A well preserved dwelling almost a millennia since it was built, is alive and pulsing in Balay Negrense. Silay City has been declared as a national cultural treasure because of the its many heritage houses in the city that was well maintained by the descendants of its former owners. I begin to wonder how the wooden structures and old stone works had endured the ravages of time and the elements knowing that they are built on a tropical country where weather is a bit harsh. This was the marvel of local craftsmanship and the beauty of historical genius of its present owners who decided to keep the heritage houses intact and not succumb to popular modernism.
Silay City is considered as the Paris of the Philippines, mainly because of its ornate and flowery motif character of heritage homes of the rich and famous among Negros elites. The island is well known for its love for music and the arts. It is not uncommon to see people lounging on outdoor cafes, al fresco restaurant and visiting museums while savoring culture and talking avant garde ideals on how to live life to the fullest. Beautiful lifestyles in provincial setting but nonetheless eclectic and modern in essentials. That’s the Parisian way of looking at the world.
Warm rich wood finishing and furnishings dominate this Balay Negrense ancestral home which is a popular tourist destination in Silay City, Negros Occidental. Well preserved for decades, the house signifies Negros’ heritage past and traces of affluence due to establishment of haciendas in Western Visayas region. The location of Negros Island is strategic to commerce and trade and can be attributed to its rich volcanic soil which is perfect for growing sugarcane.
I can make an analogy and compare the colors of this ancestral house to the richness of the land that grows the sugarcane fields of Negros Island. Balay Negrense is a typical affluent symbol of the illustrious times when hacienderos of the past ruled the land and the business elites of the Philippines after the Spanish Colonial regime. Like the sugarcane, the reddish color of the crop signals the sweetest sugar syrup which will produce the best sugar crystals. The hacienderos at that time rakes in profit and were able to build comfortable homes and send their children overseas to get Western education and culture. Most children of the hacienderos became the pillars of Philippine politics and business, and were able to turn their influence and fortune into big industry conglomerates.
Nostalgic. The boat is leaving, bound to the island beyond the passage. Atop the hilly mounds of Siraan Hot Spring in the southernmost part of Antique is the municipality of Anini-y. Don’t let the rustic simplicity of the place deceive you, because there are pockets of hidden beauty which are seldomly explored but worth to be discovered. Siraan Hot Spring Resort is said to be one of the tributaries of underwater volcano located within the Sulu Sea. For the ultimate adventurer, you might want to board the boats crossing the strong currents of the passage bound to Nogas Island, which is a short 30-minute boat ride away.
Passengers and tourists are starting to fill the boats and sail away beyond the waters of Honda Bay. Everyday, the boatmen are busy navigating through the many islands dotting the bay and ferry the tourists to their dream island and beach destinations. Local tourism is alive in Palawan, and small tour travel operation and tourism related business enterprises are sprouting all over the island. The locals are benefitting with the sudden influx of tourists to their magnificent island. That means a steady stream of income from tourism and setting of small scale livelihood in the communities.
Solemnity meets water fun. Name it, you’ll find in Garin Farm these activities: man-made lake, pilgrimage walk, giant mountain cross, zipline, kayaking, ATV ride, cascade pool, viewdeck overlooking the vast estate and the sea, restaurant, mini-zoo, swimming pools, camp sites and farm sheds. The sprawling development is a proven success to combine agriculture, pilgrimage, leisure and landscaping in an inland resort. Worthy of note, is the extensive array of farm sheds which houses domesticated and farm animals where visitors will learn sustainable farming practices with zero waste management ability.