It was close to sunset. In the middle of the sugarcane field, a pickup car slowly eased its way to Hacienda Tinihaban about two kilometers from the highway. The sun flickered between the blades of grass and danced in the foliage of the mango trees.
We were clueless. Except for a few photos online, we had no idea what to expect at Punong. Not many websites have featured the place in detail or listed it in the usual Negros itinerary of old mansions, landmarks, and bakeshops. Even Karmele and Chelsea who’ve lived in Bacolod all their life haven’t seen the place. But, they’ve heard the talk of the town: Punong is the new go-to destination in Silay for those who want fine-dining and a relaxing getaway.
Thrilled to see it with our own eyes, we drove to Silay after surviving a heavy lunch at May’s Garden. We passed by sugarcane fields, old houses, and more sugarcane fields—until we saw the signboard that led us to Punong.
More Than Gorgeous Landscape
“Punong” means fishpond in the dialect. To its owners, however, Punong is a legacy of giving back to the community. It brings people together to appreciate art and good food and raise funds for transforming the community. Part of the restaurant’s earnings is given to the Takas Youth Community whose vermicomposting project has helped farmers in rallying the movement for organic farming.
This small piece of Hacienda Tinihaban is cleverly landscaped to bring everyone closer to nature. With the restaurant, casitas, and swimming pools spread out in the vast property, one can’t do away from leisurely walks that will make him appreciate the beautiful scenery.
Past the gates, you will be greeted by a charming scenery of Balinese ambiance. Bamboos and giant old trees give the place an energizing vibe, and doves flying here and there make it more romantic. Everywhere, there are sculptures and wood carvings to lift the mood: a Buddhist monk in prayer, a boy seated on the trunk of a tree, a happy couple in their old age. Tables are adorned with fresh blooms and hammocks hang on trees to invite you for chill-time.
A few steps from the dining grounds is a footbridge leading to the centerpiece of the lake: a kiosk with a pyramid roof, which is reminiscent of Punong’s logo. It’s open on four sides, decorated with large jars, paintings, and sculptures. It has a couch, a hammock, and a bathtub. At sunset, the whole structure makes a captivating silhouette against the glowing red sky. Then, at night, the pond glistens in moonlight and the torches make the place uniquely spellbinding.
Yummy Tapas and Lunch
Besides the beautiful landscape, people go to Punong to taste good food. Tapas Night happens on Thursdays and Fridays and is best for friends and families who want to catch up over pica-pica, pasta, sandwich, and a variety of appetizers. There’s also a good selection of drinks, from lemongrass juice and tea, to cocktails and mocktails.
During our visit, we had two big platters of mixed tapas that included some baked goodies, cheese sticks, meat balls, sausages. It was a perfect dining experience for the barkada as we killed the night with a hearty talk and good music in the background.
On Saturdays and Sundays, Punong serves a sumptuous 5-course meal for lunch. Joey Benin—the former Side A bassist who now manages the restaurant with his wife Bing—also treats the guests to good music on selected nights and special events.
Luxury Accommodation at the Pond
For a complete experience, guests can book a stay at the casitas, which are a modern living space with minimalist, elegant, and luxurious design. Tucked in the palm and bamboo groves in the peaceful spots of the hacienda, these casitas are masterpieces of respected designer and architect Ed Ledesma. One casita has two double beds and a bathroom, and is ideal for a family staycation or barkada getaway. On the south side of the property is a larger and equally adorable family room. Inquire about rates here.
How to Get There
Punong is located at Hacienda Tinihaban in Silay City, Negros Occidental. It’s about 22 kilometers from Bacolod and is best accessed by private car because of its out-of-the-way location. To reach Punong from Bacolod City, take the main highway until you pass by the road leading to Hawaiian Central, a sugar mill in Silay. After a short drive, you will see a signboard on the left side of the highway right after Pryce Gas. Take the narrow road crossing a sugarcane plantation and follow the signs leading to the entrance of Punong.
Hacienda Tinihaban, Silay City, Negros Occidental
Facebook: Punong Gary’s Place
Mobile: 0917 327 1729
Thursday and Friday, 6 PM-11 PM
Time and rate subject to change
Walk-in guests are allowed
Reservation required for groups more than eight
Saturday and Sunday, 11 AM – 3 PM
P750 per person
Time and rate subject to change
By reservation only
M O B I L E P H O T O G R A P H Y
All photos in this article, unless otherwise captioned, were taken with a smartphone. For this post, we banked on the power of Huawei Mate S, which is a super phone for both outdoor and indoor photography. Visit Huawei’s Facebook page for more details about their products.