Get a history lesson from The Ruins
By Cecile J. Baltasar for Yahoo! Southeast Asia | Its More Fun Articles – Tue, Apr 30, 2013
When you mention Negros Occidental, a province in Western Visayas in the Philippines, the first thing that comes to mind for many Filipinos is delicious food—it’s cheap and the locals love to eat. But they would be quick to add that the province is also rich in Philippine history and culture. Take Talisay, a city in Negros Occidental, sandwiched between its equally culturally-rich neighbours: Bacolod to the south (a town established back in the mid-1700’s) and Silay City to the north (where a Spanish colonial settlement dated back to the 16th century).
About 10 kilometers from the Bacolod-Silay International Airport, Talisay’s most famous tourist spot—The Ledesma Lacson Mansion Ruins—dates back to pre-World War II.
The Ledesma Lacson Mansion Ruins are exactly that: ruins of an old mansion. The story told by http://bak-paker.blogspot.com/ is much more romantic and perhaps interesting…here is that version of the story.
For Burning Love – Born to Lucio Lacson and Clara Ledesma in 1865, Mariano Lacson was the youngest of the eight. One of his brothers was the revolutionary general, Aniceto.
The bachelor Mariano was an avid traveller then. In one of his visits to Hong Kong, he met and fell in love with a Portuguese lady from Macau. Her name was Maria Braga. The fairy tale romance culminated in marriage.
Mariano and Maria had 10 children. In 1911, while nearing the full term of her 11thpregnancy, Maria had an accident. Both mother and child were lost.
Heartbroken and inconsolable, Mariano decided to build a mansion in remembrance of Maria, right in the middle of his 440-hectare sugar plantation in Talisay City, Negros Occidental. It was, in fact, designed to be a monument to their enduring love affair.
Maria’s father, a ship’s Captain, introduced European architectural influences into the design of the mansion, from the over-all Italianate inspiration to the shell details on the roof. The structure of the house was of solid concrete. Interior floors were dressed either in tiles imported from Spain or 20-meter-long hard wood planks that were cut a meter wide.
Until the eve of World War II, the mansion served as the residence of Mariano and his unmarried children.
Mariano set the rule that as soon as his children married, they should leave the mansion. Mariano himself would abide by it, moving to a cottage nearby when he decided to remarry years later.
The bombs of the world war eventually fell. As dedicated by the exigencies of the time, the United States Armed Forces in the Far East, or USAFFE, recruited guerrilla soldiers and instructed them to burn down structures that might be used as headquarters by the Japanese.
Eyewitnesses recount, the mansion of Mariano Lacson smoldered continuously for three days, but the fire would not consume all of it, leaving behind remainders of a glorious past, and the lovers’ two initials, this time as if seared and branded on every post of the house.”
Others believe (the more romantic perhaps?) that he burned his own house down as he had gone mad after the death of his wife. Whichever version of the fire you believe, it’s been told that that it took days to burn down most of the mansion.
When the flames finally died down, the pillars of the mansion, the grand staircase, as well as parts of the two-inch wooden floors on the second storey withstood the fire. Architecture remains that attest to a point of history in the town of Talisay.
Nowadays, the ruins of this mansion have turned into a favourite tourist spot among folks visiting nearby foodie-destination Bacolod (have to walk off all those calories and sweets).
For a fee of P25 (around 60 cents), stone steps welcome guests into what’s been left of a pre-war mansion. The grand stone staircase stands on the left. The banister is gone as well as most of what’s supposed to be at the top of the stairs. You could still climb it, though. Just make sure you’re not squeamish about heights. Inch your way along the cement path, about a foot wide, against where the wall used to be. At the end of it, you’ll be rewarded by a view of the mansion’s front garden, with the fountain that’s lit up at night.
Downstairs, a back bedroom has been restored to its original state, with a wooden bed and night table, and wide windows. This used to be the bedroom of one of the children. In the hallway beside this room are framed photos of the family, much like an informal memorial.
On the grounds, off to one side, are an outdoor café that serves Mediterranean food, and a souvenir shop that sells everything from refrigerator magnets to T-shirts and bags. A few steps away is an 18-hole mini-golf course for visitors who are more into sports than history lessons.
If you look around the remains of the mansion long enough, you could just imagine how it used to look at its grandest. But despite it having no walls or roof, The Ruins still stands silently proud amidst the sugar plantations around it. Much like how its first owner likely stood while it burned.