The Ruins of Talisay

Mavic Conde

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Despite being bare and merely a skeleton of a great ancestral home, it won't fail to awe


MANILA, Philippines – It’s not every day we encounter architectural remains here in the Philippines as splendid, beautiful and reminiscent of Italian houses as The Ruins in Talisay City, Negros Occidental.

Its neo-Romanesque columns closely resemble those of the façade of the Carnegie Hall in New York City. And only history (and maybe instinct) will tell us that only the wealthiest and noblest men like ships’ captains and sugar barons could build such a magnificent structure for their lady loves.

But however detailed tourist guides may go in explaining what the mansion is made of and how it has remained stunning despite being deliberately burnt during World War II, you’ll barely remember any of them. Despite being bare and merely a skeleton of a great ancestral home, it won’t fail to awe.

The fact that it was built amongst Talisay farmlands makes the trip to The Ruins more like a treasure hunt — it lures people and brings out the thrill of finding something worthy, of seeking answers and pursuing journeys just to find the truth behind the tales circulating about this ghost of the sugarland’s past.

In my experience, the mansion was not really haunting though. It may require you to travel “down a rocky dirt road that threads through a sugar plantation,” but there’s no single moment I can recall that it gave us a creepy feeling. Maybe because it’s not really a phantom (as other people would call it) but rather a symbol of that rich, glorious past when life was generally good.

No wonder, when we were there we felt nothing but exhilaration. We felt so elated that we couldn’t help but feel like the mansion’s yard were our own playground — as if we were the great grandchildren of Don Mariano Ledesma de Lacson, the sugar baron who owned the largest mansion in its time.


Also worthy of attention is the well-maintained yard where one can breathe fresh air, feast on the bed of green grass with lovely small-flowering plants adding color and life to the landscape. You can also dine in the café or just take a seat while chatting with friends in one of the outdoor diners set outside the café on a lazy Sunday morning.

The 4-tiered fountain in front of the mansion makes the landscape a perfect replica of ancient homes with spacious gardens. Sights like these bring a feeling of bliss, gratitude, and yes, that fleeting feeling everyone seems to be chasing: peace.  


To its heirs, may they always find good reason to open this great edifice to the public so they, too, could have unique tales to tell and retell about how life can be so good — even for just a while. –

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