Pacete: Hacienda: Home and workplace

THE frontline tourism package of Bacolod-Talisay-Silay Tourism Circuit is “The Negros Sugar Story.” The itinerary revolves around the ups and down of sugar industry involving the key players… workers, plantation owners, millers, and the consumers.

The hacienda is the main root of sugar industry because sugarcane plantation is there and that is the home and workplace of the workers who shed their sweat, tears, and blood to make Negros sugar the sweetest. So far, in our package we have singled out Hacienda Adela Folklore Village where tourists (especially foreigners and non-Negrosanons) could have the first glimpse of the sugar story.

The hacienda is a sugar plantation (100 hectares of land or more). In the typical hacienda setting (1930-1940), the “hacendero” or the “hacendado” had his mansion constructed in the nucleus of the farm with the hacienda community nearby.

Typical example is the Gaston Mansion (used in the movie “Oro, Plata, Mata”) in Sta. Rosalia, Victorias. Here in Silay, we could identify one belonging to the Ledesmas.

The hacienda mansion (first floor and second floor) usually follows the architectural structure of the Spanish Colonial Period to the early American Period. It follows the typical Visayan “bahaynabato” construction with the “ventanillas” and sliding capiz shell windows. This is the ancestral house where the first generation “hacendado” and his children live (including grandchildren).

In front of the mansion, there are flower gardens, birds’ bath (like a fountain), a colossal fence made of iron and stone, and a metal gate (for entrance and exit). At the back, there is the horse stable, a bodega for farm implements… sacks of rice, sacks of fertilizers, and other miscellaneous articles for the farm. Nearby is a garage for automobiles, tractors, and cargo trucks.

The rest of the areas inside the compound are orchard planted with fruit-bearing trees (mabolo, galangan, sambag, macopa, tambis, cabugao and kasoy). The fruits are for the “buenafamilia” and also for the birds. The verdant vegetation provides the mansion with a cool atmosphere and abundant supply of fresh air.

The mansion is complete with basic parts… “silong” (ground floor); stairs (leading to the upper floor); sala (principal public room in the house); “comedor” (dining room); “azotea” (porch) for hot summer nights: “kusina” (kitchen) managed by the matriarch and the “mayordoma” (most trusted elderly maid); “kuarto” (bedroom); and banyo” (toilet with bath facilities).

Adjacent to the “balay-daku” (big house) is the “comunidad” (community of sugarcane workers). The houses made of bamboo, nipa, cogon, and wood are in triangular formation with open space at the center serving as the plaza where the children and adults can play. It could be an area where the workers could dry their palay and copra.

Somewhere is the house of the “encargado” (overseer) who also operates a “cantina” (sari-sari store) selling rice, sardines, soda, dried fish, bread, soap, biscuits, and few other things which could be offered as a credit for the workers before salary day (taking place every seven or 15 days) or “lista de book suma de week” basis (just list down the items and pay later).

The workers could be “tapasero” (cane cutters), “manugpatdan” (cane point cutters), “manugtanom” (those who plant cane points),”arador” (those who plow the fields), “manughilamon” (those who clear the weeds), “manugsadol” (those who work with hoes), “manugpala” (those who work with spade), “manugabono” (those who apply fertilizers), “manugguna” (those who use shovel), and “manugtutod” (those who burn the dry leaves of sugarcane).

Lower than the “encargado” (overseer) could be the “cabo” (foreman) followed by the drivers of tractors and cargo trucks and the “ronda” (watchmen). The hacienda employee who handles the book of accounts is “tinedor de libro” (book keeper). The morning works start with “arema” at six wherein the workers assemble for job distribution and further instructions.

Break time is 10 in the morning (to resume at 1:00pm) and the work ends at five in the afternoon. When the work stops it is known as “orit.” Somebody might have heard the American foreman shouting, “All right”….stop working.” “Orit” is a bastardized “all right”. Life in the hacienda could be fun if not funny. It could also be tragedy if the salary is below the minimum wage.

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