isit us during the MASSKARA festival in October! a wonderful time is guaranteed for all! The best time to visit is on the 2nd to the 3rd week of October when the city celebrates Bacolod Cityís Charter Day (Oct. 19) with a mardi gras like festival called MASSKARA.
Masskara is a week long festivity that includes dancing in the streets. Floats,
free shows, programs, beauty and talent contests, food festivals, trade
fairs and exhibits. Clowns, dolls, monster, butterflies, flowers, fruits, and
assorted characters in papier mache masks dance in the streets to the Latin
samba beat. Beer flows like water here. Few years ago, the whole islandís
supply of beer ran dry,we have to Ďimportí from the neighboring island.
The Filipinos are known for their warmth and hospitality, and nowhere is it more evident than in the smiles of the people of Bacolod.
Whereís the beach? Tourists who ask this of Negros Occidental would not get an encouraging reply. Where 75% of the land is fertile loam and clay devoted to livelihood crops, mainly sugarcane, beaches are sooty with the fine silt carried by the islandís six rivers and their tributaries as they flow down mountains through in land plains towards the Panay Gulf or the Guimaras and Tanon Straits. The nearest glimpse of white sand and clear sea is hours away from the capital city of Bacolod and across the straits at the outlying islands of Llacaon, Enchanted Isle, Bulata, El Sueño, and Sipaway or Refugio.
Even the irregular coastline, which in other provinces would have lent itself to the formation of coves and inlets, is put into more practical use, as in fishing, prawn farming, trading ports. But Negros Occidental does have its share of fun and wordly attractions. In fact, it is being developed as the next convention center and golfing paradise of the Visayas.
In April of 1565, Spanish navigators landed on the shores of a sock-shaped island, the fourth largest in the Philippine archipelago, they found thereon dark-skinned inhabitants of the Negrito ethnic group. Thus, the island which was originally known as Buglas to the natives was given the name Negros, for its people, by the Spaniards.
When the Spanish government moved into the island, the province of Negros became a military district and the first towns were established. The number of towns grew with the influx of immigrants from the neighboring islands of Panay and Cebu in the later part of the 18th century.
In early 1876, a petition for the Islandís division into east and west was
submitted by 13 priests from the towns of the Oriental coast to the
Governor-General. The priests argued that the high mountain ranges made
travel and communication difficult between the eastern and western sides of
the Island, giving rise to problems in government. The following year, after
an official investigation on the situation in the Island, a recommendation
was made for its division into two separate provinces: Negros Oriental and
The recommendation languished for 13 years but finally, in compliance with a royal decree, Governor-General Valeriano Weyler established the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental on January 1, 1890.
After the upheaval and destruction brought by the first and second world wars, the hardy Negrenses set about the business of rehabilitation and reconstruction. From the 1950ís onward, the sugar industry boomed. Producing about 60% of the Philippines. The socio-economic life of the Negrenses were almost totally dependent of the crop. And this is the reason why the sudden fall of world sugar prices to rock bottom in 1984 hit the province as a disaster of unmitigated proportions.
The year 1985 saw Negros languishing in the scourges of poverty and economic
crisis. Media bore accounts and pictures of malnourished and dying children
begging in the desolate streets, farms abandoned, mansions closed down, and
the exodus of those who are able. International and local aid were sent to
the stricken island to help it cope with the crisis. But not all Negrenses
were down and out for the count.
With the economy on the verge of collapse, the provincial
administration of Negros under the then leadership of Governor Daniel Lacson,
Jr. Began to strive toward concretizing hope and new life in the hearts and
minds of the Negrenses by finding solutions to the more pressing concerns of
hunger, shelter, unemployment, education and a better future. With faith in
the new government and a strong desire to change the grim realities of their
province, non-government and private voluntary organizations united in
a community effort to deliver reforms.
These include massive feeding programs assisted by UNICEF, USAID and
CARE Philippines; a Food-For-Work Program; a water project providing potable
water for the province; and the construction of artificial reefs to provide
feed for marginal fishermen.
Diversification and livelihood programs blossomed in the next two
years. Victorias Milling Company, one of the first sugar firms in the country, expanded its raw sugar milling
and refinery operations into an agro-industrial conglomerate that includes
livestockís and prawn farms, feed mills and a fertilizer plant, food processing,
general engineering products and services, management and technical consultancy
services, and real estate development. From a one-crop concern, the sugar
planters of Silay, Talisay and Murcia districts acquired alternative enterprises
such as feed mills, poultry, prawn farming and food processing, integrating
these businesses into an agro-industrial giant, First Farmers Holding Corporation.
Other existing sugar mill also began to undertake diversified ventures with industrial complexes
such as that of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), the biggest brewery in the
country, providing greater opportunities for growth. Prawn processing,
formally introduced to the private sector by SMC in 1983, has become a
major industry in the province.
A total of 1,500 hectares have been developed, and a targeted 5,000 more is expected to earn within
the next two or three years. Feed mills and other suppliers of prawn industry
requirements are also expected to break ground in the province.
It was also at this point when Manila-based Negrenses put forward the idea of gathering the scattered
cottage industries of Negros and promoting these alternative sources of
income through trade fairs and exhibits in Manila.
This exposure provided the impetus for Negros producers to plot their own development in industries other than sugar. In March of 1988, the Association of Negros Producers (ANP) was born to meet the needs of these fledgling business in skills development, labor and finance management, training programs, and promotion in the local and export markets. The ANP Showroom, located on Lacson St. in Bacolod City, is proof positive of the unquenchable enterprising spirit of the Negrenses.
Indeed, the once decaying province is rising from its depression with new hope. Though the fields are again verdant with the tall spiky stems of sugar cane, diversification attempts have produced other high-yield staples such as rice, corn and fruit trees. And even as the people can afford to heave a collective sigh of relief over this triumph of human faith, industry and spirit, the leaders of the province are implementing a 15-year Master Plan to provide a continuous force in this time of transition. Industrial development programs, infrastructure requirements, market research, maximum utilization of resources and other studies are being conducted to ensure that this new beginning is seen to fruition, that Negros Occidental will finally become a self-sufficient, agro-industrialized province and recover the glory that was once hers.
Now, Negros is a booming city. With the frenzy constructions of malls and buildings, nothing can be further from the truth. Robinsons Mall-Bacolod is said to be the biggest Robinson store outside of Luzon. Uniwide country mall, situated in Bata, is also the biggest in the uniwide chain in the philippines. Shoemart and Gaisano malls are in the works. An airport with international standards will also be constructed in Silay City, it will be finished by the year 2002.
In 1985, the economy of Negros was down. The future looks bleak. Now, we are on an economic upturn. Negrenses has shown to the world that anything is possible, with patience, determination, perseverance and hard work.
Dumalapdap the god warrior, and Uyutang the bat like monster battled continuously for seven months. On the last month, Dumalapdap gathered his strength and gave one mighty blow with his magic dagger. Struck beneath the armpit, the vanquished monster fell with a violent cry.
So great was his fall that an earthquake ensued, and the nearby ridge broke in two. The shards of the earth became the islands of Panay and Negros. So goes the Visayan epic Jinilawod, clothing the origins of Negros Island in myth and romance. A more down-to-earth version though, of the creation of Negros Occidental is supplied by the Negros Historical Commission.
Address : Former Provincial Capitol Bldng., Bacolod City. Negros
Occidental, Philippines 6100.
Tel. no. : (034) 2-33-95
Fax no. : (034) 433-47-64
Note : Guided tours at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 3:30 p.m. Special group
tours must be arranged 1 week in advance. They are open Tuesday
to Saturday. 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Excerpts: Mabuhay Magazine.