ARCHITECT Juliet Patosa is telling her fellow architects, who are the visiting members of UAP-Visayan Region, that Silay is a Museum City (living laboratory of various past architectural influences) and also a City of Museums (of lifestyles, farming, currencies, sugar, guilds, collection, etc.). Silay was a Paris in Negros, and now the seat of arts, culture, and ecotourism.

The Josefa Tionko Lacson House is the only heritage house in Silay with an elevator. The nativity scene show every December has Belen characters purchased during her many travels in Europe. Her house is propped up by classical columns to allow the public to remain under shade. The German Gaston Ancestral House is unique because it has “rejas na buntis” iron grills and art deco brackets. The decorative stair balusters and the verandah on both floors are development of the American Period.

The Generoso Gamboa Twin House owned by the heroes of Cinco de Noviembre (Generoso and wife Olympia Severino) is embellished with Art Nouveau “calados” and cast-iron brackets. The Nicolas Armin Javelosa Jalandoni House (now the SP Building) is a traditional American Period “tsalet” from the traditional “bahay na bato” of the Spanish Colonial period. The heritage house that exudes genteel neoclassical liner, double winding staircase on the ground floor, glass paned windows, and a second set of Persiana windows behind them is the Teodoro Morada Heritage House. This is the favorite house in Silay of Liza Macuja. The present owners are Mr. and Mrs. Rene Dimacali.

The Soledad and Maria Montelibano Lacson Heritage House is the home that sells the best “kalan-onon” in Silay. It is now managed by Nora Lacson (pili square, lumpia ubod, pastries). The structure is American inspired with ground floor windows having glass pane. The Vicente Conlu Montelibano Heritage House sports a classic “bahay na bato” façade from the late Spanish Colonial Period to early American Period.

Balay Negrense Museum (Don Victor Gaston Heritage House) is a two-storey house with 12 bedrooms. It is the biggest house in Silay. It fuses Spanish and American colonial architecture and features a double staircase, French glass-paned windows and large living areas. This is being managed by the Negros Cultural Foundation. It plays host to several important occasions sponsored by the Silay City Government.

UAP’s “Panglugayawon sa Silay” is another cultural showcase on the dynamic visual language of architecture expressed in urban modernity of the time when civilization had its dawn in Negros. This is the illusion of reality of the architects having cordial admiration on what each of them can romanticize in their future designs as inspired by Silay. The visitors will hold their breaths until the stunning finale.

The heritage houses in Silay would always tell stories that at the end of the century, Silaynons would welcome Negrosanons and “afueras” to shop in the Paris of Negros where European goods are sold (at a price higher than Manila). Negros had money and a sugar bowl. There was pride in the air, and there was smoke coming from chimneys of the sugar mill. The heritage houses (remnants) that we see now are dream houses. After a Silaynon Don or Doña made a travel around the world, they would always come home with fresh ideas.

One of them is to construct a house that would combine the styles of the houses in the countries they visited. That would be coupled with the arrival (later to follow) of branded pieces of furniture and fashionable kitchen wares. The matriarch would envision a bedroom loaded with fine linens of the East and West. The patriarch would see to it that the sala has sofas with intricate design and more enough to accommodate visitors who would come to talk business, politics and industry. The best wines or rums would always sweeten the deal.

“Panglugayawon sa Silay” is not only for the architects to see what they want to see. It is for all to discover a unique treasure of culture that characterized each house. There is more to what the eye can see. Silay Archi Tourism is a blend of passion and style.