September 3, 2012

Café at the Ruins, Talisay

There are some people
who have power over us,
even after they’re gone.

Once upon a time, a young wealthy sugar plantation owner met and fell in love with a beautiful Portuguese lady from Macau. They got married, had 10 children and lived happily ever after. Until one day, while in full term of her 11th pregnancy, she died in an accident, leaving behind her heartbroken husband and their children.

While people have different ways of coping with the loss of a loved one, the husband turned his grief into building a grand mansion in the middle of a vast sugar cane plantation, in memory of the woman he loved. The mansion was made of first class and high standard materials, mostly imported from Europe. He wanted the mansion to be perfect, a beauty to behold. He wanted the world to know, that his love for her still continues even if it’s already over.

For many years, the mansion would serve as home to the widower and the unmarried children, until the day each one of them got married, and eventually left the mansion. Even the widower remarried, and later on left as a gesture of respect for his first wife.

In the eve of World War II, the mansion was burned down by American troops and Filipinos guerillas to prevent invading Japanese soldiers from turning the mansion into their headquarters. It lasted for three days. What’s remarkable was, the mansion did not entirely burn down to ashes. Its structure, concrete walls, and strong foundation remained, signifying one thing - that love conquers all, even fire.

Six years later, the man died, leaving behind his monument of love in ruins. Such was the story of an enduring love behind The Ruins, now considered one of the most beautiful ruins in the world.

I hope they are now reunited. I imagine him serenading her in the garden with Hunter Hayes’ Wanted. I imagine them walking hand in hand by the fountain. I hope Mariano Lacson and Maria Braga are now happy wherever they are. They deserved to be.

And for now, let me enjoy my brazo de mercedes and coffee latte. Dusk can make this place more romantic. Death ends only life, but not love. And most of the time, we only find out the true value of a person when they are no longer with us. I’m pondering what would be my worth to someone when I’m gone?
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