San Carlos, Negros Occidental

San Carlos, officially the City of San Carlos (Cebuano: Dakbayan sa San Carlos; Hiligaynon: Dakbanwa/Syudad sang San Carlos; Tagalog: Lungsod ng San Carlos) and simply referred to as San Carlos City, is a 2nd class city in the province of Negros Occidental, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 132,536 people.[3]

San Carlos
City of San Carlos
Port of San Carlos

" ¡Vamos, San Carlos! "
Map of Negros Occidental with San Carlos highlighted
San Carlos
Location within the Philippines
Coordinates: 10°29′35″N 123°24′34″E
Country Philippines
RegionWestern Visayas (Region VI)
ProvinceNegros Occidental
District1st district of Negros Occidental
CityhoodJuly 1, 1960
Barangays18 (see Barangays)
  TypeSangguniang Panlungsod
  MayorRene Y. Gustilo
  Vice MayorChristopher Paul S. Carmona
  CongressmanGerardo P. Valmayor Jr.
  Electorate86,784 voters (2019)
  Total451.50 km2 (174.33 sq mi)
 (2015 census)[3]
  Density290/km2 (760/sq mi)
Demonym(s)San Carloseño (masculine)
San Carloseña (feminine)
  Income class2nd city income class
  Poverty incidence24.07% (2015)[4]
  Revenue (₱)863,227,791.75 (2016)
Time zoneUTC+8 (PST)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63(0)34
Climate typetropical climate
Native languagesHiligaynon

The municipality's status was elevated into a city on July 1, 1960, per Republic Act No. 2643, approved on June 18, 1960,[5] and Presidential Proclamation No. 685 s. 1960.[6]


Located along the northeastern coast touching the Tañon Strait, San Carlos City is located at the crossroads of Bacolod and Dumaguete, the two major cities of the Negros Island Region. The city is also used as a departure point to Cebu City as well. It has a 40 km (25 mi) coastline, of which some parts are covered with mangroves. The city has a deep natural harbor protected from inclement weather by the island of Refugio, also known as Sipaway. Due to these aspects, the Philippine Ports Authority has chosen the San Carlos City port from among other ports in the province for its expansion program in 1998 which include the reclamation of four hectares of sea to accommodate various port buildings, facilities and container vans, an extension on the east side for two RO-RO vessels and the extension of the length of the port to 242.50 m (795.6 ft).


San Carlos City has two pronounced seasons, wet and dry. The rainy season is from May to January with heavy rains occurring during the months of August and September. Dry season lasts from February to April. December and January are the coldest months while April is the hottest.


San Carlos City is politically subdivided into 18 barangays.


Pre-Spanish and Spanish colonization

San Carlos City was formerly named "Nabingkalan", deriving its name from Nabingka, a beautiful daughter of a chieftain of the Negrito settlement in the area, who ruled the barrio during the early part in the 17th century. She was famous for her loveliness and mental and physical prowess. After her death, the people mourned for two years, and to perpetuate her memory, named the barrio Nabingkalan. The settlement was later bought by Carlos Apurado from Badian, Cebu, who, with the help of fellow pioneers, developed the settlement into a thriving Christian village. Fragments of written history show that in 1856, the Island of Buglas (Negros), as a politico-military province under Spain, was divided into two provinces, West Negros under Iloilo and East Negros under Cebu. The barrio of Nabingkalan under Calatrava, was under the jurisdiction of Iloilo. Señor Don Emilio Saravia, the first political-military governor in the island during the Spanish era, renamed the place and established it as a pueblo.

Then in 1856 Negros was raised to the category of a politico-military province, Don Emilio Saravia being the first politico-military governor. It was during the governorship of Saravia that several towns of Occidental Negros, like San Isido, San Carlos,[7]and Calatrava were established.[8]

San Carlos prospered through the years, however, the village lost its pueblo category, and in 1890, when Negros Island was divided into Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, San Carlos was recorded as an arrabal or barrio of Calatrava (Hilub-ang).

