Close up view of the dolls
Works by National Artists
Did you know that even prints can be original?

If you’re in Negros this December I highly recommend Mr. Hofileña’s cultural tour of Negros Occidental, the longest-running tour in the world now on its 38th year.  I somehow imagine it to be similar with walking tours in the city of Manila, except that it’s not exclusively walking, and it covers Bacolod, Talisay, Silay, Victorias, Manapla, and E.B. Magalona.  For more information, you may contact +63 34 434 6398 or +63 34 495 4561.

Bernardo-Ysabel Jalandoni Ancestral House

Also known as “the Pink House” it is a testament to the wealth and influence the owners had in their days.  It is located along the main thoroughfare of Silay near the public market and the Church which, according to our guide, tells something back in those days.

They do have telephones back then
They also used this to flatten their clothes
The Bernardo-Ysabel Jalandoni Ancestral House is located along these rows of ancestral houses lining up along the main thoroughfare (unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the actual house)

The Rest of Silay

We felt that our Silay City tour was pretty much limited the first time around, we decided to do a repeat, before finally concluding our Negros trip.  Here are some of the ancestral houses that we toured on foot:

Just across the Bernardo-Ysabel Jalandoni Ancestral House...
...are these two magnificent pieces of architecture
The San Diego Pro-cathedral, formerly known as the San Diego Parish Church
The proper attire inside the church
Sunset view of the San Diego Pro-cathedral
Cinco de Noviembre marker where the first uprising against Spain in Silay occurred
And we were hauling all along our “pasalubong” while touring on foot 🙂
Another ancestral house
...and another! (See the air conditioning unit? It's still in use like most ancestral houses in Silay)
This one appears to be used by the local government
Two more
Another one. They don’t make houses like they used to.


What would a tour be if you didn’t have a taste of local delicacies?  Here are some Silay delights we got to enjoy:

Sir & Ma’am Restaurant

Yes, it’s a pretty peculiar name.  It’s not really a restaurant, but it’s not bad either.  It’s best for those who are travelling on a budget.

Yes Sir & Ma’am
I got this seafood which until now I still do not know what, but it tasted good! On the background is another exotic delicacy known as dinuguan or “blood soup.”

El Ideal

This is a great place to get last minute “pasalubong.”  They have a lot of pastries to choose from, not to mention some of the most interesting jam collections I’ve ever seen.  We were supposed to eat our very early dinner here but they’re sold out!

El Ideal

Also, note that El Ideal is the oldest bakery in Silay and it is located in one of the heritage houses of Silay, the Cesar Lacson Locsin Ancestral House.  It is also located near the stop for the shuttle service to Bacolod-Silay Airport.

Kamote (sweet potato) jam anyone?
Some more “exotic” jams
Reasons why mascobado sugar is better than the regular refined sugar

Café 1925

Silay’s little secret, Café 1925 is a quaint little café just behind El Ideal.  We discovered it while looking for a place to dine before going to the airport.  This is a cozy and quiet place perfect for having a dinner for small groups as they have very limited seats.  And they do serve great food with great service.  Try their shakes which use carabao’s milk or their interesting cupcakes.  Highly recommended!

Café 1925
Interesting chandelier inside the café
Cupcakes anyone?
This is one of their best selling sandwiches (which I forgot the name)
Carbo-loading after an entire day of touring

Silay reminds me of Intramuros (sans the wall) except that old houses here are still in use and most of them in very good condition.  It was here that I had the most museum visits I’ve ever had, but there were no dull moments.  It’s proximity with Bacolod-Silay Airport makes it a very convenient place to visit, and I highly recommend everyone passing here to stop and explore.

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The Piaya Chronicles:

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Rah says:

    Wow, ganda ng mga houses. Parang yung essence ng mga tao na gumamit sa kanila, nasa mga kagamitan pa. Kung nakakapagblog lang sana ang mga bahay na ito, sure ako marami silang kwento.


  2. Gilbert L. Nemenzo says:

    To all Tourist and History lover here is something for you; Annual Cultural Tour of Negros Occidental on it’s 39th year

    The 39th Annual Cultural Tour of Negros Occidental (ACTNO) will be held December 3, 10 and 17 this year. It has been confirmed as the longest–running cultural tour in the world.

    The itinerary, which starts 9 a.m. and ends 5:30 p.m., includes Birhen sang Barangay Chapel in Bacolod City; Bernardino Jalandoni House ( museum), Hofileña Heritage House and it’s art collection and printmaking workshop, food trip to outstanding delicacy sources in Silay City; Church of St. Joseph the Worker in Victorias City; Chapel of the Cartwheels in Manapla; plus the introduction of the new attraction.

    Also to be explained to the participants are the Philippines’ most internationally – known mural, the country’s first cultural center, first religious imageries as Filipinos, over 100 meteorites found in Negros Occ., Negros Island’s oldest antique ( Iron Age 900 – 589 B. C. ), enchanted trees, world’s smallest dolls which need magnifying glass to be seen, folk arts, printmaking among others.

    To be discussed on board the bus are San Sebastian Cathedral, Capitol building and park and the monument to Theodore Vinther in Bacolod; Hda. Matab-ang monument in Talisay; ancestral houses and Cinco de Noviembre marker in Silay; monument to heroes of Guintabuan in E. B. Magalona; Victorias Milling Co. and Iron Dinosaurs in Victorias.

    There will be corrections in “history” about Rizal, Luna, Hidalgo, how Negros Island got its name and so on.

    A sincere public service, ACTNO’s passengers are charged at cost without profit. The fee is P800 a person which already covers everything including lunch, snack, bottled water, bus fare, museum fees; nothing more to pay.

    Each tour is limited to 50 participants on first come, first served basis.

    Registration is ongoing at Jara Laboratory & Blood Bank at corner Lacson – 1st. Sts., Bacolod, tel. (034) 4346398. The tours will start and end at Jara Lab.

    Lunch will be cream of corn soup, imperial salad, fish steak, beef stroganoff, rice (additional rice P15 charged to passenger), buco-pandan, soft drink to be served at Victorias Golf and Country Club. Snack will be special chicken sandwich.

    Assisting the tours are those who volunteered help without being solicited. They are Gonzales Newspaper Dealer, Impress Quality Printing Inc., Jara Laboratory and Blood Bank and Silay Heritage Foundation. Jara lab has been handling reservations for 23 years now. Meanwhile, a friend Vicky Domingo Valencia has donated a megaphone.

    Ramon H. Hofileña will be the tour guide who originally planned the ACTNO as a one-shot deal as part of his art promotions, but public demand has made it an institution. Hofileña was an account executive of a travel agency in New York and had gotten in touch with their contacts worldwide to inquire about cultural tours in their countries. Not one is as long- running as ACTNO.

    Hofileña can be reached at tel. (034) 49554561, mobile nos. 09306620911, 09123118154 or email us at

    Each year ACTNO introduces new attractions, a feat which never failed since the start. And researches on history are continually undertaken even abroad.

    Passenger Dory Ledesma said about the ACTNO: “It’s a tour all Negrenses must join at least once.” For non-Negrenses, it’s the best way to know and see Negros Occ.

    Forbidden in the tour are all sound recorders, children aged six and below, as well as grade and high school students in big groups.

    Hofileña will talk in English.

    Flyers for more information can be obtained at Jara Lab.


  3. Thanks for this wonderful blog post. So proud that i am a Silaynon. Thanks for visiting Paris of Negros.


    1. dhenztm says:

      It’s my pleasure to visit your wonderful city!


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