Pink House

Without a doubt, Silay City is the center of heritage architecture in Negros Occidental. This colonial home is her first National Historical Landmark, so recognized by the National Historical Institute.

Pink House
Before the Bernardino and Ysabel Jalandoni House in Silay became a lifestyle museum, it had been painted all shades of pink. From a bright bubblegum pop of color to a deep rosy tone, Pink House heir Antonio “Tony” Montinola reveals that the blushing facade of the heritage home along Silay’s main thoroughfare traces back to his sister Isabelita’s fascination with the color pink. “When I was a young fellow, I would see her with her pink MG sports car,” recalls Tony, now 84. This pink car would eventually be passed on to him when Isabelita was given a new car.

Quite a playful choice of color for a heritage structure, the Pink House stands out in Silay’s main

In 1908, the Jalandoni patriarch built this Antillean home as a weekend residence after days spent at the farm nearby, as was typical of hacenderos (sugar farmers) at that time. Decades later, Tony would also inherit the Pink House by a stroke of luck. He happened to pick the winning slip of paper off a fish bowl when his mother, Angeles Jalandoni Montinola, raffled off the property among him and his four siblings. Angeles was the only daughter of three children born to Don Bernardino and Doña Ysabel, or Lolo Bernan and Lola Ysabel to grandson Tony.

Details about the house tell of how lavishly Don Bernardino and his household enjoyed the rewards of supplying sugar to the world. To this day, the sugar baron’s imported conversation pieces continue to woo with stories of turn-of-the-century opulence. Overhead, the entire ceiling of the Pink House’s sala mayor is covered with embossed tin tiles brought over from Hamburg, Germany. In the late 1800s, tin ceiling tiles with exquisite designs similar to the plasterwork domes in stately European manors were popular in prominent homes. Don Bernardino was lucky to score some home since the production of these tin ceiling tiles would halt in the 1930s when the war found other more urgent uses for tin and metal.

The Pink House enjoys a bright and breezy sala mayor.

Another fixture that was all the rage in the turn of the 20th Century, and which found its way in the Jalandoni household, were bentwood chairs from Vienna. A departure from the stiff, angular edges of wooden furniture, bentwood chairs are characterized by curved lines, and seamless, ergonomic backrests, a legacy of German-Austrian cabinet maker Michael Thonet. Today, these iconic chairs, their dark beech-wood finish polished to a soft sheen, lean back pensive in the Pink House sala, perhaps like Don Bernardino at sunset after a bountiful harvest.

Then the reflective twilight mood would be roused again by children – perhaps little Angeles sauntering into the room fresh from sewing lessons, and her brothers Cesar and Juan Delfin darting towards the piano. For some pre-war entertainment and relaxation, this sugar baron’s house has a Steinway piano, a Stradivarius violin, a wooden harp, and a gramophone. Somewhere in one corner rests a butaka, originally a birthing chair which, on an ordinary day, doubles as a lounging piece coveted by many a tired soul these days.

Cabinets of curiosities await guests at the comedor of the Pink House

If you think their pleasures are too Old World, think again. One appliance proudly perched in the Pink House kitchen is an ice chest, a cold storage before refrigeration was mainstreamed in pre-war Filipino homes. Ice was a luxury import then with blocks of ice straight from the ice ponds of Massachussetts carved and shipped the world over. Around that time Manila had already been enjoying ice cream and cold refreshments. In 1899, Clarke’s, the first ice cream shop in Manila opened to serve American soldiers, and in 1902, six years before the Jalandoni home was completed, the Insular Ice Plant near the Puente Colgante Bridge in Manila was erected. Now, one can never be too sure if indeed the ice that reached the Silay port in the 1900s came all the way from Massachussetts, but the presence of an ice chest in Don Bernardino Jalandoni’s home suggests that ice and cold products may have been an occasional indulgence.

A corner for oracion and an orinola were bedroom staples in a heritage home like the Pink House.

Witnessing all this genteel lifestyle through all these years are the celadon walls and the wide windows of the Pink House. Tony’s wife, Chona, gently explains the versatility of the window’s many layers – the sliding glass panels, the louvered shutters, and the ventanillas beneath them, all stylishly playing out their roles of bringing in light, dimming the glare, shielding from the rain, or summoning the breeze. Musings and music may have flown softly with the wind through the French-lace calado transoms above doorways that divide the bedrooms and the living room.

But one particular feature of the Pink House that Tony invites guests to imagine are the many large mirrors that used to adorn the walls of the living room. These, he shares, were brought all the way from Europe, perhaps in one of his Lolo Bernan’s many overseas jaunts. By how mirrors widen space, reflect light, and add facets and angles, the stern square of the Pink House must have glimmered with charm.

“Over the years, our grandparents decided to go to Manila, and it was my father, Dr. Trino Montinola, and my mother Angeles, who stayed here with us, five siblings,” Tony recounts.  He remembers the Pink House as a happy home that regularly hosted jam sessions and barn dances – nostalgic buzzwords of a bygone era.  The Jalandoni House, once under threat of demolition, was declared a heritage property by the National Historical Institute in 1993, the first residential structure in Silay to be recognized and preserved as a cultural landmark.

Flanked by pawnshops and pharmacies, the Pink House grabs attention.

As the pandemic hopefully nears its end (fingers crossed), Tony dreams of yet another party at the Pink House, perhaps on Chona’s birthday. “We celebrated her birthday here two times...with candlelight. It was so beautiful against those mirrors.”

“It’s so enchanting to have a party here at night”, Mr. Montinola gushes. “The only problem is that some people cannot climb up the stairs anymore!”

For all these happy memories and for the surfeit of material, agricultural, and intangible blessings that their family enjoyed at the Pink House and all their other homes, Tony pays tribute to his Lolo Bernan, an astute farmer. Don Bernardino Jalandoni deftly managed the farm owned by the family of his wife, Doña Ysabel, of the Ledesma family of Silay, and since then bought farm upon farm, enough to secure the generations beyond him, even beyond Tony’s.

“We have more than enough from God...we can now provide for this and for that,” including the Don Bernardino Jalandoni Museum. “You know, Lolo, again, is our hero,” Tony proclaims.

*The Don Bernardino Jalandoni Museum or the Pink House is managed by the Silay Heritage Foundation.

Text By: Kimee Santiago
Photos and Video: Unit A Creatives

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