We saw the much-ballyhooed movie “Twilight” on its opening night…

When Bella the human [ Kristen Stewart ] decided to confront Edward the vampire [ Robert Pattinson ] about his true identity, she asked:  “How old are you?”

“Seventeen.”  Edward answered half-truthfully.

“How long have you been seventeen?”  she asked further.

“A while…”  he admitted.  Since 1918, actually.

Well, that applies to so many of us!!!  And we’re not even “vampires” [ or are we really??? ].  *LOLSZ!!!*

It’s always good to know about the currently “It” things like the movie “Twilight.”  It’s good to know what else is happening around the world, not just the really dreary things like the Mumbai bombings and the global financial crisis.


“Womanizer” is the new megahit song of Britney Spears.

I can’t think of a more appropriate song to describe so many of Manila’s “gentlemen.”

There is a Filipino “macho culture,” after all.

Harharhar!!!   😛

Lizares Domain

The Lizares – Alunan “Balay Dako” was designed around 1880 as a classical “bahay – na – bato” set on 6,000 m2 in Talisay town: it had a skirt / base of rare “coquina” coral stone and bricks covered with lime plaster which concealed the structural posts of hardwood; and an upper portion entirely of hardwood: the floors of the reception rooms were all of “tindalo” / “balayong” wood custom cut to size [ meaning the floor planks stretched from one point to the other in one piece ], the floors of the bedrooms were all of “narra” wood also custom cut to size; roofed by the new corrugated iron sheets. It was painted entirely in various shades of blue and white with lime – based paint. According to the Filipiniana scholars Martin Imperial Tinio and Fernando Nakpil Zialcita, it was designed in the “Floral Style” of the late 19th century Filipino “bahay na bato”: the interior spaces are more fluid and there is more applied ornamentation than the preceding “Geometric Style” of the early 19th century. Because the house shares several similar details with the famed 1880s mansion of Aniceto Ledesma Lacson, it is thought that the same team of builders and craftsmen were involved. Oral tradition in the family mentions that the team was from Batangas province. It also says that the builders and craftsmen were actually politicized individuals who had come to Negros island to surreptitiously spread the ideas of social and political change which would culminate some sixteen years later with the Philippine Revolution in 1896.

Construction of the “Balay Dako” in Talisay town was finally finished in 1883 and Efigenio and Enrica Lizares transferred from their initial residence, the “casa hacienda” in Matab-ang. The seventh child, Nicolas “Colay,” was the first to be born in the new house in town. As was their family practice, the five sons Vicente, Simplicio, Nicolas, Emiliano, Antonio, and Enrique and the other men of the family like their first cousin Rafael Alunan [ Sr. ] occupied the rooms of the “entresuelo” [ mezzanine area ] while the couple and their daughters stayed in the second floor of the house. True to her enterprising nature, Enrica again maintained a thriving “tindahan” or “almacen” / “tienda” [ store ] in the “zaguan” [ ground floor ] of the house, to the right of the “puerta principal” [ main entrance ], which sold rice, salt, sugar, garlic, onions, and other basic needs, just like the previous one in Matab – ang. She was known to measure the rice herself, counting every grain with the “paso”; nothing could be wasted with Enrica around lest one incur her ire. She even established an “imprenta” printing press with the latest imported machines in her Talisay “almacen.”

At the right rear portion of the “zaguan” rises the commodious, Neo – Gothic “escalera principal” [ principal stairway ] of rare “tindalo” / “balayong” hardwood [ similar to the Chinese “ji – chi – mu” / “chicken wing” wood ] above a “descanso” [ landing ] of star – patterned “machuca” tiles. The balustrade of the stairway is composed of  Neo – Gothic tracery;  the style became fashionable countrywide after 1875 with the newly – constructed Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros by the architect Felix Arroyo Roxas.

The principal stairway leads to the “caida” [ entrance hall ] the traditional family room of 19th century Filipino houses. Two Neo – Gothic arches hang over the hall as symbols of welcome. A Victorian round table with C – scroll feet is in the center of the room. Interesting architectural features are four large, carved piercework, Neo – Gothic rose window panels – two set into the “sala” wall and two set into the “comedor” wall – that allow the country breezes and the orchestra music to filter through the rooms. On the far side overlooking the garden, “butacas” or “sillas perezosa” [ lounging chairs ] are set beside the “ventanillas” [ sliding windows below the “pasamano” window rail ] for the family and their guests to catch the breezes. There is a large photograph of Capitana Dicang, in her mid – 40s dressed in an elegant “terno” during the early American colonial period, in an Art Nouveau frame on one wall and small silver – framed ones of family on the tables.

