Negros Island, Philippines
Negros Island is located in the Visayas Area, Philippines. It is the fourth-largest island in the country, with a land area of 12,706 km² (4,905 square mi.). People on the island are called Negrenses. Negros is divided into two provinces: Negros oriental in the Central Visayas region and Negros Occidental, part of the Western Visayas region. This division of the island, which roughly follows the mountain range in the center of the island, corresponds to the two ethnoliguistic groups in this part of the country. The western part (Occidental) is where the Illongo or Hiligaynon peaking Negrenses are located, and the eastern portion (Oriental) is home to the Cebuano speaking population.
Negros is considered the fourth biggest island in the Philippine archipelago, lies near the central part of the country. Negros Occidental, in the western side of the island, is one of the 6 provinces comprising Region VI, Western Visayas. It has a total land area of nearly 8 thousand square kilometers and a coastline stretching 800 kilometers. The province is composed of 13 cities and 19 municipalities with Bacolod City as its capital.
Parts of the province are largely level plains and gently rolling slopes separated from its neighboring province of Negros Oriental by mountain ranges. The most famous of these mountain ranges is Mount Kanlaon.
The island was originally called “Buglas”. Long before the arrival of Spanish colonizers, the island was inhabited by Negritos, Malayans, and Chinese. Their form of religion was animistic performed by the women priestess called Babaylanes. Barter trading between the Chinese and other Asian traders and the natives flourished even before the 12th century.
During the era of Spanish colonization in the Philippines, the island’s name was changed to “Negros” because of the dark-skinned people living there. Negros was administered from Cebu until 1734, when it was made a military district of its own. The island of Negros was divided into the provinces of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental on January 1, 1890.
Recently, Negros Island dominates the economy and the landscape of the province. Negros Occidental’s output of more than 1 million metric tons for crop year 2002-2003 accounts for nearly half of the country’s sugar production in an industry that generates estimated annual revenue of more than P18 Billion. There are 12 sugar mills in the province, of which only 10 are presently operational. Victorias Milling Company has the highest rated capacity with 15,000 tons cane per day.
However, the instability of the sugar industry forced the province to shift, albeit slowly, to other high value crops and alternative industries. The diversification has proven to be successful.
Production of rice, the basic commodity for food security, has been increasing. By 2003, annual output of 437 thousand metric tons of palay was 33% better than two years ago. This allowed the province to significantly raise its sufficiency level from 65% to more than 84%. The improvement could be attributed to the introduction and promotion of hybrid rice, which increased rice yields to 3.8 metric tons per hectare. Because of the success of the program, area planted to hybrid rice has increased nearly five-fold. The highest hybrid yield was recorded at 10.3 tons per hectare.