Showing posts with label Silay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Silay. Show all posts

Friday, October 26, 2012

Silay Marathon 2012: Mt. Patag Eco-Adventure Trail Endurance Challenge

Silay is not only about arts, culture and heritage but eco-tourism and sports as well. One important sport event that has caught national attention is the Silay City Marathon which first began in the late 90's as a 5K and 15K run and eventually evolving into a half marathon by the year 2000. For the first time this year, it will be full marathon with a distinctive feature: a non-stop ascending route that ends on top of a mountain. To bring attention to the city's forest preservation and eco-tourism efforts, the Silay Marathon 2012 is aptly called the Mt. Patag Eco Adventure Endurance Trail Challenge.  It will be a  34k / 42K (solo) and 42k (relay) marathon to be held on November 3, 2012. 

For inquries please contact Dr. Bob Ledesma 0947-7896317 and Boyet Rentoy 0928-9084888.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Am Proud To be A Silaynon

The theme of celebration for Silay City's 55th Charter Anniversary last June 12, 2012 was ‘I AM PROUD TO BE A SILAYNON’.

This theme is a celebration of togetherness and achievements in all levels of Silaynon endeavor according to Mayor Jose "Oti" L. Montelibano.  Here is a short documentary about Silay's past, a project of the city's Tourism Office in tandem with the PIO.  Watch it and know the reason why I am very proud to be a Silaynon.

Researcher/Director/Editor: Neil Solomon Lopez Locsin
Videographer/Artistic Director: Gary Lake Liza

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Church in Silay: San Diego Pro-Cathedral

In December 25, 1994, Most Reverend Camilo D. Gregorio, DD, then Bishop of the Diocese of Bacolod, declared San Diego Parish Church as a pro-cathedral.  What is the difference between a cathedral and a pro-cathedral? According to Wikipedia, the church of a diocesan bishop is a cathedral like the San Sebastian Church while a parish church temporarily serving as the cathedral of a diocese is known as a "pro-cathedral". Why then of all churches in the diocese was the Church of San Diego chosen?  This church is the second biggest in the Diocese of Bacolod, next to the San Sebastian Cathedral.   This is the reason why San Diego Church was declared as a function as a cathedral in case something happens to the San Sebastian Cathedral. Of course, we pray that would never happen, although a fire did damage the entire second floor of the Palacio Episcopal (Bishop's Palace) in 1985. Thinking about this now, perhaps this incident prompted the declaration for the San Diego Church?

Ruins of the Spanish Colonial Church in Silay made of coral/limestones

The first church in Silay was a temporary structure made of bamboo poles, amakan (bamboo slats), nipa (a local palm) and cogon grass. Eventually, a more permanent structure was built, made of coral stone but this too fell into ruin by fire. It's ruins is found at the back of the present church.  A bigger church made of bricks and cement was built perpendicular to the old church but this remained unfinished and unfurnished, lacking seats and pews.  As the community grew, there began a clamor for a better place of worship and one Silay resident, Don Jose del Rosario Ledesma and his family offered to shoulder the expenses to build a new church.  The designer picked was an Italian architect, Lucio Bernasconi who made a design based on Romanesque/Renaissance influence. The high arch of the facade is Romanesque, but the twin bell towers and the dome is Renaissance.  Building of the church began in 1925 and before it was completed, contributions from the parishioners were accepted so that it would become everyone's church and not just funded by the Ledesma family (although by this time it was 75% completed). The new San Diego Parish Church was completed and inaugurated in 1927.  It's distinctive dome with it's big cross lighted at night could be seen from the sea and serves as a beacon to seafarers.  The original clock in one of the towers (donated in 1938 by the Montelibano family), the bells and the church's original iron fence and gates are still in existence to this day. The clock was repaired in 2005 and the fence repainted in the same year too.  The statues of the 12 apostles placed on the pillars of the fence were added features in the mid '90s.  Pedestrian entrances were also added at the left and right front gates aside from the ones in the front middle gate.
photo credit: Christian Sangoyo of LakadPilipinas
Prayer Room and Grotto
The ruins of the old Church have also been put to good use.  Ever since I can remember the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes with an area for saying mass on her feast day and an elevated area at it's left side (which could have been part of the old church) has always been there. We used to play in this area. Perhaps this was built in the early 60's?  And the prayer room?  This was built on the elevated area sometime in the 1990's and I believe the Silay Parish is one of the first, if not the first who built one among all the other churches in the diocese.  Here the Blessed Sacrament is exposed from 6 AM to 6 PM daily.

In spite of only 2 regular priests assigned to minister to our big parish, we are able to hold twice daily masses and 7 Sunday masses in the pro-cathedral...quiet a feat, I must say. 