To the left of the “caida” is the “sala” [ living room ], a hall large enough to serve as a ballroom. It is decorated in the style of the 1880s: in the center is a grooved marble top table of the period with ball – and – claw feet surrounded by a suite of contemporaneous “Carlos Tres” – style high chairs of exquisite workmanship, probably by the Chinese master cabinetmaker Ah Tay of Manila, all on an old, woolen Eastern rug. Two tall pier mirrors hang over the console tables. There are individual busts of Efigenio Lizares and Enrica Alunan by the national artist Guillermo Tolentino, commissioned PreWar by their son Nicolas Lizares, cast in Naples, Italy. There are large family photographs in Art Nouveau frames on the walls and small silver – framed ones on the tables. Running counterclockwise from the right side of the “sala” are large framed photographs of the fourteen Lizares – Alunan children [ who survived from the original seventeen ] from Vicente the eldest to Remedios the youngest. At the rear left portion of the “sala,” overlooking the street, hangs the memorable 19 October 1938 photograph of Enrica Alunan – Lizares flanked by President Manuel Quezon and future President Sergio Osmena Sr.. on her settee in the “sala.” The photograph hangs exactly where it was taken after she hosted breakfast for the two statesmen – who happened to be friends of hers – when they attended the Charter Day of Bacolod [ when the municipality was declared a city by Commonwealth Act No. 326 and Alfredo Montelibano Sr. became the first city mayor ] and is very significant because it speaks volumes about Capitana Dicang’s wide – ranging political influence at her height.

Flanking the “sala” are the four “cuartos” [ bedrooms ] which were collectively shared by the eight daughters [ who survived from the original eleven ] of the family: Dolores, Adela, Maria, Celsa, Encarnacion, Felisa, Efigenia, and Remedios. One bedroom on the left side, facing the street, has a pair of half – canopy beds from the 1910s. There is a “mesa altar” cabinet with small ivory images of “La Inmaculada Concepcion” and “San Jose.” A splendid late 19th century “aparador” with a magnificent eagle crest stands in one corner. A lady’s dresser faces the beds. The adjacent bedroom and the two across the “sala” repeat the comfortable and accustomed pattern of furnishings: PreWar half – canopy bed, “aparador,” lady’s dresser, etc.. The eight daughters took after their mother Tana Dicang and liked monograms on their personal items. As a result, there is a wealth of vintage monogrammed linens in the house.

The “cuarto principal” [ principal bedroom ] of Efigenio and Enrica is located on one side of the “comedor.” There is a large tester bed of the 1870s type. A beautiful “aparador,” the twin of the splendid eagle – crested example in one of the girls’ bedrooms [ but missing its magnificent crest ] is along the long wall. Her “escritorio” [ writing desk ] is in one corner. The processional image of “Maria Magdalena” [ for the annual Holy Week processions ] is kept in the couple’s bedroom. Recently, the original, light blue – colored, lime – based paintwork of the principal bedroom has been revealed after layers of subsequent paint were removed.

To the right of the “caida” is the “comedor” [ dining room ]. There is a long table with tall dining chairs; these are PostWar replacements of the originals. There is an Art Deco sideboard from the 1930s where the silver flatware and the linens are stored. Flanking the double doors to the “cuarto principal” is a pair of “vajilleras” [ display cabinets ] for the exquisite Lizares – Alunan heirloom silver, china, and crystal. These happily survived The War because they were brought to the haciendas and buried in wooden crates. More antique silver, china, and crystal are in storage throughout the house.

Beside the “comedor” is an airy “balcon” [ balcony ] overlooking the big garden generously planted with fruit trees and flowering plants. The area originally had an ornate, piercework balustrade. After Tana Dicang’s passing, her sons and daughters used the “balcon” as an informal living area where they ate “merienda” and played “mahjong.”

