Bernardino-Ysabel Jalandoni Museum (Silay City, Negros Occidental)

From Balay Negrense, Solo next brought us to the nearby 2-storey Bernardino-Ysabel Jalandoni Museum, beside the City Public Market  and near the San Diego Pro-Cathedral.  Also called the Pink Museum, the house was first owned by Don Bernardino Jalandoni and his wife Dona Ysabel Ledesma-Jalandoni.  
Bernardino-Ysabel Jalandoni Museum
Their grandson, Luis Jalandoni, was a former priest who became one of the top leaders of Communist Party of the Philippines.  Since the 1970s, he has been living in exile in the Netherlands.  Luis spent the first 12 years of his life in this house.  The current heirs, Mr. and Mrs. Antonio J. Montinola have entrusted its care to the Silay Heritage Foundation, a non-government organization.  Built from 1908-1912, it was declared, on November 6, 1993, as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Institute (NHI).  
The expensive doll collection
The sala
A 4-poster, “An Tay” bed
The Steinway piano
Solo and Jandy browsing through books
on the round, single slab table
An old phonograph
We were toured around the house by a male guide.  The house was built with durable balayong, a hardwood coming all the way from Mindoro.  At the ground floor are photographs of Silay’s ancestral houses, a display to the Jalandoni’s expensive doll collection, 2 carriages, a gallinera (its bottom was used as a temporary enclosure for chickens) and a carroza with the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is still being paraded around the city during Holy Week.
A Stradivarius violin
A grandfather clock
A wooden harp

The second floor has embossed, prefabricated steel trayed ceilings imported from Hamburg, Germany.  Intricately carved, French-designed wooden calado transoms, a study of visual aesthetics and function, allow air to circulate within the house.  On display are antique furniture (including a single slab round table and 4-poster, Chinese-made “An Tay” beds), a wooden harp, Ming Dynasty chinaware, an old telephone, sewing machine, a Stradivarius violin, a grandfather clock, an old phonograph, a Steinway piano, chandeliers, etc.  The museum also features a fine collection of books, glassware and lace supplied by the Silay Heritage Foundation members.

Grace and Cheska at the grand stairway
Bernardino-Ysabel Jalandoni Museum: cor. Rizal and Severino Sts., Silay City, Negros Occidental.  Open Tuesdays to Sundays, 9 AM-5 PM.  Admission: PhP50.  Tel: (034) 495-5093.

Balay Negrense (Silay City, Negros Occidental)

After lunch at Locsin Reunion venue, Solo again toured us around the city, this visiting the 12-bedroom Balay Negrense (Hiligaynon for “Negrense House”), one of the largest if not the largest ancestral house in the city.  The first museum to be established in Negros Occidental, it was built in the Neo-Renaissance style, from 1898-1912, by Yves Gaston.  Yves was the son of 19th century sugar baron Yves Leopold Germain Gaston of Lisieux (Normandy, France) and Prudencia Fernandez, a Batanguena.  Yves generated wide-scale interest in commercial-scale sugar cultivation with his horno econonmico, the precursor of today’s sugar mills.  

Balay Negrense

Victor Gaston and his 12 children lived here from 1901 until Victor’s death in 1927. During World War II, the house was said to have been occupied by Japanese military officers. Later, the house became a venue for a ballet school run by one of the descendants until the early 1970s but was abandoned shortly thereafter and fell into disrepair.

The grand W-shaped staircase

The Negros Cultural Foundation, a group of concerned Negrenses, managed to acquire, through a donation, the house from the heirs of Gaston. The structure was then repaired and furnished with period furniture and fixtures through donations from prominent individuals and, later, the Department of Tourism.  This lifestyle museum was officially inaugurated on October 6, 1990.  

The spacious living area
The round table with names of Gaston descendants

Now a showcase of Negrense art and culture, it displays antique furniture, a grand piano, Filipiniana costumes and Gaston memorabilia.  The museum boasts of a grand W-shaped stairway (women used the right stairway, men the left), calado or carved panels that served as ventilators between rooms, etched window glass, fancy-grilled ventanillas (smaller windows beneath the large windows with sliding panels that can be opened to admit the wind) and sprawling gardens.  Solo showed us a big round table with lists of the names of the owner’s descendants, some of them familiar names of celebrities and politicians.  Some of them were my relatives.

The grand piano
The 2-storey house has a lower storey of concrete, with foundation posts made with trunks from the balayong tree, a local hardwood also used as floorboards for the house. The upper storey is made of wood while the roof uses galvanized iron.  The house has a 4-m. high ceiling and is elevated from the ground level by a 1 m. high crawlspace which enhanced air circulation, allowing the wooden foundations to be aerated, preventing dampness from rotting the wood and preserving the integrity of the house.
L-R: Jandy, Grace, Solo and Cheska
Balay Negrense: Cinco de Noviembre St., Brgy. III, Silay City, 6116 Negros Occidental.  Open Tuesdays to Sundays, 9 AM-5 PM. Tel: (034) 714-7676 and 495-4916.

