I don’t get the reason why Mariano Ledesma Lacson, a sugar magnate, decided to build a mansion–filled with imported luxurious items–in remembrance of his first wife, Maria Braga, a portugese lady from Macau, right in the middle of his 440-hectare sugar plantation here in Talisay City, then set a rule that as soon as his (10) children are married, they should leave the mansion. Not that I’m complaining nor I’m meddling but I just don’t see the point. I sat on a row of chairs in front of the mansion in wonder, took some pictures, and realized that I should stop seeking for answers. Because sometimes, there are really no answers to these questions that we have, we just have to be settled in the beauty of the unknown.
I didn’t book a flight to Bacolod to see The Ruins. To be honest, I didn’t even know that it was located in Bacolod. That’s why I got to see it on the latter part of my stay in Negros Occidental. If it hadn’t been for my friend, who used to live in Bacolod, then I would’ve missed seeing this popular iconic structure at all during my stay. He showed me a photo of the mansion and I got electrified to see it! Whenever I’m about to go to a place, I never bother to read a book or a blog (at least) about it. I’m so in love in the idea of getting lost. I thought that exploring a place without premeditation will always be the best way to experience the place. That’s why I always almost miss the must-see places and hit the places worth skipping! While roaming around the ground floor of the mansion, I reminded myself that sometimes I should at least try to know some information about the places I’m about to explore. Because not all the time I will be lucky enough to have a friend to tell me which is which.
I was also informed by my friend that it isn’t a good idea to see The Ruins during the season of Masskara Festival(every third weekend of october) because Bacolod is packed with tourists from all over the Philippines and other countries as well. He said that getting a good shot would be a constant challenge because people are everywhere in the mansion. But I insisted. It was my last day in Bacolod and (I thought) I shouldn’t miss it. So we hit the road towards The Ruins and guess what? He’s right–The Ruins is jam packed with tourists. So I just did my best to get a good shot of the mansion. Anyway, the coterie of tourists doesn’t make the value and the beauty of the mansion any less. It’s actually a living proof that it was worth seeing. But I’m not sure if the hordes of tourist photobombing every now and then to your suppose-to-be-legendary-photographs will lessen the allure of your instagram post(s) and blog photos.
The Ruins is beyond beautiful. I was awestruck by the naked concrete structure bathing in the slowly dwindling sunlight. Its structure is of Italianate architecture, with neo-Romanesque columns. I could just imagine how the mansion looks before it was burned down by the Guerilla fighters in the Philippines to prevent the Japanese forces from utilizing it as their headquarters. I went upstairs to feel how strong the remaining structure is. And I felt that it was still strong enough to carry numbers of people taking non-stop pictures selfies. The very accommodating staffs of the ruins welcomed me with the bittersweet story of the mansion. I tried to say hello to its bittersweet past for a good five minutes but I just end up touring the mansion on my own. I learned a bit from them though. I must have snapped only around 10 photos when, just like that, the sun is about to set. I sat on rows of chairs in front of the mansion again and gazed at it as the skies slowly darkened and the columns of the mansion illuminated. I just sat there slack-jawed and before I know it, the ruins rekindled my utmost passion for exploring our own country. Just when I’m about to outgrew them. The Ruins reminded me that before we begin exploring other countries, make sure that we have at least seen much of what our country has to offer.
I always have this deep fascination with old structures, and by old I mean those houses and structures that was built hundreds or thousands of years ago but still exist today. Some will say that it’s just a small skeleton of a mansion and there’s nothing to really rave about but I am always in awe and admiration of these structures because they exude the characters of its owners long gone and carry with them memories of those who dwelled in them. I thought i’d continue seeking for answers to all these unsettled, aimless, and sometimes without purpose questions that I have; I thought that exploring a place without premeditation will always be the best way to experience the place; I thought I have outgrown my utmost passion for exploring our own country; until the ruins knock some sense back into my stubborn head. Like a still water ruffled by the strong wind.
(Written last November 2014)