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Negros Island Region

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Negros Island Region

Negros Island Region
Rehiyon sang Isla sang Negros
Rehiyon sa Isla sa Negros
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Country Philippines
Island Group Visayas
Regional Center
Bacolod and Dumaguete¹
 • Total 13,665.89 km2 (5,276.43 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 4,194,525
 • Density 313.59/km2 (812.2/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Negrense, Negrosanon (local)
 • Highly urbanized city 1
 • Component cities 18
 • Municipalities 45
 • Barangays 1353
 • Districts 11
Time zone PHT (UTC+8)
Spoken languages Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Tagalog, English, Spanish
  • ¹Bacolod and Dumaguete are interim joint, temporary regional centers for a three-year transition period. Kabankalan and neighboring Mabinay are to be joint, permanent regional centers.

The Negros Island Region (Hiligaynon: Rehiyon sang Isla sang Negros; Cebuano: Rehiyon sa Isla sa Negros; abbreviated as NIR) is the 18th region of the Philippines composed of the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental with the highly urbanized city of Bacolod in the island of Negros.[1][2]

The region was created by virtue of Executive Order No. 183 issued by President Benigno Aquino III on May 29, 2015.[3][4]

Political divisions

First Page of the Executive Order creating Negros Island Region (click for larger version).
Province/City Capital Population
Pop. density
(per km²)
Negros Occidental Bacolod¹ 2,396,039 7,965.21 300
Negros Oriental Dumaguete 1,286,666 5,385.53 240
Bacolod¹ 511,820 162.67 3,100

¹ Bacolod is a highly urbanized city; figures are excluded from Negros Occidental.

Negros Occidental is subdivided into 13 cities and 19 municipalities, which are further subdivided into 601 barangays. It has the most chartered cities among all the provinces in the Philippines. Although Bacolod serves as the capital, it is governed independently from the province as a highly urbanized city.

Negros Oriental is subdivided into six cities and 19 municipalities, with 557 barangays.

Component cities

Negros Occidental
Negros Oriental


Prehistoric and classical state period

Negros was originally called Buglas, an old Hiligaynon word thought to mean "cut off", as it is believed that the island was separated from a larger landmass by rising waters during the last ice age. Among its earliest inhabitants were the dark-skinned Ati people, one of several aboriginal Negrito ethnic groups dispersed throughout Asia that possess a unique culture.

Portions of the Negros Islands also became part of the Confederation of Madja-as years after the landing of Madja-as ancestors on the neighboring island of Panay to the west. The Kedatuan of Madja-as was one of only a few independent states in the archipelago that was not Islamized during the Islamic invasion of the Philippines from the newly Islamized Borneo in the southwest.

Colonial period

Upon arriving on the island in April 1565, the Spanish colonisers called the land Negros after the black natives they observed. Two of the earliest native settlements, Binalbagan and Ilog, became towns in 1573 and 1584, respectively, while other settlements of the period included Hinigaran, Bago, Marayo (now Pontevedra), Mamalan (now Himamaylan), and Candaguit (a sitio of San Enrique). In 1572, King Philip II of Spain conferred the title of Marques de Buglas to the heirs of Juan Sebastián Elcano; the current Marquis is the 17th in line, and resides in Silay City, Negros Occidental.

After appointing encomenderos for the island, Miguel López de Legazpi placed Negros under the jurisdiction of the governor of Oton on Panay. In 1734, however, the island became a military district with Ilog as its first capital. The seat of government was later transferred to Himamaylan until Bacolod became the capital in 1849.

In 1890, the island was partitioned into the present-day provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. On 9 April 1901, the Second Philippine Commission under the chairmanship of William H. Taft arrived in Dumaguete. Weeks later on 1 May, the civil government under American sovereignty was established, and on 28 August, Dr. David S. Hibbard founded what is now Silliman University, with the help of the first Mayor Dumaguete, Meliton Larena, and The Hon. Demetrio Larena.

Short-lived independence

From 3 to 6 November 1898, the Negrense people rose in revolt against the local Spanish colonial government headed by politico-military governor Colonel Isidro de Castro. The Spaniards decided to surrender upon seeing armed troops marching in a pincer movement towards Bacolod. The revolutionaries, led by General Juan Araneta from Bago and General Aniceto Lacson from Talisay, bore fake arms consisting of rifles carved out of palm fronds and cannons of rolled bamboo mats painted black. By the afternoon of 6 November, Col. de Castro signed the Act of Capitulation, thus ending centuries of Spanish rule in Negros Occidental.

