SILAY is popularly known as the “seat of arts and culture” in Western Visayas. The Silaynon crowning glories are the heritage houses, San Diego Pro-Cathedral, ancestral food, steam locomotives, seafood restaurants, and the airport of international standards. All these and more made Silay the Most Outstanding Tourism-Oriented Local Government Unit in the Philippines (now in the Hall of Fame).

After Mayor Jose Montelibano finished his three terms in office, a new mayor (former vice mayor) was chosen by the Silaynons. He is Mark Andrew Arthur Jison Golez (Mayor Mark for short). He is now handling herculean task to bring Silay where it should be with his banner, “Asenso sang Silay, Asenso sang Panimalay.” His teammate is Vice Mayor Joedith Gallego. The councilors are also there to pass the ordinances and resolutions that would support the pillars of government.

When Mayor Mark assumed office, he implemented what is in his development menu. He closely worked with the new chief of police, Superintendent Willy D. Diel. Drug users were subjected to “tokhang” and like a flock, they surrendered voluntarily. One landmark achievement is the apprehension and surrender of the “top drug pushers” in Silay.

He supported the participation of Silay in the 31st Negros Trade Festival in Manila. Silay constructed a booth that is a replica of our ancestral house and the best delicacies of Silay were made available to foreign and domestic tourists for tasting (our way of inviting tourists to come to Silay). Our single mayor was there to join Governor Freddie Marañon Jr. and the other leaders of Negros, and more prominent Negrosanons who are now in Manila as investors and office heads holding positions in government agencies. The First Mom, Tess Golez, was also there to join the Silay tourism staff.

The success of the Negros Trade Fair in Manila motivated the concerned Silaynons to come up with “Kaon Ta!”, the first Silay Food Festival under the Golez-Gallego administration. It was held at Balay Negrense grounds and was participated by Silaynon food experts coming from all walks of life… vendors, “sorbeteros,” delicacy makers from the community and the “buena familias” who cooked their specialties for all.

Recently, the mayor was visited in his office by officers and members of the Negros Press Club. He was happy to announce the construction of a theme park in Silay. It would have the resemblance of the “Enchanted Kingdom.” This is one good opportunity for the people of Silay to have employment. This will be favorable for Silay tourism. The tourism loop (road network) of Department of Tourism-Department of Public Works and Highways facilitated by Congressman Albee Benitez could be a big help in bringing tourists to Silay.

The theme park will generate economic gains for drivers, restaurant operators, travel agencies, tour operators, tour guides, snack sellers, and airline companies. It will be a hit in Silay considering that the airport is just a few kilometers away and the seaport in Bacolod could serve tourists and excursionists from Panay. This will have a catch because there is no theme park in Cebu and Panay.

Mayor Mark announced also that the Jison family members (his relatives) have offered to donate seven-hectare property for the new city hall in Panaogao, Barangay 4. The construction of the government center in Silay will decongest traffic in the city proper and probably could consolidate local and national offices in the area to serve the people of Silay well and all those who have business with Silay.

The present city hall could be converted into a huge heritage museum considering that Silay is a “Museum City.” This city hall is a landmark of Negros history. The place where it stands used to be the garrison of the Spaniards attacked by the heroes of Cinco de Noviembre on Nov. 5, 1898. That stood also as the sole witness to the planting of two narra trees that were the markers of the July 4, 1946 Philippine Independence recognized by the United States.

A city college will be constructed also near the government center. Mayor Mark looks forward to have a loan for the city college project with the approval of the City Council. This is the dream of Silaynon parents who send their children in Talisay and Bacolod colleges instead.

Mayor Mark is the “Mark of Silay”… mark for progress, mark for better life, and mark for bringing up Silay families. “Asenso sang Silay, Asenso sang Panimalay,” do not miss that mark.