Daily Masses Mon-Sat: 6:00 AM/ 5:00 PM
Sunday Masses: 5:00, 6:00, 8:00, 9:30 AM
                           4:00, 5:15, 6:30 PM

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Where Silay Got It's Name - The Legend Of Kansilay

Who was Kansilay?  Was she fact or fiction?  

Legend tells us that long before the Spaniards came to the shores of the island east of Panay, then known as Buglas, now Negros, there lived a beautiful lin-ay (maiden) named Kansilay in a village by the sea called Karobkob. She was the only daughter of Pinunong Bubog, the village head. Kansilay was betrothed to Lawa-an, a handsome and hard working “ulitao” (gentlemen) of the village and they were soon to wed. However before the wedding, Lawa-an joined the young men of the village for the yearly “ pangayam” (hunting for wildlife) which would be for one full moon. While they were away, pirates raided and plundered the village killing many including Kansilay's father. Kansilay gathered the other maidens and sought the help of the fairy Diwata who gave her a sword but was told that this is not a magic weapon. They fought valiantly but could not repulse the pirates. Lawa-an and the other men arrived in time to help and the pirates were defeated, but at the cost of Kansilay's life. In grief, the people lovingly buried her. One day, they saw a plant growing on Kansilay’s mound. The plant became a sturdy tree with purple-pink flowers, which they named after her, the first Kansilay tree, a tribute to a brave maiden.

That is the official version.

Other historians and history buffs give the supposition that if ever there was a Kansilay, the time period she lived was not during the datu and rajah era but much earlier. If this is true, then swords are not yet made at this time. But even this idea cannot be validated as there is not much information on the original settlers of Negros. The earliest date on record is 1565 and nothing much before that.

The original settlers of the island of Negros are thought to be of the Ati ethnic group also found in Panay, Bohol and neighboring islands in the Visayas. They most probably arrived from Borneo 20-30,000 years ago, through what is believed to be an isthmus that in the prehistoric times connected the Philippine archipelago to Borneo via a land bridge. According to some oral traditions, they also predate the Bisaya, who now inhabit most of the Visayas. An article written by Robert Lindsey says that the Ati of Negros have apparently gone extinct. This is not true. We still have Ati communities in the mountains of Silay, particularly in Sibato.

Our oral history has handed down the story of Kansilay through the centuries and preserved by our ancestors, so whether it is fact or fiction is not a really that important. Our beloved Silay exists and to me that is all that matters.

But now I wonder...was Kansilay an Ati or a Bisaya?

photo retrieved from

source: GMA

Friday, October 28, 2011

Silay, Cinco de Noviembre and the Republic of Negros

There have been many stories written about the Negros Revolution of 1898 now popularly known as El Cinco de Noviembre. This was the day that informally ended Spanish control of the Island. It is commonly known that from November 3 to November 6, 1898, the revolutionaries led by Aniceto Lacson in the north and Juan Araneta in the south rose in revolt against the Spanish authorities headed by politico-military governor Colonel Isidro de Castro. The planning began in Silay when a committee headed by Lacson which included Nicolás Gólez, Leandro Locsin and Melecio Severino assembled and decided to begin the revolt on November 5. They then advised Juan Araneta of their decision. Cinco de Noviembre played a significant role in the history of Silay. On that day at about 2:00 in the afternoon, Silaynons gathered in the street corner now known as Cinco de Noviembre Street and from there they proceeded to the Spanish garrison near the Catholic Church. It was a bloodless revolution. At first the Spanish civil guards refused to surrender. They were entrenched inside the municipal building, but surrendered without a fight when they realized that the townspeople were determined to burn the building to the ground should there be resistance. The Silay parish priest, Eulogio Saez, a businessman named Juan Viaplana, and José Ledesma persuaded the Spanish forces to lay down their arms, but in order to save face, the lieutenant had it appear in the official records that the capitulation was the result of a bloody battle with "dead and wounded littered all over the field of battle".

A Little Known Fact

What is not commonly known however is the fact that Negros was once a republic albeit short-lived. What is the story behind the República Cantonal de Negros, established on November 27, 1898?

The history of the struggle against foreign domination in Panay and Negros showed that, after being victorious against the Spaniards, two Ilonggo groups across the Guimaras Strait manifested opposing reactions to the coming of the Americans. Whereas those in Panay resisted with utmost determination against the new invaders, the elite of Negros decided to organize the cantonal goverrnment of Negros, declaring it as a protectorate of the United States and recognized American sovereignty. It must be recalled that the Ilonggo revolutionaries in Panay under Gen. Martin Delgado who desperately resisted the Americans as early as December 1898, had always looked down on the pacifist and apathetic attitude of the Negros leaders. To understand why, one must see who the leaders of the Negros Republic were. Most were landed hacenderos with two clear motives: one was the search for a market for sugar. Another was the search for a reliable security cover. Annexation to the U.S. would facilitate the entry of sugar into the American market. The Americans were also in the best position to provide security for the Philippines, compared to either the Spaniards or the Filipino revolutionaries. It was also recognized that a war with the US would be devastating economically. Not only would the sugar fields be destroyed, the American market would also be lost. The choice then became clear. The Republic of Negros surrendered to the Americans, without any resistance, thereby saving the island from a devastating war.