Off the “comedor” is an “ante – cocina” which served as a secondary dining room for the family. A simple long table is flanked by two long benches. While the family always ate in the “comedor,” there were many times when the overflow was accommodated in the ante – cocina.

Past the “ante – cocina” is the big “cocina” [ main kitchen ] which, with Efigenio’s and Enrica’s characteristic foresight, was sheathed with imported tin sheets to contain the flames in the event of a fire.

From the “pantao” / “azotea” off the big “cocina,” there is a small bridge that leads to the old, traditional “outhouse” bathrooms of the house.

Acknowledgment:  Adrian “Adjie” Villasor Lizares.

Lizares de Talisay, Negros Occidental

The story of the Lizares – Alunan family began in Negros Occidental even before the establishment of the great sugar haciendas in the 1850s. By that time, both families were already prosperous with farm holdings and various business interests in Minuluan town [ present – day Talisay, located at the intersection of the Minuluan and Matab – ang rivers ] and its environs. Rufino Lizares and Bernavela Treyes were the parents of Efigenio Treyes Lizares and they were from old families of the town. The Alunan were also an old family there: according to Enrica Alunan – Lizares herself [ o 15 July 1855 ], her father Bartolome Alunan and mother Agata Labayen, and her grandfather Vicente Alunan had all been born in Negros.

Efigenio Treyes Lizares and Enrica Labayen Alunan were married in 1872. By 1875, the couple already possessed inherited land and were already engaged in the production of sugar. Their first home was the “casa hacienda” at Matab – ang [ named after the river ]. It was a modest – sized “bahay – na – bato” [ burned by the guerrillas during World War II ] which shared some features with the later, 1883 “Balay Dako” in Talisay town. Hacienda Matab – ang was planted to sugar while an adjoining hacienda [ plantation ] was planted to rice. The family was attached to the land and lived there with the farmers. Enrica established a thriving “almacen” / “tienda” [ store ] which she called a “tindahan” [ “store” in the Hiligaynon dialect ] in the “zaguan” [ ground floor ] of the house, to the right of the doorway, which sold rice, salt, sugar, garlic, onions, and other quotidian essentials. She supplied her employees with their basic needs, thus forming a small economy within her “hacienda” domain.

Every hacienda in the island had a “muscovado” [ mill ], usually constructed of bricks and / or “piedra china” [ Chinese granite ], where the raw sugarcane was processed. The juice was extracted, cooked laboriously in vats, formed into “pilloncillos,” and shipped by “lorchas” across the Guimaras strait to Iloilo; “lorchas” were marine vessels used to transport goods between Iloilo and Bacolod. The “lorchas” transported the sugar from Bacolod to Iloilo where the traders and the banks were located and then returned with various goods; there were no banks in Negros until the turn of the 20th century. Hacenderos [ sugar planters ] like Efigenio and Enrica Lizares owned warehouses and dockyards along the rivers for the shipment of their sugar.

Enrica had a famous orchard planted to “santol” trees. These were of the smaller native variety but very sweet and delicious: the Lizares “santol” were famous throughout Negros for their exceptional sweetness. She classified her fruit trees with numbers: “0” meant that the fruit was definitely sweet and hence more expensive; “00” meant that it was very sweet and only for the consumption of the family. The sweetest fruits were brought to the “Balay Dako” in Talisay and many were sent to family and friends. A famous “santol” preserve was also made: her daughter Encarnacion “Asion” Lizares – Panlilio made a particularly good version with wonderful flavor and texture.

In the haciendas, Enrica raised and maintained “manara” [ herds ] of carabaos, the native beasts of burden. She observed how the more robust, healthy animals were taken by the more industrious and conscientious laborers very early in the morning, and she commented derisively on how only the runts of the herd were left to the lazier farmers who rose later. The milk from the cows was fed to her children, she also used it to make various confections which she sold; she also hired several “wet nurses” around the countryside to feed her children with their milk.

Because Enrica was very hardworking, she was able to acquire more Alunan family properties from her siblings. One sibling was “tahor” a gambler and she was able to purchase his properties for herself.

She and her husband believed in the value of education and sent their children to Manila for schooling. Emiliano attended the UST University of Santo Tomas. She sent her daughters to the “Centro Escolar.”

The couple spawned a family of legendary hacenderos and capitalists.

