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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, June 3, 2014
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The Provincial Capitol
BY MODESTO SA-ONOY

The original seat of the government of the Province of Occidental Negros was the house donated by Jose Ruiz de Luzuriaga, who at the time, was one of the three members of the Philippine Commission established by the Americans in 1901.

This house, which was demolished in 1962, was located at the corner of Luzuriaga and Araneta streets in Bacolod City.

In 1926, Governor Jose Locsin decided to construct a Capitol worthy of the growing wealth of the province after the introduction of centrifugal milling boosted the local income never experienced before.

The Provincial Board appropriated P255,000 for this project and, on June 2, 1927, the Bureau of Public Works, that has the authority to approve all public works in the country, authorized the construction.

The land that was chosen for the Capitol site, however, was owned by the Gonzaga family and they refused to sell. The province was forced to file expropriation proceedings against them.

Represented by the counsel, Manuel Fernandez Yanson, formerly a capitan municipal of Bacolod, the heirs Jose Gonzaga and the Gonzaga children (Gertrudes, Aurelia, Adela, Mamerta, Juan, Francisco and Villardo) finally agreed to sell but refused to accept the expropriation price of P1,200 per hectare. They asked for a higher price but the provincial government did not want to pay a bit more because the expropriation proceeding was already in the court. The Gonzagas relented.

With the approval of the BPW, construction began in 1927. However, work was slow that the provincial government sued the contractor, Manuel Concepcion, and ordered the confiscation of his bond.

Though work speeded up thereafter, the Capitol structure took form only in 1932 and finally completed on October 21, 1934. On January 11, 1935, the Capitol was formally accepted by Governor Emilio Gaston.

From conception to completion, the Capitol of Occidental Negros spanned the terms of Governors Locsin, Isaac Lacson and Gaston.

However, eight months after it was turned over to the provincial government, the Court of First Instance ordered the governor to pay the other landowners, who were not party to the expropriations case but whose lands were included in the Capitol site. The government paid Magdalena, Carmen and Vicente Gonzaga P1,552.40 plus six percent interest from April 20, 1933 when their lands were occupied by the Capitol.

Although the Capitol followed the design of other capitols in the country, that of Occidental Negros was larger, grander and more imposing because of the wide open space in front that allows a panoramic view of the building.*

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