The shell of its glorious past has made an identity of its own. An independent character that is perhaps better than its previous glory.
Welcome to the fifth stop of Kim's Quest. This post is more of a story of how the place came to be and an impression it has on me. As the area is famous to tourists and travellers alike, you can easily find a blog that could give you all the information you needed, so you don't have to worry if you're planning to visit.
More than the beauty of the place specially during the night, the place harbors a great vibe and emanates an aura that encompasses both time and space. This is perhaps due to the great story behind the place that's gold on its own.
This is a story of love, tragedy, and reemergence.
Calling The Ruins as The Taj Mahal of Negros is recognizing the glory of its Aggra counterpart. If you knew the history of that ancestral house-turned-museum, comparing it to the Taj Mahal of India might have a little bearing of its moniker. Some would tone it down by calling it The Taj Mahal of Talisay, but some did go further by previously calling it The Taj Mahal of the Philippines.
A Story of Love
This is a story of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson and Maria Braga Lacson. This is the story of how the mansion was built.
During the Spanish rule in the Philippines, Don Mariano owned a 440-hectare sugar plantation in Talisay City. As a haciendero or sugar baron, he made sure that everything is going well in his estate. He was a charming young bachelor back then who also loved to travel around the world.
When Don Mariano visited Hongkong in one of his travels, he noticed a pretty Portuguese lady from Macau named Maria Braga. They immediately fell in love with each other!
He met her father right away who was a ship captain. As her father agreed with their whirlwind romance, it was not very long until the two love birds eventually got married.
They lived in an ancestral house in Talisay after the marriage and were blessed with ten children. A prolific marriage indeed, but as Maria became pregnant with the 11th child, she slipped in their bathroom. She had a bleeding due to that accident.
Now take note of this. The nearest doctor at that time was in Silay City. That's two days away via horse carriage, the fastest mode of transportion during that era. It takes another two days for the doctor to travel to Talisay, so Don Mariano waited for four days for the attending doctor.
Unfortunately, Maria and the baby died before the attending physician reached the ancestral house. A devastating event struck Don Mariano and the family which left the patriach in grief and broken.
We are still in the story of love.
To help Don Mariano move on, or maybe just to distract himself, he decided to build a mansion near the ancestral house. He did that in the memory of Maria Braga.
He consulted Maria's father who supported the idea by providing part of the funds and the design of the mansion for reference. It was said that only the best raw materials from all over the world are being used in the construction.
It was built into perfection that it was said to have used only egg whites in mixing the cement. There's no water used in the cement! I don't know if that was true, but I think that's the reason of its sturdy structure even until today.
That's the story of romance, love, and family that built the mansion before it became The Ruins.
A Story of Tragedy
This is a story of the mansion. A tragic story of how that mansion was ruined.
After the mansion of Italianate structure was finished, Don Mariano and his unmarried children lived the house. It was the biggest residential structure in the area that time.
World War II happened and it forced Don Mariano and his children to leave the mansion, including everything that's in it. When the US Forces came to the area, there were rumors that the Japanese might occupy the mansion as their command post. To prevent it to happen, the mansion was set on fire.
The mansion was on fire for 3 days. It burned everything in it that's made of wood. What's left was an empty cement shell as it lies in ruins.
That's how the Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson Mansion became The Ruins. Tragic!
A Story of Reemergence
Today, The Ruins is one of the sought-after destinations of Negros Occidental. It captured the hearts of tourists as much it captured my heart. It became an invaluable piece of history and a source of stories worth to be told to the next generation. The structure stood grander than ever. It's like a phoenix that reemerged from the ashes of its previous body.
Perhaps the greatest reemergence is not much about the structure itself, but on the story of love and tragedy that is being told to the visitors of the mansion.
The Ruins accepts events and gatherings in the area. It also became a restaurant, as well as a spectacular attraction. Weddings are usually held in the area at the left side of The Ruins, specially during this time.
It's amazing to imagine how two tragedies made something spectacular in the end. First is how the tragedy of the death of Maria Braga influenced Don Mariano to build the mansion. It's because of his love and devotion to his wife that he had such act. Second is how a desolate and ruined mansion made into something more glorious than its previous state. That's because of Javellana and the descendants of Don Mariano and Maria Braga who believed in the love story of their great grandparents.
Truly, love conquers all kinds of tragedies.
Stay in love!
See you in the next Quest!
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