In memory of this event, every 5 November is observed as a special non-working holiday in the province through Republic Act № 6709 signed by President Corazon Aquino on 10 February 1989.

On 27 November 1898, the Cantonal Republic of Negros unilaterally proclaimed independence, but this was short-lived as the territory became a protectorate of the United States on 30 April 1899. The state was renamed the Republic of Negros (Spanish: República de Negros) on 22 July 1899, and eventually dissolved by the United States and annexed by the U.S. Military Government of the Philippine Islands on 30 April 1901.

Second World War

The island was briefly united as a single entity when President Manuel L. Quezon appointed Alfredo Montelibano, Sr., former Mayor of Bacolod as Military Governor of Negros and Siquijor Islands. Col. Jesus Villamor was designated as commander of the guerilla forces in Negros Island. The island was divided into 8 districts, with Negros Oriental forming a single district with Siquijor Island under a Deputy Governor. Individual civilian provincial administration was restored after liberation.

Formation of regions

Ferdinand Marcos. Negros Occidental was assigned to Western Visayas (Region VI) while Negros Oriental became part of Central Visayas (Region VII).

Early initiatives

The movement for a single-island region started in the 1980s when officials of both provinces proposed a one-island, one-region unit. At the time, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental were the only provinces in the Philippines situated in the same island but belonging to two different administrative regions with regional offices located in neighboring Panay and Cebu. This led to the filing of House Bill No. 1477 titled "An Act Merging the Province of Negros Occidental and Oriental into One-Island Region." They argued, among others, that the two provinces "nestle in one common island; have common fowls and beasts in the forest; share the same soil in our plains and mountains; benefit and suffer together from the rivers that snake through our land; and our ancestors roamed the same length and breadth without complications of political, social, economic, religious and lingual obstacles."

The proposal was continued through talks between former Governor Bitay Lacson of Negros Occidental and the late former Governor Emilio Macias of Negros Oriental in 1990. Their successors, former Governor Rafael Coscolluella and former Governor (now Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental and the neighboring municipality of Mabinay in Negros Oriental, with the two situated on or near the geographic center of the island, as joint regional centers. However, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) turned down the proposal for lack of funds to effect the merger.[5]

Revival of proposal

In 2013, the one-island region talks were continued by Negros Oriental Representatives Pryde Henry Teves and George Arnaiz and Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. with Representative Alfredo Marañon III and Coscolluela.[6] They pointed out that while the creation of a new region will entail substantial costs to the government, it will be advantageous to the people of both provinces because they would not need to travel by sea anymore to process transactions in the regional offices.[7] They also claimed that a one-island region would also result to better coordination between both provinces in tourism, peace and order, environment, development planning, disaster management and road infrastructure. Edward Du, president of the Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also proposed to convert existing offices of national agencies in the provincial capitals of Bacolod and Dumaguete to sub-regional offices during an interim period if the proposal is approved to defray the costs of establishing a new regional center. Various public officials and representatives from the academe, religious, media and other private sectors aired support for the proposal.[8][9]

Notably, Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo was tagged to be initially opposed to the talks, claiming he was not convinced with a one-island region setup and that his constituents are allegedly not in favor of its creation.[10] He eventually clarified that his original stand as regards the region was being "open" to it and that there were some concerns, such as revenue sharing between the two provinces, that had to be threshed out first.[11]

President Benigno Aquino III directed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to study the establishment of a new region.[12] The DILG subsequently endorsed the proposal, noting that the new region would mean integrated planning for holistic development, disaster management, tourism promotion, and peace and order management.[13] NEDA affirmed by saying that its studies show that the proposed region is economically viable.[14]


On May 29, 2015, President Aquino signed Executive Order 183,[15] joining the two Negros provinces into one region—the Negros Island Region. It separated Negros Occidental from Region VI and Negros Oriental from Region VII, making the total number of regions of the Philippines to 18.[3][4]

Future development

The possible inclusion of Siquijor to this newly formed island region was thought by the Interior Secretary Mar Roxas during his visit in the province. Currently, Siquijor is part of Central Visayas. On average, it takes five hours to reach the regional offices located in Cebu while an hour to get to Negros Oriental. Siquijor used to be a part and later on a sub-province of Negros Oriental, gaining full province status in 1973.[16]



The Bacolod-Silay Airport Terminal Building.





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