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Bridging the Gap

Ilonggo migration to Negros

The opening of the frontiers of Negros due to the rise of the sugar industry in the second half of the 19 th century flung the island into a remarkable social and economic transformation. It must be recalled that the opening of the port of Iloilo in 1855 to world commerce resulted in the immediate development of commercial sugar cultivation in both Panay and Negros and, simultaneously, widespread migration to the latter. This one-sided movement of the people between the two islands is referred to by a writer, Francisco Varona (1938) as “La imigracion Ilonggo ” .

The influx of migrants to Negros was aided by the official encouragement of the Spanish colonial government. Significantly, even peninsulares or Spaniards from Spain were part of these demographic movement, the most prominent of whom were the Luzuriagas in Bacolod . Of course, there were also Ilonggo -Spanish mestizos , particularly from Iloilo , but majority of the prominent individuals and families who joined the exodus to Negros were Ilonggo -Chinese mestizos .

Based on a study made by Violeta Lopez- Gonzaga (1994) on 1822, Negros had a population of 49,369 while Capiz at that time had twice as many people. By 1876, Negros already reached the proportion of the neighboring island of Panay that recorded a population of 756, 000 (Philippine Census, 1903).

Alfred McCoy (1977) attributes the rise of population in Negros to the decline of the weaving industry in Panay and the rise of sugar production after the opening of the port of Iloilo . These development eliminated one of the major sources of employment in the densely populated towns of southwestern Panay , formerly noted for the patadyong and moskitero weaving. The shift from the textile industry to sugar cultivation simultaneously resulted in an exodus of Ilonggo entrepreneurs and their workers to Negros . The opening of Negros to sugar cultivation generated an enormous demand for the migrant labor who were needed for the clearing of the land and the subsequent cutting and loading of sugar cane. Some of these migrant workers or sacadas eventually brought their families with them and became permanent settlers in Negros . Thus, as can be seen in the preceding section, Negros ' population jumped remarkably.

The migration from Panay to Negros was a movement of people mostly from Guimbal-Miag-ao area in Iloilo 's southern coast and from Antique Province to the nearest town of Negros like Silay , Talisay , La Carlota, Hinigaran , Isabela , and other coastal municipalities. Data in 1986 as provided by the Estadisticas show that in several areas in Negros , a majority of the people listed their place of origin as Iloilo , Antique and Capiz . 75% of the inhabitants of Guimbalaon indicated that they originally came from Panay , most of them from Iloilo , while only 20% said that they came from within Negros . In Manapla , 62% reported that they were from Panay , while in Valladolid , it was 68% . Other municipalities like Silay and Saravia , recorded 55% and 54%, respectively. It must be pointed out that the statistical records did not include the seasonal laborers who did permanently settle in the island.