Repurposing Negros Heritage Structures | Company Applicant
They are known for their rich culture, artistic and culinary abilities, and affinity for the finer things in life.
One need only walk the streets of Negros Occidental to see how attached Negrens are to arts and culture. Heritage structures and ancestral homes, which house modern businesses and services, are commonplace. The city of Silay, in fact, has earned the nicknames “Paris of the Negroes” and “Marseille of the Visayan” for having a number of perfectly preserved heritage buildings. In 1973, part of Silay was declared a national historical monument.
Such is Negren respect for culture and ancestry that heritage structures are redeveloped and even improved, rather than demolished, to keep up with the changing needs of the province. Breathing new life into these buildings has even benefited Negros and its people, as it has added value and made the province a destination for heritage tourism.
Here are some of the notable and renowned heritage structures in Negros Occidental.
Maria Kucina Familia
An old house that has been turned into a restaurant, Maria Kucina Familia at 24th Street in Bacolod, has this warm and welcoming atmosphere. Once inside, diners are reminded of traditional Negrense mansions of days gone by, from hardwood furniture to sliding glass doors and windows.
It has outdoor seating and a main dining area that spans various quiet corners, giving diners plenty of seating options. Private rooms (Red Room, Toy Room, Comedor, Terraza and Art Room) are also available for large groups and receptions.
El Ideal Bakery
One of the oldest bakeries in the area, El Ideal Bakery on Rizal Street in Silay City feels like a time machine once you step inside. Established in the 1920s, it occupies the ground floor of the Cesar Lacson Locsin ancestral home, a heritage structure certified by the National Historical Institute (INSA). Its vintage light fixtures, simple floors and walls, stained glass windows and capizes sure give the establishment a real nostalgia.
In the late 1970s, a road widening project threatened to tear down a considerable portion of the ancestral home. The project was abandoned after meeting resistance from residents of Silay, who submitted a petition to protect the town’s heritage structures.
Today, thanks to an INSA declaration, heritage buildings like the Cesar Lacson Locsin ancestral home are protected from such threats.
Sian Ancestral House of Antonio Novella
Old school is definitely the new cool. And you can see it when you dine at this McDonald’s branch on the corner of Zamora Street in Silay City. Housed in the Antonio Novella Sian ancestral home, this branch of the popular fast-food chain comes with the traditional media agua, or window awning characteristic of Spanish colonial homes, and sliding ventanillas, smaller windows under the larger ones. which have sliding panels.
A sprawling “urban townhouse,” its ground floor once housed a suite of shops – a local barber shop, bakery and convenience store. The upper level, meanwhile, served as the family residence of Antonio Novella Sian, until the family built a new home in Bacolod. The living quarters of the Sians’ former home were so spacious that children could even ride bikes and play basketball inside.
Formerly known as Lino Lope Severino Bldg., Baldevia Bldg., which stands majestically on Rizal Street on the corner of Burgos in Silay City, housed Negros’ first department store. It cannot be missed for its intricate Art Deco architecture, especially its curved elements and the decorative bas-relief panels around the windows and along its roofs.
Today, Baldevia Bldg. is used as a retirement home, with a roast chicken shop, pharmacy and pawnshop on the ground floor.
Built in the early 1920s and inspired by Italianate architecture, The Ruins in Talisay City was the ancestral mansion of Negrense sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson and his first wife, Maria Braga Lacson. The two-story structure – acclaimed as the “Taj Mahal of Negros” – was razed at the start of World War II to prevent Japanese forces from using it as their headquarters. It is said that it took three days for the fire to destroy the mansion’s roof and thick wooden floors. The entire framework of the mansion remains intact to this day.
Although the mansion was never rebuilt, its remains have become a popular tourist attraction and a favorite venue for wedding receptions and other grand celebrations.
Sources: Bacolodfoodhunters.com, Lakadpilipinas.com, Theruins.com.ph, Inquirer Archives
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