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.
This 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.
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.
Portaits of Conchita Gaston, the first Filipino opera singer to be given international acclaim. I think she’s from the third generation of Gastons.
The 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
Scary dolls displayed in one of the rooms, owned by one of the daughters.
When 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.
The guide said that this was one of the first “carwajes” in the area.
How cute is that baby stroller?!?! The chair on the left served as a birthing chair for women back in the day.
This is what they used to iron their clothes.
Only the very wealthy can afford these things back in the day.
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