The Province of Negros Oriental Historical Highlights

The Island of Negros is the second largest in the Visayas, after Panay. The natives of old called it BUGLAS, after the tall reeds predominant on the island. In 1527 Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, anchored in Bohol, sent an expedition to explore the neighboring landmass that was BUGLAS. The crew returned with reports of dark-skinned natives on the island, and so it was thereafter referred to as NEGROS.

The Augustinians began Christianization of Negros Island in 1572. Tanjay was constituted as the first parish on the southeastern coast in 1580. The Jesuits arrived in Tanjay in 1600, but spiritual and military governing seats remained in Panay for western Negros, and in Cebu for the eastern settlements.

In 1734, Negros was made a corregimento with Ilog as capital. Spiritual administration of Negros was taken over by the Dominicans in 1768.

In 1795 Negros was made an alcaldia and the capital was moved to Himamaylan.

In 1848 spiritual administration was assumed by the Recollects. Less than three years later, sugar cane began to transform Negros into the most productive island in the archipelago.

In 1856, Negros was elevated into a politico-militar province with Bacolod as capital and Don Emilio Saravia y Nuñez as First Gobernador Politico-Militar.

For almost 400 years NEGROS was administered as one province by the Spanish despite the various settlements being at great distance from one another. Travel was by horseback or on foot. It took days, rivers and mountains and jungles had to be traversed to reach the major poblacions.

About 1876, 13 Recollects who administered the parishes and misions petitioned Spain to divide the island to make spiritual and political administration more convenient. In 1890, barely eight years before the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution against Spain, Governor General Valeriano Weyler, acting on a Royal Decree, created the Provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.

To the now separate political unit of Negros Oriental, Siquijor Island was attached, and Dumaguete was assigned as capital. Don Joaquin Tavera was appointed First Gobernador Politico-Militar.

In February 1891, construction of the retreat house of the Recollects in Lazi, Siquijor Island, was completed. It was considered the biggest in the Philippines.

In 1896, the Philippine Revolution against Spain broke out. Pangaleon Villegas of Bacong enlisted with the Katipunan in Cebu. The following year, he led a successful attack on the Spanish garrison in Cebu, but was assassinated five days later in Carcar, on April 8, 1898.

The Revolution came to the Province late in 1898, with General Diego de la Viña leading the march from Vallehermoso to liberate Dumaguete. By the time they arrived on November 24, however, the Spanish forces had abandoned the capital. The Revolution in the Province transpired without bloodshed.

The Provisional Government of Negros Oriental was established on November 25, 1898. Don Demetrio Larena was elected President. On May 27, 1899, the Battalion of First California Volunteers Regiment established American presence in Dumaguete. On July 22, 1899, General Order No 30 created a military-civil government under an American military governor and elected native civil and advisory council. On May 1, 1901 a civil government was established with Don Demetrio Larena as Governor.

On August 28, 1901, Dr David S Hibbard established Silliman Institute in Dumaguete. Three years later, on October 29, 1904, seven St Paul de Chartres nuns founded St Paul’s Academy in Dumaguete, the congregation’s first institution in the Philippines.

In 1918, the Compania General de Tabacos de Filpinas SA (Tabacalera), chose Negros Oriental as the site of its first sugar mill in the Philippines – the Central Azucarera de Bais. In 1941, Compania de Cellulosa de Filipinas Inc set up in Bais the first integrated factory in the world using bagasse as raw material in the manufacture of paper.

Japanese occupation of the Province began on May 26, 1942. Hostilities ended on August 6, 1945.

On April 5, 1955, Pope Pius XII created the Diocese of Dumaguete comprising Negros Oriental Province, Siquijor sub-province, and the Negros Occidental towns of San Carlos, Calatrava, Toboso and Escalante.

On September 17, 1971, Siquijor was made a province independent of Negros Oriental.

In the 70s, when the Philippine islands were clustered into political regions, Negros Occidental became part of Region VI, or Western Visayas; while Negros Oriental was assigned to Region VII, or Central Visayas, with Cebu as its regional center. Negros thus became the only Visayan Island to be divided.

NEGROS ORIENTAL has five (5) component cities: CANLAON, BAIS, BAYAWAN, TANJAY, and the capital, DUMAGUETE. Along a continuous coastline of about 300 kms is a string of 17 coastal towns: BACONG, DAUIN, ZAMBOANGUITA, SIATON, SANTA CATALINA and BASAY to the south of the capital; SIBULAN, SAN JOSE, AMLAN, MANJUYOD, BINDOY, AYUNGON, TAYASAN, JIMALALUD, LA LIBERTAD, GUIHULNGAN and VALLEHERMOSO to the north. There are three interior towns: VALENCIA, PAMPLONA and MABINAY.

The mid-year census posted Negros Oriental’s population at 1,126,061.

Daily flights of less than an hour from Manila transports you to this Province of diverse natural delights. The rural landscape of Negros Oriental, backboned by the massive Cuernos de Negros, is deceptively commonplace. Explorations uncover an abundance of misty lakes and meandering rivers, rushing cascades and awesome caverns of incredible beauty. A cruise of Bais Bay is rewarded by sightings of dolphins and pygmy sperm whales. Apo Island of Dauin town is known as one of the best divesites in the region. The imposing Canlaon Volcano gushes numerous falls. The Province is outside the typhoon belt. Weather is generally fair all year round. Despite its abundant assets, Negros Oriental is only just emerging as an important ecotourism destination in Central Visayas
Negros Island was formally divided into two provinces in 1890. Negros Oriental, on the southeastern coast, is 5,402.30 sq kms, the largest land area of the Region VII provinces. There are five component cities and 20 municipalities, each with its own unique natural charms, historic sites, colorful rites and festivals, and a variety of crafts and delicacies.
The Province is predominantly agricultural. English is widely spoken. Visitor facilities range from upscale to budget-friendly. For boundless nature-based tour and leisure options, Negros Oriental has it all.

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