Since the Balay Negrense Musuem would not open until 9am, we headed to the nearby Bernardino Jalandoni Museum first which was just a minute’s walk from El Ideal Bakery. We really had no inkling as to what this museum holds, but since we’ve got time to kill, we decided to check it out anyways.
A guide greeted us upon entering the museum’s cool and cavernous lobby. It used to be the garage for horses and carriages back in the day. Jorge Po, as he introduced himself, was soon busy escorting us in and around the many corners of the museum.
We started at the ground floor where photographs of the historical mansions around Silay City and the family’s doll collection are displayed. Also parked inside was a caroza with a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which according to our guide is still being paraded during Holy Week around town.
Up the wooden staircase, we were introduced to the opulence of life back when sugar was still a prime commodity and Silay City the center of the trade. This was the era when the city shined like Paris every harvest season.
The floors of the Bernardino Jalandoni Museum were made of thick hardwoods shipped from Mindoro, the ceiling embossed with tin ceiling trays imported from Germany, and intricate wooden furniture dot every corner of the house.
This quarter is every antique collector’s wet dream; graceful rocking chairs, opulent chandeliers, intricate rugs, massive tables, elaborate dressers, old-world beds and expensive musical instruments like the wooden harp at the living area, the expensive Steinberg Piano and the rare Stradivarius Violin are all housed in it.
Huge family portraits also hang on every wall of the living area and it’s easy to see how this place might give someone the heebie-jeebies.
The tour lasted for almost an hour, with our nifty guide giving anecdotes and what-nots about the pieces around the house, the events that had unfolded in the different rooms, and the people that had once lived there.
And as tour ended and we exited out into the veranda, my mind’s eye saw how the sugar barons of Silay City’s glory days must have stood where I was standing, dressed in garbed clothing and a smoking pipe in hand, keeping watch over the never-ending fields of sugarcanes across the horizon.
Visiting the Bernardino Jalandoni Museum made me realize the rich history of Silay City and gave it a unique character that vastly distinguished it from any other cities I stayed in.