03 Mar2009

The Ruins

by Marketman


Located roughly halfway between the new Bacolod/Silay airport and downtown Bacolod, are the eerie ruins of what was clearly a spectacular home built by Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson in the 1920’s or so. Razed of all its flammable materials (wood et al) during World War II, the cement structure that remained withstood the vagaries of time and the elements for some 60 years until one of his descendants decided to spruce up the gardens, light the ruins and open a cafe on the site. More detailed historical information here, and a daylight photo here. Set in the midst of sugarcane fields, the lit ruins are a stunning sight to behold and a beautiful spot for an outdoors event of some sort. They charge a small entrance fee of PHP25 per person and one can have a meal or snacks at the cafe but we didn’t stay…


The scale of the home, and knowing the era in which it was built, speaks volumes of the great wealth that was accumulated at the height of the sugar boom in that province. There must have also been an incredible one-upmanship going on between the 20-30 families who ran the largest haciendas in the region as several got into the unspoken competition of building the biggest, most elaborate, most expensive manors from where to while away their time waiting for the sugar to grow and mature (some 10-11 months)!


My photos don’t do the place justice but I must say it was worth the slight detour and fifteen minute stop we took at the site. It certainly set the stage for some of the grandeur of the area and on the other hand, how great fortunes can also be made and lost in the span of just 2 or 3 generations…


The flooring of the second story is completely gone, so an elegant cement stairway leads up to nothing at this point. The remains have fabulous lines, detailed cement work, very high ceilings and a grand proportion over all. Beautiful verandahs, entrances to what was probably the horse-drawn carriage rotundas and great views of the sea beyond must have made this a truly spectacular home in its time.



  1. aiden says:

    nice of you to share this remnant of a bygone era.

    Mar 3, 2009 | 2:45 pm


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  3. Cynthia says:

    I was a pure Negrosanon but I never heared about this until I came to your blog. Thank you for featuring this. I should add one item on my to-do list when I come home to Bacolod this coming x-mas : A tour on The Ruins.

    Mar 3, 2009 | 3:14 pm

  4. Rhea says:

    my cousin had her wedding pictorial here and the shots were great. the ruins look most spectacular during sunset. definitely one of the must-see sites in bacolod/ negros.

    if you want a peek, try this: http://www.studioa.com.ph/cgi-bin/photogallery/pics.asp?wedding_id=106&offset=0 — pictures 2, 20 and 21.

    Mar 3, 2009 | 3:18 pm

  5. Lex says:

    Did they bring you to the Lacson-Claparols house near by?

    Mar 3, 2009 | 4:55 pm

  6. mrs lavendula says:

    very stunning!

    Mar 3, 2009 | 5:34 pm

  7. maricar says:

    definitely one of the must see sites in bacolod!!!! it feels good to be back after my trip to macau and singapore. didnt bring my laptop so i had little access to internet so one of the first things i did when i got home is to update myself in your blog. well, really proud of you MM for that no reservations episode. watched it in you tube and a very nice episode that featured filipino food watched worldwide.
    if you could permit me MM…..this is out of the topic but i would like to ask BETTY Q is you still have the prawn siomai or seafood siomai recipe? i can’t find it in the achives and i really want to do it coz’ i read that its really good….and hope you could also send me the award winning chocolate cake recipe next to your hubby and boys……tanx tanx in advance….. my email is nunag87@hotmail.com

    Mar 3, 2009 | 5:36 pm

  8. Diwata08 says:

    Rhea… thanks for sharing the photos of your cousin. so astonishingly beautiful!!! makes one appreciate the grandeur of the place…

    Mar 3, 2009 | 5:45 pm

  9. Anon says:

    I’d like to share this photo too. It was taken a few months ago by a student from one of the schools in Bacolod.


