Visiting The Ruins, the 'Taj Mahal of Negros'

Agra, Uttar Pradesh in India, is known for its Taj Mahal, a white marble mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife. In Negros Occidental, it has a counterpart of sorts and it’s called The Ruins.

Taj Mahal came to mind while listening to the explanation of the Raymund Javellana, the man who wanted to restore the mansion to its former glory.

FROM THE PAST. The fountain. Another remnant from war

FROM THE PAST. The fountain.

Another remnant from war

I had the opportunity of visiting the place when I joined a group of Davao journalists who did a familiarization tour around Western Visayas. When our guide said that we were going to The Ruins, I thought it was just another Philippine landmark that tourists could visit.

India's famous landmark would come into your mind once you hear the story behind it.

Love, so goes a saying, comes from the most unexpected places. That happened to Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, who frequented Hong Kong with his friend when he was still younger. There, the sugar baron met Maria Braga, a Portuguese lady from Macau. Smitten by her beauty, he courted her and eventually married her.

Don Mariano brought his wife to Talisay and started their own family. They were blessed with 10 children, two of whom became government officials. When Maria was pregnant with her 11th child, she slipped in the bathroom and started to bleed. In those days, in 1911, it would take two days to travel with horse-drawn carriage from Talisay to the town of Silay, where a doctor lived.

By the time the doctor arrived – on the fourth day – Maria and her baby were gone. Her death brought Don Mariano to depression; to get him out of it, he embarked into building a house for his unmarried children.

But before that, he told his father-in-law about the idea. He agreed and even went as far as supporting the son-in-law in every way he can. Instead of just a house, it turned to be two-story mansion of Italianate architecture, whose plans “could have been given by his father-in-law,” Javellana recounted.

LASTING LOVE. The two Ms facing each other, a symbol of true love

LASTING LOVE.

The two Ms facing each other, a symbol of true love

DISCOVER. Visitors taking their time near the fountain

DISCOVER.

Visitors taking their time near the fountain

Henrylito D. Tacio is an award-winning journalist based in the southern part of the Philippines. He specializes on reporting science, environment, medicine, agriculture, and travel features.