Ever since our first outing in Bacolod, the Balay Negrense Museum had been recommended again and again by the people I’ve talked to regarding the city. Though technically not really in Bacolod City, being located in Silay, it is still part of the Metro Bacolod and a staple attraction in the area.
Originally the residence of the Gaston Family, the house was built in 1897 and was left unused after Victor Gaston died in 1927. It then slowly degenerated through time until a group of concerned locals banded together to fund the house’s redevelopment into a lifestyle museum.
Work on the house started in May of 1990 with a fund of Php90,000 and was concluded in October of the same year. It has the honor of being the first museum in Negros.
We were the first visitors that day, and we were left wondering at the house’s entrance at what to do as there was no one manning the door. We knocked and hollered ‘til a frail old lady appeared and shuffled toward us. She took our entrance payment and with a very weak whispery voice told us that she’d leave us to ourselves and reminded us to never take photos on the second floor of the house.
With question marks on our faces, we roamed the first floor; taking a few photos, inspecting the antique furniture, and reveling in the place’s history.
In olden times, the ground floor was usually used as a storage and garage for carriages, with the second storey of the house containing all the living quarters. What’s unique with the Gaston Residence was that more than half of the first floor is being used as a receiving area with some small rooms off the side and the garage at the back (which was now converted into a gallery and gift shop).
In a few minutes, we were climbing up the grand staircase to the main part of the house. The house looked absolutely deserted and we didn’t know where the old lady went or the house’s caretaker. Most of the rooms on the second floor were cordoned off so we were unable to explore most of them.
Bright sunshine was filtering through large windows but we were getting creeped out. Billowing curtains kept us glancing off our shoulders as if someone was on the floor with us.
Finally unable to take it, we went down the stairs and proceeded into the dimly lit gift shop, which was again, empty. We seemed to be the only people in the house.
After some minutes the old lady appeared again and we paid for our trinkets. We thanked her and left the house.
We were talking about our experience in one of the nearby coffee shop, Cafe 1925, and the one thing that kept bugging us was the prohibition of taking photographs on the second floor. The displays there were really not much different from those found on the ground floor, so we were baffled why the old lady would ask us specifically to not use our cameras.
We searched the Internet for clues and got a few hits about apparitions appearing on photographs taken at the museum’s second floor. Now, I’m not really sure if there are truths to those stories, but one thing’s for sure, Balay Negrense’s second floor did give us the shivers.
Balay Negrense Musuem
Address: Cinco de Noviembre Street, Silay City, Negros Occidental
Contact Number: (034) 714-7676
Entrance Fee: Php40.00 Adult | Php20.00 Students/Children
Open Hours: 9:00AM to 5:00PM Tuesdays to Sundays