I should learn how to take good photographs. The pictures that I took of La Purissima Concepcion do not do justice to the structural beauty of this decades-old two-storey wooden building.
La Purissima Concepcion Building (LPCB) is probably the oldest commercial building in Bacolod City. Built in 1936 and named after the owner Dona Concepcion Figueroa Delgado, it reflects the architectural trend of that era – the Art Deco movement. Spare lines and curves, and porthole windows make up the design. The profusion of calado and ventanillas in previously built edifices are nowhere to be seen here although it still sports tall ceilings and tongue-in-groove wooden planks that are narrower compared with those used in older buildings. One reason would be the fewer sources of timber at that time. At a time when structures were ecologically-friendly, LPCB takes advantage of concepts that allowed unmitigated circulation of air and captured as much natural light as possible.
When it was built, LPCB was the tallest building in the area by the Bacolod Public Plaza. The first tenants were Mr. and Mrs. Aurio Miraflor who transformed it into Miramar Hotel. I wasn’t born that time yet, of course, but I still can’t help waxing nostalgic for the old Bacolod.
LPCB is located at the corner of Locsin and Cuadra Streets. The latter used to cut through the plaza; one can still see that plaza road that has blended into the square. The former used to be called Smith even up in my high school days in the 80’s. We girls would smirk when someone, especially a girl, tells us she is from there for Smith converted into a red-light district at night . The smirk would also be on our faces when we would take a stroll at the sea wall where the Bays Center is now. You see, the sea wall was a favorite haunt for courting couples and we youngsters would giggle at the sight of boys and girls holding hands there. O tempos, o mores! Our cause for giggling were much, much tamer then.
The Miramar Hotel was named such because when one was at the second floor, one can see the sea to the west. A portmanteau was formed from “mira” (Sp. to see) and “mar” (Sp. sea).
When the second world war came, the Japanese forces occupied the building to make it their offices. Then, liberation time came and the Americans booted out the Japs and made LPCB their headquarters. The Miraflors revived the Miramar in 1946 until 1955. Afterwards, the building administration leased out its units commercially.
To the credit of Mr. Enrique D. Rojas, Sr., the son of Dona Concepcion who now supervises the maintenance of the building, the La Purissima Concepcion Building is well-preserved with the wooden parts and metal sheet awnings intact. We have a treasure that has survived the Bacolod Central Market fire of 1955 and had gone on to the next century as an interesting example of how things used to be.
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P.s. Many thanks to Ms. Katrina Palencia for guiding me and my friends around the building.