Negros Occidental Provincial Government
Negros Island was originally called “Buglas”, an old native word that is thought to mean “cut-off.”
It is believed that Negros was once part of a greater mass of land but was cut off either by what geologists all a continental drift or by rising waters during the so-called glacial age. Among its earliest inhabitants were dark-skinned natives belonging to the Negrito ethnic group with their unique culture. Thus, the Spaniards called the land “Negros” after the black natives whom they saw when they first came to the island in April 1565. Two of the earliest native settlements were Binalbagan and Ilog, that later became towns in 1573 and 1584, respectively. Other settlements were Hinigaran, Bago, Marayo (now Pontevedra), Mamalan (now Himamaylan) and Candaguit (now a sitio in San Enrique).
After appointing encomenderos in the island, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi placed Negros under the jurisdiction of the governor of Oton in Panay. In 1734, however, the island became a military district and Ilog was made its first capital. The seat of government was later transferred to Himamaylan and thereafter Bacolod became the capital in 1849.
The island remained a military district up to about the middle of the 19th century. Then in 1865, Negros Occidental was raised to the category of a politico-military province. During this time, several more towns were established like San Carlos and Calatrava.
Religious orders evangelized the province by turns: the Augustinians, Recollects, Jesuits, Dominicans, Seculars and again, the Recollects returning in the 1800s.
The latter half of the 19th century was a period of rapid economic expansion for Negros Occidental as evidenced by the growth of population resulting from the influx of immigrants coming from neighboring provinces like Iloilo, Antique, Capiz and Cebu. They settled in districts sparsely inhabited in the past and this resulted in the establishments of new towns: Saravia (now E.B. Magalona), Valladolid and Escalante in 1860.See more