Negros Occidental is a province occupying the north-western part of Negros. It is the fourth most populated province in the Philippines, known for its Chicken Inasal and its booming sugar industry, nicknamed The Sugar Bowl of the Philippines and home to one of the Philippines' active volcanoes, the majestic Mt. Kanlaon (also named Canlaon or Kanla-on).
|Northern Negros Occidental (Silay, Enrique B. Magalona, Victorias, Manapla, Cadiz City, Sagay, Escalante, Toboso, Calatrava)|
Home to the Philippines' second museum city which is home to over 30 colonial houses; Silay City. It is also known for Cadiz's fishing industry.
|Central Negros Occidental (Bacolod, Talisay, Murcia, Salvador Benedicto, San Carlos, Pulupandan, Valladoid, San Enrique, Pontevedra, La Castellana, Hinigaran, Isabel)|
The Central region is where the capital is located; Bacolod.
|Southern Negros Occidental (Binalbagan, Himamaylan, Ilog, Kabankalan, Cauayan, Sipalay, Candoni, Hinoba-an)|
Down under is where the untouched beaches of Sipalay is located.
- 1 Bacolod — provincial capital of Negros Occidental, known for its MassKara Festival which is one of the most colorful and lively festivals in the Philippines
- 2 Kabankalan — a big town on the way from Bacolod to Dumaguete
- 3 Murcia
- 4 Silay — renowned for its colonial houses, of which there are about 30, and is one of the museum cities in the Philippines along with Vigan; Spanish and American architecture is so common here that it has been declared the center of Arts in Western Visayas
- 5 Sipalay — Dubbed The Jewel of the Sugar Island, this city is home to beautiful white beaches, clear aquamarine waters and beautiful corals which are relatively unknown to the rest of the world
Fighting for freedom
Prior to Hispanic rule, Negros was known as Buglas and when the Spanish arrived in 1565 they named the island Negros as the people who settled there before were Negritos. The first settlements were founded in Ilog and Binalbagan. Ilog then was declared as capital but then transferred to Himamaylan and finally transferred to Bacolod in 1849. By 1890 the island was divided into two: Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. The Spanish rule had angered the people and they started wanting freedom from the Spanish. A rebellion led by Juan Araneta and Aniceto Lacson started on November 1898 which led to the defeat of the Spanish and was called the Negros Revolution, they then formed the Republic of Negros which then included the province of Negros Oriental which had their own administration.
Just like the rest of the Philippines, Negros Occidental was under American rule while resisting Japanese occupation. American rule gave benefit to the importation of sugar even though it was hard times which made the economy grow. In 1942 the Japanese occupied the province and asked the Negrosanon forces to surrender but they refused. Under Gov. Alfredo Montelibano Sr. a free government and guerrilla movement was formed. The Negrosanons joined the Americans against the Japanese until the end of World War II.
Sugar's sweet and bitter times
The province became the leading supplier of sugar in the whole Philippines with an account of 60% of all sugar production and most of the people depended on the sugar industry. The 1970s showed the bitter times of sugar when sugar prices remained low as well as the worst sugar prices. The following decade it was hit by two destructive typhoons after a serious drought.
Rays of hope today
Negros del Norte was formed but then dismissed. Sunshine again shined down as the economy had shown signs of upturns it was then followed by the growth of investment. Today the province remains as one of the fastest growing and largely developed provinces in the Philippines due to large income from the sugar industry.
Common demonym for people from Negros is Negrosanon or sometimes Negrense. They are reputed to be funny and fun loving people with their sweet accents and love for sweet food as the province is a major supplier of sugar. However when offended they may turn as fierce as a bull.
Christianity is prominent in the whole Philippines, and this includes Negros Occidental. Most of the people are Catholics, while minorities such as Baptists and Iglesia ni Cristo are also found. The Islamic faith has been growing since the province's connection with South Cotabato where many Muslim Illongos/Hiligaynons live. Taoism is also practiced in the province with the Filipino-Chinese being the largest minority.
