Negros island Travel Guide

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"The Legend of Negros Oriental" performed by: FU Buglasayaw Dance Troupe

"The Legend of Negros Oriental" performed by: FU Buglasayaw Dance Troupe

Hersley Ven Casero

Negros Island was named after the indigenous tribes of the area, the negritos. Negros is divided into two provinces, Negros Occidental (West), and Negros Oriental (East). The capital city of Negros Occidental and largest city on the island is Bacolod. The capital city of Negros Oriental is the charming portside city of Dumaguete.

Negros Island, 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. 

541 thousand hectares of Negros Occidental’s land area are alienable and disposable. The rest are forestlands.

98% of the alienable and disposable lands are agricultural areas, including built-up spaces. The remaining 2% are fishponds.

The province is blessed with generally pleasant climate with an average temperature of 26 degrees Celsius. It has two pronounced seasons: dry season from December to May and rainy season from June to November.

Negros Occidental has a population of about 2.6 million.  It is the fourth most populous province in the Philippines with 54% of its people living in rural areas.

Hiligaynon is the widely used dialect. However, most of its people are proficient in Pilipino, the national language, and English. Negros Occidental has a high literacy rate of 91% and employment rate of 89%.

The Negrenses, as the people of the province are called, are regarded as affectionate, fun loving, highly educated, skilled, and entrepreneurial individuals.

The economy of the province is principally driven by agriculture. Land is where the wealth of the province originated and continues to emanate.

Of the agricultural areas, sugarcane occupied 161 thousand hectares, followed by rice with 113 thousand hectares, and the remaining spaces devoted to corn, coconut, fruit and vegetable crops, including built-up spaces.

Over 143 thousand hectares of agricultural lands have been distributed to more than 104 thousand farmer-beneficiaries as of August 2004 under the land reform program.

Sugarcane has been cultivated in the province since the mid 18th hundreds and has been the key factor in bringing material growth to Negros Occidental.

Today, it still 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 an 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 tonnes cane per day.   

However, the volatility 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.

Corn also registered increasing gains.  Production for 2003 of 42 thousand metric tons outperformed 2001 output by 18%.  Average yield per hectare has also grown by 18%. 

Other fruit and vegetable crops, except for banana and cassava, likewise improved their harvest.

Harvested coconut was placed at 139 million nuts, while production of banana; fruit and vegetable crops totaled 110 million kilograms.

Livestock and poultry are industries where Negros Occidental has strongly diversified.

With the province successfully quarantined from the dreaded Foot & Mouth Disease and the Bird Flu, and with other endemic diseases under control, total production of livestock and poultry in 2003 of 49 thousand metric tons exceeded estimated local demand by 18%.

Fishing is likewise an industry where the province has remained focused.  After all, 9 of its cities and 16 of its municipalities are located along the coast and a great portion of the population depends on fishing for their livelihood.

The area for exploitation by this industry is huge covering most of the coastal areas and the rich fishing grounds of the Visayan Sea on the north, Sulu Sea on the south, Tañon Strait on the east, Guimaras Strait and Panay Gulf at the southern portion of the province. These rich coastal areas and fishing grounds continue to be generous to the people of Negros Occidental.

In 2003, products from deep-sea fishing, municipal marine and inland waters, and aquaculture reached 87 thousand metric tons, 30% better than 2001 production.

The province is rich in mineral deposits.  Minerals that abound in the province are primary copper with estimated reserve of 591 million metric tons and gold ore with estimated reserve of 25 million tons.

Silver and molybdenum deposits are also abundant, as well as non-metallic minerals suitable for agricultural and industrial uses.

Notwithstanding its great potential, the mining industry in Negros Occidental has remained virtually dormant since the biggest copper mine in Sipalay suspended its operation.

Another industry being pushed by the province is tourism. It has a high synergy with other industries and a multiplier effect on consumption and services.   In 2003, tourist arrivals totaled nearly 141 thousand with foreigners comprising only 1%. However, local tourism in Negros is very strong.

Negros Occidental is endowed with beautiful natural scenery and attractions, rich historical and cultural heritage as well as festivals and events that make it an attractive tourist destination. The gentle, affectionate and fun-loving nature of its people, their gracious hospitality and natural knack for entertaining, including their delectable cuisine complete the elements that make for a wonderful experience worth coming back for more or remembering for a long, long time.

The province also offers many opportunities for leisure and adventure. There are always festivals and events being celebrated somewhere in Negros Occidental every month.  But the best known of the more than 50 festivals and events are the MassKara Festival of Bacolod celebrated in October and the Panaad sa Negros Festival staged every April.   

The province is rich in beautiful structures and historical buildings. The San Sebastian Cathedral and the Capitol Building are popular Bacolod landmarks.  Silay City has fine examples of palatial homes, remnants of a once affluent lifestyle.  In other 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, mostly built during the Spanish era.

Negros Occidental has more than 50 inland and beach resorts to offer its visitors.  The most famous among them is the Mambukal, a mountain resort at the foot of Mount Kanlaon. 
 
