Much to say but I believe Silay City is Visayas’ answer to Luzon’s Vigan. Silay City is simply a relic worth visiting. A once humble pueblo of the Spanish era is now known as the “Cradle of Negros Civilization” and the “Paris of Negros”.
Silay City is known as “Museum City” for many travel writers as Ancestral Houses dots the city showcasing fine craftsmanship and elegance that gives us a glimpse to the beauty of its past. 29 Surviving Ancestral Houses are identified as National Treasures by the National Historical Commission and of these 3 are converted into museums that are open to the public. Visiting each of the museums serves as a gateway for my soul to visit the era of hacienderos and hacienderas. It is an opportunity for me to somehow gaze on the culture and bask on the grandeur and sophistication of our ancestor’s lives.
My Silay City Solo Backpacking Trip
I actually missed my flight and arrived at the gate only to witness my plane leaving the tarmac. It is a highly depressing moment for me but for reasons a personnel from Cebu Pacific approached me. Then she instructed to approach a certain person to get my ticket for the next flight leaving for Bacolod. I was surprised, stricken in silence and nothing but grateful to think that this is actually happening right now! An hour later and I am on the counter presenting my ticket for boarding; ready to fly and be see Silay City’s gems.
Bacolod Airport (BCD) is actually in Silay City just like Naga Airport (WNP) which is actually in Pili. I wasted no time to keep my Itinerary and headed straight to Balay Negrense. It is like a stepping towards a time portal, this may sound cliché but it took me a good minute to regain my senses.
Balay Negrense (Don Victor Gaston Ancestral House)
The museum is open from Tuesday-Sunday at 10:00 am-5:00 pm.
The house was built in the early 1900s and for some time it was abandoned with the roofing ready to succumb to the wrath of time. It was an engineering marvel that saved this house. The flooring was actually raised from the ground with a cavern allowing air to circulate and to keep moisture from building up to weaken the foundation. Though much of the building was destroyed and belongings looted it was a good measure of love and labor that was exerted to restore the house. Now it stands proud again, welcoming guests from across the world showcasing a portion of its once rich bygone days.
Manuel Severino Hofileña Heritage House
This is the first Ancestral House to open its doors to the public. More than an ancestral house it is a gallery of artwork by renowned artists such as Amorsolo, Luna, Manansala just to name a few. The very walls tell a story about how rich the Negrense culture is.
Cinco de Noviembre Street
With a thriving economy and desire for freedom, the Philippines witnessed a bloodless revolution. Farmers marched this street on November 5, 1898 armed with fake guns made only from painted black wood and farming tools turned to weapons. A bold, somehow a foolish bluff to the enemy that actually worked! I really admired their unwavering courage to pull such a stunt! The slightest clue from the enemy that it is but a bluff will result in a conflict which could easily end their lives. Heaven is good and they are victorious. Spanish forces retreat, afraid of the wooden weapons that the people of Silay have in their arsenal.
Cathedral of San Diego de Alcala
The original church was built in 1776 and the foundations and ruins of it are at the back of the present church. The present church was built on 1920 by an Italian architect, Lucio Bernasconi. I was taken aback by how beautiful this church is, the silver dome looks like St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I love Silay City as it is one of those places that will catch you in awe bound to never recover.
Don Bernardino Jalandoni Museum
The museum is open from Tuesday-Sunday at 9:00 am-5:00 pm.
Compared to the other 2 Heritage House turned museums, this Museum boasts the collection of rare and priceless pieces that showcases Silay’s rich past. From antique pieces that shows farming in the olden days as well as pieces of dress, hat, and suits worn by the wealthy people of their generation. This house is really intricate and the materials used are simply the best available resource of that time. The wooden floor that still keeps its integrity and the ceiling embossed with intricate patterns molded and shipped from Hamburg, Germany. You just simply have to admit that these people lived a very classy lifestyle!
Balaring Stilts (Seaside Floating Restaurants)
Barangay Balaring is the seafood capital of Silay City. My visit here is rather unplanned; I didn’t even know that this place actually existed. I knew of this place from an artwork in a café. As for the seafood it is simply fresh and the sunset is equally magnificent! I can stay here all day in the wonderful view and the salty breeze from the open sea.
Balaring Mangrove Forest
This is one of my unplanned locations to visit because I only saw a sign that shows Balaring Mangrove Forest. I then asked locals how far it is and they told me that it is about a kilometer walk. The Mangrove Forest is refreshing, being surrounded by lush greens and murky swamp. For some reasons it makes me remember Apo Reef in Occidental Mindoro.
All my day’s adventure in Silay City is one of the best experiences I have traveling in my own country. Traveling will make you realize that internet and books will never come close to actually visiting a place. The day ended with the sun setting on the horizon and I got this shot just before my phone died.
Where to Eat
Address: Balaring-Bongol Road Barangay Balaring, Silay City
Facebook Page: Seaside Floating Restaurant
Address: Jose Ledesma Street, Silay City
Facebook Page: Café 1925
The Mansion Café and Bar
Address: Jose Ledesma Street, Silay City
Facebook Page: The Mansion
How to Get There
- Silay City is 14 kilometers north of Bacolod City; it is about 10 minutes by bus or taxi.
- Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, and Air Asia fly to Bacolod daily. Flight time from Manila is 70 minutes and 40 minutes if you are flying from Cebu.
- Bacolod is similarly accessible by a boat from Manila in 18 hours. 50 minutes if you are coming from Iloilo by a fast craft.
|Time||Destination/Transportation||Entrance Fee/Estimated Expenses|
|Total Expenses||Php 915.00|
|9:45 am||Taxi from Airport||Php 100.00|
|10:00 am||Balay Negrense||Php 50.00|
|10:45 am||Hofileña Heritage House||Php 50.00|
|11:30 am||Cinco de Noviembre Street||none|
|12:15 pm||Cathedral of San Diego de Alcala||none|
|12:45 pm||Lunch||Php 300.00|
|1:45 pm||Jalandoni Museum||Php 50.00|
|3:00 pm||Tricycle going to Balaring||Php 40.00|
|3:30 pm||Balaring Stilts||Php 250.00|
|5:00 pm||Balaring Mangrove Forest||Php 20.00|
|6:30 pm||Tricycle to City Proper||Php 40.00|
|7:00 pm||Bus going to Bacolod City||Php 15.00|