PROFILE OF NIR
Although the two separate provinces are located in one island, they previously formed part of two different regions. Negros Occidental belonged to Central Visayas Region (Region VII) and Negros Oriental was part of the Western Visayas Region (Region VI).
The idea of combining the two provinces into one region begun during the 1980’s when the officials of the two provinces proposed to have one single region for the Negros Island. During that time, it was only Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental provinces in the Philippines that are located in the same island but belonging to two different regions. Being under different regions, both provinces had separate regional offices. The talks regarding the proposal continued up to the early 1990s when the late former Governor Emilio Macias of Negros Oriental and Governor Bitay Lacson of Negros Occidental proposed it once more. However, their efforts were not recognized by the government. The discussion was continued by former Governor George Arnaiz and former Governor Rafael Coscolluella and they designated Kabankalan in Negros Occidental, which is just near Mabinay Municipality of Negros Oriental as the perfect spot for joint regional centers.
The Negros Island Region was again proposed in 2013 by both political divisions claiming that it will be beneficial to both provinces to stay under one region. President Benigno Aquino III directed the DILG to dig further and study the proposal regarding One Negros Island Region. It was on May 29, 2015 that President Benigno Aquino III signed an Executive Order 183 for the effectivity of one Negros Island Region. The Philippines now has 18 regions, Negros Island Region being Region XVIII.
With the new region, Negros provinces will have its own Regional Office so it is now easier for the Negrenses to process documents without traveling far. Also, united efforts between the two provinces can lead to better peace and order, economic growth and development, and acceleration of social development. It is expected that the present set-up will bring efficiency in the government of Negros Island and boost tourism in the area. This movement will also lead to improved planning, administration and management of government policies and programs.
Negros Occidental (excluding Bacolod City) had the bigger population in 2015 with 2.50 million. Negros Oriental posted a population of 1.35 million. Bacolod City, the only highly urbanized city in the region posted a population of 562 thousand.
Negros Island Region's population was 4,414,131 based on the 2015 Census of Population (POPCEN 2015). The total population of NIR accounted for about 4.4 percent of the Philippine population in 2015.
Negros is noted for being the country's prime producer of sugar. Sugarcane plantations abound in the agricultural areas of the island. The island also produces cotton and hardwood. Sugar is the biggest industry in the island, followed by other agricultural products and game fowl breeding. Its principal sugar-growing region is located in the north and west of the island, stretching from northwest along the coasts of the Visayan Sea and Guimaras Strait, which is one of the country's principal lowland areas.
Sugar refining has many by-products such as acetylene, fertilizers and rum. Fishing is the major industry based in Cadiz City. There are also a number of fishponds and prawn farming has become a major industry. Bacolod City is the center of commerce and finance in Negros Island Region. It is where oil companies, factories, bottling plants, allied industrial businesses, steel fabrication, power generation, agri-businesses, prawn culture and other aqua-culture ventures are found.
Bacolod-Silay International Airport
Negros Island is a major player in renewable energy in the Philippines. It has 6 operational renewable energy projects in Negros Island with a total capacity of 255.5 megawatts (MW).
The 18-MW Monte Solar Energy was built in partnership with AC Energy in Bais City, Negros Oriental. Three plants by the Negros Island Solar Power—48 MW in the municipality of Manapla, 18 MW and 14 MW in La Carlota City, Negros Occidental. There are also the P2-billion 25-megawatt solar plant at Hacienda Makina in Barangay Rizal, Silay City and the 132.5-MW solar farm in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental.
The island is also known for using geothermal energy to provide electricity for its inhabitants. Inland towns and cities of Negros Island Region use hydroelectric power acquired from springs, rivers and waterfalls. Due to the island region's sugarcane-based agriculture, Negros may become the nation's major biofuel producer, with sugarcane being used for ethanol extracting.
With vast coastlines and huge expanses of land of numerous beautiful sceneries, a colourful culture and a significant history, Negros has boasted numerous tourist attractions, which also helped boost the economy. In Silay City, there are 30 ancestral houses, amongst the most notable is the Balay Negrense. Bais City has since then become a tourist spot for whale and dolphin watching, due to its proximity across the Tañon Strait. Festivals are also a major tourist attraction in Negros, among the most notable, is the Masskara Festival in Bacolod City, which is celebrated during the third week of October.
ENDANGERED SPECIES AND PROTECTED AREAS
Negros Island Region, like the Central Philippines (Visayas) overall, is generally recognized as a top priority area for wildlife conservation, both in terms of numbers of endemic species and severity of threat.
More than half of the critically endangered species listed in the Philippines occurs in Negros and the West Visayas. It is the most threatened area of the Philippines, since it has the least remaining forest cover and the highest numbers of severely threatened endemic species and subspecies. Mt. Silay and Mt. Mandalagan are the two mountain peaks in the Northern Negros Natural Park. These mountains have old-growth forests. Threatened species recorded in this area are White-winged cuckoo shrike, Visayan Flowerpecker, Flame-templed babbler, Writhed-billed hornbill, Visayan tarictic hornbill, Rufous-lored kingfisher, Blue napped parrot, Philippine hawk-eagle.
There are six major protected areas (PAs) under the National Integrated Protected Areas System in Negros – Mount Kanlaon, Northern Negros and Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Parks, Sagay Marine Reserve, Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape, and Tañon Strait Protected Seascape. These PAs contain remaining natural ecosystems that are serving as habitats to assorted species of endemic flora and fauna and provide numerous ecosystem services.
(Sources: Philippines Statistics Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources)