NOTABLE historical events occurred in Negros prior to the arrival of the American forces in the late 1800s and the Negros Cinco de Noviembre uprising against Spain by November 5, 1898.
Among the prior events were the role of early Catholic missionaries as agents of social, economic and spiritual changes when the Spanish missionaries started their first mission in southern Negros focusing on the areas of Binalbagan, Bago and Ilog.
Migrations to Negros were proceeding at a slow pace and were affected by the sporadic outbreaks of epidemics, Moro piratical raids and the eruption of the Mt. Kanlaon volcano.
Other changes followed when the Jesuits were replaced by the Recoletos. When the Jesuits were expelled from the Philippines, the Dominicans took over their missions and shortly thereafter came the Seculars who helped in the encouragement in agriculture especially that of the new crop of great value which made Negros eventually the sugar province of the country.
More roads were also built and the Recollects tried to be intermediaries between the Spanish government and the natives in bringing about social and technological changes. The well-loved Fr. Fernando Cuenca was remarkable for many accomplishments including the treatment of diseases and irrigation to produce sugar economically.
Other aspects of Hispanizations to develop the sugar industry and other Negrense farm lands also encouraged more migrations from Cebu, Panay and other provinces. Other notable Spanish activities were the public works constructions under various governors.
The appointment of Nicholas Loney was notable as the first British Vice Consul serving Panay and Negros and made many improvements in sugar production. He also arranged for more direct exports of sugar to other countries including the first shipments to Australia.
The improvements led by Nicholas Loney resulted to more migrations to Negros from Cebu, Bohol, Capiz and Iloilo. A group that migrated to Negros directly from Spain were Spaniards who established more improvements in the sugar industry.
It was also at this point that the Spanish allowed the political division of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. This was the historical event when the Negrense leaders rose in revolt against the Spanish rule which eventually led to the establishments by the Negrense leaders of the Cantonal Republic organized as the new government independent of the Spanish rule.
Shortly following the arrival of the American forces in Manila, a major event following the surrender of the Spanish forces in Negros was the news that the Spaniards had ceded the Philippines to America in the 1898 Treaty of Paris. This caused the Negrense officials to send a Commission to Iloilo in the second week of December 1898.
The Negrenses explained to the US commander in Iloilo that Negros should not be included in the transfer of power from the Spaniards to the Americans because the Negrenses had driven out the Spanish forces since its November 5 revolution and declared itself an autonomous government.
The Negros Commission returned with nothing more than the promise that the matter would be referred to the American command in Manila. The Negros demand of independence following the Treaty of Paris between the US and Spain were however ignored.
While the demand for religious liberty may be attributed to the strong anti-friar feelings in Negros, they should have known that President Emilio Aguinaldo could not yet elicit a stand for Negros independence considering the strong debates suspending the decision on the religious issues until the meeting of the National Constituent Assembly.
When the Negros delegates emerged at the meeting with Aguinaldo, they gave the observant Americans a basis of the US autonomous stand which eventually allowed the American forces to take over the entire Philippines.
November 16, 2021
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