San Diego de Alcala Pro-Cathedral (Silay City, Negros Occidental)

During a break in the Locsin Reunion proceedings, Jandy, Cheska and I took time out to visit a beautiful Silay landmark – the  San Diego de Alcala Pro-Cathedral.  Designed by Italian architect Lucio Verasconi (he also designed the Silay Wharf, destroyed during World War II), he was commissioned by wealthy Silay resident and sugar baron Don Jose R. Ledesma, Sr. who also donated 75% of the funds needed to build the new church. The rest of the funds needed was raised through popular contribution, including fund-raising by schoolchildren.

San Diego Pro-Cathedral

This Romanesque-style church was formerly called the San Diego Parish Church or St. Didacus of Alcala (locally called San Diego de Alcala) Parish Church before its elevation to Pro-Cathedral on December 1994, the second in the country to be declared so and the only one outside Metro Manila.  Behind the cathedral are the ruins of the city’s original church, started by Fr. Eusebio Locsin in 1841 but never finished and left in disrepair.  It is now a grotto with a mini-chapel that serves as a prayer room.

The cathedral’s interior
The beautiful dome above the nave

The church was laid out in the shape of a Latin cross, with a cupola or dome rising 40 m. above the nave, the only church in the province to have one.  Groundbreaking was started in 1925 and the church was completed and inaugurated in 1927.  Freddie Ledesma, Don Jose’s grandson, did the paintings, of the Four Evangelists with their respective beasts, at the foot of the dome.  In 1938, upon the initiative of Mr. Vicente Montelibano, a clock costing PhP7,000 was installed on one of the church’s twin, domed bell towers (the one on the right).

The old church ruins

San Diego Pro-Cathedral: Rizal St., Silay City  6116, Negros Occidental.

New Bacolod-Silay International Airport (Negros Occidental)

Grace, Jandy, Cheska and  I decided to attend the 2010 Locsin Reunion in Silay City, the first for all of us.  Jandy, Cheska and I took the morning Cebu Pacific Air flight while Grace would follow in the afternoon.  Before 2007, flights to Bacolod City arrived at the old Domestic Airport.  Not anymore as we arrived via the new Bacolod-Silay International Airport, now the primary gateway to Negros Island.

New Bacolod-Silay International Airport

The airport, built by Japanese firm Takenaka-Itochu Joint Venture at a cost of PhP4.3 billion, was started on August 2004 and completed on July 16, 2007.  On September 26, 2007,  a small, 14-seater Reims-Cessna F406, piloted by Steve Gray of New Zealand,  landed at the airport, the first aircraft to do so.

Interior of airport terminal

On January 18, 2008, the airport officially opened and started operations and, that same day, a Cebu Pacific Air Airbus A319-100 (Flight 5j-473), piloted by Silaynon native Capt. Allan Garces, landed at the airport, the first commercial flight to arrive.  The first international flight to arrive was a chartered plane from Kazahkstan which landed on January 2 the following year.  

Bacolod-Silay International Airport: Brgy.   Bagtic, Silay City 6116, Negros Occidental.