Sugar is central to the evolution of the Negrense culture. The affluence and the prosperity that the industry brought to the province nourished a charming, genteel, sometimes lavish spirit that sets the Negrense apart from his Ilonggo kinsman. Negrense are regarded as affectionate, generous, fun loving people who enjoy the finer things in life. As a labor force, however, Negrenses are highly motivated, educated, skilled, trainable and entrepreneurial individuals.
Negros pastries and confectionary are equally renowned, with guapple pie, piaya, barquillos, pinasugbo, pastel de mangga, panyo-panyo, butong-butong and dulce gatas ranked among the favorites. Negros is also presently giving Davao and Bicol Region a run for their pastilles de durian and pili nuts, respectively.
Negrenses celebrate in style. Negros cuisine developed from this eagerness for festivity, though much of this remarkable cuisine is guarded jealously in family kitchens. Aside from dishes cooked with Spanish influences, probably the most famous dish Negros Occidental is remembered for is Inasal (barbecued marinated chicken).
Arts and Sports
Negrenses are noted for their artistic abilities as well as for their love for sports. Many Negrense artists-designers/architects, cartoonists/visual artists have gained national and international distinction in their fields. The province is also noted for its world-class athletes in track and field, swimming, football, softball, golf and boxing among others. Even in the field of cock-fighting, it is known as the home of the best handlers and gamefowl breeders.
The Negrenses’ joie de vivre is manifested in the various festivals all over the province, foremost among which are famous MassKara Festival of Bacolod, Pasalamat Festival of La Carlota, Bailes de Luces of La Castellana and Pintaflores Festival of San Carlos. These and other interesting local festivals are featured during the Pana-ad sa Negros Festival staged every April at the 25-hectare tree-lined Pana-ad Stadium in Bacolod City. Dubbed as the “Festival of Festivals”, Pana-ad brings together the 13 cities and 19 towns in a showcase of history, arts and culture, tourism, trade, commerce and industry, beauty and talent as well as games and sports.
“Man and Beast” Sculpture at the Capitol Lagoon
Negros Occidental is rich in structures and buildings that are remnants of a once affluent lifestyle. The Palacio Episcopal (1930), San Sebastian Cathedral (1876) and the Capitol Building (1931), are popular landmarks. Silay City has fine examples of sugar barons’ palatial homes. In other towns, steam locomotives that used to cart sugarcane from the fields to refineries attract steam-engine enthusiasts from all over the world. There are also impressive churches all over the province, both built recently and during the Spanish era.