I owed Bacolod my sanity after the last seven months where I am preoccupied with lots of adult obligations: of life and career in general. My year was mark off with a check as I discover the cityscapes donning the cultural and architectural reputation in the Visayas. Being the capital city of Negros Occidental, Bacolod is widely known for its Masskara Festival and the reputation for its culinary expertise in “chicken inasal”. The city hailed as one of the Cleanest and Greenest Highly Urbanized Cities in the Philippines.
We choose the 2:00 AM schedule from Cebu North Bus Terminal taking the Toledo-San Carlos City-Don Salvador Benedicto route. From San Carlos City, we had a stop over at Francis Eco Park in Don Salvador for a quick snacks to survive the next 2 hours to Bacolod where I was curious to find a unique delicacy, they call as “bilog-bilog”.
Traversing through Don Salvador route was picturesque trip with its beautiful mountain ranges, open meadows perfect for cows to graze on the grasslands. There were flowers of different colors, trees and plants, wide rice fields, and long stretch of sugar cane plantation lined up on the side of roads while I’m looking at the bus windows.
We arrived around 11:00 AM, mixed with excitement but already tired of the long trip. Knowing the street is easy, as there are notable street signage and markers in every junction. We see the coming and going of Bacolod as this is the jump off point if you wish to go to the north and south part of Negros Occidental. Initially, Murcia was in our travel plan but due to long hours of bus travel, we slash Mambukal in our itinerary which gives me a good reason to go back in Bacolod. Our Bacolod-Talisay adventure starts with romantic The Ruins and ends in the sweet haven in Calea.
TALISAY CITY – THE RUINS OF LOVE
This historic landmark in Talisay City is known for its appellation as the Taj Mahal of Negros owing to its romantic love story that emanates in the walled structure we call today as The Ruins. The structure a neo-Romanesque or Mediterranean inspired has invited an influx of visitors not only in Negros but other parts of the region.
Going to the Ruins is like in search of a safe house in the middle of sugar cane farmlands. I was now trying to put some weight on the tourist guide’s story that one time Don Mariano while looking at his hacienda by the balcony, said that any thing your eyes can see is his. That’s how probably rich the Lacson family that time.
I imagined the secluded world of Don Mariano, the wide yard and the impressive fountain facing the visitor’s entrance. There was also a towering “hurno” or the sugar mill where a sambag tree has grown inside. I could associate the entire surrounding to the childhood TV cartoon story of “Sara ang Munting Prinsesa” (Sara, The Little Princess) where I fancied the time of carriages, lordship,knights and princesses in the Medieval period.
The afternoon was perfect: a garden, a music serenading us and a cafe where you would like to relaxed and marvel at the sight of the remains of the mansion except for the growing number of tourists who are crazy to get some good angles in several corners. The place was crowded with group trips sprouting from different direction, there was even a photo shoot of women in Filipiniana dresses. Out of our disappointment because we could not get a decent photo of the mansion alone, we joked that we should get at least 95 pics because of the expensive entrance fees.Because we’re so annoyed with expectation vs. reality realizations of typical tourist spots and the unwanted sight of “photobombers”, we spotted an enthusiastic personality, a tour guide named Lacsoon to his animated recounts of the Lacson’s family history. He cleared that he’s not related to the Lacson family.
IT STARTED AS A LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, an eligible and wealthy bachelor was smitten to a Portuguese beauty named Maria Braga, a daughter of a ship captain during his short trips to Hong Kong. It was love at first sight. The two fell in love and decided to get married and live in Negros. While carrying their 11th child, an accident happened, Maria slipped inside the bathroom and caused severe bleeding. Maria was in a delicate situation so Don Mariano sent his horseman to fetch the doctor. After 4 days, the doctor arrived but unfortunately, the baby and Maria, didn’t survived the ordeal. Mariano was so depressed and to honor the memory of his wife with the support of his father-in-law, he constructed a great mansion of high quality materials imported from Europe and China to his unmarried children.
To honor and dedicate in her memory, he inscribed their initials “M” facing each other in the walls . During World War II, his children forced to fled the house leaving everything behind. Soon the American forces occupied the Philippines, and was came to their knowledge that they will used the empty house as a headquarters by the Japanese invaders. The owners being the heirs of Don Mariano along with the guerillas, decided to burned down the house. Constructed in standard hardwood and concrete materials, it took them three days to burned it. What remains are the pillars, the staircase and the remaining floor in the second story.
That’s how the story of how The Ruins came as the legacy of how love and devotion could stand the test of time.
SWEET HAVEN: CALEA CAKES AND PASTRIES
I asked my office mate, what place I shouldn’t missed when I go to Bacolod, she confirmed what I have mind – Calea. To cap off the day we treated ourselves with sweet sugar rush treats from Calea. Out of curiosity, we tried and the Php 75 – 95 cakes are just so worth to share.
If you’re from Bacolod City, ride a jeepney (Bata-Libertad), plying to the north. We told the driver to drop us at the Robinsons Mall inorder for us to get a taxi going to the Ruins. The tricycle drivers can sometimes be helpful. Better go there on weekdays to avoid influx of tourists during weekends.