The truth behind my traveling is that I enjoy the adventures, mishaps, and discoveries that I encounter along the way. Needless to say, it is always a great learning experience for me. I enjoy the sights and everything that go with it. I do not want to be just a mere guest of the place. I want to see what they see, feel what they feel, and hear what they hear. That is the reason why I try my very best to do what other locals do.
This is my long delayed blog about my birthday adventure when I boarded a flight for Bacolod City last June 16, 2011. I decided to give myself a treat by doing what I love to do – travel to a new place and conquer it. My choice of city, Bacolod, may look a bit soft since it is one of the progressive cities in the Philippines where amenities are above standards compared to the more adventurous places. But in the process, I discovered that Metro Bacolod is a place that gave me a lasting impression that will always make me smile and would always make me want to come back.
Touchdown: Bacolod – Silay Airport
The new airport, Bacolod – Silay Airport, is a very clear reminder as to how Metro Bacolod has developed and progressed through the years. The airport is located 15 kilometers away from Bacolod City and is the main gateway for Negros Occidental. It is relatively a new airport and the facilities are above average if I compare it to other major airports in the country. In my opinion, I feel that its aesthetic design is better than that of Mactan – Cebu International Airport.
It has a main lobby on the ground floor for both incoming and outgoing guests. The ground floor also holds the arrival hall and the check-in counters while the departure area is located on the building’s second level. The airport has three jet bridges and can accommodate five aircrafts at one time. The airport’s high ceiling and light colored interiors give a wide open space feeling for passengers, instead of the cramp feeling in older airports.
The airport definitely gives a good and lasting impression, not only to its residents, but also to visiting local and foreign guests.
Talisay – Silay Adventure: A Walk through the Past
Metro Bacolod is comprised of 3 cities: Bacolod, Talisay, and Silay. While doing my research for this trip, I found out that Silay City is worth a visit because of its heritage houses although not much is said about Talisay. I mapped out my initial itinerary as my opportunity to explore and discover Talisay and Silay on the first day. The same as with my other trips that I have done in the past, my mode of transportation in this trip is by public transportation.
Talisay City is a silent city. When you go down at the Talisay Public Market, one can feel that not much activity happens in the area. It is a typical rural community in the Philippines. My challenge during my visit was to discover what Talisay City can offer.
Points of Interest in Talisay City:
Old Talisay Municipal Hall and Water Reservoir
At the back of the Talisay Public Market is the old municipal building of Talisay and the city’s old water reservoir. The water reservoir is hard to miss as it stands out being the tallest structure in the skyline. The Water Reservoir, as per my research, is one of the old structures in the city and is an attraction in itself.
Talisay Public Plaza
Just right across the old Municipal Building is a big open space. It is the typical plaza of any rural community in the Philippines where one can find open spaces, a couple of statues of unsung heroes, and a basketball court. Basketball is a favorite past time here in the Philippines and one can clearly see this as no plaza is without a basketball court. The plaza is a great place to relax as most of the residents converge in the area in the afternoon.
San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church
Just right beside the public park is the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church. As one would have noticed, a common feature of Philippine communities is that government and religious offices are all found at the center of the community.
I haven’t had the opportunity to see the church’s interiors as it was closed at the time of my visit. I have always thought that churches are open 24 hours. On the left side of the church is a prayer area with life size saints. One can say a short prayer and a light a candle in this area.
I couldn’t say much more about Talisay as it is a laid back city with not much activity or sites to visit. The local government should really beef up on their tourism programs to be able to compete with their neighboring cities. With these thoughts, I boarded a jeep for Silay City.
I was just mesmerized with Silay City after I got off at the city’s public plaza. It was like I was looking into two different worlds – a modern world mixed with old buildings from the past. Silay City brought me back in time and the city was just beautiful.
Silay City is dubbed as the “Paris of the Philippines” as it was able to preserve the heritage houses that abound in the city and its roots in the Arts. Unlike Vigan, the heritage houses in Silay City are found throughout the city and easily blend with modern day structures. If my memory serves me right, the city has about 30+ heritage houses spread out in the city. History and arts is fused in the city hence it is no wonder that the Department of Tourism has listed it as one of the top destinations to visit in the Philippines.
