Balay Negrense in Silay City
The Balay Negrense, also known as the Victor Gaston Ancestral House, is an antiques museum in Silay City that showcases the lifestyle of a late 19th-century Negrense sugar baron.
Balay Negrense exterior
In the 1890s, Don Victor Fernandez Gaston, a sugar baron whose family revolutionized the sugar-planting techniques in Negros, commissioned the construction of Balay Negrense for himself and his twelve children. Upon its completion in 1901, the Gaston house was one of the largest homes on the island. After Don Gaston’s death in 1927 the house eventually passed to his children, and was later vacated to fall into disrepair. Eventually the remaining heirs of the Gaston family cooperated with the Negros Cultural Foundation and the Philippine Tourism Authority to transform the home into a museum. By 1994, it had been restored as a lifestyle museum and was declared a Heritage House by the National Historical Institute.
Today, Balay Negrense is one of the most popular and photogenic tourist spots in Silay – a city already so picturesque and dated in itself that it was declared a National Historical Landmark. Balay Negrense is very easy to spot because of its huge structure and extensive garden facing the street. The grounds amount to 5000 square meters, and are blooming with flowers and large old trees dating back to the Spanish Era. Upon entering the house, one is greeted by many antique items, memorabilia and furniture, mostly donated or loaned by other old families in Silay. There are also different exhibits in every room. They include antique crystal ware, period clothes of people during the 1900s, an old kitchen with giant clay jars and primitive cooking utensils, and many more.
The classic grand staircase
One of the many rooms in Balay Negrense
From the balcony of the house, one can admire the streets of Silay and the magnificent gardens below.
The receiving room and the balcony
Balay Negrense is a time capsule not only for the history, culture and traditions of the Gaston family, but the town of Silay in general.
Barangay III, Cinco de Noviembre Street, Silay City, Negros Occidental
(034) 714 7676
Tuesday to Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm
Php 50 for adults
HOW TO GET THERE:
Silay City is a 30 to 45-minute ride away from Bacolod City. Take a bus, van or jeepney bound for Silay and ask to be dropped off at the public plaza. From there, turn left and walk straight along Zulueta Street. Balay Negrense is at the corner of Zulueta and Cinco de Noviembre Street.
Photos and article by Jess Jacutan