When we speak of events pertaining to the Municipality of Hinoba-an, there is much to say. This place had been quite for a long time until the middle part of the nineteenth century, a wilderness separated from civilization by a vast and rugged terrain, which only the sea was the access to transportation. Early inhabitants in the place were known to be “Tumandoks” (Natives) but by their physical features they were readily recognizable as belonging to the Malay or Indonesian race. These natives or early settlers used to group themselves into tribes for purposes of settlements and self-rule usually headed by the “Agurang” or the eldest among the members of the tribes, whose counsels and advices were highly respected by the members. Distinct among the tribes was the “Maghat Tribe” who were feared for their fierce and barbaric way of life. It was said that whenever a member of this tribe dies, selected warriors from the group would avenge the death of their member by attacking a member of another tribe in order to please the soul of their departed member.
These early settlers were firm believer of supernatural beings. They believed and worshiped “Diwata” (Nymph of rivers and springs), “Tamawo” (Fairy) and “Talunanon” (God of the wilderness), but their chief god was “Anito” whom they believe as the most powerful. They lived in huts made of rough wood and palm leaves scattered along riverbanks and creeks. They used bark of trees and animal hide for clothing. The women wore “tapis” while the men wore “Bahag”(G-String). As means of livelihood, the were dependent on a crude type of agriculture which they carried out on a piece of land known to them as “Basak” (Small Farm). They used to plant palay and corn by “Panggas” (direct seeding) since they did not have working animal and farm implements. To supplement their palay and corn harvest, they also planted camote and other root crops. After harvest the males grouped themselves to hunt for “Bakatin” (Wild Pig) “Lagsaw” (Deer) and “Ilahas” (Wild Chicken) using spear balatik, soyak, tugalbong or siod (Kinds of traps). While the men were on hunting, the women and children were also out in the rivers and creeks to catch fresh water eels “Sili” and uyabang, ulang, pahi “Putuyaw” (Fresh Water Shrimps) or collect fresh water shells. These activities would go on until the first rainfall of the year when they would again return to their farm for the next planting.
The natives also practiced trade and commerce. Whenever a certain group caught bakatin or lagsaw, others would come to barter some piece of meat with palay or camote. It was not known if currency of any sort was used by the natives but old Spanish coins were found recently from the possession of their descendants. Gong made of brass and other brazen wares were also found from these descendants who were now living in the hinterlands of Hinoba-an. Porcelain jars and metal shields had been excavated in the old graveyard of the natives. It was not known if these wares were brought with them by the first settlers or bartered by them from foreign traders. Religious and culture were also known to the early settlers. They used to take offerings, which they called “DAGA” to their gods especially when somebody in the tribe is sick. During the time of harvest, they would gather together in the light of bonfire and dance “Kinutad”.
Nothing had been recorded as to how Hinoba-an got its name. However, according to an old tale handed down from generation to generation, there was once a parao (sailboat) sailing from the island Panay on its voyage to Cebu. While passing along the coast of Hinoba-an, the crew of the said sailboat ran short of drinking water. Seeing the white beach of the place and the green forest in the background, the crew decided to land to look for a spring where they could replenish their water supply. Unknown to them, a group of natives who were hiding among the trees were watching them curiously. The natives were so attracted when they saw the multi – colored clothing of the new comers and they took interest on the clothes of the travelers for their own. Not long after some members of the crew embarked with water containers, the natives immediately sprung up and encircled them, and with spears in hands demanded the travelers to strip off their clothes. The travelers fearing for their lives obeyed meekly the demand of the natives. As soon as they removed their clothes, the natives grab it from them and allow them to go peacefully. The travelers understood that it was only their clothing that the natives were interested of. After that incident, the travelers began to tell stories of a place in the Southern part of Negros Island where they were stripped off their clothing and every time they passed on that place they would point it to other persons saying: “ Dira kami sina nga lugar gin-ubahan”, (That is the place where we were stripped-off our clothing.) The word “Gin-ubahan” later on became the reference of the place until such time that the place was called “Gin-ubahan” which was later on modified by people from the north as “Hinubo-an” (Hubo means naked), and from which the name Hinoba-an, was derived.
