The city of Bago was founded by Fr. Geronimo Marin an Agustinian priest on June 24, 1575, one of the special occasions in the history of the church because on this day they commemorated the feast of St. John the Baptist.
Many questions came out about the history of Bago and where the name Bago acquired from. There is a story that city was named after a large tree called “Bago” under which a native prince named Mapagic died, this story was based in the manuscript of a Spanish historian; Diego Lope de Povedano which is can be found in the library of University of San Carlos, in Cebu City. Another historical version also came out that the name Bago City got its name from a shrub called “bago-bago” which was then growing luxuriantly along the rivers banks.
From the year 1575 up to the close of 16th century no historical account was written about the community, but in the early part of 17th century the history of Bago go back to the scene when a group of settlers from Panay crossed the Guimaras Strait and migrated to Negros and some of them settles along the banks of the Bago River, one of the largest river in the island of Negros.
The arrival of these settlers give the rapid growth of the community to make a sizeable number of people that formed a village which capable of establishing its own self-governance. In later years the descendant of these settlers petitioned to the Spanish authorities to declare their villages as “pueblo” or town to name it Bago, among the petitioners are Manuel Sitchon, Grenorio Varela, Paulino Torres, Jacinto Araneta, Clemente Celis, Mariano Gonzaga and Fernando Villanueva, whose family ancestors came from the town of Iloilo. After that with the same year their petitioned was granted to make Bago as a town or pueblo.
But with the Spanish tyranny, injustice and oppression the inhabitants of Bago led into revolt with this kind of social condition. On November 5, 1898, Juan Anacleto Araneta led his people to fight for their freedom an historical event that marks in the history of Bago City.
This historic event was chronicled in a historic 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 November, 1898. Witnessed by Anaias
Diokno, representative of the Central Revolutionary
Government. This Republic acknowledge
The authority of the First Philippine
Republic under Emilio Aguinaldo.”
Immediately a revolutionary government was formed and General Juan A. Araneta as the acting governor and then the municipality of Bago held an election and Ramon Del Castillo became the first elected municipal president who served from year 1898 to 1900.
In April 1901 after the long invasion of Spaniards, Americans came into the scene and abolished the revolutionary government that was established by General Juan A. Araneta. During American regime Bago City is one of town that was under the power of Americans but they allowed local Filipino people to govern its town.
When the Japanese Forces invaded the Philippines, the civil government of Bago was dissolve. 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.
On February 19, 1966 the Bago was officially declared as a city by the virtue of Republic Act No. 4382, and Honorable Manuel Y. Torres was elected as the city mayor until 1998.