THE PROVINCE AT A GLANCE
The province which is “boot shaped” on the map is on the eastern side of Negros Island, thus the name Negros Oriental which means East of Negros Island. It is composed of the mainland province and Apo Island which is a favorite of local and foreign divers. It has 3 congressional districts, 3 cities and 22 municipalities. Negros Oriental has 1,336.7 kilometers of scenic, clean and unspoiled beaches on one side, with beautiful mountains and rustic scenery on the other side.
The province’s terrain consists of rolling hills, a few plateaus, and mountain ranges which for the most part are close to the narrow coastal trip. Kanlaon Volcano, the highest peak in the island of Negros at 2465 meter, dominates the northern end of the province. The whole eastern part of Negros Oriental has a climate characterized by no pronounced rainfall. The other half of the province has distinct wet and dry seasons. Negros Island was originally called ” Buglas”, but the Spaniards changed this to Negros because of the dark-skinned Negritos they found there.
Dumaguete City, the capital of Negros Oriental, is basically a “University Town”. It has several colleges and universities and is home of Silliman University. Founded by American missionaries in 1901, Silliman is one of the oldest universities in the Philippines.
Negritos, Malayans and Chinese have long inhabited the island of Negros before the 1565 expedition of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. Because of the strong current of the channel between the islands of Cebu and Negros, the Spaniards were forced to land on the Occidental side. This island was called Buglas by the natives, but because the Spaniards saw many black inhabitants, they named it Negros. The Spaniards considered the island of Negros as one province with Bacolod as the Capital. In 1856 it was changed to a politico-military district. Constant pirate raids, very poor defenses and the distance of the important towns from the capital caused thirteen Recollect priests to petition for the division of the Island.
After thirteen years, on January 1890 a royal decree prompted the Governor General Valeriano Weyler to establish Negros Oriental as a district and a separate political unit with Dumaguete as capital. When the Philippine Revolution, which broke out in 1896, reached the province in 1898, the functions of the government were disrupted by the bloodshed and chaos. Unfortunately, it was at this time that Gen. Pantaleon Villegas (Leon Kilat) of Bacong, one of our fabled revolutionary leader was treacherously murdered in Cebu.
In the last quarter of 1898, Negros Oriental was stirred into action to support the revolution. Inspired and organized under the strong and able leadership of Don Diego de la Vina, an army composed primarily of farm laborers, marched to Dumaguete to liberate it.
In 1901 the civil government was established under Don Demetrio Larena as Governor. In 1934 Negros Oriental became a corregimiento, a separate military district. After 10 years of transition or Commonwealth period, independence for Philippines was promised on July 4, 1946. Four delegates from Negros Oriental were sent to the Constitutional Convention. The economic condition in the Philippines was good. Negros Oriental was directly benefited as a producer of sugar and copra. Forest resources were vast and sawmills acquired modern machineries. This was complemented with reforestation. Abundance of marine life especially in the southern portion, attracted big Japanese fishermen with better equipment. The Bais Sugar Central was constructed to manufacture centrifugal sugar and alcohol.
Under the American regime, roads were improved and bridges were built. Transportation companies sprung up and limited Cebu lines were in operation. News of the bombing of Pearl Harbor started preparations by Filipinos and Americans against Japanese aggression with emergency committees and agencies. On May 26, 1942 the Japanese landed in a deserted Dumaguete whose residents had fled to the mountains. In their evacuation sites, residents made a concerted effort to become self sufficient.
President Manuel L. Quezon, escaping from possible capture during WW II came to Dumaguete en route to Northern Mindanao. Through the USAFFE forces, 75th Infantry Regiment and the American Forces, the Japanese were defeated on August 6, 1945. Thus rehabilitation of a devastated province and economy started. People joined forces to achieve this goal. Municipal governments were started. Schools were reopened and the economy flourished.
Under different governors, Negros Oriental developed into what is now. Industries have increased, crops have been diversified. With the opening of the Geothermal Power Plant in Puhagan Valencia, Negros Oriental has improved its industrial potential in opening more plants and sugar mills.
Majority of the population speak English fluently and have a comprehending knowledge of Spanish. Dialects spoken are Cebuano (Visaya), Tagalog and Ilonggo. The latter being the tongue of Negros Occidental residents.
With its vast fertile land resources, agriculture is the primary industry in Negros Oriental. Opportunities for agricultural ventures include contract farming, orchard and industrial tree farming, aquaculture (prawn and fresh water fish), livestock, cut flowers and ornamental plants and food processing. Among major products are copra, Sugar, Molasses, Dehydrated fruits, Ammonium Nitrate Agricultural Products: sugarcane, corn, coconut, rice, fruits, root crops, legumes, vegetables, other industrial crops.