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.

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