Sunday, December 3, 2017

Discovering Millionaire's Row In Bacolod City

Posted By: Tech Support - December 03, 2017

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Heritage conservation advocates are totally aghast at the ongoing demolition of the Carlos Palanca mansion in Pasay.  This comes just a few months after the Army and Navy Club and the Admiral Hotel fell prey to the wreckers of Manila's historic architectural icons.  To those who remember the wonderful edifices of Manila's glorious past, the current spate of demolitions are really a nightmare.


One cannot say the same though of Bacolod City, the premier city in the Philippines' Sugar Bowl.  This summer of 2015, tourists from Metro Manila and all over the country will visit Negros Island, the Sweet Spot of the Philippines and have a glimpse of Bacolod's fabled glory days.  This is due to the revitalization of a small strip of houses known back in the 1930s as "Millionaire's Row".

For those who arrive in Bacolod City and follow what is usually written on travel books and blogs, the usual stops are the Negros Museum, the Provincial Capitol of Negros Occidental, and the Ruins (Mariano Lacson Mansion) which is technically located in the next city of Talisay.

What is often missed in Bacolod is a street which was once known as Millionaire's Row.  This street is hardly publicized because most tour guides can only reach back to Bacolod's glory days of the 1960s and the 1970s.  The importance of this street goes back to the pre-war decade of the 1930s.


It was back in the 1930s when Generoso M. Villanueva, a prominent sugar planter, and his wife Paz, built the first art deco  structure in Bacolod City. Designed solely by the owner, the three-story, poured-concrete steel reinforced building with graceful curved balconies, parapets, and porthole steel-cased windows looks like the Titanic on land. It was known among the locals as the Boat House. Among family, though, it was simply called Daku Balay (the big house).

On the same street, another similar daku balay (big house) also shows the glorious past of Negros and Bacolod City.  This is the house of Don Mariano Ramos.

Mariano Ramos was among the first Presidente Municipals appointed in Bacolod City.  At that time, Bacolod was not yet chartered as a city and thus did not have any mayor yet.  Mariano Ramos was a former classmate of Manuel L. Quezon in Letran and the late president did stop by this house often during his many trips to Negros Island.

Between the two mansions mentioned are other houses which are resplendent of Bacolod's decadent pre-war past.  It is of little wonder then that during the Japanese occupation in World War 2, the head of the Japanese Imperial Army, headed by General Takeshi Kono, took over the houses in Millionaire's Row as these two houses had the tallest miradors (viewing towers) to observe the city from all directions.


The Japanese Imperial Army commanded all forces occupying Negros from Millionaire's Row until the surrender in August 1945.

The street known as Millionaire's Row is commonly known today as Burgos Street.  In the same manner that one visits Lombard Street (the most crooked street in the world) in San Francisco, or the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, or Las Ramblas in Barcelona, one should not miss Burgos Street when in Bacolod City.

All mansions can be viewed from the street as these are all still closed to the public, except one which is the currently run as a museum, the Dizon-Ramos Museum.




Photo credits to Voltaire Siacor (Villanueva Art Deco House) and Lloyd Tronco (Mariano Ramos House)












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