Touring Heritage Sites In Negros Occidental
In the Philippines, there's no shortage of beautiful heritage sites. There's the Calle Crisologo in Vigan, the walled city of Intramuros, and Calle Real in Iloilo, to name a few. And of course, there are heritage sites in Negros Occidental that I think everyone should see for themselves. Last March, my friend and I went to Bacolod City to do just that.
This trip totally slipped out of our minds. We booked our promo tickets last December and forgot about it. Good thing, the airline company sent us an email reminder or we would've totally kissed our tickets goodbye.
It only takes 45 minutes from Cagayan de Oro to Bacolod City. When we arrived, we rode the van to our hotel. We stayed at GO Hotel Bacolod (more details in a separate post) and its location was very convenient. It was easy to go from the hotel to the spots that we wanted to go.
After we settled in, we literally spent the entire afternoon eating. From Manokan Country to Calea to a food park which was a few blocks away — we ate like there was no tomorrow. Crazy.The next day, we woke up early to go to Talisay City's famous "The Ruins" or also known as the Taj Mahal of Negros. Why? Let me break it down to you after the series of photos.
The Ruins is dubbed as the "Taj Mahal of Negros" because the owner, Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, built it for his wife Maria Lacson who died during childbirth. It was built in the early 1900s and is inspired by Italian architecture. The Americans came during the World War II and burned the mansion down so Japanese soldiers won't be able to use it as their military office (Source). It's crazy how years later the bare bones are still standing strong.
When we arrived in the site, we paid 100 Pesos each for the entrance fee. There was also a tour going on inside the mansion and we joined it, not knowing that we were hijacking Sam Pinto and other celebrities' tour. It was hilarious. We kept following the tour guide with their group, listened and laughed with them too.
At first, we didn't know that they were celebrities. I did notice this tall, skinny girl with grey hair and thought she looked very familiar. We only knew that they were celebrities when we dined in the cafe and their group was eating in the other table. Oh well. They honestly looked so ordinary to me hehe.
Ancestral Homes in Silay city
Balay Negrense in Cinco de Noviembre Street.
this house gave me goosebumps. it's creepy af especially the stairs and second floor.
After visiting The Ruins, my friend and I went to Silay City to see some of the ancestral homes. Our first stop was the Balay Negrense Museum in Cinco de Noviembre Street. To say that it was creepy is an understatement. It was creepy as f*ck. The moment I stepped inside the mansion, I could feel some weird vibe going on. I'm not a paranormal expert but I can tell when something is off.
The driver that took us from Bacolod City to the airport on our last day even told us that whenever he passes by the street where Balay Negrense is, he never looks at it because there are no lights on. He's scared that he might see someone watching from the second floor's window.
Anyway, there were volunteer tour guides (who are tourism students in Silay) that accompanied us and told us stories about the house. It was once owned by Victor Gaston, a French sugar baron who married a Filipina. The tour guide also told us that the family had several Filipino servants who weren't allowed to go up to the second floor where their masters were. They can only go up to the dining room whenever their masters ring a bell.
That story ticked me off a little bit. It's unfortunate that foreigners make the most out of our own lands and turn the locals into their slaves. If you think slavery doesn't exist these days, think again. It still exists in many different forms and some of it may not be as harsh as it was decades ago. Sad.
The next place we went to was supposed to be the Ledesma Ancestral House which was a steps away from Balay Negrense. Turns out, they close during lunch time so we went to a cafe and had lunch instead.
The last ancestral home we went to was the Bernardino Jalandoni Museum. It was also called the Pink House because the entire house's facade is painted in pink. It was owned by Don Bernardino Jalandoni and was also built in the early 1900s (Source). This house didn't feel as creepy as Balay Negrense. It felt more "welcoming". We toured the house with a British couple and the tour guide was enthusiastic in explaining the rooms of the house.
We wrapped up our DIY heritage tour by doing a quick pasalubong (souvenir) shopping in El Ideal Bakery, Silay's oldest bakery dating back to the 1920s. The bakery actually still looks exactly the same as I've seen in the pictures online. Both the outside and the inside of the building looked and smelled old, in a cool vintage kind of way :)
After the long day of touring, we rode a bus from Silay City back to Bacolod City. It only took less than an hour. We arrived in the terminal and rode a jeep back to our hotel.
This part of our trip made Negros Occidental one of the most interesting places in Western Visayas. I like how well preserved the ancestral homes are. Also, I really like how the cities are so close together. Bacolod felt like a small city to me because it only took several minutes for us to reach Talisay City. Talisay felt so close to Silay too.
Day two will be up next!