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Total population
(Negros Island only)[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
Home region: (Western Visayas, Central Visayas)
Other regions with significant populations: (SOCCSKSARGEN, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Metro Manila)
 United States
 Saudi Arabia

Bacolodnon-Hiligaynon dialect, Negrense variants of Hiligaynon and Cebuano (parent tongues), English, Spanish
Christianity (Predominantly Roman Catholic, with Aglipayan, Iglesia Ni Cristo and Protestant minorities), Visayan mythology
Related ethnic groups
other Visayans (Hiligaynons, Cebuanos, Karay-a, Capiznons, Boholanos), other Filipinos, other Austronesian peoples (Malays, Taiwanese aborigines, Polynesians, etc.), Chinese Filipinos, Spanish Filipinos

The Negrenses, alternatively called Negrosanons locally, are people born from/native to the Negros Island Region. Years of migrations and intra-migrations in Negros have created a mix of people, culture and languages, with the western half, comprising Negros Occidental and Bacolod City, having a Hiligaynon-speaking majority, while the eastern half, comprising Negros Oriental, having a Cebuano-speaking majority.[2] The indigenous Buglas Bukidnon and Ati peoples, with their interactions and intermarriage with recent migrants from Antique and Iloilo, use a mixed variant of Kinaray-a. The Bacolod Metropolitan Area is noted for its distinct dialect of Hiligaynon called Bacolodnon.


Negrenses are not officially classified as an ethnolinguistic group, but rather an identity closely related to the history and culture of the Negros Island Region, first presented in the turn of the 19th century when migrant landowners and their families started to develop and fortify a separate identity from their Ilonggo and Cebuano roots.[3] Rather than languages, Negrenses are identified with their strong affinity to their island region and most of which are known through their residence in Negros or self-identity by the overseas communities.[4] The Negrense people of both sides of the island region are known for their colourful festivals and highly skilled cooking abilities, as defined by the festivals and its craved-for cuisine dotting each locale.[5]

Pre-colonial period

Negros was originally known as "Buglas", an old Visayan word meaning "cut off". The original natives of the island are the dark-skinned Aetas or "Negritos", from where the island would later derive its name after an expedition of Spanish conquistadors in April 1565 came in contact with these Negritos in what is now the town of Ilog.

Portions of Negros were settled by earlier pre-colonial migrations from the island of Panay, they are the descendants of the present-day Magahats or Buglas Bukidnons, as distinguished from the Panay Bukidnons. Most of the Magahats settled in the Tablas Valley of southern Negros, most of which is the present-day town of Candoni.

The northwest portion of Negros was settled by the later wave of migrations by Panay Bukidnons, who continue to identify with their Panay equivalents. Villages and sakups occupied by the migrant Panay Bukidnons came under the nominal rule of the Datus of the Kedatuan of Madja-as from neighbouring Panay and Guimaras.

Spanish colonial era

After the island was discovered by Spanish colonizers in April 1565, it was only in 1573 and 1583 that the island was settled permanently, centered around Binalbagan and the designated capital, Ilog in the present-day Negros Occidental, and Dumaguete in the present-day Negros Oriental. 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. Through the missionary efforts of the Recollects, additional settlements in Hinigaran, Bago, Marayo (now Pontevedra), Mamalan (now Himamaylan) and San Enrique.[6]

Though the island was initially colonized by Iloilo-based landowners, the harsh topography of mountainous areas of the island's inland made it practical for Negros to be populated separately on either sides. The western half came to be settled by Hiligaynon-speaking migrants, while the eastern half was settled by Cebuano-speaking migrants. Administration became difficult as the trip between the eastern portions to Himamaylan (the second capital) and later on, Bacolod in 1849, required 3–5 days trek through the mountains. Thirteen Recollect friars assigned to the eastern side appealed to the Governor-General to divide the island, with their side assigned to the civil government in Cebu.

Finally, in January 1 of 1890, Governor-General Valeriano Weyler issued a decree, partitioning Negros into Negros Occidental, with Bacolod retained as its designated capital, and Negros Oriental, with Dumaguete as the designated capital.[7][8] The division was not made along linguistic lines, rather, those falling under the jurisdiction of the 13 friars composed the new Negros Oriental province, which also includes the Hiligaynon-speaking towns of Tolong (present-day Sta. Catalina) and Tolong Nuevo (present-day Bayawan City). The Cebuano-speaking towns of Sagay, Escalante, San Carlos (all three later converted into cities) and Calatrava chose to remain in Negros Occidental.

Republic of Negros

Post-war period and migration

In the aftermath of World War II, there was a steady rise of migration towards Mindanao. Negrenses, who would otherwise inherit only a small portion of family land in Negros, chose to avail of government benefits with resettling in Mindanao. They were the ones who spurred the sugar industry in the mountainous areas of Northern Mindanao and SOCCSKSARGEN. The Montilla and Zubiri families (which includes Senator Miguel Zubiri) of southern Negros have risen to governance and have notable contributions to their new provinces: Sultan Kudarat and Bukidnon respectively.[9][10]

In Mindanao, settlements that are home to the highest concentrations of Negrenses are the cities of Valencia in Bukidnon, Tacurong in Sultan Kudarat, Koronadal in South Cotabato and General Santos, while significant minorities can be found in the cities of Davao, Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro.

With the declaration of Martial Law by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972 and the fall of the sugar industry of Negros in the 1980s, Negrense families immigrated en-masse to the United States, Canada and Australia to escape the dictatorship and/or recover from economic losses and debts incurred with the steep decline of the island region's main crop. Notable populations can be found in the United States (Hawaii, California, New Jersey and New York City) and in Australia (Queensland and New South Wales). Considerable populations of immigrant Negrenses are also found in Canada, in Europe (mainly in Italy, France and United Kingdom) and in the Middle East (specifically in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Israel), where they work and live as OFWs or permanent expatriates.

Negros Island Region

Notable people

Below is a list of people who are from the Negros Island Region.




  • Francisco Guilledo
  • Donnie Nietes
  • Mansueto Velasco, Jr.
  • Roel Velasco



Notable people of Negrense descent

Below is a list of people whose ancestor/s is/are from the Negros Island (Region).


  1. ^ Census of Population (2015). Highlights of the Philippine Population 2015 Census of Population. PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b "FAST FACTS: The Negros Island Region". Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  3. ^ Lopez-Gonzaga, Violeta B. (March 1994). The Negrense: A Social History of an Elite. Singapore: Cambridge University Press. pp. 214–216. JSTOR 20071645.
  4. ^ Pinches, Michael (1999). Culture and Privilege in Capitalist Asia. London: Taylor & Francis e-Library. ISBN 0-203-98207-X.
  5. ^ "People, Culture and Arts - Negros Occidental Provincial Government". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  6. ^ "History of Negros Occidental - Negros Occidental Provincial Government". Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  7. ^ "Negros History". Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  8. ^ "What Went Before: A history of splits and mergers | Inquirer News". Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  9. ^ "Kanamit sa Bacolod! | Food and Leisure, Lifestyle Features, The Philippine Star". 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  10. ^ "Citizen Action Guide to Bukidnon". 2014-04-03. Retrieved 2016-01-09.
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