    Mar 3, 2009 | 6:35 pm

  10. Rona Y says:

    MM, were you involved with the cooking demonstration involving a couple of Dutch chefs last weekend in Talisay? My mother is in Bacolod right now, and she said she had tried to find out where location was, but she couldn’t get any info (thus she missed it!). They were featuring truffles, which the host kept referring to as “true-fuls” (I hope it wasn’t you, and if it was, sorry!).

    I think we’re related to the Ledersma Lacson family. My mother’s family was likely one of the “20-30 families who ran the largest haciendas in the region”. The family home in Talisay (or was it in Silay?) survived WWII, probably because it was used to headquarter whichever army happened to be in charge at the time. Unfortunately, it burned down after WWII, sometime in the ’60’s (accidental fire started by a maid!), along with everything in it!

    I told my mother you had been in Bacolod, and she was terribly disappointed she didn’t get to meet you somehow. She’s very interested in your charitable projects, and has always wanted to pick your brain about how to start something in Bacolod!

    Mar 3, 2009 | 8:39 pm

  11. butsoy says:

    how come the descendants didn’t rebuilt it? obviously it’s got good foundation. nice pictures MM!!!

    Mar 3, 2009 | 10:22 pm

  12. maddie says:

    so glad to hear you have visited our beloved hometown and understand how “eating” and “food” is deeply entrenched in our culture. in fact, that is what most of us who are no longer based there look forward to every time we go home. cheers and yes, namit gid!

    Mar 4, 2009 | 12:34 am

  13. Maria Clara says:

    It speaks well of the wealth and excellent architectural taste of the owner/builder. It is sad to learn how family wealth dwindled over time. I imagine the lifestyle is a contributory factor for this but I believe the main cause is the government failed and implemented land reform programs!

    Mar 4, 2009 | 2:16 am

  14. tnm says:

    Just saw a documentary about this mansion last week on TFC. I’m happy that it has been restored by the descendants. I’ve never been to Bacolod but this site makes me want to visit (aside from the food, of course).

    Mar 4, 2009 | 2:25 am

  15. Mangaranon says:

    Nene Lacson recently celebrated his birthday with a grand party at this place!

    Mar 4, 2009 | 3:43 am

  16. Bong says:

    Wow! – That’s what I said when I saw the daylight pictures! Very impressive! Are there any other mansions like this one? I’m glad they’ve preserved the place… after all, it is part of our Filipino heritage. Thanks for sharing.

    Mar 4, 2009 | 5:39 am

  17. Nina says:

    Rhea, re pic # 8, do you have a way to know what’s written on the wall. I am into that; I have 2 rooms in my house with same motiff. Thanks.

    Mar 4, 2009 | 6:21 am

  18. Marketman says:

    Mangaranon, I heard it RAINED during that birthday party and everyone was under umbrellas… they need to get a glass roof over everything to make it an all-weather venue… :)

    Mar 4, 2009 | 9:03 am

  19. cien says:

    is this where they shot some scenes from Oro, Plata, Mata?

    Mar 4, 2009 | 12:44 pm

  20. Rhea says:

    sorry to be off-topic everyone/ MM; this is for Nina:

    if i had to live my entire life in just one day
    i would choose today
    if i had one dream to fulfill
    it would be this dream
    if i could be with only one person
    it would be you

    from the pic, magnified 500%

    Mar 4, 2009 | 1:23 pm

  21. Celina says:

    Cien, this is not where they filmed Oro Plata Mata. That was filmed in the old House of the Gaston family in Manapla. They have a replica in Silay. There are many beautiful grand houses in Negros. One is the Lacson-Claparols house in Talisay, not too far away from the ruins. This is where they filmed “Gumising Ka Maruja” back in the 70’s. A Trip to Silay will show you many old houses too. Houses in the Visayas are much grander than any Luzon house including Pampanga.

    Mar 4, 2009 | 5:45 pm

  22. thebee says:

    Oh my. I remember in college we used to go there and drink. It wasn’t The Ruins then, just the shell overrun by weeds and the smell of piss, haha! But when sunset came, it was very magical. I’m so very very homesick now.

