Inasal, Calea, the Masskara Festival, the City of Smiles — these are things we associate with beautiful Bacolod. I recently went there for an overnight business trip and as much as I wanted to pig out on my favorite Bacolod delights, I wanted to go someplace new so I spent dinner and my lunch break exploring Bacolod’s neighboring cities, Silay and Talisay.
Negros Occidental is the Sugar Capital of the Philippines. Sugar is one of the things that make Negros Occidental unique, so I thought that a trip to its glorious past, i.e., the height of the sugar industry, would make me appreciate the province even more. The people of Negros proudly walk with such great stories of their rich history, stories that this blog entry can never give justice to. Let me share with you some photos of my walk back in time to Negros Sugarland, but I’ll be dividing my entries into two — one for Talisay City, and one for Silay City.
I was able to visit two heritage sites in Talisay — The Ruins and Balay ni Tana Dicang
I’ve actually been here before but it was my first time to see it in the evening. It looked even more beautiful. I felt some sort of mysterious and romantic vibe in the atmosphere as soon as I stepped on the mansion grounds, as if some bittersweet love story took place there a hundred years ago. (Or maybe I just watch too much Downton Abbey and local films.)
This used to be the mansion of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, a Filipino-Spanish sugar baron, and his Portugese wife. Yes, sugar barons were the richest people in the region at the turn of the 20th century. It was burned down during World War II, and there are many versions of this story. One version says that Don Mariano refused to let his mansion become the headquarters of Japanese soldiers, so he ordered local fighters to burn the house down.
Another version says that he, himself, was the one who set it on fire because he could no longer take the pain he was feeling after his wife died.
Mystery and romance, indeed.
Balay ni Tana Dicang
Who was Tana Dicang? She was Dona Enrica Alunan, wife of sugar mogul Don Efigenio Lizares. Upon Don Efigenio’s death, Tana Dicang took over the sugar business and would later on become the city’s mayor, or Kapitana, thus the name Tana Dicang.
I wasn’t able to take that much photos here but this is probably my favorite of all the Negros houses I visited. Why?
1) It’s the oldest of all heritage houses in Negros, built in the 1870s. Because of this, it’s also the most well-maintained.
2) Based on the tour guide’s stories, Tana Dicang was so cool and funny. She was so strict — she had her own version of the CCTV in her house, a little hole on the second floor that sees through the kitchen so that she knows whether her helpers were working or not — but was loved by many. Tana Dicang even had a trapdoor under her bed for whenever she wanted to hide from unwanted guests! The trapdoor led to her sewing room.
3) Girl power. ‘Nuff said.
Photos from Tana Dicang’s funeral.
This was where Tana Dicang entertained her guests, at least the ones she “wanted”.
When in Bacolod, please visit these heritage sites in the neighboring Talisay City and be amazed by the charm of old Negros.
Have you been to Negros? How was your experience? Any other places in Negros that you’d recommend? Feel free to share in the comments section!
Up next: Two houses I visited in Silay City — Balay Negrense and the Bernardino Jalandoni Museum.
The Ruins – 6115 Talisay, Negros Occidental.
Balay ni Tana Dicang – Enrique Lizares St., Talisay City, Negros Occidental