Efigenio and Enrica Lizares [ o 15 July 1855 ] had seventeen children: Vicente married Concepcion Sison Diaz; Maria; Dolores married Ricardo Fay Nolan; Adela married Dionisio Montano Mapa; Simplicio married Eleuteria Treyes / Amalia Perez / Mathilde Williams; Maria Encarnacion; Nicolas married Asuncion Nanoy Lopez; Emiliano married Concepcion Ledesma Gamboa; Maria; Celsa married Eugenio Copia Kilayko; Encarnacion married Adriano Tizon Panlilio; Felisa married Jose Habana Jalandoni; Antonio married Carmen Ciocon Rodriguez; Enrique married Demetria de Oca; Remedios Gregoria; Efigenia married Alfredo Salve Paredes; and Remedios married Leon Guinto.

The Lizares – Alunan children were close to each other and moved in concord with one another. They communicated often because of business matters and loaned each other substantial funding for farm operations as there were no banks in Negros at the time. The sons managed the farms, established families, and supported them in their accustomed style. The daughters liked fashion and set up a business making elegant “terno” dresses. The same closeness and concord carried over to the grandchildren and even to the great – grandchildren.

Nicolas “Colay,” the seventh child and the third son, was the favorite of his mother, by that time already known as “Capitana Dicang,”: She absolutely believed that he brought her “good luck”; he turned out to be an astute businessman with the “Midas touch” like his mother and brought in a lot of new resources to the family; and he became the chief financial officer of the Lizares – Alunan clan.

The Lizares – Alunan family lived in a simple, almost austere, manner, not known for frivolity. However, they indulged themselves during suitable occasions, holding “bailes” [ balls / dances ] every now and then, hiring orchestras to provide music for days on end. Although increasingly affluent through the years, the family maintained its modest ways from emergent times.

Capitana Dicang was an austere, firm, and exceedingly industrious character. The lady took life seriously and extolled the virtues of hard work and diligence. She instilled and practiced a stern discipline in the family and her sons and daughters took her word as law. The lady scorned the pursuit of refined intellect and favored a day out in the fields rather than sitting and reading a book. For her, bedrooms were only for sleeping; She did not tolerate a child’s lying in bed at daytime unless one was sick. She had a strong, bellowing voice which she raised when the situation warranted. Tana Dicang decided on family matters and stood firm on her decisions especially those concerning the prospective spouses of her children: a nod of approval or the proper endorsement from her was required. She was known to be fair: she divided things equally even with absent parties. And the lady had a bell: it rang to summon her children home; if it rang twice during mealtimes it meant that everyone should already be seated at the table. The family enjoyed hearty and delicious meals made from the fresh produce of the nearby markets and the family “haciendas.” However, the hacendera had simple tastes in food: she liked crisp, fried “abo” fish [ similar to the “asojos” ] dipped in vinegar. Tana Dicang was the central character of family life and everything — family, business, social, and political activities — passed and revolved around her. It was in that manner that she maintained the unity of her family throughout her long lifetime.

She would say about her husband: “Ay ka luyag ko guid na sang acon asawa, kay daog daog ko lang na siya.” [ “I love my husband, I get my way with him all the time.” ] [ “daog daog” means “push around” ]

After her husband’s passing in 1902 at the young age of 55 years, soon after the birth of their seventeenth child Remedios, she undertook the management of the haciendas of Matab – ang, Minuluan, Cabi-ayan, del Monte, Cabanbanan, and Pait. The continued acquisition of more haciendas followed. In a letter from 1920, she mentioned that she had purchased the 400 – hectare Hacienda Carmen near Bacolod for Php 33,000.00/xx, a very large amount in those days. Later, she also invested staggering amounts, established, and managed the great sugar centrals of Talisay – Silay Milling Company and the Bacolod – Murcia Milling Company, and the smaller Central Danao Development Corporation.

