The Ruins at Talisay in the Philippines

The Magnificent Ruined Mansion of Talisay

The Magnificent Ruined Mansion of Talisay

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Dec. 16 2014 12:10 PM

The Magnificent Ruined Mansion of Talisay

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Its proper name is the Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson Mansion, but locals just call it “the ruins.” Built on a sugar plantation in the Negros Occidental province of the Philippines circa 1920, this 10-room Italianate manor was the grandest home for miles around. Its origin story has a lot of variants—each more dramatic than the next—but the prevailing tale is that Don Lacson, a Spanish-Filipino sugar baron, built the home as a tribute to his Portuguese wife, Maria Braga, who died in an accident while pregnant with their 11th child.

Don Lacson and his progeny occupied the home for 20 years. Then came the encroachment of World War II. When Japan invaded the Philippines in December 1941, the mansion became a target. To prevent the Japanese from taking over the mansion and using it as a military command center, American and Filipino armed forces took a dramatic step: they torched the place. 

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The magnificent mansion burned for days. When the fire died, all that was left of Don Lacson’s stately home was its majestic concrete skeleton, streaked with soot and ash.

After sitting idle for decades, the ruins and gardens at Talisay have been restored, and are now open to the public. The mansion is still without windows, a roof, interior walls, and much of the floor that once divided the first and second stories.  

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Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.