In the earlier part of the nineteenth century corral fishing or “Tangkop” “Punot” became lucrative in the Northern towns of Negros Occidental. Lots of people from Aguisan, Himamaylan to Tabao, Valladolid engaged in corral fishing. Since, in the making of fish corral, stripped rattan or hagnaya is needed to bind the stripped bamboos together, the said materials became rare in the area. The demands for rattan and hagnaya forced people to look for other sources in the southern part of the island. A group of sailors from Tabao, Valladolid, Negros Occidental happened to land in Hinoba-an in search for rattan and hagnaya, they found out that the said materials abounded everywhere in the forest of Hinoba-an. They contracted the services of the natives to gather rattan and hagnaya for them and as compensation for the natives, they gave them foods, clothing and household wares as the native did not recognize the value of money. The transaction went on and the same group of sailors came to Hinoba-an regularly to get rattan and hagnaya. One of the sailors later on became interested in settling in Hinoba-an and in one of their voyage; he bought his personal effects with him and settled in Hinoba-an. This man was Canuto Tembrevilla. While in Hinoba-an, Canuto befriended the natives and even married one of the native women. With his knowledge of tuba gathering, he converted some of the coconuts of the native into “Sanggutan” and with his tuba, he became closer to the natives. The natives later on bartered their “Basak” with his tuba and some helped him cleared the adjoining forest until he acquired a wide piece of land which he developed and cultivated. The story of his good fortune attracted the interest of his relatives and friends from Tigbauan, and other neighboring towns of Iloilo and Northern Negros who came wave by wave to Hinoba-an. There were the Tipleses, the Tomados, the Tupases, and the Trinios. Later on other people form Miag-ao, Guimbal and Igbaras also came. Not long afterward a settlement of civilized people was established in Hinoba-an. Later on settlements where also established in Culipapa and Bacuyangan. Aware of the establishment of communities in the southern part of Negros Occidental, the local government of Cauayan, which then had jurisdiction over the place, put up a school in Hinoba-an with Mr. Alfonso Ambagan as the first teacher. He was joined later on by Miss Consejo Monsale who later on become Consejo Trinio. The diocese of Bacolod likewise established a Catholic Church in Hinoba-an with the Columban Missionaries as first parish priest until late 1990; when Kabankalan Diocese was established thus diocesan Filipino priest was assigned to the parish of Hinoba-an, Bacuyangan and Culipapa.
During the early period of the American regime, Few foreigners ventured to explore the Southernmost part of Negros Occidental and they found the place to be rich in natural resources. Watkins acquired a vast track of land in Talacagay, which he developed, into sugarcane plantation and in company with fellow Americans put up a muscovado mill. Pflieder also acquired and developed a vast track of land in Asia and put up another muscovado mill in the area. Estanislao Bilbao in partnership with another Spaniard acquired a vast track of land in Pook, which they developed for agricultural purposes. Marcelo Vasquez from Himamaylan bought a large track of land in San Rafael and also put up another musvcovado mill (remnants of these muscovado mills are still visible today). With the development of agriculture and sugar industry in Hinoba-an, the influx of people began to increase rapidly, either to seek employment in the sugar mills or to acquire land of their own. Among the prominent families who came were the Decenas, Reliquiases, Ramirezes who settled in Bacuyangan; the Cabaldes and Villaretes who settled in Bulwangan; Tendecias in Culipapa and Vergaras in Sangke, Hinoba-an, Bacuyangan and Culipapa were later on created into barrios of Cauayan. Hinoba-an, however, became the center of activities. During fiestas, which were used to be, celebrated before on May 1 and 2, and later on moved to May 7 & 8 of each year, people from neighboring Sitios and Barrios came to Hinoba-an to share the festivities. Every home prepared foods for the visitors. Significant activities during the fiesta were carabao fight (pasungay) horse race, carera de sintas with the used of horses, baseball and bulang, climaxed by the coronation and ball in the evening. Aside from the annual fiesta, appropriate celebrations were also made on Rizal Day, Holy Week, Christmas Day and New Years Day. For every community, everybody cooperated with out being told to do so.
The outbreak of the Second World War disrupted the growing community established by Hinoban-ons. The people went to the mountains to evade the Japanese forces. Evacuees from other places came to Hinoba-an to hide in its thick forest. Although no Japanese troops were permanently stationed in Hinoba-an, Japanese soldiers occasionally came to harass the guerillas especially when the USAFFE established their G-2 headquarters in Calapayan (which is now one of the sitios of Brgy. San Rafael), under Col. Salvador Abcede, then district commander of the 7 th military district. One of the most historical records about Hinoba-an was the landing of Captain Jesus Villamor aboard US submarine “Gudgeon” at Catmon bay in the year 1943 which lead to the liberation of the Philippines by the American forces. Appropriate marker has been put on the site where Capt. Villamor landed.
