Monday, March 12, 2012

Muscovado Mills

Before the existence of the modern sugar centrals in Negros Island, there were the Mucovado mills. When I was little, it was not uncommon to see the "simborio" or smokestack of the old muscovado (brown) sugar mill found in large sugar plantations of the province.  In the farms surrounding Silay City alone,  from a distance I think I saw about 3 or 4 of them, grey stone structures which stood alone and imposing in the middle of unending fields of green. I remember asking my dad what they were and his simple answer was "old sugar mills".  It was much later that I learned that they were part of a century-old technology of milling sugar, and were actually the smokestack or chimney part of the muscovado mill. In the old days, almost every plantation had it's own muscovado mill. It must have been cost-effected if not energy-efficient since most of the owners had really large plantations. Some smaller landowners also had mills but these were primitive in type and less efficiently run. Today, however, these antique structures are not very visible anymore in the province. I can only guess that perhaps many have been destroyed to give way to modernization. I believe that LGU's, historical or heritage groups should document the few left standing in their respective areas so that these could be preserved and protected for it's important historical value in the evolution of Negros sugar. Among the many cities and municipalities of Negros, La Carlota City still has a relatively intact Muscovado mill in Hacienda Canman-ug, although this is no longer functional. 

Location:  Hda. Canman-ug, La Carlota City
(all photos above were taken from

Silay City has immortalized the muscovado simborio as there is a replica of it as one enters the city in the south boundary. This picture is the background of this blog.  Of course, it is a stylized version but the symbolism for the city does not escape the viewer.  Silay, after all has one of the biggest group of families who migrated from Iloilo and who became big landowners of sugar plantations.

So it was a very pleasant surprise to know that there was one right in my backdoor.  A FB friend and a Silaynon took a picture of the ruins of a muscovado simborio that is still standing in Hda. Fortuna.  It is ironic that nobody who lived in that area nor the owners of the farm has mentioned this or gave it much importance.  I think this relic from the past should be properly documented.

Location:  Hda. Fortuna, Silay CIty
Photos courtesy of Mr. Edwin Estrobo Mijares
Who knows how many more unseen ruins are still in existence around the city?  Maybe like the WWII pillboxes, this too could be included in our Silay walking tours.


  1. What an interesting place to visit! :)

  2. you haven't been to Silay? Why ever not? My city is a must see for Filipino travellers. I like your blog so I will add it to my reading list. If you like, you can add me too :)

  3. This is an interesting place. Never been there. I think we just passed by Silay when we went to Victorias City many years ago.

  4. This is the good thing about living in the province theres allot of place to go. Here in manila nakakatamad mag explore dahil sa trafiic hehehe..

    Btw: new follower her hope you follow my blog too..

  5. Those ruins should be included in the tours. They look very intriguing and have a historical past.

  6. I was never a fan of Muscovado sugar (I'm the white and brown sugar kind of gal). But just seeing the structures that help make this type of sugar just gave me a deeper appreciation for the product.

  7. These simboryos are also a staple in my childhood memories in Negros. There's one near The Ruins in Talisay. I hope that one wouldn't be torn down cuz it adds to the mystique of the place. I'm with you in preserving and protecting the few simboryos left. It's a relic of Negrense history.

  8. You're right, it must be documented and it's cool that you just did :)

  9. Nice post---Another place worth of a visit

  10. Wow nice post! You should show this post to the local officials of Silay! This is a very bright idea! Silay Walking tour!

  11. Those mills should indeed be preserve for future generations to see. It's only befitting given the fact that it played an important role in the towns history and agricultural growth.

  12. Having their own Muscuvado Mill must be very convenient in the Haciendas then.
    I could very well understand the plight of the Sakada's even to this day.
    I've covered it in a documentary as a student from Iloilo.
    Sugar Mills had been part of the way of life.
    I do know that as of right now, Sugar Central holds a great part of milling sugar canes.
    I do agree that these locations needed to be preserve..
    after all, you said its the symbol of Silay itself

  13. I'm not sure if muscovado sugar is more expensive than than refined sugar. Please do enlighten me ^_^

    I like the idea of Silay Walking Tour. I just hope taking pictures is allowed though. ^_^

  14. The place looks really centuries old because of the ruins and its historical background. You're lucky to set feet on that quite unfamiliar place.


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