SILAY City will celebrate its 58th Charter Anniversary on June 12, 2015. The theme of the festival is “Silay: May Dungganon nga Kahapon; May Masanag nga Palaabuton” (Honorable Past, Bright Future). Mayor Jose Montelibano and Vice Mayor Mark Golez welcome Silaynons and visitors in the scheduled activities prepared by the Fiesta Committee.
In 1951, Dr. Jose C. Locsin won a seat in the senate and in 1955; Romulo Golez became mayor of Silay. In the same year, Jose Puey of Sagay and Carlos Hilado of Bacolod also won seats in the House of Representatives. The two congressmen with the help of Mayor Golez and Senator Locsin worked for the passage of House Bill No. 6096 which became Republic Act No. 1621 (Charter of Silay City).
The date of the Charter’s approval by President Carlos P. Garcia was June 12, 1957. Silay was the second town in Negros Occidental to become a city. Silaynons (hacendados, hacenderos, jornaleros, farmers, fishermen, professionals, and businessmen) give their best contribution that made Silay what it is now.
Pueblo de Silay was known as “the cradle of revolution” during the Nov. 5, 1898 Revolution. At the turn of the century (1900), Silay was the “Paris of Negros” because of its grand mansions and the existence of the longest seaport in Asia (1.70 kilometers). To date, Silay is in the Hall of Fame as the Most Outstanding Tourism-Oriented Local Government Unit.
The domestic airport of international standards is in Silay. It has been awarded “Green Airport” trophy (National and International levels). It is the home of world-renowned Kabataang Silay Rondalla Ensemble. It is the “seat of arts, culture, and ecotourism in Western Visayas.” It is a recipient of the award” Child-Friendly City.”
The Organic Agriculture Program of Silay has been rated outstanding and produces outstanding farmers and agriculturist. The UN Habitat has identified Silay as one of the eight fastest growing cities in the country. (There are only two in the Visayas, Silay and Iloilo.) It is a recipient of the technical assistance from Canada as member of Bacolod-Talisay-Silay Circuit of the Local Government Support Program for Local Economic Development.
Silay has been considered by the Department of Tourism (DOT) as one of the 25 tourist destinations of the Philippines. The National Historical Commission (NCCA) has identified Silay as a “City of Museums” and a “Museum City.” There are 29 ancestral houses in Silay that are architectural landmarks. San Diego church is the only Pro-Cathedral outside Metro Manila. Gabaldon school buildings still exist in the poblacion.
Yves Leopold Germaine Gaston (a Frenchman) introduced “maquina de vapor horno economico” to improve sugar production. “Buena familias” from Iloilo started the hacienda system: Lopez, Ledesma, Locsin, Jarra, Hilado, Severino, Tarrosa, Hernaez, Gamboa, Jayme, Jison, Hofileña, Golez, Araneta, dela Rama, Montelibano, Lope, Mariano, Valencia, Conlu, among others.
The think-tank of the Nov. 5, 1898 revolution was composed of Silaynons: Nicolas Golez, Leandro Locsin, Melecio Severino, Timoteo Unson, and Vicente Gamboa Benedicto. Other Silaynon prominent figures are Miguel Y. Unson, Father of the Philippine Budget System; Sen. Jose C. Locsin, Father of the Filipino First Policy; and Conchita Gaston, the Lady with a Beautiful Voice and a Beautiful Heart.
We can add Leandro V. Locsin, Poet of Space; Alfredo Montelibano Sr., Secretary of Interior and Defense under the Magsaysay Administration; Teodoro M. Locsin Sr., valiant journalist; Arsenio Jison, first president of Philippine National Bank; Magdalena Puentevella, first pharmacist of Negros; Jose R. Ledesma, patron of the Catholic Church; and Emilio Y. Hilado, Justice of the Supreme Court.
Not to be forgotten are Serafin P. Hilado, Solicitor General of the Philippines; Rodolfo H. Severino, top diplomat; and Doreen Gamboa-Fernandez, outstanding writer and English professor. The list could go on and on. Silay was not made for a night. Silay has undergone metamorphic process until it reaches its present status. Hugyaw Silaynons!