Friday, January 13, 2012

Silay Stories: The Woman Who Never Spoke Again

Silay, just like small cities elsewhere has its share of ones, hidden ones and the not-so-secret kind that everyone knows a little something of but is not usually talked about. The story I am about to tell you is of the last kind.  It was talked about in whispers by our old folks but as kids, we were never really interested. I became curious about it when I started getting interested in the history of our heritage houses and in the course of my research, I learned more about this story our grandparents used to talk about.  Of course, I dare not write about it, thinking this was a not to be talked about secret...but someone did and he was family! This story was mentioned in passing in an article written by Teddy Boy Locsin about his summers in Silay in the April 2009 issue of Rogue Magazine. He writes, "like the woman with the long black hair who still lives in what is left of the best example of antebellum architecture and had spoken to no one since her parents had refused her marriage to someone poor—not even to her parents on their deathbed".  Well, now I can finally write my own version of that story, not because Mr. Locsin wrote about it, but because the main character has passed on.  The woman of Mr. Locsin's summers eventually became the old woman with long white hair.  I later found out through our genealogy book that she was a second cousin of my father from his father's side, making her my aunt, but I never knew her.  In fact, I have never seen her.  It was my son who mentioned her existence since he saw an old woman with long white hair in a wheelchair when he attended a friend's 18th birthday dinner, whose family happened to be living at the back of the main house. He of course did not know that she was a relative, and when he mentioned to me that he saw her...I was so excited! He gave me a puzzled look and so I told him our version of the story.

The woman who lived there was an only child of affluent parents.  Like most parents during that time, they tried to manage her life to what they deemed was best for her.  This daughter fell in love with a young man, studying to be a dentist.  He was not poor but he was not in the same level as her family...besides the family wanted her to marry within their own family circle. In spite of her parents opposition, the girl continued to see this young man. When it reached a point where she was not allowed to go out of the house alone, she locked herself in her room but continued to communicate with him through letters and notes via her best friend who was their common cousin. According to a nephew's version, typical of young love, she and her boyfriend made a vow to wait for each other even how long it takes or until her parents moved on to the next life. What was ironic was the fact that her father died in 1950 and her mother, in 1954...but by that time it was too late for her (she was 36).  You see, time changes things and after many years of playing the waiting game, the boyfriend and the bestfriend/cousin/confidante developed feelings for each other.  Eventually these two got married (maybe two or three years before the her father died in 1950 which, if you do your math, was a very late marriage in that era) and began a family.  Perhaps even more devastating for this aunt of ours was the fact that they lived one house away from hers across the street. She could see them from her balcony and second floor window.  So it's no wonder that this poor lady lost most of her rational mind.  It is said that she had her second floor removed (probably in the 60's) after her parents died.  Some says it's because she wanted a more modern home but I think it's because she just did not want to see that house across the street anymore. But those in the know says that it was not her decision but of those who were entrusted to care for her.  I don't exactly remember what the original house looked like, paying not much attention to it since it's facade was more or less covered with trees and other foliage, but when the second floor was removed, one can't help but notice because suddenly it did not look quite right.

And thus, this is my family's version of the story about the woman who never spoke again.  We, who are not privy to the complete story may never know what really happened and there are manyr versions, but all have one thing in common...a young woman in love, undesirable lover, parental objection to the relationship and a broken vow.  Last September 2, 2011, she passed away. She would have been 97 years old in 3 weeks time. She outlived both her lover and best friend.  She was always seen writing and left behind hundreds of notebooks where it is said she wrote her life story and rewrites this again and again for fear that the writing would fade and her story will disappear forever.  When I asked if the notes can be read, I was told that you need to use a lens to read the writing because beautiful though it is, it was very small.  I hope someone in her immediate family will have the patience to decipher the writing.  It will give us an insight to the person that she was.

Tita (I can finally call you that), Rest in Joyful Peace...


  1. I heard this story from someone. 97 long years.. grabe...

    post more stories...

  2. Thank you for sharing these heartwarmimg and so very interesting tales about Silay. Stories like the ones you tell put a human face to the houses and buildings and yes ultimately to the city of Silay itself.

  3. I heard this story when I went to Silay a few days back. It gave me goosebumps and was emotional seeing the closed gate and the seemingly abandoned house.

    I felt in-love with Silay with all those stories intertwined with people's heritage houses and the food they offered. The food too is fantastic.

    1. there are many more stories, some happy but mostly sad, tragic or scandalous...hahaha. Although a city, Silay has a small town ambiance so that everybody knows everyone. It is a little different now though...we have a new middle class and many families from other towns and places have settled in Silay. Maybe in the near future, these stories will no longer be talked about and that is one of the reasons for this blog. Thanks for visiting and commenting :)

  4. I was born and raised in Silay but I never heard of this gloomy love story. This is a great story that can be translated to film. Its just ironic that I only aware of it just now that I am here working in Makati. Though far from the lay back lifestyle in Silay, I am still reminded everyday when going to work the works of another great Silaynon, no less than the National Artist Leandro Locsin, whom designed most of the buildings here in Ayala Ave.

  5. I am a proud Silaynon and I can remember when I was younger, whenever my grandmother or my aunts would bring me and my brothers around for walks in the afternoon, they would tell us stories of houses we'd pass by. Some are scary. Some seems like urban legends. I am happy that this blog is somehow validating the stories I've heard before. And I miss going around the city especially in the late afternoons. 4 more months to go and I will be there for a month long vacation, much needed. I miss the food and the people. I miss the laidback southern charm of my beautiful, mysterious, rich and majestic hometown.

  6. I heard this story too.. How i imagined the story when being told. Gives me
    Goosebumps and i felt the loneliness of the lady. ��


Your comments are welcome and please identify yourself. Anonymous comments will be deleted. Thank you!