Negros Occidental’s Old World Charm Part 2: Silay City

Masskara Festival

Before I begin my second entry on my trip back to Old World Negros Occidental, I’d like to greet our friends from Bacolod a Happy Masskara Festival!  I recently learned that the very first Masskara Festival, the main symbol of which are those masks with giant smiles, actually took place in the midst of crises.  In 1980, the Negrenses were in the middle of two tragedies: 1) The sinking of MV Don Juan that killed hundreds of Negrenses, and 2) The decline of the sugar industry due to the emergence of imported substitutes.  Their local leaders chose to uplift the spirits of the people and launched the very first Festival of Smiles (now known as Masskara), proving that Negrenses are not just only happy and cheerful people, but a tough nation that can overcome the tribulations that come their way.

Now, I’d like to share some photos from my quick trip to Silay City, hailed as the “seat of arts, culture, and eco-tourism in Western Visayas”.  I visited places that are reminiscent of when the sugar industry was at its peak — Balay Negrense and the Bernardino Jalandoni Museum.

Balay Negrense

Balay NegrenseThis was the ancestral home or hacienda of another sugar baron, Victor Fernandez Gaston. It’s been opened to the public to showcase the lifestyle of wealthy sugar planters at the time.

Silay City 5

Not much was written about the sugar baron, but the Gastons do have a big family tree (above photo) which comprises personalities from government and entertainment.  Actor Jaime Fabregas’ name is somewhere there because he married into this family.

Silay City 13Portaits of Conchita Gaston, the first Filipino opera singer to be given international acclaim.  I think she’s from the third generation of Gastons.

Silay City 6The guy on the top-right photo was a grandson of the sugar baron who fought during World War II.  I couldn’t remember his name but he’s cute. :p

Silay City 8Scary dolls displayed in one of the rooms, owned by one of the daughters.

Silay City 11When you visit the house, this nice lady will be there to assist you.  Thank you, Ma’am for the warm welcome. :)

Bernardino Jalandoni Museum


The pink house!  I wasn’t able to take a photo of the house from the outside because too many cars were blocking my view, so I’m borrowing this from the Lakad Pilipinas website. This was owned by Don Bernardino Jalandoni, another sugar baron, and his wife Isabel.  The house speaks loudly of Silay City’s rich culture and lifestyle during that period.  This pretty pink house, although grand in design (a combination of Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino architecture), follows the structure of the traditional nipa hut.  The hardwood that was used to build it was shipped all the way from Mindoro.

Silay City 4The guide said that this was one of the first “carwajes” in the area.

Silay City 2How cute is that baby stroller?!?!  The chair on the left served as a birthing chair for women back in the day.

Silay City 9This is what they used to iron their clothes.

Silay City 17Only the very wealthy can afford these things back in the day.

Silay City 18

It sure felt like being in one of those old Filipino movies.  I couldn’t stress enough how much I love heritage and cultural sites.  I’m happy to see a lot of them being preserved and opened to the public so that more people would appreciate them.

What’s YOUR favorite heritage site in your country? :)

Have a nice weekend!


Balay Negrense – Barangay III, Cinco De Noviembre St., Silay City, Negros Occidental

Jalandoni Museum – Barangay II, Rizal St., Silay City, Negros Occidental

19 Comments on Negros Occidental’s Old World Charm Part 2: Silay City

  1. Irish fleur
    October 20, 2014 at 3:58 pm (4 years ago)

    I can’t wait to visit Negros occidental soon, and those dolls are scary :(

    • Carmel David
      October 26, 2014 at 4:29 pm (4 years ago)

      Yes, they are. Pang-Halloween. 😀

    October 22, 2014 at 10:57 am (4 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing this. I really appreciate old things, especially buildings. I agree, those dolls are scary… 😛

    • Carmel David
      October 26, 2014 at 4:29 pm (4 years ago)

      You’re very much welcome. Thanks for dropping by. :)

    • Carmel David
      October 26, 2014 at 4:32 pm (4 years ago)

      You’re very much welcome. :)

      • Michelle Padrelanan
        October 29, 2014 at 3:43 pm (4 years ago)

        Oh so that’s a birthing chair. My sister has a chair like that and we always remarked on how comfortable it is. None of us had any idea that it’s a birthing chair. Now I understand those long and wide arms. Thanks for sharing your very informative post.

  3. David D'Angelo
    October 24, 2014 at 9:23 am (4 years ago)

    I will definitely schedule to visit this place. I am kinda eager to see our Filipino heritage.

  4. Fred
    October 24, 2014 at 1:32 pm (4 years ago)

    We are going to visit Bacolod next month but I am not sure if Silay is part of the itinerary. Anyway, I do not want to see those dolls!!! :-)

  5. Lauren Ashley
    October 25, 2014 at 4:40 am (4 years ago)

    My mom is from Negros Occidental and I’ve been a fan of Maskara Festivel but didn’t get a chance to celebrate live since we are living here in Zambales. Great place and I will visit the pink house this summer maybe.

    • Carmel David
      October 26, 2014 at 4:31 pm (4 years ago)

      I hope to experience Masskara next year. :)

  6. Mitchryan
    October 25, 2014 at 7:15 am (4 years ago)

    Filipino culture is very rich. I am glad that these are being preserved, despite today’s modernization. It is only through these things that the past memories are remembered.

  7. Aileen
    October 26, 2014 at 2:38 pm (4 years ago)

    Oooh, awesome post! I haven’t been to Negros and have not experienced the Maskara festival yet, but I guess I got a glimpse of it from this post 😉 Old buildings have its charm indeed, but I have to admit I’m rather freaked out by dolls so… maybe, a ‘No” on that :))

    • Carmel David
      October 26, 2014 at 4:30 pm (4 years ago)

      Hahaha the dolls are just one small part of the house. I haven’t experienced Masskara either. I went there 2 weeks before Masskara. :)

  8. Janice / The Roller Coaster Ride
    October 27, 2014 at 6:12 am (4 years ago)

    I’ve only been to Negros once and it was for work so I wasn’t really able to explore much. It would be great to go back one day and check out these places.

  9. Shirgie Scf
    October 27, 2014 at 1:36 pm (4 years ago)

    wow, look at that treasure in Negros Occidental. The “oldness” looks creepy but remains interesting. Maybe I could visit this place someday.

  10. April
    October 27, 2014 at 2:45 pm (4 years ago)

    Oh! have to include this on my “must visit list” thanks for sharing!


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