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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.