Negros Occidental is a province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Its capital is Bacolod City and it occupies the northwestern half of Negros Island; Negros Oriental is at the southeastern half. Across the Panay Gulf and the Guimaras Strait to the northwest is the island-province of Guimaras and the province of Iloilo onPanay island. Known as the "Sugarbowl of the Philippines", Negros Occidental produces more than half the nation's sugar output.
Negros Island was originally known to the natives as "Buglas". When the Spaniards arrived in April 1565, they named it "Negros" because of the dark-skinned natives they found. Two of the earliest native settlements were Binalbagan and Ilog which later became towns in 1572 and 1584, respectively. Other settlements were Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, Bago, Marayo (now Pontevedra), Mamalan (now Himamaylan) and Candaguit (a sitio in San Enrique).
Ilog was made the first capital of the province in 1743. This was later transferred to Himamaylan. Bacolod became the capital in 1849.
The island was divided into Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental in 1890. The two provinces were briefly united as an independentRepublic of Negros with Bacolod as the capital on November 27, 1898. It became a protectorate of the United States until 1901, when the republic was dissolved, with the two provinces annexed to the Philippines.
During the succeeding decades between 1901 to the 1930s, Negros Occidental was under Insular Government of the United States of America as with the rest of the country and later under the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Economic growth continued especially with Philippine sugar having a part of the US market. The socio-economic life of Negros Occidental from the 1950s up to the 1980s depended as before mainly on the sugar industry. Negros del Norte was created from Negros Occidental on January 3, 1986. Its creation was declared unconstitutional on July 11, 1986, and was abolished on August 18, 1986.
Towards the end of 1987, the rays of hope started to shine when the over-all economic situation showed a positive upturn. The campaign for agricultural diversification had been gaining momentum, paving the way for more landowners to invest in prawn farming and high-value crops such as fruits, vegetables, livestock and other cash crops. Investments upswing became apparent by 1988. The participation of the industrial sector accelerated the consumer-led economic growth and development manifested by the increase in sales of consumer goods and by-products. Today Negros Occidental remains one of the most progressive and largely developed Philippine province, in large due to the profits from the sugar industry but also due to diversification to other fields.
Negros Occidental is located in the western side of Negros Island, the third largest island in the Philippines with a total land area of 972,607 hectares or 9,726.06 km2. The province is approximately 375 kilometers long from north to south. It is bounded by the Visayan Sea in the north, Panay Gulf on the west, Tañon Strait and Negros Oriental province on the east and Sulu Sea on the south. Negros is basically volcanic, making its soil ideal for agriculture. Eighty percent of all arable land is cultivated.
The north and western parts of the province are largely composed of plains and gentle slopes. A mountain range lines the eastern part of the province, forming the basis of the border with Negros Oriental. Mount Kanlaon, which is partially located in Negros Oriental, rises to a height of 2465 m (7987 ft) and is the highest peak in the Visayas.
Silay City to the north of the capital Bacolod City, nicknamed the "Paris of Negros", is the cultural and artistic center of Western Visayas. It has 30 heritage houses declared by the national historical institute, most notable of which is Balay Negrense; it is also the hometown of National Artist of the Philippines for Architecture Leandro Locsin and international mezzo-soprano Conchita Gaston.
This blossoming in art was due to the economical importance of the area during the Spanish era, Negros became probably the most hispanized area and pro-Spanish area, due to the enormous investments of Spain in the sugar business.
Another famous treasure of Negrense art heritage is to be found in Victorias City, within the confines of the Victorias Milling Company in its chapel is the world famous mural of the Angry Christ, painted by artist Alfonso Ossorio, a scion of the Ossorio family who owned the mill.
The Negrenses' joie de vivre is manifested in the various festivals all over the province, foremost among which are famous MassKara Festival of Bacolod, Pasalamat Festival of La Carlota, Bailes de Luces of La Castellana and Pintaflores Festival of San Carlos. These and other local festivals are featured during the Pana-ad sa Negros Festival staged every April at the 25-hectare tree-lined Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City. Dubbed as the "Festival of Festivals", Pana-ad brings together the 13 cities and 19 towns in a showcase of history, arts and culture, tourism, trade, commerce and industry, beauty and talent as well as games and sports.
Negros Occidental is rich in structures and buildings that are remnants of a once affluent lifestyle. The Palacio Episcopal (1930), San Sebastian Cathedral (1876), and the Capitol Building (1931) are popular landmarks. In most towns, steam locomotives that used to cart sugarcane from the fields to refineries attract steam-engine enthusiasts from all over the world. There are also impressive churches all over the province, both built recently and during the Spanish era.
Modern communication facilities, as well as radio, television and newspapers, are available in the province. Most are provided by dominant national players in the industry like PLDT, Globe Telecom and their subsidiaries. For television and radio, the major providers are giant network ABS-CBN, GMA, TV5 and RPN. Cable TV provides access to CNN,BBC, ESPN and other international programs. National and international newspapers are available on the same day of issue in Manila.
