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

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Countdown To The Philippine Blog Awards-Visayas

We only have 2 days more to go before the event.  There will also be a Heritage/Eco-Tourism tour scheduled for November 13. Only limited slots available/  You can pre-register here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Celebrating All Saints and All Soul's Day in Silay

Silay celebrates All Saints and All Soul's Day in much the same way as the rest of the country, except for one difference...all of it's 3 cemeteries are located within walking distance of each other.  There is the public cemetery (Cementerio Municipal), the Catholic Cemetery (Patio Pari) and the privately owned Lasting Peace Memorial Park.  Ledesma St. (formerly Mckinley St) from the corner of the public cemetery to the corner of the parish cemetery is closed to traffic, so that all vehicles going to the airport are advised to take the Locsin St. (formerly Freedom Blvd) route.

View Larger Map

The tomb of Melecio Severino, a hero of Cinco de Noviembre 1898 and the first governor of Negros, is found right at the entrance of the Cementerio Municipal.  The Silay public cemetery is composed of two areas, the necropolis (those with tombs) and the potter’s field (those without tombs). It has also the boneyard used for unidentified old cadavers buried in the potter's field exhumed by the cemetery authority. 

The Silay Catholic Cemetery was probably started at about the same time as its first recorded Catholic Church in the 1780's.  This is where the dead of prominent families were buried or families who could afford to buy burial lots from the church.  Here, you can see old mausoleums, as well as new ones.  There is no one buried below ground in this cemetery because there are no facilities for it. Lot prices here have remained affordable so that even the middle income families can now acquire lots here...but of course, they have to be Catholic.

And last but not the least is the Lasting Peace Memorial Park and Chapel developed by the late Jose Maria Locsin.  It is a typical memorial park with both below and above ground burial lots. There is also what they call the "condominium" which is basically just burial vaults at the side and on top of each other.  The area for the below ground burial lots is elevated and each vault is cemented up to the ground with very good drainage. My family bought our below ground lots years ago when it was still relatively cheap.  When my father died in 1991, there were only a few people buried in our, it is almost full...and the lots are now expensive!

Historical trivia about Melecio Severino:

In October 2, 1899 - Eight months into the protracted Philippine-American War (1899-1914), the invading Bald Eagle nation sponsors the first elections under the Negros Constitution, with revolutionist Melecio Severino, who fought both the Spaniards and the Americans, being elected civil governor; the imperialist United States officials, however, fearing Severino's anti-Americanism, would soon undemocratically arrest him and appoint Jose Luzuriaga and, later, Leandro Locsin, to take his place as civil governor.