Years ago, Binalbagan was then called Inabagan “the haven of refuge” in an island which was then called Buglas which is now Negros. Little people called Negritoes, inhabited this settlement, until a new group of people, believed to have been the Mundos, came and drove them, farther inland. Then a new group of people composed of the ten Bornean datus and their families, in search of new lands to settle away from the tyrannical rule of the des[pot in Borneo, came and struck their stakes in the nearly island of Madya-as. From there, seafarers that they were, they explored the neighboring island of Buglas and settled here bringing with them their customs and traditions, their laws, and their knowledge in agriculture and arts. The Malays who settled along the shores of Binalbagan were believed to have come from the group that came and populated the Visayas between 100 and 1300 A.D.
The Spaniards who came to Binalbagan noted that the people were closely related to those of Panay. They observed the Sumakwelan and the Kalatiao Codes, and shared the same customs and tradition, including the tattooing of their bodies. The Spaniards called them Pintados. All in all there were three kinds of people that inhabited Binalbagan during the Pre-Spanish era: the Mangyans, the Pintados and the Agtas. The Pintados or the Bisayans were divided into two groups, the Higuencinas and the Igneinos. When enmity broke out between the two sub-groups, further divisions such as the Tagabukid or uplanders and the Talonanons or forest dwellers developed.
The earliest Spanish manuscript that ever mentioned Binalbagan and its people is the Povedano Manuscript written by Povedano himself in Binalbagan in 1972. In the map of Povedano of the island of buglas, Binalbagan was then called Inabagan. Like any other settlements in Pre-Spanish Philippines, the Inabagan settlement was a conglomeration of several barangays. The early Catholic missionaries who came to this settlement counted about 1,500 of them.
After the death of Magellan in the hands of Lapu-lapu in the island of Mactan in 1521, the King of Spain sent another expedition to the Philippines headed by Don Miguel de Legaspi and Fr. Andres Urdaneta. It arrived in the Philippines on February 13, 1565. After a series of wanderings from island to island, Legaspi found himself in Bohol faced by the danger of starvation prompting him to send expeditions to other islands for provision. One of those commissioned to search for provisions was Captain Juan de Isla, who failed to return on the designated time. This prompted the Spanish chief to send another expeditionary force to search for him under Martin de Goiti. On the eve of St. John the Baptist Day, Goiti landed on the Western side of Negros believed to have been in the area of the present Had. San Juan of Binalbagan owned by the late Doña Concepcion Yulo. There he learned that Captain Juan de la Isla was en route back to Bohol bringing with him 1,000 fanegas of rice. All of these occurred in 1566.
The years 1565 and 1566 were spent in going to the different islands in search for food to feed the men of Legaspi and to establish settlements in places where the chiefs were hospitable. The success of the diplomacy of Legaspi infuriated the Muslims that they raided the village of Binalbagan in 1569. At this time, the people must have already embraced Christianity. In his letter of July 25, 1570, Fr. Diego de Herreras, O.S.A. reported to the Spanish King that Binalbagan was raided by the moros and the people were defenseless. It is believed with good reason, that the favorite raiding place of the moro-raiders was Canmoros, a sitio in Binalbagan facing the Guimaras strait. This report of Fr. Herrera tended to show that, at the time, the Spaniards were settled in Binalbagan.
In 1571, Lagaspi divided Negros into several encomiendas. Assigned to Binalbagan were Diego Lope de Povedano who drew the map of Negros in 1572, Andres de Villalobos, Mateo Sanchez and Pedro Isardo. The settlement of Binalbagan must have the largest of four encomiendas were assigned to it while the other settlements had only two. Father Juan de Medina wrote in a manuscript dated in 1630 that the town on Vinaluagan, Binalbagan erroneously spelled, was elevated as such in 1572. In the same year, to intensify the evangelization of the Bisayanos, the Agustinian superior establishes a convent in Binalbagan and appointed Fr. Jeronimo Marin, O.S.A. as the prior and first parish priest of Binalbagan in 1575. In 1600, the convent was turned over to the secular priest until the Recollects came in 1622 until 1638. The Jesuits took over the administration of the church in Binalbagan until 1720. The Recollects came back in 1850 until 1896 when the Filipinos rose in revolt. By that time, the population of Binalbagan rose to 7,907. The Spanish colonization of Binalbagan did not leave much in terms of massive stone works that the Spaniards were famous for in the Philippines. The present church was constructed in 1935. The old Had. San Isidro sugar mill, built in the 18th century by the late Teodoro “Tan Orong “ Yulo is all that remains of the Spanish era evidence.
The American Regime
The first governments under the American rule were organized in some Municipalities in 1899 under General Order No. 43, Series of 1899 issued by the Office of the United States Military Governor of the Philippines. In 1900 the Military Governor with the aid of two Filipino jurists and three American officers created a general plan of municipal government or better known as Order No. 40, Series of 1900. Under the direction of the Provincial Governors, many municipalities were organized with this order.