Points of Interest in Silay City:
Hofilena Heritage House
The Hofilena Heritage House is one of the more popular heritage houses in Silay City because visiting the house is a totally different experience in itself. It is not just about the house that make it interesting but on one’s engagement with the resident owner, Mr. Ramon “Mon” Hofilena. I will be posting a separate blog on my experience when I had the opportunity to personally meet Sir Mon.
The house was built in 1934 and was originally owned by Manuel Severino Hofilena. The staircase, which is made from Balayong Wood, is the only structure from the original house. All of the Hofilena siblings were involved in the arts and there is an area in the house that serves as a gallery of the family’s achievements. The house on its present state serves as a gallery of the various family collections and Mr. Mon Hofilena’s art collection. The second floor, in fact, is not only the bedroom of Sir Mon but is also an art gallery.
As I have mentioned earlier, the interaction with Sir Mon makes a mark for every guest in the house. I strongly recommend that if you have a limited time in Silay that you spend time at the Hofilena House. The house is always open for guests but it is best that you set an appointment with Sir Mon when you are planning to visit to be able to truly enjoy the experience of the house that tells not only the stories of the past but of the present, as well.
Another famous heritage house in Silay City is Balay Negrense. Located about a block away from the Hofilena Heritage House, it is now a museum that showcases the life of its residents during earlier times. The two storey mansion was originally owned by Victor Gaston and is probably the biggest heritage house in the city. The design of the mansion really depicts the affluent lives of Negrenses in the past. It has a large receiving area at both the first and second floors that can accommodate a large group of aristocrats for parties. The large windows provide a good view of its surroundings and also provide ample ventilation of the house.
The staff who will show you around the house will tell you the story of how life was back then for both the landowners and their servants. At the back of the house and near the kitchen, one can find a souvenir shop where one can buy necklaces or bracelets, ornaments, and artworks that were designed by Negrense artists.
Cinco de Noviembre Street
Walking along Cinco de Noviembre Street, one can see heritage houses that are intact and some remnants of old houses. But the street is more than that…it is a mute witness to the events that unfolded in November 5, 1898.
On that fateful day, Silaynons gathered on the same street and then marched of to the Spanish garrison located near the church and demanded the surrender of the Spanish soldiers present. It was a bloodless revolution. After negotiations, the Spaniards agreed to surrender provided that the records would show that the Spaniards fought valiantly during the siege.
San Diego Pro-Cathedral
The San Diego Pro-Cathedral in Silay City is the only pro-Cathedral outside of Manila. The church is located at the city center along Rizal Street and it prides itself as the church with a distinctive dome that is similar to that of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.
The church is not the original church. The remains of the old church can be found on the grounds located at the back of the new church. The old church was unfinished and what remains of it now are parts of the walls of the church.
The present church structure was designed by an Italian, Bernasconi and its construction and beautification was driven by the kind hearts of the Silaynons. At present, the cathedral now stands as one of the iconic images of Silay City.
Rizal Street is the major thoroughfare of Silay City. It is part of the highway that connects Bacolod City to Silay and other surrounding municipalities of the region. Most public and private transportations would pass through this street when in Silay City.
The street is unique because it is the blend of modern building structures and old structures from the past. Walking through Rizal Street is like walking into two different worlds but the blend of it makes Silay a unique city that is worth visiting.
My first day in Metro Bacolod made an impression that my stay in the metro would be something to look forward to. I think it is quite obvious that Silay captured my heart as soon as I set foot on it and I agree with the Department of Tourism that it is one of the places to visit here in our country. Exploring the Silay City was like walking through history.
Talisay is yet to be discovered. In the same way, I cannot speak of Talisay more than what I have actually seen. I really hope that the local government of Talisay will also start pushing tourism projects in their area to attract more visitors in their city.
Getting There: To get to Talisay, one can take the jeepneys that ply the route of Talisay or Silay. Both these jeepneys will pass by Talisay Public Market along the highway. You can hitch on these jeepneys in front of Robinsons Bacolod. The travel time from Robinsons to Talisay is about 10 minutes.
From Talisay, one can hitch on to the jeepneys that ply the route Silay to get to Silay City. One can take the jeepneys across Talisay Public Market. You can ask to be dropped off at the Silay City Plaza. It is hard to miss. The trip will take about another 10 minutes.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.