Negros Heritage (Part 3)


Last of 3 parts, part 1 is here and part 2 here.


Hofileña Ancestral House

hofilenaCredits:  Template – KL365 template 02-000001;  Papers – Khakisack Scraps Think Pink blackgraph and pink solid papers;  Elements – LivE S4S- Spring String, LivE S4S Tag Sky, Oscraps Moonrise – R1CRAC2 – dyoung

By the 1930’s, the age of dazzling plantation houses began to come to an end.  Houses became more compact and practical, built in more central locations.  The house that Manuel Hofileña (one of the original Sialy sugar baron) built in 1934 on Cinco de Noviembre Street is the first inhabited heritage house to be declared a National Historical landmark in Silay, as declared proudly by his son Ramon.


The Hofileña house has a big art collection, mostly paintings from Filipino masters.  Precious family heirlooms such as the 200-year old Rachall piano that belonged to his great grandmother sits comfortably in the cozy living room.


Ramon Hofileña who now owns the house is one man who knows a lot about Silay, in fact, the city owes a lot to this man.  In 1977, there was a plan to widen Rizal St. as part of the many road projects under a World Bank program.  The highway would have encroached on treasured properties. Hofileña submitted a petition to the National government to have the decision reversed.  With the help of the city tourism, he organized the homeowners to rally behind the cause, which caught the attention of the Governor who then mediated over the matter.  Suffice to say that Silay has become one city with a great deal of well-maintained ancestral houses opened to the public either as a museum or a gallery of sorts.


Today, the Hofileña house is still functional and inhabited (by Ramon) and was the first house to be opened to the public.  By appointment, Ramon conduct tours of the house complete with tales of Silay, his lineage and the artist he so cares about.  All told with so much passion and gusto.  His enthusiasm so infectious, you leave the house with a sense of pride for the Filipino people, especially the artists that had found a place in his wall.  These are collections by Juan Luna, sketches by Dr. Jose Rizal to name a few.

To schedule a visit to the Manuel Hofileña Ancestral House, call Mon at (034) 495-4561.

To get more glimpses of our awesome world, click here.

Negros Heritage (Part 1)


Back in the days when sugar barons own large pieces of land that makes a hacienda, Negros was the biggest sugar producer in the country.  The wealth of the island of Negros is from its volcanic soil, which is ideal for agriculture.  The collapse of the textile industry in the 19th century attracted Spaniards from Spain and Manila, the French and people from neighboring provinces, which started the sugar industry.   But what are known as the Negrense Hacienderos (sugar barons) are from its neighbor Ilo-ilo in origin and ancestry.

The expansion of the sugar industry in the 1850’s and the opening of the Suez canal flooded Bacolod with European fineries and artworks.  Baroque churches and sprawling mansions rose across the Negros landscape and Spanish culture blossomed in the tropics.

churchSilay’s most famous landmark is the Church of San Diego.

The Negrenses lived the good life in those days.  The golden years of the sugar magnate, however came to an end in the 1980’s and the sugar industry swiftly declined leaving many tycoons landless.


Many however held on to their ancestral homes, turning them to galleries or museums.  Some actually still live in it like that of our hosts’ residence, where we stayed during our stay.  The house was once used as a set for Oro Plata, Mata, a well-acclaimed film of period setting.

Silay and its neighboring towns such as Talisay abound in well-preserved ancestral homes and aside from staying in one, we dropped in on some.  Come, let’s explore some of these houses together.

Balay ni Tana Dicang

One house that is in perhaps the best state of preservation is the stately 1880 “bahay-na-bato” (literally house of stone) of Don Efigenio Lizares y Tyeres and Doña Enrica “Dicang” Alunan y Labayon built in coral stone and various hardwood.  Engaged in the production of sugar and owning several haciendas, they built their 1st house of modest size, it however was burned down by the guerillas during World War I.  What is standing today is their 2nd house built in 1880 in Talisay, larger than the first hence the name Balay Dako (big house). The couple had seventeen children, Efigenio died in 1902, leaving his widow to raise fifteen children (2 died early) on her own for the next 4 decades.  Kapitana Dicang as she was popularly known (which was later shortened to just Tana Dicang) assumed the management of the haciendas and continued to acquire more.  She was an extremely enterprising lady, apart from being a great haciendera, she was a grocer, cigar manufacturer and a famous confectionery as well.  How she raised her children was one that was instilled in stern discipline in the family and her sons and daughters took her word as law.

tana-dicangThe bust of Don Efigenio and Tana Dicang

boyencyclopediaThat’s a set of encyclopedia.


capizWindows were made of capiz shells

This recently opened balay, although not as famous as Balay Negrense, echoes the lifestyle of past splendor down to the chinas, furnitures and other accessories.


The ground floor houses K (for Kapitana) gallery and the stairway leads to the entrance hall on the 2nd floor.  The floors are from “balayong” wood custom cut – meaning the floor planks stretched from one point to the other in one piece.


Balay ni Tana Dicang
36 Rizal St., Talisay City
Negros Occidental
For details call:  (34)4952104


More houses to come…  For a glimpse of other worlds, click here.

WS#11: Guapple Pie

Just got back from Easter (Holy Week, we call it) break that was brimming with adventure and new discoveries, from hiking to diving to feasting.


But before I launch into the details, let me first share some Guapple Pie fresh from El Ideal Bakery.


Made from guapples (a large guava variety), this piece of heaven is a great twist from the original (and very American) Apple Pie.  Tastes quite similar down to the cinnamon and the crumble, what makes the difference is the crunchy bite and the slight, distinct guava flavor that compliments rather than drowns in the cinnamon.


An institution and the pride of Silay, El Ideal is always a “must stop” when in Bacolod (or anywhere in Negros Occidental actually), more accessible these days with the Airport now just minutes away.  Certainly a great “pasalubong” (gift) from the city of Silay.

El Ideal
118 Rizal Street, Silay City,
Negros Occidental