Ramon Hofilena: The "Father of Heritage Conservation" in Silay City (Negros Occidental)

Manuel Severino Hofilena Heritage House

Certainly one of the highlights of our three-day visit to Silay City (Nregros Occidental), with my wife Grace and children Jandy and Cheska, was, aside from attending the 8th Locsin Family Reunion (my first), our tour of some of Silay’s 31 ancestral homes, accompanied by my young Silayanon cousin  Neil Solomon “Solo” Locsin.  Our longest visit was at the Manuel Severino Hofilena Heritage House, an illustrado’s house built in 1934.  A visit here was by appointment with current owner Ramon “Monching” Hofilena but Solo set it up for us with call to him. On hand to greet us was the 72-year old Ramon Hofilena himself.  

Ramon Hofilena

Since 1962, Monching has been welcoming visitors to his family’s ancestral house, the first Heritage House in Silay to be opened to visitors.  Also, since his return from New York in the 1970s, Monching has also been on a life-long crusade  to restore and protect Negrense cultural heritage.  He organized the Annual Cultural Tour of Negros Occidental (ACTNO), the longest running (nearly 40 years) cultural tour in the world.  Its itinerary includes Bacolod  City, Silay City (Jalandoni and Hofileña heritage homes), Victorias City (Church of St Joseph the Worker); Manapla (Chapel of the Carwheels) and Talisay City (PhP600/person, limited to 55 people).  The tour is often conducted yearly on all Saturdays of December, except holidays, from 9 AM to 5:30 PM.

The living room

The interiors of the house to be  exudes touches of genteel elegance.  The formal living room still has its original 1930s Art Deco period furniture.  Beside it is a 150-200 year old, German-made M.F. Rachals upright piano handed down by Monching’s great grandmother. Monching, a lover of art and culture, gave us a two-hour guided tour of his collection of museum-worthy pieces such as  antique lamps and chandeliers, large Ming dynasty jars, copies of the world’s first pocket books, silver picture frames (with pictures of his parents and 8 siblings; all of whom were involved in the arts: piano teachers, ballet and flamenco dancers, theater artists), a dining table set with fine china, silverware, wooden images of St. Vincent Ferrer, saved from the island’s old churches), wine glasses and silver candelabras, none of them reproductions.

The dining room

The comedor (dining room) has hardwood and glass cabinets (plateras ) that display Pre-Hispanic Chinese porcelain and ceramics, all of them archeological finds discovered in Silay (some an incredible 3,000 years old).  Monching also has a  collection of small dolls (said to be the smallest in the world, you need a magnifying glass to appreciate them) and curios from around the world, including tektites (meteorite stones) and anting-antings (good luck amulets).  The house also has an old press from Silay Printmaking (founded in 1970), the oldest printmaking workshop outside Manila.  Monching is working to popularize printmaking as an art form.  

Monching shows us his painting collection

Upstairs, lining the walls, are Monching’s  impressive collection (the most comprehensive personal collection on public display) of more than 1,000 works by foreign artists Francisco Goya, Pablo Picasso, Albrecht Durer, Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige; National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal (when he was 15 year old student at Ateneo) and works of local artists from the 19th century to the present – Juan Luna, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Ang Kiukok, Fernando Amorsolo, H.R. Ocampo, Jose T. Joya, Cesar Legaspi, Napoleon Abueva, Vicente Manansala and Bencab (Benedicto Cabrera).  Monching, with much emotion, gives special mention to abstract expressionist paintings of Conrado Judith, a poor and unknown Silaynon high-school graduate with no formal art education who died from tuberculosis at the age of 34. His canvas paintings, some damaged by sun and rain, were discovered by Monching in his thatch house.

L-R: Ramon Hofilena, Solo Locsin, Grace, Jandy, me and Cheska
Manuel Severino Hofilena Heritage House: Cinco de Noviembre St., Silay City, Negros Occidental.  Visits are by appointment.  Tel: (034) 495-4561.

Silay City’s Ancestral Houses (Negros Occidental)

Calle Rizal

Another reason for my visit with my family to Silay City, aside from visiting my mom’s hometown and attending the 8th Locsin Family Reunion, was to see for myself Silay’s ancestral houses.  Silay, founded in 1760, became prosperous in 1846 with the cultivation of sugar cane and its new-found wealth translated into the construction of many opulent ancestral homes, located mostly along Calle Rizal.  

Jose Corteza Locsin Ancestral House

A total of 31 (some well-preserved) have been identified by the National Historical Institute (NHI) as National TreasuresMy grandfather’s house, built in the 1930s and locally called Balay Daku or “Big House, is  one of these.   Silay is the second city in the Philippines, after Vigan City (Ilocos Sur), to be named a museum city, making it one of the country’s top 25 tourist destinations. 

Maria Golez Ledesma Ancestral House

The regal Maria Ledesma Golez Ancestral House, an excellent example of adaptive architectural reuse, was purchased by Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) in 1992.  Embellished with masques, caryatids and lion heads, Art Deco elements are prevalent, especially in the archways and corner entrance.  On April 6, 1993, it was declared as a Heritage House by the N.H.I.

Teodoro Morada Ancestral House

The Teodoro Morada Ancestral House, at cor. Cinco de Noviembre and Zamora Sts., also called the “White House, is a fusion of Spanish and American colonial architecture.  Beautifully restored, it has a grand staircase and is now the home of Rene and Jessica Velez Dimacali.  Across this house is the Locsin Ancestral House, also called the “Red House.”  It is now the home of Judge Reynaldo Alan.  The house of Jose “Pitong” Ledesma, a Silaynon pianist who brought operettas de zarzuelas from Europe to Silay, was built in 1917.  The Armin Jalandoni House now houses the Sangguniang Panglungsod.