Past Cities

Bacolod, Western Visayas, Philippines

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Bacolod, a vibrant city located in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines, is rich in history, culture, and economic significance. Its journey throughout the centuries has been deeply influenced by its political environment and geography, shaping the city into what it is today. From its humble beginnings as a small settlement to its transformation into a bustling metropolis, Bacolod has witnessed numerous historical events that have left an indelible mark on its people and landscape.

The early history of Bacolod can be traced back to the 18th century when the area was inhabited by the Negritos, an indigenous group. It wasn't until the arrival of the Spanish colonizers that Bacolod began to take shape. In 1770, an expedition led by Don Manuel Lopez de Legaspi established a small agricultural settlement in the area, primarily engaged in sugarcane farming.

The political environment of Bacolod during the Spanish colonial era was shaped by the encomienda system, where land grants were given to Spanish colonizers in exchange for their protection and governance over the indigenous population. As a result, large haciendas, or estates, emerged, and the economy became centered around the production of sugarcane. The city's geography, characterized by fertile lands and a favorable climate, made it an ideal location for sugarcane cultivation.

Bacolod experienced steady growth in the 19th century, attracting immigrants from various parts of the Philippines, as well as foreign investors. The increasing population led to the establishment of Bacolod as a municipality in 1802, and later, as a chartered city in 1938. The city's official founding date is celebrated annually on October 19th as the "Bacolod City Charter Day."

The 19th century also witnessed significant political changes in the Philippines, which had an impact on Bacolod. The Philippine Revolution against Spanish rule, led by national heroes such as Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo, inspired the people of Bacolod to join the movement for independence. The city played a crucial role in the revolution, with notable figures like Aniceto Lacson and Juan Araneta leading local uprisings and resisting Spanish authority.

However, the end of Spanish colonization brought a new era of foreign influence as the United States gained control over the Philippines. Bacolod, like the rest of the country, experienced American governance and the introduction of new economic and political systems. The American period saw the implementation of democratic institutions, improvements in infrastructure, and the promotion of English as the medium of instruction in education.

The early 20th century marked another significant turning point for Bacolod as it experienced a rapid economic boom due to the global demand for sugar. The city's geography, with its vast sugarcane plantations and easy access to ports, made it a leading producer and exporter of sugar. Bacolod became known as the "Sugar Bowl of the Philippines," with its economy heavily reliant on the sugar industry.

However, the sugar boom also brought about social and economic disparities. The vast majority of Bacolod's population, composed of farmers and laborers, faced difficult working conditions and struggled to benefit from the city's economic prosperity. This disparity fueled social movements and labor strikes, as workers fought for better wages and working conditions.

The political environment in Bacolod during this period was characterized by the influence of the landed elite, who controlled the sugar industry and held significant political power. The MassKara Festival, which originated in the 1980s, was born out of this socio-political context as a way to uplift the spirits of the people during challenging times and to promote tourism and cultural identity.