Capitana Dicang was an expert farm manager and big financier. She personally managed not only her own haciendas but also those of her offspring. Like the matriarchs of the other great Filipino “hacendero” [ planter ] families, she had a natural affinity for the earth, and she worked very hard like her husband. She ventured fearlessly to the distant haciendas carried in a hammock by two to four men, shielded by a “banig” [ woven grass mat ]; there were hammocks for one to three people and it was not unusual for them to bring young children and infants around the sugar plantations. There were times when she was carried on an “orimon” [ a chair carried by four men; “orimon” was also a chair used to carry her upstairs at “Balay Dako” ]; sometimes the inspection trip was made on horseback; the trips lasted more than half the day and she would return to her Talisay residence three to four days later. She personally supervised the “encargados” [ overseers ] and their work. She made it a point to know all the goings – on in the various haciendas and constantly advised her sons and daughters on their efficient management.

She was an avid plantswoman and personally supervised the hundreds of fruit trees in her orchards; on the other hand, her daughters supervised the trees and plants in the garden of her Talisay residence, “Balay Dako.”

She was an extremely enterprising lady: apart from being a great “hacendera” [ sugar planter ] and financier, she was an innovative grocer, cigar manufacturer, and a famous confectionery all rolled into one. She engaged in many kinds of businesses apart from the family business of sugar. And all because, as she said herself: “I have nothing to do.”

She enjoyed the power that accompanied her exalted stature, including the collective influence of her family, in Talisay, in Negros Occidental, and the Philippines as a whole. She did not hesitate to exert her influence when necessary.

A senior Bacolodnon remembered: “Tana Dicang was like a Queen. She had a regal bearing and moved with great dignity attended by a retinue of ladies.”

Capitana Dicang’s forays into local and national politics were successful: her son Antonio Lizares became the governor of Negros Occidental during her lifetime; other sons became mayors of Talisay town; Simplicio, the second son, became a representative of the district during the 1937 Philippine Congress.

She was the aunt of both the sugar leader Rafael Alunan Sr. [ through her brother Raymundo Alunan ] and of the financier Alfonso Alunan Coscolluela [ through her youngest sister Segundina Alunan –Coscolluela ].

Because Capitana Dicang had set such high standards for her family, her children, specially her sons, felt that they had to make their individual points to the rest of the family by building grand residences of their own. Simplicio Lizares built a splendid Art Deco villa designed by the architect Juan Nakpil very near the “Balay Dako” in Talisay town. Emiliano Lizares built a magnificent Beaux – Arts – style villa designed by the Paris – trained architect Andres Luna de San Pedro in Jaro, Iloilo. Antonio Lizares built a large villa in Bacolod postwar. There were also several elegant residences and sprawling “casa hacienda” of the other Lizares – Alunan brothers and sisters which were burned by the guerrillas during the war, among them was the Spanish Mediterranean – style “casa hacienda” of Nicolas Lizares in Granada, Bacolod City.

True to her intrepid nature, she was a “Rizalista,” a cult admirer of Jose Rizal. She was expelled from the Roman Catholic Church at one point because she sympathized with the Philippine Independent Church — the “Aglipayans” — and joined their ranks. However, she was reinstalled in the Catholic community a few years later.

The family knows that Capitana Dicang never left the island of Negros during her lifetime. She never even crossed the strait to the commercial hub of Iloilo, where her daughter Adela Lizares – Mapa and son Emiliano Alunan Lizares and their families were prominently settled.

During the war, Capitana Dicang’s favorite son Nicolas “Colay” Lizares and his wife Asuncion “Sony” Nanoy Lopez [ daughter of Eusebio Villanueva Lopez ] had evacuated to Baguio in the company of Sony’s maverick first cousins, Eugenio “Ening” and Fernando “Nanding” Hofilena Lopez [ sons of Benito Villanueva Lopez, a younger brother of Eusebio ]. During a bombing, “Colay” sustained fatal shrapnel wounds in his Achilles heel and tragically passed away; he was bringing “lechon” to the foxhole of Fernando “Nanding” Lopez.

She died during the war as a result of the evacuation of Talisay, when she and fifty – two others made their way to the residence of her good friend Mr. Hinojales in Bacolod city. She was temporarily interred in the Jayme family’s mausoleum until she had a proper burial at the Lizares burial ground in Talisay postwar in 1945. She wanted to be buried next to her favorite son Nicolas “Colay.”

In her last will and testament, Enrica Alunan – Lizares bequeathed the “Balay Dako” to six of her daughters: Adela Lizares-Mapa, Maria Lizares, Encarnacion Lizares – Panlilio, Felisa Lizares – Jalandoni, Efigenia Lizares – Paredes, and Remedios Lizares – Guinto. She specified that the maintenance of the “Balay Dako” should be supported by 10 % of the income of two sugar “haciendas.”

