WELCOME visitors from Antique! The group is headed by Sr. Elnora Perez with Sr. Ma. Rosa Medina, Sr. Rita Imelda Lizares, Sr. Maxima Emboltorio, and Sr. Mary Clemens Taag. They are from Sibalom, Province of Antique. The visit will be on October 25.

With them are the following teachers and staff: Mae Alvior, Flory Parsan, Wedemyr Serrano, Rommel Pascua, Henjie Alcantara, Kaysee Otanes, Kaye Cabigunda, Stephanie Moscoso, Abbegail Escarlan, Krisanne Grasparil, Honey Rose Sumugat, Ella Vilvar, Jojean Cabrillos, Donna Mae Fenete, Alex Montano, Ben Tabalanza, and John Rick Macias. The trip to Silay has been facilitated by Gina Bautista-Martin.

Mayor Mark Golez always tells visitors that as far as Silaynons are concerned, culture is our heritage of excellence and nobleness. Silay history is a witness to that. Educators and tourists come to Silay to experience how character-building values become a source of pride that strengthens our culture. Our visitors from Antique are also proud of their province where the sky meets the sea. It is the province of the famous Binirayan Festival.

We have learned to understand that culture comprises the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or social group. It includes not only the arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human beings, value systems, traditions and beliefs. Our friends from Antique are here because they are interested to know what we do.

I am happy to be their resource person on this trip because my roots are from Antique. Before going to Silay, the family of Kako Lizares in Talisay is hosting them for breakfast. That could be the first gesture of allowing them to taste “Sabor Negros.” They will be given orientation on Silay, “the seat of arts and culture,” at Silay Museum (in front of Silay Tourism Office).

Ramon Hofileña will personally guide them in the different parts of his home to show antique pieces of furniture, personal collection of artifacts (including those coming from outer space), unique books used by the “GI Joes” during World War II, “santos” from the different generations, peculiar folk toys, print-making shop, paintings from A-Z of famous visual artists… and his charming portraits. Mon is our icon as far as Silay heritage is concerned.

The sisters and the teachers will be toured around San Diego Pro-Cathedral (including the ruins of the second church). We will tell them “miracle story” why the church was not bombed during World War II. We will tell them interesting changes made by Vatican I and Vatican II.

Lunch will be in Balaring shoreline restaurant. Our educators will be interested to know our ecotourism program and our “romantic escapades” with the mangroves as our frontline to adjust with climate change.

We will have more of heritage houses tour in the afternoon. Balay Negrense (Don Victor House) Museum is not only the biggest house in Silay but it was “once a witness” on how food, music and dances won a revolution in Silay as part of “Cinco de Noviembre Revolution.” Why is Jalandoni House a “pink house”? Does it have a “pink panther” connotation? Silay plaza was a backdrop for independence, a nucleus of a liturgical celebration, a host to unusual political rallies, and a Christmas Village.

A running tour of Silay will make them see the venue of “Oro, Plata, Mata”, the masterpiece of my teacher director Peque Gallaga… that caught the intrinsic and extrinsic attitudes of the “hacenderos” during World War II… religion, sex, food, gambling, relationships, frustrations and hope. The replica of “molino de sangre” would always remind tourists that Silay was once a bowl of sugar; remains a bowl of sugar… and in the future, the sugar will be out of bowl for more developments outside of the bowl.

Our friends from Sibalom are noted for their rice, tabios, bantalaan, patadyong, river gemstones, tinabal, bandi, bati-bati, and butong-butong.

This time they will visit Emma Lacson’s kitchen for the crunchy, edible pili square; lumpia ubod that delights the tongue; and empanada, the perfect meal for one who longs for complete satisfaction. El Ideal Bakery will be there also for their quest of buko pie, guapple pie, pancit Molo, batchoy-Silay… and an array of cookies named after the members of “buena familias.”

Last stop will be at The Ruins to catch the house and sunset. Roger will be there to inform and amuse them why a “house was burned to be made a tourist attraction.” That could be a long day for our tourists from Antique and they will have their restful night at CICM Retreat House for their encounter with the Lord the following day.

The cultural tour of Silay is a gallery run that features what had been done, what is being done, and what could still be done in tourism. Silaynons offer a history of values from their beloved Silay. Thank you very much for visiting Silay.

Move onward Antique. Kruhaaay!