However, there were revolutionaries who kept up the fight. When General Araneta and General Lacson deserted the cause "without the expressed consent of the people" and agreed for accommodation with the Americans, the Negros revolucionarios enthusiastically put themselves at the command of General Delgado. This breakaway group (majority of whom were from Silay) who earlier participated in putting to an end Spanish sovereignty in Negros formed a new outfit, a regiment of sharp-shooters and machete wielders and took to the field. According to Francisco Varona (Negros-It's History and People, 1938), among the prominent leaders of this revolutionary group were Colonels Vicente Gamboa Benedicto, Juan Ledesma Hiponia, Buenaventura Ayalin Lopez, Remigio Montilla, and Ramon Valencia; Majors Marciano Lopez Ayalin, Anacleto Santillan, Gil Severino, and Miguel Severino; Captains Romualdo Gestoso, Fausto Javelona, Antonio Valeria and Segundo Yorac; and Lieutenants Porfirio Lopez Ayalin, Ramon Gamboa, Maximino Lopez, Arsenio Rafael, Benito Sanchez, Felix Severino, Tomas Severino, and Felix Yorac. With the presence of the revolutionary group in Negros, the Iloilo command under General Roque Lopez sent a contingent of officers and picked soldiers to reinforce Negros. The Iloilo expedition was led by Col. Luis Ginete, accompanied by Captains Elias Magbanua, Fausto Jalandoni and Lieutenant Legaspi. From their stronghold in Gintabuan, a mountain peak of difficult access in one of the mountain ranges of the municipality of Saravia, the revolutionaries waged a guerilla warfare against the Americans for several months. It was not until the Americans organized the Filipino scouts that a company of these led by Capt. Nicolas Bariles, together with some American officers, captured Gintabuan, resulting to the death of many Filipinos, including the young Captain Magbanua.

Retrieved from
The República Cantonal de Negros came under U.S. protection on April 30, 1899. On July 22, 1899, it was renamed the Republic of Negros, but on April 30, 1901, this was dissolved by the United States.

Cinco De Noviembre was declared by President Corazon Aquino as a special non-working holiday in the province through Republic Act No. 6709 signed on February 10, 1989.

Silay Marker

Silay City Cinco de Noviembre Commemoration
Schedule of activities

A bit of family trivia:

Buenaventura Ayalin Lopez was my great grandfather :) He was the son of Don Eustaquio Lopez, half brother of Gen. Roque Lopez and nephew of the national hero, Graciano Lopez y Jaena.

Henry F. Funtecha, Ph.D, (2008) The Opposition to the Americans and the Canton Republic of Negros Retrieved from The News Today

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Lolo's House

Silay City is known for it's ancestral houses, thirty one (31) of which have been listed and certified by the National Historical Institute and the National Commission for Culture and Arts as heritage houses, although to this date only 8 have been given markers mainly due to lack of funds.  What makes Silay's ancestral homes different from many others is the fact that all these are well preserved and livable.  Most in fact are still occupied by families of the original owners and are not open to public viewing or a few have been converted to offices, restaurants etc.  My Lolo's house is one such ancestral home.

The Angel Araneta Ledesma house was built in the 1930's (exact date was anytime between 1934-1937) using huge logs from my Lolo's lumber yard business, in the empty lot facing Plaridel St. behind my Lola's parental home (which faced 5 de Noviembre St).  It had a very good location being right beside the City Hall, Police and Fire Department, a very short walk to the town plaza, Silay North Elementary School, San Diego Church, the Puericulture Center and the commercial areas of the town. The inside of the house was not beautiful compared to other houses in Silay but it was big and had lots of places to hide in, which served us kids very well during our games of hide and seek. I remember that we would scare our household help witless by hiding in the big closets, powdering our faces and covering our heads with white blankets while putting a flashlight under our faces. We gave our Lola endless anxious moments as we ran around the house and jumped off the stairs and verandas. The front lawn had a bahay cubo which was also our playhouse and where I would spend many hours reading my Nancy Drew books.   The house was surrounded by starapple trees which gave hundreds of fruits every year and we had so much fun trying to hook one from the upstairs balcony using an improvised "singit". But while the starapple trees were so fruitful, the lone mango tree in the front yard would yield exactly one fruit a year...while the santol tree's produce were one of the most sour tasting fruits ever...which gave my Lolo much frustration, of course. In the afternoons we would drowsily sit in the rocking chairs in the second floor sala while my Lola would have her afternoon siesta in one of the rattan lounging chairs in the upstairs balcony.  This is also the place where we would have the daily Rosary before the Angelus.  I have a lot of good and unforgettable memories in this house.  My parents lived here for a while after they were married since my dad was still in his last year of law school. When he took the bar in Manila, they decided to stay there when he found work.  It was another 3 years before we eventually returned to Silay, because my dad unbeknownst to my mom was asked by his uncle to run for politics. For a little more than a year, we lived here before moving out to have our own home. Lolo's house then became "pihak balay".  "Pihak balay" was where we would spend our weekends, holidays, summer is where we all converge for Sunday is where all the grandchildren played and caused much ruckus to both houses in Plaridel and Cinco de Noviembre.  
my brothers and cousin with our blue chevy at the back

