THIS is a continuation of the recollection on Silay of Nor Arcangel, the consultant on the culture of Mayor Menchie Abalos of Mandaluyong City. He was here in Negros recently to follow up Mandaluyong’s outreach program in the town of Salvador Benedicto.
“In one my visits in Silay (October 9), I immediately proceeded to El Ideal Bakery where Ver Pacete and I had decided to meet. This landmark of Silay is most ideal for such an intimate and sentimental reunion. I always enjoy famous ‘batchoy’ and home-made delicacies served by the eatery.”
“It is here, I suppose, the beautiful people of Silay gather for light breakfast, lunch, dinner or simply for coffee or tete-a-tete. At this juncture, former assemblyman Jaime Golez, the father of Mayor Mark who happened to be around with some friends met us. I told him of the affinity of Mandaluyong and Silay as sister cities.”
“Before he bid goodbye, he personally agreed to my suggestion for the renewal of the sister-city agreement, this time under his son’s administration. A highly respectable man he was, warm and accommodating he made me feel very much at home and truly a very important person (VIP).
“Thereafter, Ver and I conducted a little walk tour of the ‘poblacion.’ The pastures were forever green and serene. Everyone along the way was cordial, friendly and sweet, typical of a Negrense. I could not help but imagine that on these very streets passed horse-drawn carriages bearing lovely ‘senoritas’ who shied away from admiring glances of the village swains.”
“Our feet took us to Balay Negrense (Victor Gaston Mansion, the house that sugar built) and later to the Senator Jose C. Locsin ancestral mansion. It was the site of the reception hosted by the city Government of Silay on August 29, 2008, for the participating mayors of the League of Cities of the Philippines Cultural Caravan of the Negros Island Region.
“Mayor Benhur Abalos of Mandaluyong City was the League of Cities national president then. For entertainment, the garden party showcased the talents of the Kabataang Silay Ensemble composed of children folk dancers, singers, and rondalla. They were cute and graceful. I remember that the same cultural troupe had come to Mandaluyong for a series of performances under the sisterhood program.”
“In my visit to Silay, I got the chance to meet young married men and women at a couple of ‘salu-salo’ organized for me in Balaring shoreline restaurants and Food Park. I was surprised to discover that they were the little boys and girls who were members of the famed Kabataang Silay Ensemble then.”
“I love to stay at Unson Bed and Breakfast every time I am in Silay. This ancestral mansion of German Unson managed by her granddaughter Chell reminds Negrosanons the ‘golden age’ of the sugar industry. (Mr. Unson was the president of the Sugar Producer Cooperative Marketing Association when Marcos, an ‘afuera,’ forcibly took over the industry after declaring Martial Law in the country).
Nor added, “The Unson Mansion reminds me of my house in Mandaluyong. That is not just my house but a ‘house museum’ containing the cultural items that I collected from my travels in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and even abroad. Ver, I want you to visit my house if you go to Manila.”
“How fast time flies. How changes have taken place in our daily lives. But never do fade the sweet memories of friendship between the Mandalenos and Silaynons. Mabuhay ang Silay, my home away from home.”
That is Nor Arcangel. I hope he can be the bridge again between Silay and Mandaluyong for the renewal of the sisterhood agreement.
More power, my friend!