We all know that one of the most famous heritage landmarks in the Philippines, The Ruins, also known as the “Taj Mahal” of Negros, was built in loving memory of a sugar baron’s wife. But do you know their love story? It’s a story with a not-so-happy-ending, but a story that must be told nevertheless.
This is the whirlwind romance story of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson and Maria Braga.
VIEW: The Taj Mahal of Negros
During the Spanish colonial era, Mariano was an attractive young bachelor who owned a 440-hectare plantation in Talisay City, Negros Occidental. Aside from working hard for his estate he also love seeing the world.
In one of his travels in Hong Kong, he caught sight of a beautiful Portuguese lady from Macau – Maria Braga. It was love at first sight!
Mariano instantly met Maria’s father who was the captain of the ship. Maria’s father thought that it was a match made in heaven! So head over heels in love, it did not take long until Mariano asked the hands of Maria for marriage.
They lived in Mariano’s ancestral house in Talisay after they got married.
Mariano and Maria were blessed with a lot of children:
- Mercedes – later married a Javellana, the grandparents of the current owner
Unfortunately, Maria who was pregnant with their 11th child had an accident. She slipped in their bathroom which caused her to bleed profusely. Maria was in a very fragile condition that she couldn’t even withstand the travel to the nearest physician. Having no choice, Mariano anxiously sent his horseman to fetch the physician.
Though it was just the next town, Silay (the spot where the new airport is found today), it took the horse-drawn carriage 2 days to reach the physician. Mariano took care of his wife during the 4-day wait.
But Maria and the baby already passed away before the physician arrived.
It was a tragic moment for their family. Mariano was so brokenhearted and engulfed with grief.
In order for him to move on and get his life going for his children, he thought of building a mansion nearby his ancestral house. It would help him heal his broken heart and remind him of Maria for the rest of his life.
Mariano got in touch with Maria’s father about his plan: to build a mansion in honor of his wife and dedicate it to Maria’s great love for him and their children.
His plan was well supported by his father-in-law. Mariano was provided with additional funds and also the design for reference. To make sure that high-quality material were used and for the perfect execution of the design he tasked his son, Felipe, to supervise the construction of their new home.
Finished to perfection, Don Mariano told his children that it was theirs to live in for as long as they’re not yet married.
That’s how the beautiful mansion was built before it came into ruins… a story of romance and a family put together in love.
Presently, the family of the grandson of Mercedes, Mr. Raymund Javellana, owns and manages The Ruins. Located at Hacienda Sta. Maria, Talisay City, Negros Occidental, it is open daily from 8:30am to 9:00pm. Contact (+63) 917-832-6003 or (034) 476-4334 for inquiries.
How to Get There
From Manila, you can fly to Bacolod (Php2500++, round trip, 45 minutes). From Bacolod-Silay Airport, you can take a shuttle (Php75-100 per head), or a cab (minimum of Php400) and ask to be dropped off at your destination.
From Bacolod City, you can take a jeepney (Bata-Libertad) plying to the north and ask the driver to drop you at the tricycle terminal near Pepsi Cola plant. The tricycle would take you to the entrance of The Ruin at Hacienda Sta. Maria. You can also opt to take a cab for less hassle since roads going to The Ruins were already cemented.