But all good things come to an end...and in 1992, the family decided to sell the house. My Lola was staying in Manila with her daughter all the time now and the year before that, my father passed away.  There was no one among us who was interested to live in such a big house.  A few years back we had it rented out for a while but the tenants found it hard to maintain.  Eventually we closed it and hired a family to guard and clean the house allowing them to live in the servant's extension at the back. When we offered it up for sale, it seemed that it was going to be difficult to sell it because of its size and the fact that it was a heritage house.  Fortunately, one individual took interest and honestly, we sold it dirt cheap...a heritage house on a 750 square meters lot was a give-away at P375,000!  The new owner with a very good business sense sold it to the city after a few years of having it rented out to foundations and families. His price?  A million pesos. Be that as it may, I am happy and grateful to God's Divine Intervention, because the next buyer was the City of Silay. I was content with the fact that our ancestral home will be preserved for generations to come. None of us could have imagined that in the future my Lolo's house would become the Office of Culture, Arts and Tourism of the City of Silay as he was totally not into those things, or at least that's what it seemed to us, his grandchildren.  Then again, many of us today are into of my cousins is an accomplished painter, a few of us could hit the right notes, some great grandchildren plays good guitar, are dancers, actors, and even my late Dad was a very good piano who knows?  Perhaps my Lolo in another life could have been an artist too.  To complete the story, soon after they bought my Lolo's house, the City also bought my late grand-aunt's dilapidated and structurally damaged wooden house at the back.  However that house in Cinco de Noviembre was later torn down and has since been replaced by a new one-story building. They have also repaired and painted the perimeter fence and I heard from the Tourism Office that there is already a budget for repair and repainting of my Lolo's house.

From "pihak balay" to "Balay Verde" (The Green House-Culture, Arts and Tourism Office, Silay City)...hey, not bad...I am sure Lolo, Lola, Daddy, Tito Monet must be smiling in heaven.

You might want to see this:


Lolo - grandpa
Lola - grandma
Tito - uncle
pihak balay - other house/ next house/ next door
balay verde - green house

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Semana Santa

In the past up to about the early 80's, Semana Santa or Holy Week was an important family affair during summers in Silay.  It would be that time of year when families or children based or studying in Manila and other places would come home for vacation and family reunions. The processions during Holy Thursday and Good Friday were en grande or big events as prominent families would be actively participating either as carosa owners or plain marchers.  It was always a big privilege when  a male member of the family would be asked to be one of the escorts of the Santo Entierro.  To be invited as part of the cortege was an affirmation that you are a respected member of Silay society, so you can imagine how some people would actually lobby to be included in the list.  Holy Week also meant new dresses and/or shoes to be used during the processions since marchers were expected to be wearing their Sunday's best.  The route would always pass by the big (now ancestral) houses in Cinco de Noviembre and Mckinley Streets where family members would sit and gather in their verandas or balconies with a lighted candle to watch and comment on the procession and the participants.  We would wave or give a little nod when we pass by these houses, a  practice not unlike to paying homage to royalty or heads of states.  What is ironic is that what used to be fun and exciting then, strikes me now as having really nothing to do with the essence of Holy Week.   Then everything changed in the late 70's...a new parish priest who also belonged to a prominent Negrense family was assigned to Silay. He "revolutionized" the parish, instituting many positive reforms and practices that have stayed to this very day. He broke down class barriers and for the first time, rich and poor came as one in all church-related events. When I came home in 1980 after studying in Manila for several years, gone was the pomp and pageantry of Holy Week processions...most of the carosas were replaced by actual people performing on moving platforms which I presume was his way of bringing Christ's sacrifice closer to the people.  Today, many of those antique carosas are back but because of this one priest's dynamic ways and quest to communicate what real Christian faith looks like to the people of Silay,  the Holy Week activities remains focused on its real essence, which is to reflect on the meaning of Jesus' death on the cross.