Sunday, November 30, 2014

Casa Grande

Part 5 of Our Negros Occidental Tour

The grand mansion built by General Aniceto Lacson in 1880 is called Casa Grande by his fourth generation descendants and current owners, the Claparols family. Catalan Ricardo Claparols married Carmen, the fourth child of Lacson and Rosario Araneta. The couple purchased the house upon the request of the General Lacson and became home to them and their four children.
The mansion is currently being restored by the General Aniceto Lacson Ancestral Home Foundation (GALAH).

A balcony encircles the whole second floor of the grand house.

The ground floor is built of bricks and coral stone.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Balay Ni Tana Dicang, The House of Enrica Alunan-Lizares

Part 4 of Our Negros Occidental Tour

If you're into heritage houses, the house of Tana (Kapitana) Dicang is a must see. Built in the 1883 as a second home to the family of Efigenio Treyes Lizares and Enrica Labayen Alunan, it remains as one of the finest examples of Bahay na Bato, the quintessential Filipino-Spanish domestic architectural style literally meaning "house of stone".
Located on Rizal St. in Talisay City, the Lizares family has opened the house to the public, not just as a museum but also as a loving tribute to a grand lady.

Balay Ni Tana Dicang, the house of Enrica Alunan - Lizares

The meter thick walls of the ground floor are finished in brick and coquina (crushed shells and coral).

Zaguan - the ground floor (literally "passageway" in Arabic) to accommodate horse carriages
and carrozas (processional carriages)

The photo says it all, the grand old lady of the house Tana Dicang seated between Philippine Presidents Manuel Quezonand Manuel Roxas.

Escalera - The stairway.

The grand staircase's balusters are of hardwood narra carved like thorny rose stems.

Caida - landing on the upper entrance hall; "foyer of the second floor"; also called Antesala.

Sala mayor - main living room, place for late-afternoon parties called tertulias and dances called bailes.

A bust of the lady of the house, Tana Dicang.

Calado - lace-style fretwork or latticework used to adorn room dividers and to allow air to circulate. The top photo shows the living room calado with phallic patterns and the bottom photo shows the bedroom calado with fleur de lys patterns.

Comedor - the dining room.

Oratorio - prayer room with an altar of santos.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Jose Gaston Mansion

Part 3 of Our Negros Occidental Tour

One of the highlights of our trip was lunch at the Jose Gaston Mansion. Think Gone With The Wind, the mansion stands in the middle of a huge sugar plantation, Hacienda Sta. Rosalia in Manapla, north of Victorias.
Jose Gaston was one of the grandsons of Yves Leopold Germain Gaston, a Frenchman who settled in Negros Occidental with his wife, Prudencia Fernandez of Balayan, Batangas. Yves was instrumental in modernizing the sugar industry by bringing in the iron mill or horno economico.
Built in the 1930s, the mansion served as refuge for the Gaston clan during the Japanese occupation, much like in the epic film Oro, Plata, Mata which was shot in the very same estate.

Visiting the Gaston mansion was such a thrill, like a time machine ride. For a few hours, you are brought back to the golden age of hacienda life. Our friend Maryann Galeno arranged the visit with the current master of the house, Monsignor GG Gaston. A hearty lunch of generations old recipes were served to us using their heirloom china and crystal in the main dining room while Vivaldi played in the background.
After our sumptuous repast, we lounged at the balcony, feeling the afternoon breeze and looking at the lush greenery. It is no wonder a Frenchman fell in love with this place and decided to call it home.

The Jose Gaston Mansion

The mansion's famous staircase.

Some of the photos of Jose Gaston's family on display.

Our "formal" group photo (from left) Tracy Poblete, JC Buendia, Bia Ruiz, Gwen Tangcueco, Maryann Galeno
Beth de la Rosa and Dinny Lazo

From the tower, you can get a 360 degree view of the hacienda. (Notice the Chapel of Cartwheels at the back)

Starting our lunch healthy.

Pochero a la Rosalia

Garlic Butter Prawns

Monsignor GG Gaston's Adobong Milyonaryo

Turon (Sweet Banana Spring Roll)

The Jose Gaston Mansion was the famous setting of the epic Peque Gallaga film Oro, Plata, Mata.
Video clip from ABS CBN Entertainment Channel, You Tube.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Church of the Angry Christ

Part 2 of Our Negros Occidental Tour

North of Bacolod is Victorias City, where sits the Victorias Milling Company, a 7,000. hectare compound, the Philippines' largest sugar refinery. After World War II, then owner Don Miguel Ossorio decided to build a church on the site where the family's sugar processing factory used to stand. Don Miguel asked his son Alfonso Ossorio, an abstract expressionist artist, to do the altar mural of the church. The church was finished in 1949. It was featured in Life magazine, and became popularly known as the Church of the Angry Christ. Alfonso explained of his work, "The Angry Christ was a continual last judgement with the Sacrifice of the Mass that is a continual reincarnation of God coming into this world."
Seeing it for the first time, I felt Christ's huge outstretched hands welcoming us, His faithful.

On the road to Victorias City.

The mosaic on the church facade depicting the wedding of Joseph to Mary was done by the Belgian Baroness of Schaerbeek, Adelaide de Bethune.

The famous mural by Alfonso Ossorio.

The Baptistry was also done by Adelaide de Bethune.

Victorias' old train on display.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Good Morning, Silay

Part 1 of Our Negros Occidental Tour

Wanderlust has struck again and this time, my college buddies and I flew to the southern island of Negros to visit their famed heritage houses and celebrate the birthday of our palangga Maryann Galeno. Maryann, who lives in the province's capital city of Bacolod has arranged for us a strict itinerary that will cover all the must sees in Metro Bacolod and its nearby towns.
We booked our flights early to get the best deal. I've learned from this trip that the first flight out of Manila and the last flight back are the cheapest, and we took just that. The four o'clock flight had us marvelling at the glorious sunrise just before touch down and it gave us a good head start for our grand tour.
The new airport is located in Silay City, known for its lovely pre-war mansions built by the old families, most of whom owned vast sugar plantations in the island. Since it was still very early for breakfast, we drove around Silay to get a glimpse of its charmed past and breathe fresh morning air. By eight o'clock, we were already enjoying chorizo pudpud and coffee at the old El Ideal bakery, ready for three days of sightseeing, eating and endless pre-menopause banter.

Window seat view of the sunrise.

The Golez ancestral house.

A common site, trucks carrying loads of sugarcane.

Bernardino - Ysabel Jalandoni Ancestral House

The San Diego Church

Early morning Mass.

Balay Negrense

After a drive around the city, we had our breakfast at the old El Ideal bakery.

Mascobado sugar.