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.