    Mar 4, 2009 | 6:24 pm

  23. smiles4angels says:

    wow. definitely one place i’d like to go to… :P

    Mar 4, 2009 | 8:33 pm

  24. Nina says:

    Rhea, thank you so much, beautiful! MM, sorry for the out-of-topic query.

    Mar 4, 2009 | 10:01 pm

  25. Katrina says:

    We went to The Ruins at sunset, almost didn’t make it as we’d squeezed too many things into one day then a truck accident blocked the narrow dirt road going there! Doesn’t the grand mansion make you imagine all sorts of stories that must’ve gone on there? But it has interesting true stories of its own already. I heard that it was built for Lacson’s Portugese wife, who died young. So I guess it was like his Taj Mahal, which explains the enormous amount of money poured into it, as well as the distinctly European style.

    To tell you the truth, I was disappointed they’d set up that cafe inside. It was hard to take wider shots without seeing the tent and tables in the photo, not to mention the mesh they stretched over the top, which ruins (no pun intended) the view of the sky. I wish they’d put the cafe outside in the garden, instead, so that diners could still have the ruins as backdrop, but leave the structure itself untouched.

    I hope you had time to at least drive around Silay, MM. Everywhere you look are beautiful old, well-preserved houses and buildings. We were lucky enough to have entered a couple. Those hacenderos sure lived like royalty! No offense to those from those families, but that lifestyle was bound to end. Even in Europe, most of the gentry have had to sell their castles and land, and start *earning* their money. Still, it’s lovely to look at what they built and imagine what it must’ve been like to live like that.

    Mar 5, 2009 | 5:47 pm

  26. GastonLineage says:

    correction: the house in Silay (Balay Negrense) is not a replica. It is the house of Victor Fernandez Gaston, eldest son of the Patriarch (Yves Leopold Germain Gaston who married Prudencia Fernandez from Batangas. They later moved to Iloilo then finaly resided in Silay, Negros). Jose Fernandez Gaston, the other son built the MANSION in Haciena Rosalia in Manapla and married to an Azcona. Meanwhile, Felicia Fernandez Gaston married a Suarez, which the Beauty Queen/Miss Philippines-International: Ma. Dolores Suarez Ascalon hailed from. Philippine Actors such as Jaime Fabregas and Joel Torre are listed in their family tree on the round table of Balay Negrense as well as in the Gaston Mansion. The Gaston families are well-off and very good-looking but very humble people.

    Gaston is French and the first Sugar Baron in Negros who introduced the sugar mill.

    Here’s the record of the history fyi:

    Yves Leopold Germain Gaston was the patriarch of a large family with roots in the City of Silay, in the province of Negros Occidental, Philippines. He was originally from Lisieux, France, but settled in the Philippines, where he engaged in the production of cane sugar, the primary product of the province.

    Gaston first moved to Calatagan, Batangas in 1837 to help Domingo Roxas, a prominent businessman, set up his sugar business. It was there that Gaston met Prudencia Fernandez, who would later become his wife. When his partner’s business did not prosper, the Frenchman decided to try his prospects first in Iloilo and from there, he ventured to Negros. He eventually arrived at the port city of Silay and he found the soil conducive to planting sugarcane. He brought in an iron mill or “horno economico”, which at that time virtually unheard of.
    Balay Negrense on Cinco de Noviembre Street, Silay City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

    The iron mill allowed him to begin commercial production of export-quality sugar. The Spaniards endorsed his residence in the Philippines due of the impact of his technology on the economy. He had become a sugar baron and was exporting the product alongside Nicolas Loney, the first British vice-consul in the country who, because of his efforts to promote sugar, became known as the “Father of the Sugar Industry.” Gaston later decided to bring his family to back to France. However, on the way, he fell ill and eventually died. His wife and three children, not knowing a word of French, returned to Silay and permanently settled there, continuing the family business. The sugar industry soon peaked, and sugarcane became the staple crop throughout Negros Occidental.

    Mar 11, 2010 | 7:33 pm


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