In the early years of American Regime, the American Commission governed the Philippines. The first law passed by the United States Congress concerning the government of the Filipinos was Philippine Bill of 1902 granting the Filipinos greater participation in the governance of their Country. Under this Law, provinces are to be governed by Provincial Governors and municipalities by a President with a team composed of a Vice President and Councilors all duly elected by the people. Among the notable Provincial Governors were: Hon. Mariano Yulo, Hon. Isaac Lacson: Hon. Gill Montilla, Hon. Emilio Gaston and Hon. Agustin Stiching Ramos. The following were elected presidents of Binalbagan: Hon. Remigio Remitre, one term (1901-1904), Hon. Santiago Gavilaguin, one term (1905-1907), Hon. Mamerto Valdevia, one term (1909-1912), Hon. Ulpiano Aurilio, one term (1913-1916), Hon. Florentino Gonzales, one term (1917-1919), Hon. Raymundo Montelibano, one term (1920-1923), Hon. Domingo Cuachon, three terms (1924-1932) and Hon. Segundito Montilla (1933-1936). Under the Jones Law, a town official who has served three consecutive terms is ineligible for reelection for a fourth term as in the case of late president Cuachon. President Montilla’s term was a transition from the American Regime to the Commonwealth Government. He was the last president of the American Regime and the First president, ipso facto, under the Commonwealth Government in Binalbagan.
The Commonwealth Era
In the beginning as well as the closing of the American regime, the head of government bore the title President. The same time title was carried into the eve of the Commonwealth era. Hon Segundito Montilla (1935-1940) was the first Municipal President during the Commonwealth era. Hon. Gregorio T. Yulo succeeded Hon. Segundito Montilla serving from 1936-1940. Subsequently 5the first election under the amended Constitution of the Commonwealth government was held on November 15, 1941. Hon. Augorio M. Abeto became the first elected Municipal President and served from 1941to 1945.
E. The Japanese Occupation
Due to the rising tension in the Philippines resulting from World War II where they hoped and prayed for the liberation. During these desperate times, President Abeto kept the torch of democracy aglow on Verobina Hills through his Visayan songs that became popular during the early years. Its mass appeal has not lessened and considered today as among our Visayan immortal classics.
During the Spanish occupation, Filipinos endured untold sufferings and lived in constant dread of the kempet-ai known as the Japanese Military Police. Only their faith in God and the promise of democracy made the people survive throughout these turbulent years. The Japanese Military High Command compelled Filipinos to take active part in government affairs. They occupied the country under martial law. Dr. Jose P. Laurel accepted the position as puppet President of the Japanese sponsored Philippine Republic to maintain peace and order and safeguard the people’s welfare. Likewise, provincial and municipal officials were installed as puppets. Atty. Segundo was installed as the puppet Mayor from 1943 to 1945.
The Philippine Republic
The title of Mayor was adopted to replace the title of president because of the adoption of the title for the Chief Executive of the Philippines. Even during the Japanese regime, the incumbent bore the tile puppet Mayor to set off the title puppet President.
After the election during the Commonwealth Government on April 23, 1946, Hon. Pacifico Miranda, then serving in an ex-officio capacity was installed Mayor on July 4, 1946. He went on to serve until 1950. Hon. Paderes Verde succeeded him serving from 1951 to 1955. In January 1956, Hon. Pedro T. Yulo III was sworn into office and made history as the Municipal Mayor who served for an unprecedented thirty years.
It was during his administration that Binalbagan experienced economic and infrastructure boom. A man of the masses he was both loved by the poor and admired albeit grudgingly by his critics because of his down to earth candidness. He was credited for concreting of roads in the poblacion, construction of the present Bahay Pamahalan, the Binalbagan Public Market, construction of numerous elementary and primary school buildings particularly the Yulo Type building both in the urban and rural areas. He had charisma and magnetic personality that he often run unopposed during elections. His greatest achievement was the construction of Binalbagan Gym, later named in his honor as Mayor Pedro T Yulo Sports and Cultural Center after his demise on February 29, 1990. These achievements did not remain unnoticed as he was awarded one of the outstanding Mayor s of the Philippines twice and elected President of the Municipal Mayor’s League of the Philippines, Western Visayas Chapter as well as Treasurer at the National Level.
The EDSA Revolution
The historic “People Power Revolution” or better known as the EDSA revolt in February 1986 brought the Philippines to the attention of the world. It brought changes not only in the national leaderships as well. Hon. Nony M. Yulo who was appointed as OIC Mayor by President Corazon C. Aquino replaced Mayor Pedro Yulo.
Post – EDSA Revoultion
The passage of the New Constitution on February 2, 1987 paved the way for the holding of local elections the following year. Mayor Alejandro Y. Mirasol was elected for three consecutive terms from 1988 to 1998. During his first term the Binalbagan Public Market in the poblacion was razed to the ground in April 24, 1992. His determined efforts and initiatives paved the way for the completion of a modern Binalbagan Public Market funded from national and provincial aid, local sources and a loan from the Philippine National Bank. It was also during his incumbency that the Binalbagan Infirmary was constructed in answer to the clamor for a hospital following the closure of the privately owned BISCOM Hospital. His Municipal vice Mayor, Hon. Immanuel I. Aranda succeeded him as Municipal Mayor and is presently on his second term.
Gone are the days of the Captains like Tan Orong, Tan Severo and many more. The history of Binalbagan is still to be written. Records of the civil governments are scarce except those in the post-liberation period.
The people celebrated the Fourth Centennial Anniversary of its Foundation and Christianization of Binalbagan in May 15, 1972. On the record Binalbagan is the oldest town in Western Visayas, thereby earning the title, “Banwang Panganay” or oldest town. Oton, also founded in 1572 is its only rival to this claim.