Negros, the sugar capital of the Philippines, is famous for its numerous sugar cane plantations. The island was home to many rich Europeans farmers during the 19th and 20th centuries. Silay used to be one of the main cities, where colons lived and mingled with locals. Many local families got rich thanks to the blooming sugar cane trade. The town was once called the Paris of Negros because of its really important cultural scene.
Now the grandeur of this prosperous time is gone, Negros is suffering an agricultural crisis, with all the lands owned by a couple of rich and powerful Filipino families, and the farmers struggling to make a living.
Some people understood the value of the colonial houses in Silay and decided to renovate them, opening museums, restaurants, and hotels. Some of the houses are still in bad shape though. More than thirty of these houses have been declared a Silay National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
Some of the houses are really nice, especially the ones furnished with the original furniture. It’s a good way to form an idea on how people used to live back then. All the ancestral house are in the same neighborhood so you can do everything on foot.
Places to visit in silay:
This house is really well restored, you only have access to the living-dining room, they also organize private tour upon request. The food there is great, it’s the first good pasta I eat in the Philippines, not sweet at all!
The Balay Negrense Museum
This house was the first to be restored and gave the impulse to the other owners to restore theirs. The entrance fee is 50 pesos with a guide who will give you a quick tour and some explanation of the family’s history. The inside is just magnificent, I really loved the colors, and with the furniture, you just feel transported to another time.
Some random houses seen strolling around the streets:
German Locsin ancestral house and B&B
This house has been turned into a guesthouse, it offers 4 rooms fully furnished with antiques. The bathrooms are amazing, super spacious and they even found old bathtubs. The woman working there is really nice and will let you visit if they have no guests at the moment.
Don Bernardino Jalandoni Museum
Also known as the pink house, this is Silay second best-restored house. The entrance fee is 50 pesos with a tour included. Downstairs was used as a garage for the carriage and a stable, upstairs was where the family lived. The furniture is really nice, some can be bought, the kitchen is full of old utensils, really interesting. Ask your guide to show how they did to iron the clothes, it’s fun.
This house is the third and last museum in Silay, it was closed when I got there so I don’t know what the inside look like.
Silay is a cute little town, the visit takes about half a day. There’s not much more to do there so you can just organize a day-trip from Bacolod or somewhere around.
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