Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bacolod: The Ruins in Talisay City.

The Ruins at Talisay City

The Ruins at Talisay City in Negros Occidental have always served as one of the landmark tourist attractions of Bacolod City. These skeletal remains of a sugar baron's once majestic mansion draw people from all over the world and offer them a glimpse at the culture that was prevalent among the Negrense hacienderos. Read more about this jewel of a place after the jump. 

If there's one place I'd recommend people to visit in Bacolod, it would have to be The Ruins.

I say this because for me, The Ruins symbolize a lot about what the culture of people from Bacolod and Negros have to offer. From visiting the place, you can learn about our deep Spanish influence, the sugar industry, the life of hacienderos and the tragic love story behind this famous facade.

For a bit of a back story, The Ruins was first and foremost the mansion of one of the wealthiest sugar barons in Negros Occidental named Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson. It was built with a crazy amount of imported materials (the cement was from Italy, the fixtures were all European, you get the idea) in the 1920's. The reason why it was built was because of Mr. Lacson's wife who was named Maria Braga of Portuguese descent.

It wasn't actually built for her, it was actually built in memory of her. You see, Maria Braga passed away during the birthing of Mr. Lacon's 11th child. Lacson was very affected by her death since he loved her dearly, so that was why he decided to build his own 'Taj Mahal of Negros' in her honor.

Now the reason why it's called 'The Ruins' is because it was torched by Filipino guerillas during the Japanese invasion of World War II to prevent the Japs from using this fine structure as a headquarters. This place reportedly burned and smoldered for three straight days before the fire was put out.

I first went to this place sometime in 2008 before leaving for college in Manila. Damn, was this place rough around the edges back then! The garden was non existent, the fountain was filled with gunk, there were no facilities, no toilets for that matter.. but even then I could already see the beauty of this once great mansion.

The owners (the Javellana family) really did a great job of restoring the place! The place now has its own Italian restaurant (a bit pricey at Php 250.00 per dish), a mini golf course, a property wide speaker system that pipes out classical music to add to the romantic feel and a dazzling array of lights to make the property glow at night as seen above in the picture.

Back in 2008, there were only a handful of people visiting the Ruins when I was there during a peak day of Saturday. Today, it can get a bit crowded because of all the people heading to this place! There are foreigners, tourists from Luzon and Mindanao and photoshoots going on left and right. I guess its a good thing that more people are coming to the Ruins now but it can get just a tad bit stuffy in my opinion.

The Ruins also serves as a great place to host events. I vaguely remember one time a few years back when I attended someone's debut here. It was alright since they lighted the place up at night.

I really recommend that you visit the Ruins when it's close to sunset though. It is very humid at the place because of the huge metal sheet walls they have installed at the outer reaches of the property. They installed these tall walls in order to keep people from just staying on the edges of the property and taking pictures of themselves without paying the entrance fee.These walls also stifle air flow into the property which makes it very hot.

If you make your way there at around 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM (depending on the season. - Summers tend to have longer sunsets.) then you should be able to see the setting sun light up the Ruins with a shade of gold.

At night, the Ruins are a great place to stroll around with someone special since the mood is perfect for that old world romance shiz. The classical music is a beautiful touch.

All in all, I would strongly recommend you to visit the Ruins in Talisay City if you haven't yet. Check it out and experience the romance that only monuments of a time long gone can give.

The Ruins at Different Times of the Day

As a point of comparison as to what is the best time to shoot or stay at The Ruins, decide for yourself between these two pictures taken at different times of the day. In my humble opinion, night time brings out the romantic side to the place. 

The Ruins at Sunset
The Ruins at Night

Eating at The Ruins

The Ruins has a nice little restaurant where you can grab a bite while at the property. The restaurant is located a stone's throw away from the Ruins itself and is called A Taste of Italy @ the Ruins. By the name itself, it implies that the restaurant serves Italian food. It also serves some common international dishes.

As of this writing, they are currently constructing a new space for the Italian restaurant. Aircon will now be available at the place. This serves as a welcome respite to the heat.

The food purchased here can get a little pricey because of the restaurant's proximity to the Ruins. The servings can get a little small too. But the quality is good. (A little bland though.)

During our visit there, we ordered some snacks. We tried their best sellers (or so they say) which were the Tacos (Php 150 for two small but delicious tacos) and the Italian Fries (Php 220 for a basket of fries coated in flour and cheese with herbs and dipping sauce). The food was of good quality and tasty. Service was also good.

Tacos (Php 150)

Italian Fries - Fried potatoes with cheese, flour, herbs and special dipping sauce. Php 220. 

The restaurant is a relatively new addition to the Ruins (added around 2 to 3 years ago) and offers a nice place for people to sit and relax and also partake of the indoor airconditioned portion of the restaurant. 

Here are samples of the menu for A Taste of Italy @ The Ruins. Click on the pictures below to enlarge. 


The Ruins Contact Details:

Address: Talisay City, Negros Occidental
Address Notes: (More in the 'How to Get There' section)
Contact Numbers:  (+63 34) 476-4334 // (+63 917) 832-6003
E-mail: ruins@theruins.com.ph
Website: http://www.theruins.com.ph/
Operating Hours: 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM

Entrance Fee: 

(As of this writing)

  • Php 80.00 for adults
  • Php 50.00 for children

Photographer's Tips:

  • The Ruin's allows photographers to hold commercial photoshoots at The Ruins. The fee is at Php 1,000.00 and allows a party of five to enter The Ruins and shoot for an unlimited number of hours during one day. (Entrance fee is waived for this). The Ruins allows the use of their special changing rooms with the availing of this fee. Payment on the day of the shoot itself. Strobes and other photographic lights are allowed. 

How to Get to The Ruins

Driving Directions:

  • 15 minute drive going to the North from Bacolod City proper.
  • From Lacson Street, Proceed to Bata (PEPSI bottling plant) and turn east. About 600 meters, you will see a cellsite above a 2 story building on the left. Opposite that building you will see a big sign that says "THIS WAY TO THE RUINS". You will enter that narrow street leading to Rose Lawn Memorial Garden. Follow the small red and yellow signs on the electrical posts which will lead you all the way to The RUINS.
  • If you are taking the Bacolod Airport Access Road, keep going straight along the Bacolod Airport Access Road towards Silay, after you have passed the Banago Turn on your left, keep going straight some more until you see a sign on your left proclaiming 'The Ruins'. Take a left turn and keep on going straight. 
  • Ample parking inside the compound.
  • Tricycles stationed outside the compound for those who would commute.
  • Caution, it can be very hot and humid at The Ruins.