Acknowledgment: Adrian “Adjie” Villasor Lizares.

Lacson de Talisay, Negros Occidental

[ According to her youngest daughter Regina Araneta-Teodoro, the brilliant industrialist and diarist Victoria Lopez [ y Ledesma ] de Araneta [ 1907 – 1988 ] used to say that the reason why the heiress socialite Celine Lacson-Heras was so beautiful, elegant, and graceful was that she was a granddaughter of Aniceto Lacson y Ledesma [ 1857 – 1931 ], the England-educated sugar baron who, in his lifetime, reigned supreme over Negros Occidental.

Their story began there…  ]


Aniceto Lacson y Ledesma married Rosario Araneta [ Cabunsol ] y Emilia [ a direct descendant of the Kabunsuan royal Muslim line of Mindanao;  a fact long denied and forgotten by the family until recently reminded by scholarly research ].  They had eleven children:  Jesusa, Emilio, Clotilde, Carmen, Enriqueta, Isaac, Mariano, Perfecta, Jose, Aniceto, and Dominador.

Aniceto Lacson y Ledesma and his second wife, the Spanish mestiza Magdalena Torres had ten children:  Resurreccion, Margarita, Leonila, Leoncia, Nicolas, Juan, Lucio, Luis, Consuelo, and Jose.

When the Catalan Ricardo Claparols first met Carmen Lacson, he gushed: “Una mujer tan dulce!” However, three days after their wedding, she revealed her temper by throwing a bunch of keys at him. Carmen was a jealous wife: she would send a spy, a farm laborer, to inform her of her husband’s activities at the sugarcane haciendas.

Carmen, like several rich Negrense girls of her generation, was carried everywhere; she was even carried up and down the stairs of the old house. However, Ricardo detested her leisurely ways; he made sure that his two daughters Carmita and Eulalia would grow up efficient homemakers and trained them himself.

Carmen was a big woman and she was quite the character. She had a majordomo / butler, Emiliano, and a talented chef, Domeng. She would order Domeng to make her “chocolate” and after drinking it, her blood pressure would rise, and then she would scold Domeng for making her “chocolate” in the first place!!!

Carmen even brought her car when she traveled to Europe.

The Japanese soldiers tried to burn the house three times during the war. On one of those occasions, the soldiers were on the roof torching everything while Carmen was hiding under the grand “cama de medio cielo,” eating well!!!

It was the story in the family that Jesusa Lacson de Arroyo [ the paternal grandmother of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo ], the eldest sister of Carmen, used to be so elegant and refined [ like the archetypal Lacson lady rhapsodized in Negrense society ] until she married her second cousin Jose Ma. Arroyo y Pidal, a “politico.” She eventually became a “politico’s” wife: brusque, careless, and loud; she didn’t care if her half-slip showed below her dress by as long as one “takal.”

Jesusa liked to make frequent “paseos” everywhere. She liked to visit her sister Carmen frequently at the old house. She always carried a little bag with her overnight provisions since she liked to “sleep over.” She had two daughters: Teresita and Mary. Teresita died young and Mary [ Lacson Arroyo ] married Enrique Montilla, who became a major sugar industrialist [ “BISCOM” ].

Postwar summers brought all the Claparols grandchildren to the old house: The Javellana, Balcells, Medina, and Rossello branches as well as the other Lacson cousins. It was always a “war” between the girls and the boys: whoever cried first lost!!! They even had “spies” in each other’s camps. There were bicycle races around the “balcon.” There were plenty of quarrels: it was a real “bakbakan.” The “war” got so bad that Carmen the grandmother got a seminarian to play referee between the girls and the boys: the children promptly led him to the middle of the sugarcane fields and then they scampered in 20 different directions!!!

A swimming pool was constructed by the four Claparols-Lacson siblings for their children. However, the girls and the boys were never allowed to swim together lest they develop attractions to each other and lead to intrafamily marriages, which happened occasionally during their grandparents’ and parents’ generations.

Carmen Lacson and Ricardo Claparols had four children: Eduardo, Jaime, Carmita, and Eulalia.


