A Brief History of Bais City
How Bais got its name is a legend in itself.
When the fertile flatlands and rich fishing grounds were reported to the Spanish colonizers after they arrived in the Philippines, an expedition headed by a Spanish engineer was sent to the area to get its name and pinpoint its exact location, as well as prepare a map of the island. They happened to enter the mouth of the river in the area and saw some people gathering the abundant fresh water eel locally called “Bais” that were caught in their fish traps.
Upon seeing the fishermen, the Spaniard asked in his native tongue: “Como se llama este lugar?” (What is the name of this place?). Failing to understand the engineer of course, and thinking that he was asking for the name of the fish caught, the fisherman answered curtly, “bais”. The Spaniard therefore, recorded the name “Bais” as the name of the place.
After the discovery of the island by the Spanish conquistadores, several of them moved to Negros on account of the high fertility of the flatlands of Bais. Many came and settled in the area and planted sugar cane, thus producing “moscovado” (sugar from their mills) which was exported to Spain via Iloilo, which then was the principal shipping point in the Visayas. This was loaded in large sailboats called Lurcha or Batel.
On January 20, 1848, Gov. Gen. Don Narciso Claveria entrusted the Island of Negros to the Recollects, then sent Missionaries to Negros in 1849. Bais was created as a town in 1849. In 1850, Bais was only a visita under the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the town of Tanjay. Later, it became a barrio of Manjuyod with the tribunal as its only strongly built structure.
The first village chapel was built of light materials and the construction of a concrete church started only in 1850 when Father Guillermo Garcia del Carmen became parish priest. In 1885, Father Manuel Alonzo took over the parish.
In 1865, hydraulic mills were installed in Bais, Bago, Bacolod, La Carlota, Pontevedra, Granada, Minuluan and Silay; Altogether they were capable of milling 100 piculs of sugar in 12 hours. These machineries replaced the primitive wooden mills. From 1865, the progress of Bais started with such increasing economic activities, particularly in sugar production, until 1896 when the Philippine Revolution broke out.
The Revolution in Negros started in November 5, 1898, Gen. Juan Araneta led the resistance movement against the Spaniards. Two days later, in Bacolod, the Spanish forces in Negros surrendered to Aniceto Lacson y Ledesma, Commander in Chief of the Filipino Forces in Northern Negros. A Cantonal Government was then established and Gen. Araneta became the Secretary of War.
When the American Forces arrived, Gen. Araneta counseled the Cantonal Government to submit to the American invaders. Occidental and Oriental Negros which were separated in 1890, were again united until the establishment of a civil government by Americans in 1901.
Bais became a bustling town after the war, when the Americans replaced the Spanish regime in the Philippines.
Negros Oriental became a province with the late Demetrio Larena of Bais holding the distinction as its first governor. It was during this epoch in 1901, that Bais realized a dream come true when she was raised politically from a barrio to a full town hood; Emilio Teves served as its first Municipal Mayor.
During World War II, Bais was the headquarters of the guerilla forces under Maj. Placido Ausejo, a constabulary officer. A Japanese garrison was stationed in the town for sometime. When the Americans landed in Dumaguete the enemy withdrew. Fierce fighting took place only in the southwestern coastline and mountain areas of Negros Oriental.
The town was created as a Charted City by virtue of Republic Act No. 5544. approved Sept. 9, 1968. Genaro Goni was the first city mayor.
On September 9, 1968, Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos officially and personally proclaimed Bais as a city.
Located on the eastern side of Negros Island, Bais City is bounded on the north by the municipality of Mabinay, Manjuyod on the northeast, Tanjay on the south, Tañon Strait on the east and Bayawan on the west.
Situated 45 kilometers north of Dumaguete City, Bais City has a total land area of 25,109 hectares or 5,202.67 sq. km..
Being the core of Negros Oriental’s sugar district, Bais City is home to one of the country’s pioneering mills, the Central Azucarera de Bais. The United Robina Sugar Mills Company is also found in here.
Local produce includes corn, vegetables, rootcrops, legumes, fish, prawns, shells, mollusks and Euchema seaweed or goso. Sugar cultivation is confined to 9,056 hectares, coconut at 3,120 hectares and corn at 3,060 hectares.
Prawn and bangus production are limited to wetland and shoreline areas covering 468 hectares while mangrove and nipa areas covering approximately 378 hectares are maintained as fish sanctuaries, wildlife preserves and buffer zones.
Bais City, which comprises around 4.35% of the total land area of the Province of Negros Oriental, is predominantly rural. It is composed of 35 barangays, 13 of which are coastal, 5 barangays are in the lowlands, and the rest are hinterland barangays.