Silay City in Negros Occidental boasts some of the largest concentrations of heritage houses in the Philippines, owing to wealthy landowning families overseeing vast sugarcane plantations since colonial times. Its laid-back heritage zone, which can be easily explored on foot via this self-guided walking tour, is conveniently located only 5 km from the Bacolod-Silay Airport.
A few heritage houses have been recently restored into accommodations and restaurants, offering great opportunities to really soak up the old-world atmosphere of the place. Opened in early 2020, the newest addition to the heritage zone is 1898 Casa & Restauranté, a bed and breakfast and Italian-American restaurant housed at one of the twin houses that comprise the Generoso Yuson Gamboa Ancestral House, built in the early 20th century during the American occupation. It is one of the 31 heritage houses officially recognized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). The NHCP marker erroneously labeled the house as the Generoso Reyes Gamboa Ancestral House.
According to local historian and genealogist Ramon Severino Conlu Jr, the twin heritage houses were built by Generoso “Osó” Yuson Gamboa, Sr (1876-1952), municipal mayor of Silay from 1937 to 1939, for his two sons and their respective families. (The “Reyes” middle name in the NHCP marker is erroneous.) The left-side house, the present-day 1898 Casa & Restauranté, was built for Ernesto Severino Gamboa, a son from Generoso Sr’s first wife Maria Pajes Severino (1874-1905). They had four children: Soledad (Velez), Angel, Blandina (Hilado), and Ernesto.
The identical house next door, which remains a private residence, was built for Generoso’s son, Generoso Severino Gamboa Jr, from his second marriage to Olimpia Yorac Severino (1873-1926), the first cousin of Generoso Sr’s first wife Maria. Olimpia was a local heroine who sewed and embroidered the first flag of the short-lived Negros Republic with her sister Perpetua Yorac Severino and her cousin Eutropia Montelibano Yorac in 1898. Olimpia bore four children: Aguinaldo, Dorotea (Ledesma), Romeo and Generoso Jr.
Generoso Sr’s marriages to two Severino women probably explains the twin-house design of the property. After the death of Olimpia, Generoso married his third wife Concepcion Abrigo (1912-1977), who had eight children: Quirino, Hector, Homero, Jorge, Sergio, Jose Maria, Generoso III, and Concepcion (Bautista). He also had a son, Arturo, by Encarnacion Gutierrez. The patriarch fathered 17 children in total. A street within the Silay City Heritage Zone was named after him: Don Generoso Gamboa Street.
1898 Casa & Restaurante takes its name not from the year of the houses’ construction (which was most likely in the early 20th century based on architecture) but from the culminating year of the Philippine Revolution, when Filipino revolutionaries fought against Spanish colonial rule and eventually gained independence. Commemorating this time period, three life-size statues of katipuneros (Filipino revolutionaries) stand at the corner of the heritage house next to the ground-level entrance to the guest rooms.
1898 Casa & Restauranté has only five air-conditioned guest rooms in the first floor, and indoor seating for the Italian restaurant on the second level, with additional al fresco seating in the garden. All rooms offer cable TV, wifi, and ensuite toilet and shower (no hot water).
Simple breakfast plates for two are included with every room booking, and may be enjoyed in-room or at the restaurant. The restaurant serves Italian and American dishes like pastas, pizzas, burgers and sandwiches at affordable prices and in generous portions. I particularly enjoyed their calamari fritti (₱175), which are battered squid rings, and chef’s favorite pasta (₱245) – penne pasta with bell pepper, olives, tomatoes, mushrooms and shrimp tossed in light olive oil and wine sauce.
There are several other great-value dining options around the city center, all within walking distance from 1898, or a short ride via tricycle or pedicab (₱10 per person).
Accommodation at 1898 Casa & Restauranté starts at ₱2,100 for double or twin room with plated breakfast for two. Room 2 and 3 are connecting double and twin-bed rooms, which can be booked as a family room, good for four persons, also inclusive of plated breakfast. Additional bed or mattress is ₱300.
How to Get There
Silay City Heritage Zone is only 5 km away from Bacolod-Silay Airport. Take an airport shuttle van or tricycle for ₱100. If you’re coming from Bacolod City, take a Bacolod-Silay jeepney, or any northbound bus from the Ceres North Bus Terminal (₱25).
Address: Zamora corner Cinco de Noviembre Sts, Silay City, Negros Occidental, Philippines
Contact Number: +63 34 4855566