Silay Heritage Tour
For Buwan ng Wika, the families of the Bacolod Homeschoolers Network trooped up north in order to experience the Silay Heritage Tour. We all went to Silay City, Negros Occidental, which is also known as the Paris of Negros.
While homeschooling in Bacolod, members of our network try to gather at least once a month in order to hold events. For August, we join the nation as we celebrate Buwan ng Lahi or National Heritage Month.
Clad mostly in traditional Filipino costumes for kids, our children set out to appreciate our local culture. They were able to learn a very important part of Negros history, see a lot of art works, and relive the lifestyle of the past.
Five-Stop Silay Heritage Tour
We had five stops for the Silay Heritage Tour. This was shortened to tailor to the kids’ interests and attention spans. If you are all grown ups in your group, then you can do this for an entire day to see more places. This was a mix of a walking and riding tour because we considered the kids
Our tour was conducted by Mr. Cidni Mapa, a Department of Tourism (DOT) accredited tour guide.
Silay City Hall
We met around 1:45pm at the Silay Cultural Center beside the public plaza. Then we set out on foot across the street to the Silay City Hall.
Assembly at the Silay Cultural Center. Local culture and the arts are strongly encouraged in Silay City. So much government support.On the courtyard in front of the government office are statues depicting how sugar was made back then. Mr. Mapa explained the production of the mascobado sugar. As you know, the sugar industry is the bread and back bone of the province of Negros Occidental.
Cinco de Noviembre Marker
Our first stop was the marker at Cinco de Noviembre Street in Silay City. The street was named to commemorate the historic event that happened in November 5, 1898. The marker was a replica of the house and pharmacy of Jose Locsin as well as canon.
The revolt, now popularly known as the Negros Revolution, started in Central and Northern Negros. It spread to other towns, including Cadiz City in the north. It was the beginning of the end of the Spanish colonial rule in the island of Negros.
To commemorate this historic event, we have now set aside November 5 as the Negros Day or Negros Revolution. It is a special non-working holiday in the province and different celebrations are held in various cities and municipalities.
At the marker, the kids learned about the heroic acts of the Negrenses back then leading to the revolution. Despite the lack of funds, Negrense forces led by General Juan Araneta defeated the Spaniards with some cunning and lots of bravery.
Walk to Balay Negrense
The Balay Negrense is the Victor Fernandez Gaston Ancestral House. It is now a museum in Silay, and is just a few meters away from the marker. It stands proudly along Cinco de Noviembre Street.
The house showcases the opulent lifestyle of a late 19th-century Negrense sugar baron. They had fifteen children and we were given a glimpse of their lives back then. A tour guide for the museum showed us around. She was well-versed and spoke very good English.
The Balay Negrense is notable for being the first museum to be established in the province of Negros Occidental.
Balay Negrense entrance fees:
- Regular – P60
- Children – P30
The Hofileña Ancestral House is the residence of the late Manuel Severino Hofileña. It is also located along the Cinco de Noviembre Street. Mr. Hofileña used to live here with his beloved wife Gilda Ledesma Hojilla, a former Miss Silay, and their nine children.
This is indeed a good-looking family. One of their grandchildren, Rey PJ Abellana became a movie actor. His daughter, the beauteous Carla Abellana, is also a talent of GMA.
At present, Mr. Ramon Hofileña, one of the children and heirs, resides in this ancestral house. He personally conducts tours around their ancestral home. We were lucky to have caught his after one of his tours and the children had a photo opp with him.
Hofileña Museum entrance fees:
- Regular – P60
- Children – P30
We were still supposed to go to the Bernardino Jalandoni Museum, also known as the Pink Museum. But it was already around 4:30 and the kids were getting restless and hungry. So we skipped this one. You gotta be flexible with kids.
Our Silay Heritage tour took very long because the kids were not concerned about posing for just photographs. They checked exhibits and asked questions — lots of questions. They were very interested with the stories of the past.
Our last stop was for snacks. We went to the iconic El Ideal Bakery along Rizal Street (main highway). It is a favorite stop among tourists going to the Bacolod-Silay International Airport or among tour groups. Locals also travel to Silay just to enjoy their foods.
We got to enjoy their batchoy, pies, and short orders. Plus, we bought a lot of pasalubong to bring home.
The Silay Heritage tour that we had with the Bacolod Homeschoolers was a learning opportunity for all of us. Most of us parents, who just live in Bacolod, have not done this either. So we also got to learn with our kids. That’s why they always say, “Huwag maging turista sa sariling bayan.” But we did just that, because we gotta start somewhere.
The tour was tailor-made with young kids in mind. You can have more in day tour of Silay City, as there are so many nice places to explore there. Simply make arrangements with the guide.
DOT-Accredited Tour Guides
If you would like to embark on a Silay Heritage Tour, you can do it yourself if you’re a local. But if you want detailed information on history plus some fun side stories, contact a tour guide. Our tour was graciously done by former Tanjay City, Negros Oriental Councilor and DOT-Accredited tour guide, Mr. Cidni Mapa.
Mr. Mapa is the President of ATON — Alliance of Tourguides of Occidental Negros, a local Tour Guides association. He also serves as contact person for the other Tour Guides when needed. For inquiries and tour bookings, you may call him at 0918-9349438.
Tips on Bringing Kids to a Heritage Tour
Deal with the heat.
This is the Philippines, so expect it to be hot and humid. Kids can get cranky in the heat so let them wear light clothing. It is also best to bring an extra change of clothes and towels. And bring fans, too.
Keep kids hydrated.
To prevent dehydration, bring bottles of water for everyone in the family. If restrooms are not easily accessible, let the kids take sips from time to time. It should not be more than 30 minutes intervals. Our Dindin gets a headache when dehyrated.
Snack on snacks.
Even if your tour has a set time for snacks, delays are inevitable. And children can hungry. Before they get into “hangry” mode, give them something healthy to nibble on while they are walking. Just make sure to let them drink water afterwards and clean their hands properly. Children usually touch museum exhibits and their hands can contaminate the heirloom pieces.
Let them wear comfortable shoes.
We don’t want to carry our young children around on a walking tour. That would be back-breaking. So it is best to let them wear comfortable shoes that could last them most of the tour (at least).
Prepare for unpredictable weather.
Weather in the Philippines can be so unpredictable. While it is cumbersome, we have to be ready with umbrellas, raincoats, jackets, and hats. Despite having a such sunny day, sometimes, the rain can just pour without warning. So it is best to be prepared.
Bring mosquito repellent.
Since the houses included in the Silay heritage tour have gardens, there would most likely be mosquitoes. If your children are susceptible to mosquito bites, protect them with a layer of mosquito repellent. This would also prevent dengue infection.
Bring a tripod.
If you want a nice family picture, lug a tripod around. It was just good that my kumare Pynky took a nice shot of us. But in all our travels, we bring a tripod for perfectly composed family photos. Many times, our photo would be blurred or not composed properly, no matter what instruction you give to the bystander that you requested to take your photo.
So to avoid frustration, the tripod is your best friend.
Other family travel related stories:
- Baguio City Birthday Adventure for Kids
- DIY Hong Kong Tour Itinerary for the Family
- Travel in Search for the Old and New
- Marco Polo Plaza Cebu Family Stay
- Richmonde Hotel Iloilo Family Vacation
- Upside Down World Cebu Family Bonding
- Hong Kong Disneyland Magic Comes to Life
- Seda Capitol Central Family Stay
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