The house was constructed by Aniceto Lacson y Ledesma and his wife Rosario Araneta [ Cabunsol ] y Emilia in 1880. It was set in the middle of the vast Lacson sugar ‘hacienda’ in Matabang, Talisay, Negros Occidental [ a former property of the Swiss Mr. Luchinger and before that of the Englishman Nicholas Loney ].

Aniceto Lacson was one of Negros’ biggest sugar planters and he wanted a palatial residence to reflect his high financial and social position.  At the height of his fortunes, Aniceto’s sugar ‘haciendas’ stretched contiguously for thousands of hectares from Talisay town all the way to Cadiz town.

The architecture is in what the Filipiniana scholars Martin Imperial Tinio and Fernando Nakpil Zialcita describe as the “Floral style” of the Post-1870 Filipino colonial “bahay-na-bato”: meaning the interior spaces are less defined and more fluid, and there is more applied decoration. There are many Neo-Gothic architectural details which became fashionable following the 1875 reconstruction of the Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros.

The ground floor is made of rare “coquina” coral stone and bricks coated with lime plaster, while the upper floor is entirely of “tindalo” / “balayong” and “molave” Philippine hardwoods.

A Chinese craftsman and his team from Manila, probably the redoubtable “Ah Tay,” were recruited by Aniceto to execute the architectural details and the furniture of the house. It took them three years to complete the project.

Initially, Aniceto Lacson had given the house to his son and namesake.   But the son was irresponsible and fell into financial straits.  Aniceto, fearing its loss, requested his daughter Carmen and son-in-law Ricardo Claparols y Deig to purchase the house.  The Claparols couple ceded a lucrative sugar “hacienda,”  the Hacienda Christina in La Carlota town, and additional cash in exchange for the paternal home.

The house was left as “comunidad” property to the four Claparols-Lacson siblings and their descendants.

Acknowledgments:  Carmen “Carmita” Claparols-Balcells, Eulalia “Layette” Claparols-Rossello, Alexandra “Alexie” Javellana Claparols, Javier Medina Claparols, Carmen “Nena” Claparols Rossello, “Gigi” Lacson Lacson, “Baba” Montilla Araneta-Escudero, Alejandro “Aldo” Panlilio Claparols, et. al..

Class Envy, both ways

Once in a while, we receive comments or emails criticizing and sometimes accusing us of a lack of social conscience, social insensitivity, callousness, shallowness, self-indulgence, and all manner of social ills from individuals who seem to have sprung from the mythical Pandora’s Box.  It is almost as if Marie Antoinette herself — disparagingly called “L’Autrichienne” [ “the Austrian” but actually “the German” ] by the Parisian nobles — was reborn as Toto Gonzalez in Manila in the 2000s.  Apparently, some narrow-minded readers of this blog do not read and comprehend very well.  We already said our piece in the page “Mistaken Impressions” months ago.  This blog is about personal reminiscences and is NOT a Filipino “society” magazine.  How many times do we have to say that???!!!

What is it like to be rich?  For sure, it is not quite like the fantasies of everyone else about the rich.  Like the poor, it is waking up everyday to a host of problems;  however, there are various solutions available, although there are no guarantees.  There is always something going wrong in a life, no matter how gilded.  Money equals problems:  the bigger the money, the bigger the problems.  One must maintain, and continually increase, one’s financial, political, and social positions — one slip and they could all be gone.  Indeed, Life has a way of forcibly extracting — sometimes devastatingly so — from one’s holdings, no matter how honestly earned.  You instinctively know everyone wants to “take you for a ride,” to take advantage of your money, properties, and other assets, and even your own family is no exception.  Worse than war, There is no family when it comes to money:  father, mother, brother, sister, son, and daughter are all fair game.  A good night’s sleep is increasingly elusive, for one is always thinking of business, business, and more business, money, money, and more money.  Financial crises drive one wild.  One goes on expensive vacations only to escape the maddening pressures of business, politics, society, and even family — at least until the Blackberry and Pinkberry ring.  Money should provide refuge, but it does not;  ironically enough, it makes one vulnerable to the whims of fortune.  There is no peace, only endless anxiety.

