During the 1930’s, a short stretch of Burgos Street was known as the Millionaires Row because of the several grand mansions belonging to some of the rich families of Bacolod. Today, these mansions are still in good condition, standing proudly as proof of the affluent life of these families.
One of these mansions is the house belonging to the family of Generoso Villanueva known as the “boat house” because of its shape. Anyone who passed by Burgos St. would notice this imposing mansion which now serves as the office of Sta. Fe Development Corporation owned by the Villanueva family.
We were able to visit the house during our NITI tour guiding class two years ago with Mr. Raymond Fuentes as guide. The mansion was an Art Deco style of the 1930’s. It has three floors and multi-level roof garden and a tower that provides the owners a panoramic view of the city. According to Mr. Fuentes, the house is the only one to have an elevator in the region during that time. Construction of the house started in 1936 and was finished in 1938 with a cost of P200,000 a huge amount in that period.
Although a rich man, Don Generoso was known to be close to the ordinary people especially to his hacienda workers who fondly call him Tio Gener. He initially developed a part of his hacienda to be a weekend retreat for his workers. This eventually led to the development of Sta. Fe Resort., the first inland resort in Bacolod City. Since then, Sta. Fe Resort became a destination in Bacolod City for people from all walks of life. Sta. Fe Resort is now managed by the grandchildren of Don Generoso who still continue the legacy of service that their patriarch started. Most workers in the resort have worked there for decades.
As a testament of how beloved he was by those who knew him, when Don Generoso died, a lot of people from all walks of life attended his funeral. It is said that people took turns in carrying his coffin from San Sebastian Cathedral to Burgos cemetery. You would really know how a man lived by the way people remember him when he dies.