WHOEVER goes to The Ruins, tagged as the Taj Mahal of Negros Occidental, will be enthralled by its majestic and lovely aura, filled with the undying love of its former dwellers-the family of sugar baron Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson.

The don built this beautiful mansion within the sugarcane plantation in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, in remembrance of his wife, Maria Braga, a Portuguese from Macau who succumbed while giving birth to their 11th child.

Be it in the day and night, the structure clenches to its magnificence and grandeur that speaks of how extraordinary was the lifestyle of its former owners.

Roger Lucero, the famed tour guide at The Ruins and a former Pinoy Big Brother housemate, said the Ruins is now 101 years old.

But due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, they were not able to celebrate its centennial year last year.

This mansion was built in 1920 and some of its parts bore the huge initial of two MMs, which stands for Mariano and Maria symbolizing their love for each other and also for their family.

In 1942 or during World war II, Filipino guerrillas under the United States Armed Forces torched the Lacson mansion to impede the Japanese forces from advancing to take over the house and use it as their headquarters.

That horrible incident has reduced the glorious mansion into ruins and since then the Lacson family has abandoned the property for 67 years.

In the later years, Mr. Raymund Javellana, a great-grandson of Don Mariano, thought of developing the ruins into a tourist destination.

With such initiative, hard work, and determination, the Ruins have been frequented by guests and visitors - both domestic and foreign guests and has earned numerous recognitions such as among the 12 fascinating ruins globally, awarded by the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) as the best landmark in the Philippines, recognized by the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP), and as the best destination in the Philippines given by the Department of Tourism.

During pre-pandemic, the Ruins became one of the most visited tourist destinations in the province.

Currently, this is the chosen spot for weddings and other family gatherings and reunions.

The ambiance provides a comfortable and elegant experience for those who are visiting the province, and they take their photos with friends and family and seize the time to read about the story of the Lacson couple, wherein the structure has stayed as the symbol of their everlasting love, wonderful union, and beautiful family.

Many couples chose to have their wedding ceremony at the Ruins as inspired by the lovely story of the Lacson couple and the structure that has withstood the blights and ruins of times.

The lively music played by the pianist Bobby Aleling makes the visit so fascinating and wonderful. The Ruins is remarkably unique and stunning.

Roger Lucero will soon graduate with a tourism degree

Lucero, the famed tour guide at The Ruins, gained their guests' love due to his colorful and intense Ilonggo accent. He does his tour guiding with animation and humor to make the visit of their guests more fun and enjoyable.

He was once admitted as among the housemates of the Pinoy Big Brother and earned a moniker as the "Tour Guide Tatay ng Bacolod."

He halted his work at The Ruins when he entered the PBB.

"I learned so much from such rare experience. But after the show, I decided to go back to Negros and continue my life as a tour guide. It's hard to leave work that is already dear to you. When I joined the PBB, I sought the owner's permission to be away for a while. Win or lose, and I will come back because this is already my life," he said.

And when he came back, he worked again and at the same time pursued his college education. Currently, "I am almost near to my destination, wherein this coming December 5, I will be graduating my Bachelor of Science in Tourism Management. Thank God for giving me this grace to finish my studies aligned with my work as a tour guide. This has opened a lot of opportunities for being in a tourism-related position. Tourism also opened a lot of options for those who dreamed of achieving their goals in life.