International Rondalla Festival Puts Silay in the Philippines on the Tourism Map

Philippines, Western Visayas, Negros Occidentales, culture

A concert at Silay International Rondalla Festival 2018

The International Rondalla Festival/ Plucked String Music Festival, is taking place until November 10 in the historical city of Silay, in Negros Occidentales Province in the Philippines. The event is hosted for the fifth time and is now perceived as the best ambassador to the promotion of Silai for tourists…

The festival is lasting for ten days and is attracting some 250 musicians, coming this year from eleven countries: France, India, Iran, Israel, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Uganda, and of course, the Philippines which is represented with 11 rondalla groups coming from Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

The event is not only a bout concerts but also workshops, meeting with students, discovery of the numerous heritage houses around Silay and special events, such as Silay Night Cultural Extravaganza.

Silay Mayor Mark Golez said that this international event will place Silay in the tourism and cultural map of the world. “The whole world will know that Silay was once the ‘Paris of Negros’ and now the ‘seat of arts and culture in Western Visayas.’ Name of “Paris of Negros” was given hundred years ago when Silay was the centre of the sugar cane industry attracting a new bourgeoisie which reproduced the way of life of Europeans. Silay still has today over thirty colonial villas -called ancestral homes in the Philippines. Many of them have been turned into museums.

Silay old colonial buildings (Photo: Malate.wordpress)

Playing on the old world atmosphere of Silay, the city organised early November the three-day Kaon Ta Festival, which js a showcase on what restaurants and kitchens of the Silaynons can offer, looking also at ancient recipes. T Heirloom family recipes of the “buenafamilias” of Silay have been cooked to share to the world. The festival is turning into a true culinary event also peppered with discussions, cooking demonstration but also songs and music.

The province of Negros Occidentales in the Western Visayas is generally attracting an increasing number of tourists, one of its best known attraction being these days the MassKara Festival of the regional capital Bacolod (organised each year in October). In 2017, arrivals to Negros Occidental surged to about 1.72 million, up by 7% over 2016.

In total, Negros Occidentales catered for 1,609,066 domestic guests, 114,686 foreign tourists, and 381 overseas Filipinos in 2017. Among foreign arrivals, the top nationalities were the USA, Korea, Japan, Australia, Russia and China. The bulk of all tourist arrivals generally went to cities such as Bacolod, Silay, San Carlos, Kabankalan, Cadiz, Murcia and Talisay.

Bacolod, the province’s capital city, alone registered a total of 831,687 guest arrivals last year, up by 30% over 2016.