American colonization

During the first years of the American occupation of the Philippines, the economic and social pace of the activities of the people were gauged on the movements of the big landholders and Spaniards in the lowlands. In 1903, the political arena was a hot place, it being the first taste of the Filipinos to elect their own leaders. In 1912, when a sugar central was constructed, the economic life of the people was greatly enhanced. The political activities, however, was closely woven with that of Calatrava, until 1925, when Calatrava was organized into a municipality.

San Carlos Milling Company of San Carlos, Negros, have erected the first and only modern sugar mills in the Philippines, and they have gone into cane cultivation and sugar manufacture in a scientific way. The capacity of the mill is 1000 tons of cane per day, which means about 125 tons of centrifugal sugar. It was completed at the end of 1913 at a cost of about one million dollars, and the first cane ground was from the 1914 crop.[9]

In 1920, Municipality of San Carlos comprised barrios Antabayan, Cubay, Euzcasa, Looc, Malalamban, San Juan, Santa Filomena, Sitio Banatic, Tigbon, Varconia.[10]

The municipality of San Carlos shall consist of its present territory and that of the municipality of Calatrava, with the seat of the municipal government at the present municipality of San Carlos (Act No. 716, Enacted, April 2, 1903[11]

The First World War encouraged the people of San Carlos to produce more sugar-producing crops. After the armistice in 1917, the planters who produced more sugar had their wealth greatly increased because of the new price of sugar never before enjoyed by the planters. During World War I, many sons of San Carlos volunteered to fight for the United States, but a few months later, were sent back home because of the armistice.

World War II

San Carlos was actively involved on the war efforts against Imperial Japan during The Second World War (World War II). A month after the surrender of Negros to the Japanese Imperial Forces, the Guerrilla Movement began in San Carlos and Calatrava. As early as June 15, 1942, Guerilla Units under the leadership of Capt. Eugenio Antonio,Jr., Lt. Leonardo Marane and Lt. Alfredo Valdivia assisted by the Philippine Commonwealth Military Troops began operations against the enemy. Pitched battles were fought within the environs of the "poblacion". Despite the presence of the U.S. forces under Maj. Edward McClenahan, separate Guerrilla Units were scattered in the area under different Commanders as they were not able to establish a formal chain-of-command among the different Guerilla Factions effectively.

Upon the return of some local USAFFE officers to San Carlos, the guerrilla movement was formally organized into fighting units under USAFFE Capts. Catalino D. Rivera, Eugenio Antonio, Jr. and Loreto Y. Apuhin, together with Lts. Florencio C. Yap and Andres L. Arrogante, the bands of roving guerrillas in San Carlos were consolidated under one command. Young men in their early teens (just barely enough to carry rifles) joined the ranks and fought bravely face-to-face against the Japanese.

In March 1945, the Philippine Commonwealth forces under the 7th, 71st and 72nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, 7th Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary and local guerrilla units under the command of Col. Ernesto S. Mata, attacked the Japanese garrison in the compound of San Carlos Milling Company and succeeded in driving away the Japanese Army, at the cost of the life of Lt. Alfredo Valdivia.

In October 10, 1945 President Sergio Osmena appointed Eugenio Antonio as Acting Mayor of San Carlos and Anacleto Facturan as Acting Vice Mayor.[12]

Post-war period

The first post-war election found the town with a Liberal government. In 1953, the Nacionalista wrested the power from the Liberals.

By Virtue of R.A. No. 2643, the Municipality of San Carlos was converted into the City of San Carlos on July 1, 1960.[5] The city inherited from the municipality numerous improvements, introduced by the last municipal administration under Mayor Sofronio Carmona.


Population census of San Carlos
YearPop.±% p.a.
1903 9,749    
1918 42,453+10.31%
1939 69,990+2.41%
1948 92,250+3.12%
1960 124,756+2.55%
1970 90,058−3.20%
1975 90,982+0.20%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1980 91,627+0.14%
1990 105,713+1.44%
1995 101,429−0.77%
2000 118,259+3.35%
2007 129,809+1.29%
2010 129,981+0.05%
2015 132,536+0.37%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[3][13][14][15]

Cebuano is the major language of San Carlos City, closely followed by Hiligaynon (also known as Ilonggo). Both languages are understood and used in both, the urban and rural areas. English and to some extent Tagalog, are also spoken and understood, especially in the urban areas.


