A TRIP TO MY HOMETOWN-SILAY CITY
I was born in a quaint city on the North West Coast of Negros, Philippines called SILAY, known as the “Paris of Negros” because of its rich heritage history, well-preserved arts, cultures and Spanish colonial houses located along Cinco de Noviembre Street that have been long a sightseeing attractions for tourists. 29 of these ancestral houses considered heritage treasures by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). In fact, Silay recognised by the Department of Tourism as one of its 25 tourist destination in the Philippines. It is considered the seat of arts, culture and ecotourism in Western Visayas.
It is the home of the sweetest people on earth who have genuine smiles on their faces; that is why Silaynon (referred to as locals of Silay) would always welcome you with their matam-is nga yuhom nga daw kalamay (sweet smile like sugar).
Strolling the streets of Silay is stepping into a place where you feel like you’ve been transported to the Spanish colonial era because of the unique architecture of the ancestral houses and old buildings that still remain intact and well-preserved along the street close to the park and the San Diego Parish Church. Tourists will also get to see its plaza being hailed as the cleanest park in Negros sheltered by large acacia and pine trees. A perfect place to sit down, relax and recreate. Silaynon also take pride of its century-old Parish of San Diego Church located right across the street from the park.
A home of mouthwatering delicacies, sumptuous native delicacies and seafood. A recipe that captures its visitors.
Silay, the Food Basket of Negros.
Note: Photos taken from Pinterest site
Life in Silay is simple, laid-back but very fulfilling. A very livable place for people who want peace of mind. These are some of the reasons why many of the expats move and live here. They want to experience an affable life away from the frenetic pace of city life. A promising, livable, clean and family friendly city. A must destination for business, vacations and retirement.
Besides being rich in culture and history, Silay continues to flourish holistically with major investors flocking in and new business establishments inaugurated now and then, open more windows of opportunities to the Silaynon. The opening of the Bacolod-Silay International Airport, Citicore Solar Power Plant, major groceries chains, coffee shops and restaurants no doubt Silay City will progress into one of the country’s premier cities an epitome of progress.
SULONG SILAY! USWAG SILAY! (Go Silay)
Despite the recent progress and development the heart and soul within Silay remain intact. Preserving the heritage and culture through restoration of old buildings and houses, value the legacy of the ancestors that will forever tell the story of how glorious the era when Silay called ” Paris of the Orient”. Great and promising city, well-planned and highly urbanised yet able to keep the memories and structures of valuable histories.
TOURISTS ATTRACTIONS IN SILAY CITY
The San Diego Pro-Cathedral – known as the San Diego Parish Church or the St. Didacus Church before its declaration as pro-cathedral in 1994, is an early 20th century church in Silay. It is the only pro-cathedral outside of the national capital of Manila and is unique in Negros for being the only church in the province featuring a cupola or dome.
THE HERITAGE HOUSES LOCATED ALONG CINCO DE NOVIEMBRE
Balay Negrense is a museum in Silay City, showcasing the lifestyle of a late 19th century Negrense sugar baron. It is notable for being the first museum established in the province of Negros.
Teodoro Morada Heritage House known as the “White House” built early 1900s and declared as heritage house pursuant to the board resolution of the National Housing Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). The house is not open for public viewing but I was fortunate to see the interior during our mansion hopping organised by the Photographers Club of Silay and the helped of Silay City Tourism office headed by councilor Nel Solomon Locsin.
Balaring Mangrove Sanctuary not only important but crucial for the coastal areas. They play a vital role in establishing the slightest ecological imbalance. Mangroves not only help in preventing soil erosion but also act as catalyst in reclaiming land from seas. Their value as “protector of shore-line” is enough to convince us for conserving them. The area maintained by Silay City Government and IKAW-AKO Japan Negros Partnership for Environment Protection in cooperation with Balaring Barangay Council and 27 families comprising and directly benefiting from the 50 hectare planted mangrove-forest-the Balaring Mangrove Planters Associations, Inc. (BAMPA).
Inside the forest is so cool and calm, the shades will sparing you from the sun’s glare. The view is relaxing and admiring. It is a little sanctuary where you can feel serenity, tranquility and a gateway, out into the open seas.
Balaring Seafood Capital of Silay City a small barangay or village located kilometres away from the city proper, with panoramic sea view, stunning sunset and an array of seafood restaurants. Seafood enthusiasts will have their cravings satisfied by the various dishes offered. A perfect place to relax and enjoy after your heritage tour of Silay City.
DON’T MISS THE HUGYAW SILAY KANSILAY FESTIVAL
Hugyaw Kansilay Festival is an annual street dance competition wherein participants from 16 barangays or villages wear a colorful costumes made from indigenous materials held every 12th of June in celebrating the chartered day of the city. Silay became a chartered city on June 12, 1957 by virtue of Republic Act 1621. Kansilay is about a folktale showing the bravery of a beautiful Princess Kansilay who fought and offered her life for freedom against the pirates. In mourning, the people buried her but to their surprise, a tree grew over her grave, the first Kansilay tree a last gift from the brave princess where the name Silay came from.
AS SEAT OF ARTS, CULTURE AND HERITAGE
One sign of a healthy community is its simultaneous ability to keep and celebrate its culture that is, to conserve its history and heritage while developing new expressions for current times. True test of time is the Kabataang Silay Performing Arts and Rondalla Ensemble (KSE) an internationally renowned group formed in 1993 and earned the title as “Silay Young Cultural Manifestations“. They have performed all over the country as well as several international music festival. It seeks to foster traditional folk dance, music, rich customs and the country cultural heritage.
Note: Photo of KSE taken from google site
The City Government and Silay City Tourism Office support young talent, photographers enthusiasts and engage local citizens in photography. Annually they held a photowalk contest “Discover Silay Photowalk” which main purpose is to explore, celebrate, photograph places and people within Silay.
Silay recognise the huge value of arts and cultures to society and last year in culmination of the National Arts Month Celebration, held its first ever film festival on February 27, 2015. Cine Kahirup which aim is to promote and show Silaynon talents, creativity and imagination through film making.
Silay City my home, my pride! A city full of heritage and tradition with a progressive mindset towards the future. The epitome of true beauty and character manifested on Silaynon’s sweet smile. The lair of courageous men and women who never give up on various diversities of life but continue to strive with optimism and endurance.
Despite the progress of many cities in the Philippines, I will still consider Silay my HOME! It’s either living abroad or living in Silay. A place where my heart belongs…where life is sweet and the past is FOREVER!
I’ll take you back to my hometown,
I’ll show you where my feet first touched ground,
I’ll take you through the streets I once knew,
If you wanna know I suggest we go
If you really know
We’ll definitely go.