Events: Hofileña Heritage House Celebrates 50th Year
The Hofileña Heritage House, Silay City’s first home to be opened to the public, is celebrating its "50th year of service to the people." A movie on the house will be shown at Silay’s Sen. Jose C. Locsin Cultural & Civic Center tomorrow, June 15 at 4 p.m. Admission is free.
Part of the Hofileña Heritage House’s living room. Its grand staircase of balayong wood was hand-carved before electricity and automobiles existed. It’s so hard that even termites cannot eat it nor nails penetrate it, they had to use pegs.*
The Hofileña house was opened to the public in 1962, 30 years before the next house did likewise. It’s also the first house in the area, still inhabited, to be installed with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines’ historical marker as a "national treasure." It’s also the first house in Silay, still inhabited, to be declared by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts as a museum.
Built in 1934 by Manuel Severino Hofileña and his wife Gilda Ledesma Hojilla, a former Miss Silay, it’s now inhabited by Ramon Hofileña, one of their nine children. All its furnitures are authentic period pieces, many are older than the house, mostly Hofileña heirlooms. It houses the Ramon Hofileña art collection of more than 1,000 pieces by renowned artists from the 19th century to the present—Luna, Hidalgo, Amorsolo, Manansala, even Jose Rizal to name a few. Among its antique collections is an oil juglet (Iron Age 11 900-589 B.C.), the oldest antique in the whole Negros Island. Its library includes newspapers reporting important events in the Philippines, the oldest being La Vanguardia dating "Martes 23 de Enero de 1912;" Spanish books some dating 1903; the world’s first pocket books made for the American soldiers during World War 11. Among its folk toys are the world’s smallest dolls which need magnifying glass to be seen.
Tomorrows’s affair is actually the second part of the celebration. The first part took place last May 3, and was limited to the first 50 callers. History books donated by the National Historical Commission, and Silay’s first postcards from the Hofileña house were raffled off among the guests. A tour of the house had Ramon Hofileña as tour guide. The Kabataang Silay Rondalla supplied the music. The open house was sponsored by the Silay City government under Mayor Jose Montelibano, with Silay City Tourism Office assisting.
Why was the house opened to the public?
After an absence of 15 years, Ramon Hofileña came home to Silay in 1962 for his father was dying. To his surprise, Silay with its reputation as a cultural city, had nary a cultural activity then. And Silay’s many vintage ancestral houses were being modernized or completely pulled down for new ones.
He decided to act.
First, he opened his ancestral home to the public. Then, he sponsored annually first-class art exhibits: first local one-man show by a National Artist (Napoleon Abueva) outside Manila, Vicente Manansala’s sole solo exhibit in 23 years, the Philippines’ biggest print show with more than 150 pieces by leading printmakers of the country, Albrecht Durer of Germany’s 500-year old prints, the Philippines’ biggest drawing exhibit "from Luna to Luz" so on. There were many other cultural activities.
During the Marcos presidency, he formed a petition and dared oppose and succeeded in thwarting the widening of the highway 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 25 major tourist destinations in the country because of its many well-preserved ancestral structures.
Hence, the first successful postwar art promotions, and the first successful drive for vintage architecture preservation in Silay both began in his house after it was opened to the public in 1962.
Visits to the Hofileña Heritage House are by appointment: tel. (034) 4954561. It’s on 14 Cinco de Noviembre St., Silay City.*