Among the numerous beach resorts, the most popular for its white sand,  pristine blue waters and amenities are Punta Bulata in Cauayan, Jomabo Island Paradise in Sagay, and Lakawon Island in Cadiz.

Through its capital, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental is only 50 minutes from Manila and 30 minutes from Cebu by air.  By sea, it is an 18-hour cruise from Manila and an hour by fast ferries from Iloilo. It is also accessible by sea and land trip from Cebu via Escalante City, San Carlos City and Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental. Travel from Bacolod to Dumaguete is only 5 to 6 hours by land.

Seven airline companies, including Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines, serve the province.  Four inter-island shipping lines call on 9 seaports of Negros Occidental

The airport is located 6 kilometers southeast of Bacolod City.  However, a new airport of international standard is being constructed in Silay City about 16 kilometers from Bacolod. 

All cities and municipalities are linked by an extensive road and bridge network  stretching more than 1,500 kilometers crisscrossing the province with seven alternative scenic routes to the nearby province of Negros Oriental.

Within the province, travel is also easy, comfortable and even enjoyable by air-conditioned and non-aircon buses or metered taxis.  Car rental services are also available. However, the jeepney is still the most common means of transport among the towns and cities.

For accommodations, visitors may choose from a wide range of about 67 hotels, pension and lodging houses and tourist inns. The better known hotels are L’ Fisher, Bacolod Convention Plaza, Casino Filipino Hotel, and Business Inn, Sugarland Hotel, all in Bacolod City.

The province has adequate power and water supplies.  It is currently interconnected to the Visayas Power Grid whose main sources of power are geothermal.  

Aside from its existing 170 megawatts capacity, Negros Island by the year 2006 will have an additional 105 megawatts of locally produced power from geothermal plants in Bago and Palinpinon, and from bagasse co-generation facility of First Farmers Sugar Mill. 

Ample water supply for household, commercial, industrial and agricultural uses is assured by 73 thousand hectares of proclaimed and protected major watersheds, regular rainfall and six major river systems. 

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 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. 

International direct dialing, fiber optic data lines and internet services are accessible in most areas of the province. Also, GSM, digital and analog cellular networks provide good coverage in Bacolod City and other areas, including international roaming.

The medical and health care needs of the people of Negros Occidental and its guests are presently being met by 20 government hospitals and 10 private hospitals, as well as several city and municipal health centers, barangay health stations and day-care centers.  Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel serving these facilities are not only competent but also very caring towards their patients.

There are 1,318 schools in the province, including 53 registered technical schools.  Of these, 158 are private schools, including University of Saint La Salle, and University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos.

Banking and finance is likewise a thriving industry in Negros Occidental.  According to the latest count, there are 389 financial institutions competing for businesses in the province.  149 of these are banks.

Negros Occidental offers several advantages for those who are doing business in the province. It is strategically located near Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao, all major international gateways with maximum travel time of only about 4 hours between the Philippines and its neighbors in Asia. It is equipped with major infrastructure facilities for easy travel and shipment of goods within and outside of Negros.

It has adequate information and communication facilities with excellent connection capabilities necessary for, among others, call center operations for business communication and transmission of data. The province is also blessed with abundant water supply and dependable power supply for almost any type of business endeavor.

Modern health care facilities with competent medical professionals are available, as well as excellent schools to care for the needs of the investor and his family.  The province is also peaceful and politically stable with strong investment-friendly local government units with no reported kidnappings or terrorist attacks.

Its people are hospitable and friendly. And, its workforce is highly educated, competent, and proficient in the English language receiving reasonable wages.

Moreover, the place offers excellent cuisine, beautiful resorts and beaches, scenic spots, famous festivals, luxurious hotels and convention facilities that make for a fine living.  The capital city of Bacolod was adjudged the most livable mid-sized city in the country.

Among the several business opportunities offered by the province, probably the most attractive and potentially rewarding investment areas are in mining, animal feed production and processing, slaughterhouses and meat processing, pig breeder and dairy animal farming, poultry layer farming, yellow corn farming, grain and agricultural storage facilities, organic farming and processing, marine farming and processing, high-end resort development, retirement and second homes, schools for nursing and physical therapy and training centers for caregivers, call centers and economic or export processing zones.

Negros Occidental is proud of its land, its people and its traditions.  There are many beautiful places to visit and enjoy.  There are several opportunities waiting to be tapped.  Come visit us and be a part of all of these. 

Negros Occidental is the only province outside Metro Manila, that has 13 cities - Bacolod(capital), Bago, Talisay, Silay, ,Victorias, Sagay, Cadiz, Escalante, San Carlos, Kabankalan, Himamaylan, Sipalay, and La Carlota.
Different recreation mainly environmental tourist destination and historical, are what the whole Island can offer, thats is why when you talk about Negros it is more than just SUGAR.

Oriental Negros is equivalent to such character. The province boasts for its beaches which has a narrow coastal area to the east and warm people. Cities like Bayawan, Dumaguete, Tanjay, Canlaon, and Bais are all for the pleasure of relaxation.

Contributors

November 08, 2007 change by bacolodnon (2 points)

May 09, 2007 change by dinz

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