Thursday, April 02, 2015

Negros Occidental :A Heritage Walk in Silay City's Ancestral Houses

Merienda of Arroz Caldo and Calamansi Juice before the Walk

We learn and draw from our past. In Silay City, the past comes alive in the architecture and fine craftmanship of its ancestral homes. These jewels continue to inspire awe and imagination to whoever enter their doors. A confluence of foreign and local ingenuity, these palatial dwellings tell the tale of an era made sweeter by the sugar produced and the colorful life lived.

Built between the late 19th century and the prewar years, 29 surviving ancestral houses were identified by the National Historical Commission as national treasures. Because of this, Silay was dubbed by travel writers as "Museum City". 

Three of these structures, The Balay Negrense, Don Bernardino Jalandoni Ancestral House and the Manuel Hofilena Heritage House were converted into museums, providing us glimpse to once glorious past - a past worth revisiting. 

 Upon stepping out from a bus, treat yourself first to a snack in El Ideal. Then head right into the City's Tourism Office to get some insight and information about the heritage tour. I would advise you to get a brochure with a map featuring the location of 31 heritage sites and houses of Silay. The entire walk will last for about 3 to 4 hours depending on your pace. So bring your bottle of water, open your minds and explore:

Soledad and Maria Montelibano Lacson Ancestral House

Antonia dela Rama Locsin Ancestral House

Sen. Jose Corteza Locsin Ancestral House

Jose Ledesma Ancestral House

Cinco de Noviembre Monument

Digna Locsin Consing Ancestral House

Balay Negrense

Sugar Baron Don Victor Gaston built this two-storey, 12 bedroom home in historic Cinco de Noviembre Street in the early 1900s. The house of stone and wood fuses Spanish and American colonial architecture and features a double staircase, French windows and large living room areas. The museum is a showcase of the province's history based on the eyes of the hacienderos like Don Victor.

Teodoro Morada Ancestral House

Delfin Ledesma Ancestral House

Leandro dela Rama Locsin Ancestral House

El Ideal

Public Restrooms beside Silay North Elementary School

Arsenio Lopez Jison Ancestral House

German Unson Ancestral House

Josefita Tionko Lacson Ancestral House

Manuel dela Rama Locsin Ancestral House

House of Antonio Novella Sian

Kapitan Mariano Montelibano Ancestral House

Vicente Conlu Montelibano Ancestral House

Lino Lopez Severino Ancestral House

The Cathedral of San Diego de Alcala

Designed by Italian architect Lucio Bernasconi in 1920, the Cathedrals's silver-colored Byzantium dome was inspired by that of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Its architectural grandeur and treasury of religious art is testament to the people of Silay's deep faith and religiosity. The ruin of the old church whose foundation date back to 1776 is located at the back of the present church and is now an adoration chapel.

Silay City Hall

Sangguniang Panlungsod Building

Generoso Gamboa Ancestral Twin House

Alejandro Amechazura Ancestral House

Angel Araneta Ledesma Ancestral House

Manuel Hofilena Ancestral House

The first ancestral home to open its doors to tourists, it houses Ramon Hofilenas' collection of paintings by the Philippines' renowned artists from the 19th century to the present - Luna, Hidalgo, Amorsolo, Manansala to name a few. One can also spend the entire day chatting with amiable Ramon on everything from history, culture and arts to local and national intrigue that you won't catch in your history books. 

Maria Golez Ancestral House

Don Bernardino Jalandoni Museum

Locally known as the "Pink House" due to its exterior color, the museum boasts of a collection of rare and priceless pieces from Silay's rich past. Built in 1908 by Don Bernardino and his wife Isabel Jalandoni y Ledesma, the house is a treasure chest of well-designed interiors and intricate artwork including its beautifully embossed steel tray ceiling molded in Hamburg, Germany.

Old Silay Puericulture Center

Jose B. Gamboa Ancestral House

How To Get Therea? 

14 kilometers north of Bacolod City, Silay City cab be reached within 10 minutes. There are taxis and public transportation readily available. 

By plane, Silay is 50 minutes from Manila and 30 minutes from Cebu.

By boat, travel first to Bacolod City from Manila (18 hours) and by fast craft from Iloilo (50 minutes). 

By land via "RORO" from Cebu, Silay is approximately 6 to 8 hours away. 

For more information and assitance, contact Silay City Tourism Office at (34) 495-5553 or thru fax (34) 495-0848 or you can e-mail them at


  1. Great post, and beautiful photos.

    1. Thanks Linda, Silay is a beautiful place and I hope I did justice with these photos.

  2. Oh, a great post indeed and terrific captures, Oman!! Such an amazing place and so many beautiful, fascinating homes/buildings and history!! Thanks for sharing, as always!! Have a lovely weekend!!

    1. Thanks Sylvia, Silay is indeed an amazing place.

  3. This is my kind of destination and ideal tour. I love houses and I'd be in heaven visiting these houses. Happy Easter. My regards to Dom, he's not blogging anymore.

    1. Hi Photo Cache, Dom might have heard you 'coz he just posted an entry in his blog. :)

  4. I remember to have gone there when I was younger and we spent lots of time at the museums with beautiful museum. I think it was Balay Negrense. Lovely photos Lawstude.

    1. By the way, have a meaningful Lenten ahead, I am sure you are out there again somewhere haha.

    2. Thanks Mela, great place such as this will always stick in our memories :)

  5. Hi Oman!
    Lovely houses!

    Hope you are having a great time! Sorry for the long absence, but it was a harsh 2014...
    Anyhow, enjoy the second half of my post on Valencia, Spain, with some old buildings around!
    Wish you all the best!

    1. Hi Trotter, so nice for you to come back and pave this blog a visit. :) Will hop to your blog now :)

  6. Those houses are awesome. It is like walking back in time.

    1. I agree. I could only imagine the grandeur of living in that era Vanessa :)

  7. A different kind of tour in the province of Negros Occidental. There are no prominent ancestral homes tour than in Silay City. I hope the province heavily promotes it so many people will engage in visiting those houses. Balay Negresense really stoods out among the houses.

    1. Thanks Ian, let us just hope that Silay will be ready for massive tourists just in case they heavily promote this place :)

  8. I will someday visit this place with my Mom 'coz she loves old houses. Have you been to Bagac where there are old houses too? Which one is better?

  9. Ang dami-dami palang heritage buildings dyan! Hope to visit it one of these days.