After liberation, William C. Pflieder reopened his sawmill in Asia giving the people the opportunity to earn a living. Few years later the Insular Lumber in San Rafael that later on was sold to Valderrama and Sons put up another sawmill. Valderrama transferred his sawmill to So. Ga-as with So. Lagit as the loading point. Lag-it was later on named Salvacion by Valderrama. The operations of these sawmills helped a lot of people of Hinoba-an in terms of employment and business opportunities. After several years of operation the concession of Valderrama was acquired by Insular Lumber Company (PHILS), Inc., which transferred its operation from Fabrica to Hinoba-an.
The establishment of the lumber industries in Hinoba-an, has contributed a lot to the rapid growth of population. The rich fishing grounds of Hinoba-an also attracted people from the islands of Cebu, Bohol and Iloilo, thus congesting the beaches of Culipapa, Daug, So. Nauhang, Bacuyangan and Alim. After the rainy season, a fleet of fishing vessels from Manila use to come to Hinoba-an to engage in tuna fishing. During harvest time, people from Cagayancillo known as Cagay-anon, sailing thru batel, also came to Hinoba-an to harvest palay and to barter their dried fish with palay and other goods. Some of them remained to settle permanently in Hinoba-an. The latest group of people who came to Hinoba-an to composed the present population were workers and employees of ILCO who with their families transferred residence here upon the complete transfer of ILCO from Fabrica to Hinoba-an, in the year 1976.
Immediately after the war, its pioneering residents rehabilitated Hinoba-an. Settlements were re-established, School houses were built and trails were developed for convenience in going to places and transporting of local produce to nearby villages and towns. The most accessible means of transportation by then was still by sea. Batel and big sailboat from Cebu, Iloilo and Bohol used to come to Hinoba-an to deliver merchandise and to buy copra, lumber, palay, corn and other forest and agricultural products. Since water transportation was the only convenient means of travel during that time, the beach of Hinoba-an was used to be the gathering place of people. Several coffee shops were scattered along the beach of this place, which served as the forum for discussion of common problems, by the inhabitants. In the early part of 1948, the people of Hinoba-an began to realize the need and importance of political life in the community. Since, a Teniente del Barrio whose power was limited to settling dispute amicably only headed the community, they felt the difficulties in dealing things that would require an official act of a government official. Cauayan, the mother town is 79 kilometers away bounding north and it would take 3 to 4 days travel to reach Cauayan during that time. As the community grew, problems also increased and the people found it imperative to have a government within their reach. This predicament impelled some of the prominent residents to group themselves and workout vigorously for the creation of Hinoba-an into a community and made representations with the Municipal Council of Cauayan and the Provincial Board of Negros Occidental for recommendation and support. At this time Sipalay was also working out for its creation into a town. Several hearings were conducted in Cauayan wherein the committee successfully defended their stand. The Hinoba-an Committee was headed by Jose G. Evangelista as Chairman and Antonio Garlitos as Co-Chairman. The members were Enrique Villanueva, who was then the Municipal Councilor of Cauayan, Luciano Celiz, Felipe Trinio, Pablo Tenaja, Andres Tenaja, Felixberto Cabalde who acted as secretary, Julio Gavan, Eleuterio Ramirez, Sergio Gumban and Crispina Tembrevilla. Pedro Macias had also contributed to the success of their mission. Some Political interventions, however, prevented so that instead of Hinoba-an, Asia which is nine kilometers away bound to south, was created into a Municipality by virtue of Executive Order No. 186 issued by the President Elpidio Quirino on November 20, 1948 the formal inauguration was held on December 20, 1948 upon the appointment of the first Municipal Officials with William Pflieder, the owner of Hacienda Asia as the first appointed Mayor. Eleven years after the inauguration, the seat of the Municipal Government was transferred to Hinoba-an and correspondingly, the Municipality was renamed Hinoba-an by virtue of R.A. 2154, thus giving fulfillment to the most cherished dream of the Hinoban-ons.
