[ 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..