The only major airport in Negros Occidental is Bacolod-Silay International Airport (Tagalog/Filipino: Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Bacolod-Lungsod ng Silay) in Silay. It has daily flights to and from Manila, Cebu and Davao on Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. It has no international flights.
Alternately, one might fly to Iloilo, which does have a few international flights, then take a ferry to Bacolod. Or one might reach Dumaguete by plane or ferry, then take a bus into Negros Occidental.
Sipalay now has a small airport with once-a-week flights from Iloilo and Cebu.
There is a major seaport in Bacolod that operates journeys from Manila, Iloilo City and Cagayan de Oro. Fast Cat and Weesam Express and Oceanjet have daily schedules to and from Bacolod. While 2GO Travel serves routes to and from Manila and Cagayan de Oro.
The province of Negros Occidental is mostly accessible through bus. Bus companies like Ceres Liner provide services to and from destinations within the province.
Cities like Bacolod have many taxis.
The fastest and cheapest mode of transport in the Philippines, jeepneys have designated routes to follow. It is the best mode of transport to explore the province, Jeepneys were jeeps of the U.S. Army which were refurbished and made longer to carry more passengers. Flagdown rates start at ₱7 per 4 km (2.5 mi) and additional ₱1 for an additional 1 km (0.62 mi). Ask for a discount if you're a senior citizen or a student.
Used for short distances, pedicabs and tricycles are available and in this region are sometimes called rickshaws. However these rickshaws are meant for smaller people, and if you do not physically fit don't even try to ride on it, as you'd just give the pedicab driver a headache.
Church of the Angry Christ in Victorias City is one of the famous landmarks of Negros Occidental, it gets its name from the huge mural in the altar which is a mural of Jesus Christ who looks like he is angry, this is one of the unique murals in the Philippines as it depicts Christ as a Filipino. There is another mural inside the church which is incredibly made out of soda cans and which also depicts Christ as a Filipino being baptized which had caused controversy among some. San Sebastian Cathedral in Bacolod and Church of Our Lady of Peace and Voyage are made out of corals along binded together with egg yolks interestingly. San Diego Pro-Cathedral in Silay somehow resembles the dome in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Silay has been known for its Spanish-American colonial structures which still survive today and number around 30, among its most famous attractions are Cinco de Noviembre Street and Balay Negrense. Fountain of Justice in Bacolod is where the Spanish surrendered to the Filipinos. See Kabankalan for its sugar mills. Cities such as Talisay and Silay have many ancestral homes which stretches back to the colonial times.
Nature and wildlife
See Danjugan Island Marine Sanctuary which is a home to the endangered White Breasted Eagle. The island is known for its diverse marine life and beautiful saltwater lagoons. Mt. Kanlaon National Park is an ideal destination for hikers, while the nearby Rafael Salas Park and Nature Center serves as the gateway to the National Park. Lakawon Island Resort is a white beach resort with clear blue waters, and is not as crowded and known as the world famous Boracay. Campomanes Bay, Sugar Beach and Punta Ballo Beach are just 10 minutes apart from each other. Aside from swimming and strolling its sands; kayaking and diving is also possible. Sipaway Island has beautiful white sands which are enjoyed by both local and foreign tourists. Carbin Reef, Hulao-Hulao Reef, Panal Reef and Macahulom Reef are all suitable for snorkeling and diving. Mangrove forests are still found in Molocaboc Island. E.B. Magalona, Cadiz City and San Carlos have breath-taking rice terraces, while Sipalay has many caves. Many of the cities and towns of Negros Occidental are lucky to be blessed with waterfalls.
- Masskara Festival. A big annual Mardi Gras like event celebrated every 3rd week of October in Bacolod. Each of the city's barangays (districts) joins the competition for the fiercely competitive best costumed group. Lots of food and handicraft stalls, street dancing and beer at the Bacolod city plaza area. "Masskara" means "Mask" in Hiligaynon and Tagalog. The use of colorful masks with large smiles represent the nickname for the city, "City of Smiles". The masks are usually the icons for the festival and sometimes for Bacolod.
- Panaad sa Negros.
- Dive - Sipalay has the best dive sites in Negros Occidental, from wrecks to coral reefs.