Iloilo City and Bacolod City are like twin sisters. Both have people who speak Hiligaynon, both are heavily Hispanized, and both still have vestiges of its glorious past. Both cities also value education, and when transported to Manila, people from both cities claim to be Ilonggo. It takes a fellow Visayan to tell the difference between an Ilonggo from Iloilo and an Ilonggo from Bacolod.

Loyal Negrenses call themselves "Negrense" or "Bacolodnon." Ilonggos prefer to be called such. Those who don't want to bother with semantics don't mind what they're called. They know they're Visayan (Western Visayan) and are indubitably proud of it.

While we know about the mass migration to Metro Manila, where money is easy and jobs abound, little do we notice the migration from the other provinces to either Iloilo or Negros.

In Iloilo, Negrenses come and stay for the education. It must be the fact that UP in the Visayas, San Agustin and Central Philippine University are considered the best universities in the region. That, or maybe these adventurous Negrenses want to get away from their parents and see how it is to live independent lives. Negrense migrants also come over for jobs. One of the biggest employers in the region, SM City Iloilo, is home to a lot of migrant workers from all over the other provinces. I've met not only Negrenses, but also Cebuanos and Mindanaoans.

If you find an Ilonggo wandering in Bacolod, you'd be sure that 50 to 90% of the time, they're there because of either Convergys, Teleperformance or another BPO that chose to take root in Bacolod over Iloilo. Because of massive hiring for Convergys, Iloilo's most talented agents opted to pack up and go for Bacolod instead.

Rumor has it that Convergys and the other big-name call centers chose Bacolod over Iloilo because of electricity rates and reliability. In 2009 to 2010, power was so bad and expensive in Iloilo City that a good number of investors chose Bacolod instead.

Just an aside, Convergys pays top dollar for capable agents. What an Ilonggo agent could earn in Iloilo, he gets to earn double in Bacolod. Plus, Convergys pays for their move. Not hard to see why Ilonggos drop everything and leave for Bacolod.

Philippine culture is meshing and merging at a faster pace nowadays. The young and restless urban professional is ever on the search for greener and more satisfying shores that it's not hard to understand why there are Local Aliens Amongst Us.

-The Scribbler