What is it like to be poor?  Yes, it is everything that it is, and more.  It should literally be hell on earth but it isn’t;  Ignorance can be bliss.  Like the rich, it is waking up everyday to a host of problems;  but unlike “the other half,” there is very little one can do about them.  Money is non-existent but the pursuit of it is all-consuming.  Survival is all.  There is no peace, only bitter surrender.

What is it like to just have enough?  It can be idealized and it can be reviled, but it is never extraordinary.  One simply “gets by.”  There is a bit of everything.  There is never enough money to do everything that one wants.  There is no peace, only uncertainty.

Such is the sad lot of humanity.

I think it is just a case of the pasture being “greener” on the other side.  After all, It is human nature to want what is not there.


Flores, not Bella

At elegant dinners, especially in the company of highly accomplished and therefore superior individuals, one is supposed to converse intelligently, eloquently, elegantly, with just the right dash of razor sharp wit, not too much and not too little.  One never crosses the line from sophistication to ordinariness.  You’re NOT supposed to talk about those bags at “Louis Vuitton” nor those shoes at “Salvatore Ferragamo” at Greenbelt IV [ even if yes, they are nice ]… so terribly gauche to do that.  You’re supposed to discuss “higher concerns”:  the latest scientific discoveries, for example.  That was how the lively conversations went at my uncle Brother Andrew’s dinners and lunches.  But then, eternal and worldly child that I am, I have retained a healthy disregard for social conventions…   

We were at a lovely formal dinner at a European embassy residence to welcome an important personage.  I looked good and smelled nice because it had characteristically taken me ages to put myself together.  Knowing that I would be in “elevated” company, and to ensure that my conversation would not be banal and stupid amid cerebral heavyweights, I mentally summoned my rusty knowledge of the great European thinkers 18th century to contemporary, the philosophers, the “encyclopedistes,” as well as the very latest from CNN, Fox, Bloomberg, and the rest of Cable TV, the “Cartoon Network” and “Nickelodeon” included.  I was “thus armed” for the dinner table…


Comedy Relief: To Tea or not to Tea, 1998

This happened years ago but I only remembered it very early this morning and I was convulsed with laughter at 3:00 a.m..  I was laughing so much that the big bed was shaking.  If anyone heard me — but I don’t think anyone did — they would have thought that I had been “possessed” by The Dark Force or something…

We had been invited to a formal dinner by a grand gentleman to bid farewell to the popular British Ambassador and his very chic Japanese wife, during whose term several British luminaries — royals, aristocrats, officials, famous artists — had come to Manila.  Our host was a popular social lion and we were absolutely certain that it would be a wonderful evening, certainly worth all the hours of grooming and dressing that such an elegant evening would entail…

And so after the incredible traffic along EDSA, we finally arrived at our host’s magnificent residence.  The high gates were open, revealing the front garden and the elegant fountains.  There was the usual queue of black sedans to the porte-cochere where the beautifully-dressed guests alighted assisted by a dozen uniformed valets.  The guests were led through the grand house to a sparkling pavilion in the vast garden where our host waited and where cocktails were being served.  The strains of violins were everywhere, clinking of crystal, bubbling of champagne, clanging of silver, elegant conversations and subdued laughter, whiffs of expensive scents…  The atmosphere was magical.


Black is the New White… Is White the New Black?

Barack Hussein Obama is the new President of the United States of America.  He is the first African-American President in the nation’s 232 year history.  More than anything else, the election of an African-American to the highest office — not only in the United States but in the World — signals a New Era in the Global Equation of Power.

Many are jubilant, and yet many are alarmed.

I don’t understand why.

Someone please explain.

When I was young in the 1970s, the United States of America was undisputably the greatest country in the world.  The USSR The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , PROC The People’s Republic of China, and India were mere backwashes.  Now in the 2000s, it is already plainly obvious that the United States of America is going to lose its preeminence in worldwide affairs because of the unwise ways it has handled its national and international affairs.  With the decline of the United States comes the danger to the [ relative ] security of The Free World.  I have no doubt that in the near future, China, Russia, and even India will flex their awesome military powers in the arena of global political affairs.

All I know is that millions and millions and millions of people worldwide — myself included — are relieved that George “Dubya” W. Bush is finally out of the picture.  Or so we think.

Someone please explain.

Will Barack Hussein Obama be able to reverse the Tide of American Decadence???

Finally Understanding…

It’s “All Souls’ Day”…