SILAY: PARIS OF NEGROS – A ROMANCE IN HISTORY
1565. Carobcob, the first known settlement in Negros , serves as the landmark and civilization in Silay. A village by the sea formerly situated between the present Barangay Balaring proper and Sitio Bongol. The name Carobcob was given by the Spaniards after the occupation of the people living in the area. “Carobcob I native term meaning “to scratch.” The villagers were dependent on scratching for “Tuway” shells which were abundant in the shores. Carobcob was founded near the mouth of the creek. To date nothing is left to the village. It was destroyed by typhoons. Carobcob was granted as an encomienda to Cristobal Nuñez Paroja, one of the 17 soldiers of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi on January 25, 1571. In the second half of the century pirates raids escalated forcing the corregidor of Negros to adopt the policy of flight rather than resistance. People left their homes sometimes in 1760 and settled in a new place between two small rivers, Matagoy and Panaogao. Paloisades (Estacada) was constructed to protect them from Moro Pirates. The place is now known as Sitio Estaca.
1760. Silay was founded as a town in a letter of Governor Juan Jose de Mijares (1772-1775) mentioning Silay as a leading town in the North. In 1776, the bishop of Cebu considered Silay as the center of the Parish. The town was named Silay because of the abundance of the Kansilay trees growing in the area.
In 1873, Buen Retiro (Guinhalaran) was founded. The new town was 2 kilometers away from Silay. It was placed in definitive union with Silay in 1860. In 140, Fr. Eusebio Locsin encouraged his families in Iloilo to settle in Silay because of the promising sugar industry.
In 1846, Gaston Yves Leopold Germaine from Normandy , Frane who married a Filipina from Batangas installed the first “Horno Economico” (sugar mill) in Buen Retiro. He planted Habana and Puerto Rico sugar cane which he himself brought from French Isles of Mauritius and Bourbonne.
In 1860, Simeon Ledesma and Juan Hilado arrived in Silay and established haciendas at Bagacay. In the later years other families from Iloilo followed Locsins, de la Rama, and Jalandonis. Crown lands later were purchased by Filipinos (1885-1892), Vicente Conlu, Crescenciano Araneta, Severo de la Rama, Anecito Montelibano, Mariano de la Rama, Santiago Suanico, Evaristo Yemo, Isidro Hilado, Bernabe Morlidad and Meliton Cañas.
Cornelio Hilado, Melicio Severino, Vito Marifosque and the Gamboas developed farm areas in Guimbalaon in 1880. The place is 14 km. east of Silay. In 1890, Guimbalaon became an independent parish.
Ramon Tinsay, one of the first graduates of the Normal school in Manila taught in a school opened in Silay. Two years later he resigned because of meager salary. Another teacher took over.
In 1894, the first telegraph station was inaugurated in Silay the first boat service between Silay and other towns in Negros was operated by the De la Ramas.
In 1892, a municipal building was constructed in Guimbalaon and in 1893 a courthouse was erected. Dolores Aguilar and Manuela Escarnillo opened the first private college for girls in Guimbalaon in June 5, 1894. Silay planters were supportive of a continuing education program. The Silay Planter’s Association was organized and a Silaynon, Cornelio Hilado was elected leader in a sugarcane Planter’s Congress held in Iloilo in April 1, 1888.
1896. When the nationwide revolution of 1896 broke out there was a division between the planters of Silay and the clergy. Some planter and clergy supported the rebels and some were against the revolution.
Alejandro Montelibano, a Silaynon from a prominent family was arrested and sentenced guilty of plotting against the crown. Later he was exiled in Guam.
The Cry at El Cinco de Noviembre. Upon the request of the Iloilo Revolutionary Council to start hostilities, Gen. Aniceto Lacson of Talisay, the military commander of Northern Negros went to Silay in November 3 to meet Nicolas Golez, deputy military commander, Leandro Locsin and Melecio Severino. They set the date of the uprising – November 5, 1898. Messengers were sent out to inform the hacienderos to bring the troops armed with bolos and machete. The pistols and rifle were not even enough to arm 15 people.
On November 4, the Silaynon rebels cut off all telegraphic wires. The repairman was sent into Silay but the residents did not allow the connection.
Cinco de Noviembre played a significant role in the history of Silay. On that day at about 2:00 in the afternoon, Silaynons gathered in the street corner now known as Cinco de Noviembre Street and from there they proceeded to the Spanish garrison near the Catholic Church. It was a bloodless revolution. At first the Spanish civil guards refused to surrender but after the negotiation with the revolutionaries through the help of Juan Viaplana, a local Spaniard, they surrendered. The agreement papers mentioned that the civil guards gave up only after a heroic resistance against overwhelming odds. It was done to save Spanish honor. The Philippine lag made by Olympia Severino, Eutropia Yorac and Perpetua Severino was raised for the first time at the plaza on that memorable day – Saturday, November 5, 198. Leandro Locsin was acclaimed temporary president after the signing of the signing of the terms of surrender. Timoteo Unson and the group of Silaynons marched to Talisay to join forces with the Talisaynon for the attack o Bacolod.
When the Americans landed in Negros, Silaynons fought against them to preserve their newly gained independence. Melecio Severino was first arrested for his alleged involvement with anti-American forces but was later released. The Americans appointed Jose Luzuriaga to replace Severino and Leandro Locsin was appointed Governor when Luzuriaga was appointed to the Phil. Commission.
SILAY PARIS OF NEGROS. Silay was famous for its imports of artist and cultural shows. Jose “Pitong” Ledesma, a Silaynon pianist brought operettas d zarzuelas from Europe to Silay.
The church of San Diego de Alcala was designed by Antonio Bernasconi, an Italian architect.
Silay Institute was opened in 1925 and St. Theresita’s Academy in 1934. In 1935, two sons of Silay, Dr. Jose C. Locsin and Juan Ledesma served as delegates to the Constitutional Convention. The elements of the Nagano Detachment assigned the task of occupying Negros by the Japanese Imperial Army in May 3, 1942. When the American 40th Division landed in Pulupandan on March 29, 1945 the Japanese forces converged in Silay and Patag was their last line of defense. Antonio Gaston was appointed Mayor of Silay after the liberation and was later succeeded by Lope Severino.
In 1951, Dr. Jose C. Locsin won seat in Senate. With Cong. Puey and Carlos Hilado worked for the passage of House Bill 6096 otherwise known as The Charter of Silay City, approved o June 12, 1957. The City Mayor was Romulo Golez.