The second elected Mayor was Ladislao Cabalde who served for two consecutive terms from 1956 to 1963 and the third elected Mayor was Joaquin R. Bilbao who served from 1964 to 1985 including a hold over for four years during the martial law regime.
When the Municipality was created, it was classified as sixth class municipality, then fourth class and now third class with the estimated income of P 1,280,330.28 for the year 1982.Estimated Income this year is P _________________.
The reputation of this municipality as the most peaceful town for quiet a number of years has been marred by the recent upsurge of subversion when the Communist Party of the Philippines established a mass base for their armed unit known as the New Peoples Army (NPA) in the mountains of Hinoba-an. The municipality was classified as one of the critical area along with Cauyan,Ilog, Candoni, Kabankalan and Sipalay (CHICKS area). The image that Hinoba-an has, before the outside world, the recent gold discoveries in the streams and rivers of Hinoba-an catapulted it to international limelight. The Hinoba-an gold rush of 1982 has been a by word everywhere.
In the year 1986 during the transition period, Mayor Joaquin Bilbao was replaced by the appointed OIC Mayor Nelson delos Reyes and after the EDSA revolution the rest of the elected public officials were also replaced. During this era the activities of communist party became together stronger and wider, they had influence many civilians and they hired them to join in their group and other communities in rural areas have feed them information about the situations and activities of the military. To stabilize the operations and other activities of the rebels, many groups of peolple volunteers to help the military in protecting the people not only in Hinoba-an but also in the entire country, there were groups of pulahan, puti-an and greenan but these groups were operated only in the Southern part of Negros, they were para-military who helped in military operations, other commands were connected with the AFP, the Philippine Constabulary Force Command (PCFC) and later on become “Civilian Arm Forces Geographical Unit” (CAFGU). In the “Climax of Fighting” between the New Peoples Army (NPA) and Government troops, many residents were affected especially those living in or near the mountain, many people vacated their place and transferred in some places which are safe and from the battle areas. During this period, massive military operations were conducted; bombardment of rebels camp, hot pursuit operations to those suspected rebels and their protectors or supporters. Until such time that the power and influence of Communist Party in Hinoba-an had weakened. As time passed by Hinoba-an gradually back to its peaceful situation although there are some members of Communist Party left in mountainous are of Hinoba-an, the move of Hinoba-an towards development was not affected because they are not active as before. In the year 1998 there was a local election, and OIC mayor Nelson M. De Los Reyes was elected as Municipal Mayor and he maintained his post up to the year 1998. As Hinoba-an had been back to its normal situation, there were companies entered Hinoba-an to put up mining industries. In the year 1990 the Philex Gold Phils., a mining company started to examined the site, where in the proposed mining company begin to operate. Many people from other places who came in Hinoba-an to employ in this mining industry. Another company that had entered in Hinoba-an was IPPI (International Pursuit Phils., Inc.) its exploration start in the year 1995 even though this company that never attain to its purpose to have a full operations, it still provide employment to the people of Hinoba-an during its exploration and this company closed in the year 1998. prior to those there was also company what has tried to operate in this town, the Silica Mining Company its operation target was gold but it never stay long. Philex Gold Phil., Inc. was the only that remained to operate for almost a decade although most of its area of operations belonged to Sipalay City, its personnel were mostly from Hinoba-an. As time goes by the operations of this company had weakened which lead to the reduction of its personnel and the withdrawal of some of its machineries regardless of these situation the company is still pursuing its activities until these moment. Aside from Mining Companies, there were other companies and investors who came in Hinoba-an to put-up their business; the Bayantel/RCPI and a local radio station (105.30 FM, Radyo Natin) that is owned by the MBC. In the year 1998 Mayor Nelson De los Reyes finished his term of office, newly elected Mayor Francisco R. Bilbao then replaced him, during this time another communications company the PLDT Company opened their station in Hinoba-an. Other investors bought a piece of land near the beach and develop it to a resort. These events contribute not only to the income of Hinoba-an but it also upgrade the standard of this Municipality until this year 1999 the resourceful people of Hinoba-an, the efficient public officials, the indefatigable employees continue there endeavors for progressive development of Hinoba-an. Several infra projects were put up such as the Women’s Center, the ABC Hall, the SK Building and farm to market roads were improved and develop. A leading transportation company opened a terminal in the poblacion to serve the needs of the people of Hinoba-an. Life had become enjoyable especially that the road/highway to Bacolod is very comfortable.