The Birth of a City…

Last June 24, 2011, Bago City celebrated its 436th year of its political existence. Its history has its beginning on September 6, 1571 when the Spanish Adelantado, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, allotted the community to a Spaniard named Juan Gutierrez Cortes as his "encomienda". At that time, the community was still composed of small clusters of settlements along the banks of a big river which later became known as the Bago River. The "encomiendero", since then, administered to the spiritual and socio-economic needs of the natives in the settlements until June, 1578; however, a year before that, this community was placed under the evangelical visitations of Father Geronimo Marin, an Augustinian priest who had taken charge of the Christianization of the natives of Binalbagan since the year 1572. Father Matin, upon his arrival in the community, celebrated the feast of St. John the Baptist, who would later be accepted as the patron saint of the place. Following the traditions and practices of the Spanish missionaries and historians in recording the founding of a "pueblo" or town that usually coincides with the feast day of a saint and since the feast day of St. John the Baptist, falls on June 24 of each year, it follows thereof that Bago was founded on June 24, 1575. History only records 1575 as the year when Bago was founded so that the exact month and day can only be deduced from such traditional practices of the Spaniards. Manila, Cebu and Binalbagan also predicted the dates of their founding on the same historical situations; hence, the logical conclusion is that Bago City was officially founded on the month, day and year heretofore mentioned.

As regards on how the community acquired its name, according to the manuscript of a Spanish historian, Diego Lope de Povedano, which is available in the library of the University of San Carlos, Cebu City, the community was named after a large tree called "Bago" under which, a native prince by the name of Mapagic died.

Another historical version is that the place got its name from a shrub called "bago-bago" which was then growing luxuriantly along the river banks.

From the year 1575 up to the close of the 16’" century, no historical account was written about the community. Bago came into the historical scene again when, at early part of the 17" century, a group of settlers settled along the banks of Bago River. The arrival of these settlers merged into a sizable village capable of self- governance. In later years, the descendants of these settlers petitioned the Spanish authorities to declare their village a "pueblo" or town and to name it "Bago". Among the petitioners were Manuel Sitchon, Grenorio Varela, Paulino Torres, Jacinto Araneta, Clemente Celis, Mariano Gonzaga and Fernando Villanueva, whose forebears hailed from the town of Molo, lloilo. The said petition was finally granted by the Spanish authorities in the year 1800; thus, Bago officially attained the status of a "pueblo" or town in that same year.

Between the years 1800 and 1898, the inhabitants of Bago are among those who suffered tremendously under the Spanish tyranny, injustice and oppression. This social condition finally led to a great revolt on November 5, 1898 when on this day, General Juan Anacleto Araneta rallied his people in the struggle for freedom. This historic event was chronicled in a historical marker found in the city public plaza of Bago which bears the following inscriptions:

"Republica de Negros"
In this plaza of Bago was proclaimed the
Republica de Negros by the Revolutionary
Forces led by General Juan Anacleto Araneta,
5 of November, 1898. Witnessed by Ananias
Diokno, representative of the Central Revo¬
lutionary Government. This Republic acknow¬
ledged the authority of the First Philippine
Republic under Emilio Aguinaldo".


Together with General Aniceto Lacson who led the forces in Talisay, he was able to force the capitulation of the Spanish garrison at Bacolod thus putting an end to the Spanish sovereignty in the province. Forthwith, a revolutionary government was established with General Juan A. Araneta as the Acting Governor. Tne Municipality of Bago, an election was held and Ramon del Castillo became the first elected municipal president who served in such capacity from the year 1898 up to the year 1900.

In April, 1901, the Americans came and established a civil government in the province of Negros Occidental which completely abolished the revolutionary government of General Araneta. Bago as one of the towns that were placed under the control of the Americans; however, they allowed the municipality to be governed by Filipino officials. The following therefore were the succeeding municipal presidents and mayors of Bago until the outbreak of the Second World War on December 7, 1941:

Hon. Eustracio Torres 1901-1903 (elected)
Hon. Sofronio Yulo 1904-1906 (elected)
Hon. Mariano Villanueva 1906-1907 (appointed)
Hon. Rufino Advincula 1907-1908 (elected)
Hon. Mariano Villanueva 1908-1909 (appointed)
Hon. Carlos Dreyfus 1910-1912 (elected)
Hon. Mariano Araneta 1912-1918 (elected)
Hon. Angel Salas 1919-1921 (elected)
Hon. Aguedo Gonzaga, Sr 1922-1929 (elected)
Hon. Hilario D. Yulo 1930-1932 (elected)
Hon. Aguedo Gonzaga, Sr. 1933-1935 (elected)
Hon. Luis Matti 1936-1941 (elected)


When the Japanese Forces invaded the Philippines, the civil government of Bago was dissolved. The Japanese occupation forces tried to establish a provisional government but the local people refused to cooperate. When the Americans liberated the town on March 29, 1945, it was completely destroyed but rehabilitation work was immediately started and the town underwent development efforts under the leadership of the succeeding town mayors; to wit:

Hon. Basilio Lopez 1945-1946 (appointed)
Hon. Humberto V. Javellana 1946 (appointed)
Hon. Carlos Dreyfus 1947 (appointed)
Hon. Jose T. Yulo 1947 (appointed)
Hon. Luis Matti 1948-1951 (elected)
Hon. Carlos Dreyfus 1951-1955 (elected)
Hon.Teodoro A. Araneta 1956-1959 (elected)
Hon. Manuel Y. Torres 1959-1986 (elected)
Hon. Enrique J. Araneta 1986-1987 (appointed OIC Mayor)
Hon. Roberto Matti Dec. 1, 1987 -Jan. 31, 1988 (appointed OIC Mayor)
Hon. Rosemary Caunca Feb 1, 1988 (appointed OIC Mayor)
Hon. Manuel Y. Torres Feb 2, 1988-1998 (elected)
Hon. Janet E. Torres 1998-2007 (elected)
Hon. Ramon D. Torres 2007- present (elected)


Bago City was finally granted its cityhood on February 19, 1966 by virtue of Republic Act. No. 4382 with Hon. Manuel Y. Torres as the hold-over City Mayor until 1998.

Legal limitations on the number of successive terms disqualified Mayor Manuel Y. Torres in running again as City Mayor and in the 1998 local elections, his wife, Janet e.Torres run as candidate for Mayor and won. Mayor Janet served Bago City as City Mayor for three (3) consecutive terms.

Presently, the City of Bago is Under the leadership of Mayor Ramon D. Torres who is currently serving in his second term as the Local Chief Executive.