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A Living Portrait: The Hofilena Ancestral House

The Ancestral House from the front

The Ancestral House from the front

A lot of sites in our country nowadays become better and bolder with time, but there are some that remain beautiful and constant despite the bit by bit moderniz

The Philippines is filled of historical sites that are open to be visited by the public. Here in the Negros Island Region (NIR), the city of Silay had been known in the past as the “Paris of Negros” and “cultural and intellectual hub of Negros” due to the residents love for knowledge and works of art, and its numerous ancestral houses built during the height of the success of the Philippine’s sugar industry. One of the two most notable among these houses is the Hofileña Ancestral House located at Cinco de Noviembre Street and built by Manuel Severino Hofileña for his wife, former Miss Silay, Gilda Ledesma Hojilla and their nine children.

Ramon Hofileña, one of the children and heirs, currently resides in this ancestral house and personally tours the guests who visit his humble abode.

The Hofileña Ancestral House was built in 1934 during the period when Art Deco and Art Nouveau flourished in the country. You could really see the influence the western countries had in the house. From the wide steps that are of American influence, to the European intricate linear designs and flowing curves. The materials used for the house were hardwood. “Balayong”, also known as ironwood was used to make the grand staircase. The shiny and regularly polished floor was made using narra.

Despite being built in the 1930s, Hofileña was opened in 1962 and was the first ancestral house to be opened in the city. However, during the World War II when the family fled to the mountains, Japanese commanders occupied the house. The house was then later occupied by the Americans.

For all the book lovers and art collectors out there, Hofileña has items and souvenirs that will make your jaw drop. Hofileña has a vast collection of books, albums, souvenirs, and art finds like the world’s first pocketbooks for American soldiers, the world’s smallest dolls, and antique Chinese porcelain wares and jars from the Ming dynasty. There are also loads of paintings and sketches by national artists like Lamberto Hechanova, Juan Luna, and Vicente Manansala.

Hofileña is only one of the many historical sites in our country. It paints a portrait of a simpler time of long ago. History like this should never be forgotten. Let us preserve and support our pieces of history, so our children, and the future generations may see and experience what we have.

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