NEGROS; Island Enigma
by: Veronica M. Faigao
Negros Arts and Culture
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 geologist call a continental drift or by the 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 Ponteverda), Mamalan (now Himamaylan) and Candaguit (now a sitio in San Enrigue).
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 Agustinians, Recollectos, Jesuits, Dominicans, Seculars and again, the Recollects returning in the 1800s.
About its folklore, The Maragtas epic, an imaginative nineteenth-century reworking of Panay folk memories, tells of the migration to the Philippines in AD 1250 of the Borneo datus (chiefs) Puti, Sumakwel, Bangkaya, Balakasusa, Paiburong, Dumangsil, Lubay, and Dumalogdog. They had led their followers there to escape the tyranny of the Srivijayan empire. The datus bought the coastal lands Panay from the indigenous (native) people with gold, pearls, and other ornaments (the native people moved inland). http://www.everyculture.com/wc/Norway-to-Russia/Hiligaynon.html#ixzz0q9eOwqlj)
Negros Occidental has long been a center of culture and arts, the wealth brought about by the sugar industry made sure that the Negrense principalia enjoyed the very best.
This blossoming in art was due to the economical importance of the area during the Spanish era, Negros became probably the most hispanized area and pro-spanish area, due to the enormous investments of Spain in the sugar business.
The Negrenses’ joie de vivre is manifested in the varios festivals all over the province, foremost among which are famous Masskara Festival of Bacolod, Pasalamat Festival of La Carlota, Bailes de Luces of La Castellana and Pintaflores Festival of San Carlos. These and other interesting local festivals are featured during the Pana-ad sa Negros Festival staged evry April at the 25-hectare tree-lined Panaad Stadium in BacolodCity.Dubbed as the “Festival of Festivals”, Panaad brings together the 13 cities and 19 towns in a showcase of history, arst and culture, tourism, trade, commerce and industry, beauty and talent as well as games and sports.
Bacolod the city’s name is derived from bakolod, the Hiligaynon word fro “stonehill”, since the settlement was found in 17170 on a stony, hilly area, now the district of granada and the former site of the Bacolod Murcia Milling Company.
Bacolod City is noted for being the home of the Negros Summer Workshops, founded by milti-award winning fil-maker and Negrense Peque Gallaga. Founded in 1919, Workshops has long been training students from different parts of the country who wish to learn courses in film-making, acting, writing, and more. Some of its alumni include actors in mainstream Phillipine show business. www.google.com
As to their religion, a pre-Christian belief system coexists with the Catholic one brought by the Spaniards. The two exert mutual influence on each other, as when the Santo Niño , the image of the Child Jesus as World Sovereign, is bathed to summon rain or attract good luck. The native beliefs divide the universe into three parts: the upperworld, midleworld, and lowerworld. The upperworld houses at its peak the udtohanon, which is God and his Favorite angels who will pass the final judgement but are otherwise remote from human affairs. Lower down in the upperworld reside the langitnon, angelic being who lived above the clouds. In the awan-awan (between the clouds and the earth but still in the upper-world) live the spirits of the wind, rain, thunder, lightning, typhoon, and whirlwinds; supreme among them is the tagurising who lives where the sun rises. The midlewprld (the earth) is the home to the dutan-on, spirits expelled from the upper-world for rebelling against God; they are identified according to where they first landed, for example, in tress, the river, or the seas. The underworld includes hell, infront of whose gate is a hollow pit where the engkanto, the malevolent (evil) spirits, live with their reptilian pets; the underworld regions are connected to the midleworld through a tunnel called the bungalog.
Each community has specialist who are able to communicate with spirits and heal diseases thought to be caused by spirits. They also recover lost objects, predict the future, and discover the causes of misfortunes. The most important of these spacialists is the babaylan, a medium whom a spirit has befriended and granted powers. To increase the power of his rituals, the babaylan often adds Latin prayers and Catholic sacred objects. http://www.everyculture.com/
The Bacolod City is not only famous with their festivals, but the city of smile was also renowned on its native delicacies. The piyaya is one of the top home made delicacies of the city, enriched with flour and brown sugar, coated with sesame seeds that really provide a sweet savor for the local and foreign tourists. The BongBong’s Piyaya and Barqillos is one of the best producer of this product that bacolod can also be proud of is the “Chicken Inasal”. The unique taste of chicken that being grilled in the stick which can be found in any streets of the city. Chicken House, Mang Inasal and the famed Manokan Country are the best place to stop to find this food product. www.insidenegros.com/negros-occidental/bacolod-city/
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