Hofileña Heritage House
The Hofileña Heritage House, the first ancestral house in Silay City, Negros Occidental to open its doors to the publicin 1962, will celebrate its 50th year of service to the people. The celebrations will be on May 3 and June 15.
May 3, 3p.m., will be the open house. It will be sponsored by the Silay City Government under Mayor Jose L. Montelibano, with Silay City Tourism Office assisting. House Owner Ramon H. Hofileña will tour the guests. The Kabataang Silay Rondalla, winner of numerous first prizes abroad, will play musical numbers popular 50 years ago when the house was first opened to the public. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) donated Rizaliana books to be raffled off among the guests. Postcards on the house, which are Silay’s first postcards, will be distributed. The open house will be limited to the first 50 callers.
On June 15, 4p.m., a movie on the house, also with Ramon Hofileña as tour guide, will be shown at Silay’sSen.Jose C. Locsin Cultural & Civic Center for the public. Admission is free.
The Hofileña Heritage House was opened to the public 30 years before the next house did likewise. It is the first house in the area, still inhabited, to be installed by the NHCP with a historical marker as “national treasure for the present and future generations”. It’s also the first house in Silay, still inhabited to be declared by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) as a museum.
Built in 1934 by Manuel Severino Hofileña and his wife Gilda LedesmaHojilla, a former Miss Silay, it is an excellent example of a house style characteristic of its time and area. Its grand staircase came from Gilda’s ancestral house built nearby at the time when automobiles did not yet exist. Its wood is so hard that even terminates cannot eat it, and nails cannot penetrate it that pegs had to be used. The wood is ironwood or balayong.
Its furniture and furnishing are practically all Hofileña heirlooms, all authentic period pieces, some much older than the house itself. The hand carvedkamagong sofa, the narra four-poster bed and chairs are Spanish era. The German- Rachals piano is late 19th century. Among the antiques is a more than 3,000 year old oil juglet (Iron Age 11 900-589 B.C.), the oldest antique in the whole Negros Island. There are also the world’s first pocket books, the world’s smallest dolls which need magnifying glass to be seen, the tektites or meteorite from outer space. The list can go on.
The house displays the Ramon Hofileña Art Collection of more than 1,000 pieces, with works by Filipino masters, including Jose Rizal, and the National Artists. It houses Silay Printmaking Workshop, the first of such workshop outside Manila. Piano and ballet lessons were once given in the house. That’s because all nine Hofileña children are involved with the arts. They are pianists, ballet-Spanish dancers, singers, violinists, stage actor and director. Their involvement to the arts goes all the way down to the youngest generation.
The house played a major role in Silay’s development as a cultural city after the war. It was opened to the public to start Ramon Hofileña’s pioneering art promotions in Negros, and his drive for appreciation and preservation of vintage architecture.
“Then during the Marcos presidency,” Vicente Roman S. Santos wrote in the book EstiloIlonggo, “he dared oppose and succeeded in thwarting the widening of the high way that would have resulted in the destruction of several ancestral houses and buildings in Silay.”
Today, Silay is listed by the Department of Tourism as one of the major tourist destinations in the Philippines mainly due to its many vintage architecture.
The Hofileña house was used as setting for the movie interview on Sugarlandia by a Canadian movie company. It was shown in the November 2011 Toronto Film Festival.
When the BBC Enterprises limited included Ilonggo delicacies in its 1989 BBC TV series to be shown worldwide titled “Far Eatern Cookery,” it used the Hofileña House as venue.
The first meeting of the VSM-Western (Western Visayas Assn. of Museums) which is under the umbrella of the NCCA, it was held in this house in 2003.
In World War II, the house was occupied by Japanese soldiers, then the Americans.
Among the many top artists who have stayed in the Hofileña house were National Artist in Sculpture Napoleon Abueva and Manuel Rodriguez Sr., the Father of Printmaking in the Philippines.
Visits to the Hofileña house is by appointment, tel. no. (034) 495 4561
Ramon H. Hofileña