Ever since I arrived at Negros Occidental last 1987, I live at Binalbagan because my wife works there. Binalbagan is one-and-a-half hour ride from Bacolod City using public utility vehicles and one hour on private transport. Public transport is available through buses that are either air conditioned or non-air conditioned.
Below is a short history of Binalbagan:
Years ago, Binalbagan was called Inabagan, “the haven of refuge”. Negritoes inhabited this settlement until the arrival of the Mundos. Between 100 and 1300 A.D. Malays belonging to the 10 Bornean datus and their families settled in Binalbagan. During the Pre-Spanish era, three groups of people namely; the Mangyans, the Pintados and the Agtas inhabited the place.
In 1571, the Spaniards came and established in Binalbagan the largest encomienda in the island. Binalbagan, along with the Municipality of Oton, both established in 1572, are the two oldest towns in Western Visayas. As such it had earned the title, Banwang Panganay.
Two stories are told on the origin of the name Binalbagan. During stormy nights, the cargo of shrimps get wet and are partially spoiled. To remove the slimy odor and preserve the shrimps, the traders would beat the barks of mangroves to extract juice believed to contain preservatives for the shrimps. The action of beating the bark was termed as balbag in the native dialect. Hence, the place where the beating was done was called Binalbagan.
Old folks however, say that the town got its name from a past incident when a very big snake was stranded in the mouth of Binalbagan River, blockading sea transport. People referred to the place and incidents as Binalbagan. Subsequently, the name evolved into Binalbagan. Binalbagan today is known for its home-made candies (sweets) probably because of the presence of the Binalbagan-Isabela Sugar Company (BISCOM).
The town fiesta, a cultural heritage from our Spanish colonizers, is celebrated in Binalbagan every 15th of May. The celebration honors its patron saint, St. Isidore, also the patron of farmers. Starting on the 10th of May, the town fiesta is celebrated through sports events, carnivals, fairs, parades, an amateur singing contest and a beauty pageant.
Highlighting the celebration is the Balbagan Festival, a street dancing competition wherein dancers are garbed in colorful costumes.
BISCOM (Binalbagan-Isabela Sugar Company) is an imposing sight going to the town proper. Once, dubbed as the “biggest and oldest sugar mill” in Asia. It plays an important role in the development not only of Binalbagan but also of the whole 5th district being the only sugar mill in the area.
St. Isidore Parish Church was built in 1937. It undergone various renovation but retained its original façade. The church serves as a gathering place for Binalbaganons who are predominantly Roman Catholics. .
Binalbagan Bridge connects the Binalbagan River, built to hold heavy vehicles passing Binalbagan town.
The Municipal Hall was once called the Malacañang of the South because of its Spanish inspired design.
Beaches. With three coastal barangays, Binalbagan has several beaches located in Brgy. Canmoros. The beaches in this part are good option for family outings and relaxation. They are the La Aplaya Beach Resort, Queen Rina’s beach resort, Davies beach resort, canonoy beach resort and Kasuya Beach Resort.
Falls. Nature lovers may also enjoy the waterfalls in this town. They are the Tago-Tago Falls in Barangay Amontay, Binadlan Falls in Brgy. Bi-ao and Omot Falls in Brgy. Santol-Amontay Road.
Binalbagan is a very peaceful town. The people living there are also peace loving and friendly.