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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Balay Negrense: A Must See

"A tour of Balay Negrense should figure in one's list when visiting Bacolod. It is located on Cinco de Noviembre in Silay City, Negros Occidental."

To many original Silaynons, it is a source of pride that more or less symbolizes the wealth of their heritage and history. One of the most distinguishable landmarks inside the city proper, the Balay Negrense is an imposing structure that one simply could not resist admiring its grandeur and allure. Built in 1897, the Balay Negrense is the restored residence of Victor F. Gaston, son of Yves Leopold Germaine Gaston, a French businessman who married a Batanguena and eventually settled in Silay, the economic and cultural center of the island of Negros in that era. By all accounts, the older Gaston is credited to be the pioneer behind the introduction of sugar industry in the province. The Gaston residence that is now a museum and a first in the province of Negros, boasts of twelve spacious bedrooms and a basketball court-sized living room on the second floor. It is thought to be one of the biggest colonial homes in Negros, hence the name aptly represents that of the province's rich heritage and history.

The grand two-way staircase ushers guests onto the second floor which offers a rather more spectacular view of the mansion's resplendent heirloom collections. A semi-porch open window facing the main street  also provides a perfect and relaxing spot fit for royals of that time.

The house interior is a breathtaking picture of elegance and affluence one could not stop reminiscing the wealth normally enjoyed by typical rich hacienderos and sugar barons over a century ago. The twelve bedrooms spread across two floors are being adorned with a wide range of antique furniture, century-old books and other significant memorabilia. And a tour of the second floor would culminate to a grandiose display of pure opulence emblematic of the wealthy in that period. 

Delicately cut and carved wooden panels provide ventilation between rooms and its windows were exquisitely etched and overlook sprawling gardens which were thought to have hosted evening parties and countless other festive and social gatherings.

Below, a long dining table typical of the rich and big families' such as the Gaston's with its brood of twelve. China plates and utensils made of original steel are being displayed neatly. A big cabinet at the rear, adjacent to one of the two dining room entrances leading to the kitchen, stores some other glass and silver utensils. If you notice the ubiquitous stretch of ropes in every corner, it's because we are not allowed to get into each one of them and have a feel of the precious heirlooms. Of course, the rules are not always flawless for an enterprising tourist (kuno) who pays 40 pesos :-)

On a glimpse into its subtle features, one would demand the big round table does not suit the ambience inside the mansion, or perhaps a dining table misplaced. It's neither, because the table contains a detailed list of the Gaston patriarch's family tree down to his living descendants, in their thousands probably.

Typical of big houses and uninhabited such as this, one should wonder how it is like staying overnight here. Though it may certainly provide another thrill, the eerie feel does not seem to lack its appeal for the gutsy and venturous. And so what Chukie babe is doing out here but to give you company?

Being not an original Silaynon myself, the tour of the Balay Negrense is another feel-good experience that fed me with precious information about the city's heritage and history. It is without a doubt a worthwhile experience one should endeavor when coming to the province of Negros if one thinks of a worthy respite away from the hustle and bustle of old downtown Bacolod.

Some important inputs are sourced from Wikipedia.


braggito said...

Damo man gali da ancestral houses like in Iloilo. It's nice that they preserved it well.

DonPepe1972 said...

Pasayl din ako diyan. 'Di ko nga lang alam kung kailan. LOL!

Anonymous said...

I love this town. Its good to know that you're proud of your towns heritage. A grandfather of mine has been residing in Silay for decades. I never get tired of seeing its beautiful houses.

Eating at Mang Inasal near the public market. Seeing those beautiful white colonial buildings. Observing truckloads of harvested sugar canes pass by. Wow. Thanks for this my friend.

Siock said...

@ Braggito, thanks for visiting. Surely, Iloilo is replete as well with colonial homes given its rich heritage and history. And I would also love to visit Iloilo someday, the home of my mother.

@ pepe, dont worry pasyal kita dun at pati na rin sa Ruins.

@ withonespast, thanks my dear friend for dropping by. I am indeed proud of our heritage as Negrenses. Or maybe I draw inspiration from your wonderful blog showcasing the various amazing facts about our history. More power to you my friend!

TravellingCup said...

Natakot naman ako dun sa manika! hahaha

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Silay City, Negros Occidental, The Philippines

Some of the photos above courtesy of Arnaldo Arnáiz Díaz

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