Town of the Sugar Barons

Silay Travel Blog

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Balay Negrense

Just before leaving for Silay (Si-lie) I had to change hotels.  I moved maybe a block up the road from Pension Bacolod to the 11th Street Bed and Breakfast.  But more on why I changed hotels later. 

I've been to Vigan so I wondered how Silay would compare.  Because of the hotel change, I only got there a little before 11 a.m.  This meant that though a tour indoors of the old houses would help me escape the heat of the sun (and the UVA/UVB rays!), the lighting to shoot their facades would be very bad. I decided to drop by first at the Green House were the tourism office was located.  The Green House turned out to be one of the 31 recognized ancestral homes of Silay.

Interior of the Jalandoni House
The tourist office gives a map that you can follow to visit all the houses.  Unlike Vigan however, most of these homes are still occupied to this day.  Only a couple -- Balay Negrense and the Jalandoni House -- have been kept as actual museums.  The helpful staff -- Ver says they'd like to keep their reputation as mentioned in Lonely Planet :) -- coordinated with the Victoria Milling Company so I could visit later in the afternoon.  I was also given several clippings on Silay from their press kit.

In visiting the houses, it struck me again that I often am the only visitor when I arrive.  In Vigan I remember being just one of many hordes of tourists; but then it was also the Holy Week holiday.

This dress gives me the creeps.
  It made me feel that so far I had been traveling as if in a bubble, while ordinary people continue about their work.

Silay houses so emphasize that the town once had a glorious past full of wealth and grace.  The furniture were made of hardwoods from long-torndown forests, the crystal from the chandeliers were Baccarat, and they had conveniences that were modern and not readily available at the time, such as Berkefeld Water Filters from Germany, ice chests from the U.S. or escritorios from London.  The children played with dolls from Europe and elsewhere abroad.  Their women were musical and gifted, judging from the musical instruments that were located within the home.  Not to mention being dressed in the best embroidered ternos.

Carriages where they ought to be kept before -- the ground floor of the house.
  All thanks to the sugar export industry. 

The Victorias Milling Company still exists to this day, but their steam locomotives do not.  After visiting the Hofilena House where I met Mon (Such a character! More on that later).  The company has its own compound and its own church -- St. Joseph.  I was toured around by Emma, who gave me a hardhat, had me sign a waiver (in case of accidents), and warned me that no pictures were allowed within the refinery.  She also told me about the locomotives and the rail tracks that they had torn down, because it was too expensive for the company to keep them.  The tour gave me a better appreciation of the sugar that we take for granted.  I was delighted to note that nothing of the sugar was wasted.  The stuff that was not used to become "white sugar" was turned to organic fuel (they'd given up bunker oil to power the engines) or turned to ethanol (e.g. for Tanduay) or put back into the earth as organic fertilizer.  I thought only the cocunuts could be used in so many ways.  Emma was equally delighted that we practically came from the same field. Her day job was really in Advertising/Corp. Communications, but would turn tour guide now and then for the factory after the company had to give up its full-time guide. 

lauro says:
this is my mother's hometown, ive never been here my entire life and never saw cousins from here. but ive heard stories, wish i can go here if i am back in the phils.
Posted on: May 12, 2007
jenyenh says:
the photos are nice..
Posted on: May 12, 2007
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Balay Negrense
Balay Negrense
Interior of the Jalandoni House
Interior of the Jalandoni House
This dress gives me the creeps.
This dress gives me the creeps.
Carriages where they ought to be k…
Carriages where they ought to be …
Ancestral House
Ancestral House
Green House
Green House
Balay hallway
Balay hallway
Double exposure
Double exposure
Childs bedroom
Child's bedroom
Now and then
Now and then
Ceiling detail - Jalandoni House
Ceiling detail - Jalandoni House
Interior of Silay church
Interior of Silay church
Train grounded at Victorias Milling
Train grounded at Victorias Milling
Exterior of church at Victorias
Exterior of church at Victoria's
Church mural at Victorias
Church mural at Victorias
Silay
photo by: jilltrekker