Located in the city is the San Carlos Solar Energy who owns the SaCaSol I which is currently the largest operational solar plant in the Philippines.

Local government

  • Mayor: Renato Y. Gustilo
  • Vice Mayor: Christopher Paul S. Carmona
  • Councilors
    • Carlos Manuel L. Valmayor
    • Benito Y. Gustilo Jr.
    • Jose Carlos L. Villarante
    • Wilmer L. Yap
    • Philip Gerard B. Maisog
    • Clint S. Mansueto
    • Mark E. Cui
    • Alexander Y. Ongtiaobok
    • Jeffrey M. Hidalgo
    • Lorna Y. Hinolan
    • LIGA President: PB Anthony S. Wee
    • SK Federation Representative: JB Spring C. Bacurnay

List of former mayors

From 1899 to the last days of the administration of the municipality of San Carlos, the following persons have served as presidentes and mayors:

  • Agustin Ylagan (4 terms)
  • Bernardino Lazanas
  • Domingo Medina (2 terms)
  • Eugenio Antonio, Jr.
  • Fausto Caballero
  • Jose Cervantes
  • Juan P. Broce (2 terms)
  • Pelagio Carbajosa
  • Vicente Atienza
  • Vicente Flores
  • Antonio Azcona (in the occupied area)
  • Anacleto Factoran (in the free area)
  • Juan P. Broce
After 1945
  • Constancio Rabacal (2 terms)
  • Constancio Rabacal (Appointed, 1946)
  • Dominador Zaragoza (Appointed)
  • Eugenio Antonio, Jr. (Appointed)
  • Gregorio R. Reonisto (OIC, 1987)
  • Sofronio C. Carmona
  • Jose V. Valmayor Jr.
  • Rogelio "Roger" Debulgado (3 terms, 1992-2001)
  • Eugenio "Bong" Lacson
  • Gerardo "Ginggo" Valmayor Jr.


The Pintaflores Festival was born out of the city's search for a cultural identity and tradition. In 1992 after successfully holding two activities with the Nabingkalan Tattoo Festival and the Dances of Flowers as highlights of the city fiesta, the idea of blending the two concepts to come up with a presentation that could be considered the city's very own started what today is one of the most popular street dancing festivals in the region, the present-day "Pintaflores Festival".

Pintaflores is coined from the words pintados ("painted ones"), the concept behind the Nabingkalan Tattoo Festival, and flores, the Spanish word for "flowers" that dominated the theme of the Dances of Flowers. The Pintaflores street dancing and ritual competition highlights the annual Pintaflores Festival every November 3–5.

It features rhythmic dances and dance dramas of life and death and the triumph of good against evil that depict the people's thanksgiving and merriment, abundant blessings and success. As part of the Pintados tradition, the faces, arms, bodies and legs of the dancers are painted with flowers to express gratitude to man and his environment.

The street dancing is culminated by a dance ritual performed at the City auditorium. Different dance steps and musical accompaniment add to the thrill of the competition. The human flower formation is another impressive part of the dance ritual which are products of the ingenuity and skill of the choreographers and dancers.

Colegio de Santo Tomas - Recoletos high school students, bested seasoned contestants to land third place in the free interpretation category in the heavily competed Sinulog festival in Cebu City in January 1993. In April of the same year, the group won the championship in Panaad Sa Negros '93, to province-wide cultural festival in Negros Occidental.

Represented by Barangays II and Quezon, the Pintaflores street dancing contingent emerged first prize in Panaad Sa Negros in 1996. The same group with the participation of Barangay Ermita secured again the championship in Panaad Sa Negros 1997 and the fifth prize in Sinulog festival '98.

In Panaad sa Negros '98, the Pintaflores group composed of dancers from Barangays Punao and Palampas and the City Hospital graced the fiesta presentation as guest performers. In Panaad '99 the Pintaflores represented this time by elementary school children, once again proved its unbeatable streak by emerging champions, consequently reaping the Hall of Fame award for topping the fiesta presentation event in four consecutive years.

