Historical and documentary
records reveal that the Old City Hall was part of Cadastral Lot No. 22
covering some 2371 square meters of land area.
The land bordering the area was classified as
commercial with an assessed value of P54,521.44 as of 1963.
The initial design of the Bacolod City Hall back
then, was reminiscent of typical two-storey edifices common during the
Spanish colonial period.
The lower half of the building was principally
made of cut stories, commonly used prior to the advent of hollow blocks.
The upper portion had a protruding part that
jutted out towards Araneta Street, supported with five hardwood columns
and infused with shaded, cemented walks beneath it.
The facade was made of wood with sliding windows
supported by wooden balustrades that served as the ventilation and
decoration. The rear part of the upper floor was made of wood and
Mrs. Conchita Gallaga, a grandniece of the former
owner, explained that the rear portion housed the dining and kitchen
quarters, the 'pantaw', for laundry purposes equipped with a large tank
for storing water.
A unique feature that used to attract the
attention of passers-by were the statues of four stone lions that
'guarded' the main entrance found on the side of the building that faces
These symbols of power and authority were once
upon a time, part of the then-famous Yulo's Park.
It was that the lions were placed in its rightful
place at the city hall entrance by Alfredo Yulo during his incumbency as
city mayor in 1940.
Another interesting item that got the attention
of city residents and visitors was the imposing canon stuck at the
northeast corner of the building.
Former city hall employees contend that
before the construction of the Doņa Anita Building - that faces the old
city hall directly at the Luzuriaga side -, the streets were so narrow
that moving cars occasionally bump into the corner post.
The seemingly annoying and frequent problem
prompted then city engineer Dimas Castro to make use of the Spanish canon,
which he found lying in the backyards of the building in 1938, and had it
placed beside the corner post to prevent it from incurring further damages.
Those who could remember
taking a trip inside the city hall back then could very well recall that
the posts and floorings of the building was as strong and hard as iron.
Molave was generally
used for the construction of the city hall back in the 1860's, believed to
have been supplied by the late Hilario Gallos. It
came from the forests of Manapla and were then floated down the sea wall
and then transported all the way to the city hall site.
As a private residence, Little is known of
the origin of this fascinating edifice save for some assertions from the
heirs of the late Don Jose Ruiz de Luzuriaga and a few dusty documents
from the Register of Deeds.
The Luzuriaga was originally from Spain. They
were Basques - people who lived in the Pyrenees region of Spain. Don
Eusebio Luzuriaga was the first of the line to migrate to the Philippines. He
was a political refugee - a Carlista.
Historically, after the death of Ferdinand VII of
Spain in 1833, the country was in disorder. The King willed the crown to
his infant daughter Isabela, but the king's brother Carlos also laid claim
to the throne.
Don Eusebio arrived in Manila in the mid-19th
century and later settled in Ilof where he married Juliana Guiquen with
whom he had three children, Jose, Luis and Trinidad.
A short while later, the family's fortunes
prospered having acquired vast tracts of land in a most unusual manner
practiced in older times.
The rule was to ride a horse until it fell
exhausted or the rider stopped due to fatigue. The area covered by the
horseman during his ride was proclaimed as his own.
It was believed that Don Jose was the one who
occupied the old city hall.
Whether the old city hall was built by Don Jose
or the former owners of the land could not be ascertained, but his heirs
contend that a maestro carpintero working for the Luzuriaga family must
have been the one who built it together with the other houses of the clan.
There was supposedly a beautiful orchard adorning
the backyard of the house.
One the historic moments believes to have taken
place in the old house while it was under Don Jose was the signing of the
capitulation of the Spanish forces led by Domingo Castro, last Spanish
government and the cantonal government set up in Negros at the turn of the
19th century. The wood and marble table used during the formal turnover
may have been burned or taken by conquering Japanese forces.
Don Jose moved smooth into the political and
social circles during the American regime. A lover of the good life. Don
Jose facilitated several social activities to be held at the old city hall
during the Spanish and American eras.
Unfortunately, photographs that could graphically
support such contentions were lost later from the Luzuriaga's during the
Later, Don Jose was appointed one of the first
three Filipino commissioners together with Dr. T.H. Pardo De Tavera and
Benito Legarda. He was also the second appointed governor of Negros.
The old city hall then became the seat of the Negros
provincial government and later on, the land on which it was standing was
donated by Don Jose to the provincial government.
Don Jose's act was believed to have been born out
of his civic consciousness when he decided to return back to Spain,
leaving behind the house and lot to the provincial government.
By then, Bacolod was still a municipality and
part of the Negros province.
Among the prominent
visitors that set foot in the building at that time was the then -
Ambassador of China and Governor General - who later on became the
President of the United States - Theodore Roosevelt when he visited the
province in June 3, 1932
The seat of the Bacolod municipal
government was then at the current site of the Philippine Commercial and
Industrial Bank building along Gonzaga - Araneta.
However, an exchange was made between the
provincial and municipal government of the current city hall site and the
Luzuriaga donated property.
Prior to the final exchange, a committee composed
of Luis Tongoy, Fernando Cuadra and Tomas Garrucho was formed to study the
proposal of municipal president Mariano Ramos to exchange ownership of the
By virtue of Commonwealth
Act 326, the Municipality of Bacolod was made into a city on October 19,
1938, highlighted by the visit of Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon.
But while the city was still rejoicing in her
new-found autonomy as a city, World War II broke out and, surprisingly,
none of the Japanese forces held office there.
Bacolod witnessed a war-torn city during that
turbulent periods, however, the city hall stood its ground.
In 1945, Bacolod was liberated from the Japanese
forces and the city hall became the center of price control and
coordinating agency of the Americans, albeit temporarily, to help the
war-ravaged province return back to its state of normalcy.
It again regained its reputation as the city
Twenty years after the liberation of Bacolod, the
city grew and prospered, but city hall suffered several setbacks.
In 1948, a fire razed a portion of the records
section that consumed the rear end of the building and with it, numerous
priceless documents of the city.
incidents, involving deaths and other untoward events, rendered it a
negative notoriety especially for superstitious folk as a place of bad
To counteract these lamentable events. the city
hall also saw and rejoiced with each new city official inducted into
office, when civic organizations geared for the improvement of the
community used it as a venue for their conference, when the sick got a new
lease in life or when a man got a new lease in life or when a man got
acquitted for a crime.
But age finally catches up on everyone and
anything. The old city hall looked decrepit and ugly due to old age beside
a sprawling modern three-storey counterpart which housed the new seat of
the seat government.
Little by little, tables were cleared from the
old city hall and transferred to the new edifice.
The old city hall, despite its rich history, has
finally given way for the new and progress to match the changing times and