By James Barcelona
Negros Occidental is one of the provinces of the Philippines and is located in the Western Visayas Region. It is subdivided into 19 municipalities and 13 cities, with Bacolod City as the provincial capital. Negros Occidental has the most number of chartered cities among all provinces in the Philippines, though many of the cities resemble medium-sized towns.
|Carbin Reef in Sagay town|
Negros Occidental occupies the northwestern half of Negros Island; Negros Oriental is at the southeastern half. A mountain range lines the eastern part of the province which forms the basis of the border with Negros Oriental. Mount Canlaon, the highest peak in the Visayas with a height of 2465 meters, is partially located in Negros Oriental. The people of Negros are called “Negrense” with Hiligaynon as the predominant dialect. However, on the east coast of the province, facing Cebu Island, a few cities and towns speak Cebuano.
|Danjugan Island Marine Sanctuary|
Negros Island was originally called “Buglas”, an old native word that is thought to mean “cut-off”. It is believed that the island was once part of a greater mass of land but was cut off either by a continental drift or by rising waters during the so-called glacial age. The earliest inhabitants were dark-skinned natives belonging to the Negrito ethnic group. Thus, when the Spaniards arrived they called the island “Negros”. The first capital of the province was Ilog in 1743 while Bacolod became capital in 1849.
Sugar industry is the lifeblood of the economy of Negros Occidental. It is known as the “Sugarbowl of the Philippines” and produces more than half of the country’s sugar. There are 15 sugar centrals located throughout the province. Victorias Milling Company located in Victorias City is the largest sugar mill in the country and the world’s largest integrated sugar mill and refinery. Bacolod City is the center of commerce and finance in Negros Occidental.
“Pana-ad sa Negros”, dubbed as the “Festivals of Festivals”, is a colorful and jubilant presentation of individual festivals of the 13 cities and 19 municipalities of the province. It presents Bacolod City’s famous Masskara, La Carlota’s rhythmic Pasalamat, San Carlos City’s multi-awarded Pintaflores, Kabankalan City’s Sinulog, Sagay City’s Sinigayan, La Castellana’s Bailes de Luces and many more.
Negros Occidental is home to beautiful white sand beaches, marine reserves and clear blue waters. Among these are Sipalay’s Campomanes Bay, Sugar Beach formerly called Langub Beach and Punta Ballo Beach; Lakawon Island Resort, Sipaway Island, Carbin Reef, Danjugan Island, Punta Bulata White Beach Resort and Spa and Palau Beach Resort.
Negros Occidental is also known for its people with their endearing accent, charm and gracious hospitality. The province’s cuisine is legendary. Its mouthwatering dishes rank among the best that the islands have to offer. A beautiful land, charming people and delectable cuisine – the province promises to be a destination like no other.