Having established a name in street dancing, Pintaflores danced performers in such places as Iloilo City (1996) and Roxas City (1997) as among the best of the best in the region, and in Canlaon City and Victorias in 1999 as the best in the province.

Pintaflores has evolved as a new breed of dancers emerged with the launching of Pintaflores Bata or Pinta Bata in 1996. A street dancing and ritual competition among elementary school children. Pinta Bata thrills one with the children's pleasing gracefulness and versatility that promises a crop of excellent dancers in the years to come.

After five years and many awards, including the Hall of Fame awards in street dancing in the Panaad sa Negros, the word Pintaflores, like "Daan Sa Kaunlaran" and Homelot program, now has become another byword of the creativity of San Carloseños.


Pedicabs and Motorized tricycles are common mode of transport. Buses and jeepneys provide service for inter-town travel. Local outrigger or pumpboat for inter-island travel to and from Sipaway Island.


Notable people and events

Another historical milestone in the life of the city is the cabinet meeting of President Fidel V. Ramos in the city on August 27, 1996 making San Carlos the first component city to be made the venue of a Presidential cabinet meeting. Award-winning actress Assunta de Rossi graced the city when she married congressman Jules Ledesma. Boxer Gerry Peñalosa hails from the city. Romeo Villalva Tabuena, an artist included in the "Who's Who" in American arts, and has had works featured in publications like the “American Artists”, “Diplomat”, “Literary Review” and the “Reporter”, also has family roots from San Carlos. Elizabeth Ramsey, a comedian and the mother of singer Jaya, and Dr. Gerry H. Tan, Chairman on the Division of Endocrinology at Cebu Doctors’ College of Medicine - Cebu Doctors University Hospital from 1999 to present, also hails from the city. Reiven Bulado, an actor who played Ibo on an MMFF film Panaghoy sa Suba was born in San Carlos and studied highschool at Colegio de Santo Tomas – Recoletos.[16]


  1. "City". Quezon City, Philippines: Department of the Interior and Local Government. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  2. "Province:". PSGC Interactive. Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  3. Census of Population (2015). "Region VI (Western Visayas)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  4. "PSA releases the 2015 Municipal and City Level Poverty Estimates". Quezon City, Philippines. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  5. "Republic Act No. 2643 - An Act Creating the City of San Carlos". Arellano Law Foundation. 18 June 1960. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  6. "Proclamation No. 685, s. 1960 - Declaring July 1, 1960, as The Date for The Formal Organization of The City of San Carlos". Official Gazette of the Philippines. Republic of the Philippines. 29 June 1960. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  7. "Proclamation No. 900, s. 2014 - Declaring Tuesday, 4 November 2014, as a Special (Non-Working) Day in the City of San Carlos, Negros Occidental". Official Gazette of the Philippines. 4 November 2014. Archived from the original on 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  8. Census of the Philippine Islands 1918. Library of Congress: CENSUS OFFICE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. 1920. p. 217.
  9. George, Rolph (1917). "Something about sugar, its history, growth, manufacture and distribution". Open Library. Archived from the original on March 8, 2007. Retrieved 2019-10-25.
  10. Villamor, Ignacio; Buencamino, Felipe. "Census of the Philippine Islands taken under the direction of the Philippine Legislature in the year 1918". Manila, : Bureau of Printing. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  11. Acts of the Philippine Commission. (Acts Nos. 425-949, inclusive. Library of Congress: Bureau of Insular Affairs, War Department Volume VIII. 1904. p. 482.
  12. "Messages of the President Sergio Osmena 1944-1946". Archived from the original on 1944–1946.
  13. Census of Population and Housing (2010). "Region VI (Western Visayas)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. NSO. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  14. Censuses of Population (1903–2007). "Region VI (Western Visayas)". Table 1. Population Enumerated in Various Censuses by Province/Highly Urbanized City: 1903 to 2007. NSO.
  15. "Province of". Municipality Population Data. Local Water Utilities Administration Research Division. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
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