Bacolod City is noted for being the home of the Negros Summer Workshops, founded by multi-award-winning filmmaker and Negrense Peque Gallaga. Founded in 1991, Workshops has long been training students from different parts of the country who wish to learn courses in film-making, acting, writing, and more. Some of its alumni include actors in mainstream Philippine show business.
Negros Occidental has also been used as a setting and location shoot for various films and television shows, most notable of which is the 1981 epic Oro, Plata, Mata. Recent films that were set and filmed in Negros are Ligaw Liham (2007) and Namets! (2008).
Negros Occidental has produced a large number of athletes that have achieved success in both national and international circuits, the province is also well known for hosting national and international athletic events, which has given it a reputation as the Sports capital of the Philippines
Negros Occidental has a long, entrenched history when it comes to football. The first ever Filipino to play in the European football circuit was Bacolod born Manuel Amechazurra, who joined FC Barcelona from 1905 to 1915.
The Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City has been a venue for national and international athletic events; such as the 23rd Southeast Asian Games men's football and the 2006 ASEAN football qualifiers. On February 9, 2011, the stadium hosted a match between the Philippines national football team and Mongolia in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualification with an attendance of 20,000 people.
Bacolod City has been christened as the Philippine "football city" for its patronage of the sport in the country. A few members of the Philippine football team are from Negros: most notable is goalkeeper Eduard Sacapaño, a native of Bago City; Tating Pasilan and Jinggoy Valmayor of San Carlos City; and ace striker Joshua Beloya of Bacolod.
Negros Occidental has its own football association: Negros Occidental F.A. It works under the Philippine Football Federation as provincial football association for the Negros Occidental area. The Negros Occidental FA sends a team to represent the region in the yearly PFF National Men's Open Championship and PFF National Women's Open Championship. In the 2011 season of the PFF Suzuki Cup U-23 National Championship, the Negros team were crowned as champions where they defeated their fierce football rival Iloilo(IFA) in the finals.
Negros Occidental is also home of the 2013 PFF National Men's Club Champions, Ceres F.C., who represented the province in the said tournament. They battled UFL Cup ChampionsStallion in the Round of 16 and won 1–0. They battled 2012 UFL Champions Global in the quarterfinals and also won 1–0. In the semifinals, Ceres FC topped Kaya with 3–1 scoreline to enter finals of 2013 PFF National Men's Club Championship. Ceres FC eventually won the 2013 PFF National Men's Club Championship trophy after they beaten the other finalist PSGwith 1–0 score.
Aside from hosting sporting events Negros Occidental has produced many of the nation's finest athletes, particularly in boxing. The likes of World Flyweight boxing champion 1923,Francisco Guilledo a.k.a. Pancho Villa, current WBO minimum weight champion Donnie Nietes, 1970's WBA world junior lightweigh champion Ben Villaflor, to cite a few have all come from this province.
Bacolod City has two major golf courses. These are the Bacolod Golf and Country Club and the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club. The city hosted the 61st Philippine AirlinesInter-club Golf Tournament and the 2008 Philippine Amateur Golf Championship.
Bacolod City hosted two major karatedo championships, the 1996 Philippine Karatedo Federation National Championship and the 2007 20th PKF National Open. Both tournaments were held at the La Salle Coliseum of USLS. The tournaments were participated by hundreds of karatekas all over the country.
Bacolod City hosted the 2008 PBA All-Star Weekend. The city is also a regular venue for the Philippine Basketball Association out-of-town games. Another major sports team in the past is the Negros Slashers arguably the most successful team of the now defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association
Mixed Martial Arts
Bacolod City and its neighboring towns and cities is home to many mixed martial arts competitions including quarterly fights hosted by the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC).
Known as the "Sugarbowl of the Philippines", the sugar industry is the lifeblood of the economy of Negros Occidental, producing more than half of the country's sugar. There are 15 sugar centrals located throughout the lowland areas the north and west of the island, stretching from northwest along the coasts of the Visayan Sea and Guimaras Strait. Among the larger mills are San Carlos, La Carlota, Bago, Binalbagan, Kabankalan, Sagay, Silay City, Murcia, Victorias. Victorias Mill in Victorias City is the largest sugar mill in the country, and the world's largest integrated sugar mill and refinery. Sugar is transported from plantations to refineries by large trucks that use the national highway.
A fishing industry is found in Cadiz City, and other fishponds dot the province. One of the country's largest copper mines is located in Sipalay City. There also exists a cottage industry which produced handicrafts made from indigenous materials.
Bacolod City is the center of commerce and finance in Negros Occidental. It has oil companies, factories, bottling plants, allied industrial businesses, steel fabrication, power generation, agri-businesses, prawn culture and other aqua-culture ventures.
It is also the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) hub of the Western Visayas Region of the Philippines. Among the notable BPO companies operating in the city are Convergys,Teleperformance, TeleTech, Focus International and Transcom Asia.
There are 1,318 schools in the province, 53 registered technical schools including the Technological University of the Philippines-Visayas andCarlos Hilado Memorial State College in Talisay City. Of these, 158 are private schools, including University of Saint La Salle, West Negros University, Colegio San Agustin - Bacolod, La Consolacion College - Bacolod, [[Visayan Maritime Academy]VMA Global College] and University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos.