Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Ruins: A shadow of a glorious past

What has once been an impressive mansion, then burned, abandoned and exposed to the elements for decades is now fast becoming one of Bacolod's more popular tourist attractions (although technically it's in Talisay). During the holy week, as we had a few hours to spare before our afternoon flight back to Manila, we took to The Ruins (and later, Balay Negrense).

The glorious facade of The Ruins.

At under twenty minutes, it was a fairly short ride to Talisay from our hotel in Bacolod. The structure -- or what remains of it -- is tucked away in the middle of a vast sugarcane plantation yet remains easily accessible. Even from a distance, rising above all the fields of green, its beauty was immediately evident.

My Bibe about to check out the place.

According to history, the mansion was built in the early 1900's by sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson. I don't really know anything about architectural styles but a little Googling pointed out that this structure was of Italianate architecture as characterized by its arched windows, cornice moldings and belvedere.

The front door. I could only imagine how grand this house was back then.

Fantastic view outside as framed of what's left of the front door.

Remnants of the columns on the house's first floor. Still glorious, though.

Unfortunately during World War II, as the American forces were making their way out of the Philippines, they burned the house to keep it from being used by the Japanese as their headquarters. The fire reportedly took several days to bring the roof down and the two-inch wooden floors. The house must be that good!

Ascending the remnants of a flight of stairs.

Stairway to heaven.

The mansion was left as it was since the war. Thankfully in 2008, some of Lacson's descendants who inherited the land thought of developing it. The result is a perfectly-maintained garden and a cafe within The Ruins itself. And visitors came.

Old it may be but notice the lighting fixtures? Also, there are some refrigerators on the far end. I suppose they were for the cafe but which was closed when we visited. It was Maundy Thursday then.

The cafe, rustic and nothing fancy, perfectly blending with the old-world charm of The Ruins.

More tables outside. Forgive me for feeling like a haciendero here.

It comes as no surprise, though, that people come here mostly for camera-whoring, and that includes us. But with its sheer grandeur -- even when what we see today is but a shadow of the past -- can you blame us?

Also, The Ruins has since played to a number of local weddings, parties and other events. Add to that the Php 50 entrance fee charged to every visitor and it seems like the Lacson great grandchildren have made the right decision in preserving this grand memory, doing some good business in the process.

The memorabilia wall, containing stuff from both the distant and recent past, including various newspaper and magazine clippings.

While I admire its details and all, I was a little disappointed with its website that pretty much says nothing about this mansion's history. All there is are photos, directions, and contact information for events. I hope they'll think about it.

Next time I'll make sure I come in the afternoon going into the evening. The photos would be even more dramatic then.

From Bacolod, go to Talisay and make a turn at the PEPSI plant towards Bata Subdivision. Less than a kilometer away you will see a huge sign on the left that says "THIS WAY TO THE RUINS" where there's a tricycle stand. It's a narrow street that leads to Rose Lawn Memorial Garden. Just follow the red and yellow signs and you'll soon find yourself in the midst of sugarcane fields and The Ruins will soon come into view.

But you know what? A cab can take you straight there.


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