Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Ruins [MWT]

@ mirandablue
A few years ago, a couple of friends from Manila spent a weekend in Negros Occidental, my home province, and they were brought to a place called The Ruins in Talisay City.  The place definitely made an impression that they kept asking me about The Ruins.  I drew a blank--it was the first time I've heard of the place.  I made a note to myself to check it out the next time I'm in Bacolod. 

The opportunity presented itself in late April when we were driving to Bacolod from Manapla.  We were caught in a rainstorm and had an extended lunch in Victorias.  I asked my cousins about The Ruins---they have heard of the place but never been there.  And as luck would have it, the sky started to clear as we approached Talisay City. I would have wanted to see The Ruins at dusk, but we were thankful for the blue skies.

The Ruins is what's left of a magnificent mansion built by Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, a sugar baron, for his Portuguese wife, Maria Braga, at the turn of the century.  The story goes that after the death of Maria Braga, the widower became despondent and he decided to build a mansion in memory of his dead wife.  It's unfortunate that the woman who inspired a man to erect this mansion was no longer around to see its grandeur.

In 1942, as the Japanese occupation swept through the islands during World War II, American soldiers and Filipino guerrillas burned down the mansion to deflect the Japanese forces from taking shelter and establishing a headquarters here. It's been told that the mansion burned for three days, destroying the woodwork, the floors, roof and everything combustible.  Only the concrete structure survived the fire, and withstood the test of time. 

@ mirandablue
The Ruins is like a mirage in an otherwise unremarkable landscape.  Built in the middle of what used to be vast tracks of sugarcane fields, it is an unexpected and delightful sight at the end of a dirt road.  I love the elegance of its Italianate architecture.  From the original tiles to the graceful balusters---I can only imagine how this mansion looked in its heyday.  There was a belvedere on the second floor, facing west, that commanded an unobstructed view of the Guimaras Strait and sunset.  

My cousins, both engineers, were discussing the structural design...I was admiring  its symmetry, proportion, arches, moldings and columns.

This mansion was said to be the largest residential structure at the time when huge ancestral homes were built in Talisay and Silay.  And with the finest furnishings sugar money could buy.

@ mirandablue
@ mirandablue
@ mirandablue
A four-tiered fountain graces the garden. There was once a lily garden here maintained by one of the daughters, and a Japanese gardener took care of the whole garden until the burning of the mansion.  Looming over the property is a concrete tower with a tree growing on top.  I thought it was a watch-tower or a prison tower but my dark [and romantic] imaginings were incorrect.  I didn't catch the details but the tower has something to do with sugar-making.

The current owner, a great grandson of Don Mariano, had the place cleaned up and opened to the public in 2008.  A cafe was later added inside and there was an ongoing construction in the property when we visited.  

The Ruins has become a tourist attraction and venue for weddings and parties.  And it's probably a good thing---music, laughter, good conversation and clinks of wine glasses would give the dark corners of this still and lonely place some positive vibe. 

@ mirandablue
The Ruins at different angles.

@ mirandablue

@ mirandablue

@ mirandablue
The Ruins is located in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.  It can be reached by car through Octagon Village in Brgy. Bata, about 20 minutes from either Silay Airport or Bacolod City, the provincial capital.

Linking to My World - Tuesday


Sylvia K said...

Such an incredibly beautiful place! And such interesting history! Terrific post for the day and your photos are breathtaking! Thanks so much for sharing this today! I love it! Have a wonderful week!


Anonymous said...

Feels like an incredible place. Making one able to 'touch' time.

Please have a good Tuesday you all.

daily athens

Photo Cache said...

it is so beautiful. it could still be remodeled right? just put new wooden component on where wood used to be. i can imagine the magnificence of this once before.

Unknown said...

hmmm, i love the story, pinoy version of Taj Mahal:)

i'm amazed that the concrete walls still stood up to this day.

worth visiting, luna.

lotusleaf said...

It seems to be a well kept ruin:) In India, the Taj Mahal was built by emperor Shahjahan in memory of his dead wife.

Olga said...

Absolutely wonderful photos! Stunning images and place.

Jama said...

Even in ruins, it still looks so majestic to me! Glad that the owner did something to it, so the beauty and historical value are shared among the public.

magiceye said...

superb photography and wonderful commentary!

Anonymous said...

What majestic beauty! Love the fact that there are still lights hanging from wires... Beautiful shots.

GVK said...

I sense in your story a touch of Taj Mahal, which was built by a Moghal emperor for a woman he loved.

stardust said...

I'm so impressed with this architectural beauty with many arches. Preservation of the historical building is to use it for a modern lifestyle and to leave a well-maintained residence for future generation. Looks like a nice place for weddings and parties. As a tourist, I'd like to visit there in person. Thank you for sharing.

LifeRamblings said...

this is such an incredible place. your pics just show us what a marvel the place would have been during hey days.

Al said...

Negros Occidental is on my wish list and I will surely go there, thanks for the information. I like the floor tiles!

escape said...

this is actually a bike ride away from my aunt's house in bata. could be the most beautiful ruins ive seen.

FjÀllripan said...

What a place! Interesting and beautiful post!

snowwhite said...

Graceful and elegant! This building has a great love story as well as a sad history. But it is good now people can enjoy this beauty.
I hope to visit here and quietly enjoy a cup of coffee viewing the scenery at dusk.
Have a nice day!