The Gaston family is one of the prominent families in Negros Occidental. The French patriarch and sugar baron Yves Leopold Germain Gaston and his Batanguena wife Prudencia Fernandez are the pioneers in the sugarcane industry in Negros Occidental. Their eldest son, Victor Fernandez Gaston had a house built in 1897 which is now popularly called “Balay Negrense”. He lived here with his family only in 1901 until 1927 however his family stayed until around the 1960′s. Balay Negrense is not where the classic film of Peque Gallaga “Oro Plata Mata” was shot, only a few scenes were shot here according to the caretaker (the Oro Plata Mata house was also owned by the Gastons, in Hacienda Rosalia, Manapla).
We came there around 4:00 pm, almost near closing time. Entrance fee is PHP40 and you are free to roam around the house. At the entrance, you will immediately see the stairs going to the main part of the house. The first floor is usually where the visitors are being screened – typical of an old house during the Spanish times (and even during the Americans were here in the Philippines). Only important guests are allowed to be received at the main sala at the second floor. The house depicts of how wealthy families were living during the American regime in the Philippines.
They also sell artworks of Silay artists at their souvenir shop. The sculpture above is made of coiled wires. Silay City is known to a lot of unknown and underrated artists.
How to go to Balay Negrense:
Balay Negrense is at Cinco de Nobyembre Street in Silay City, parallel to Rizal Street. When you’re coming from El Ideal, just turn left on the street after El Ideal then walk 3 blocks. You will already see Balay Negrense because it has a big sign infront of it.
From Bacolod City, just ride the Bacolod – Silay route. You can also ride a Ceres bus or other mini buses that will go to Victorias, Manapla and farther. Travel time from Bacolod City is around 30 – 45 minutes. Jeepney fare is around PHP13 per person (Bacolod-Silay route). There are also vans that go there however it costs PHP30 – 50 per person. Almost all the jeepneys, vans and buses drop passengers off in the San Diego Cathedral in Silay.
To view our Silay itinerary, please visit this blog post.