How Bais got its name? “Bais” is a Visayan word for a long elongated eel-like fish. But like must place in the country, whose name was the result of a language barrier, this particular aquatic specie succeeded in attaining epic prominence by a mere accident stroke of fate.
The story goes that one time, a party composed of Spanish Engineers and surveyors and accompanied by civil guards boarded a sailboat and dropped anchor at the vicinity of the two islets which are now known as Dewey and Olympia just fronting the poblacion on the mainland. The entourage was said to have come from the western end of the island of Negros and together with the party was a handful of stouthearted missionaries presumably to handle the spiritual side of the journey.
From what could be gathered, the main purpose of the voyage was reportedly to survey the coastal areas as part of the plan to draw-up a map of Negros Island. Early one morning, the chief of the survey party, a sturdy Spaniard with mustache and rough whiskers to match potted two brown skinned natives each lugging a basket teeming with eels which they caught in a prepared trap laid along the swollen river banks that emptied into the sea.
As is wont with foreigners saddled with the task of gathering information, the visiting group sauntered to where the native fishermen were huddled and inquired in the Castillan lingo as to the name of the place: “Oye, Indios, Como se Ilama este lugar?” (Meaning: what is the name of this place?).
The natives, who were amazed at the sight of the unexpected intruders and hearing for the first time such strange language that sounded as foreign as the person who said it, mistook the question to mean an inquiry as to their catch especially with the fact that the visitors’ gaze was glued to the day’s fishing yield.
“Bais”, was the court reply of the two natives in a voice almost in chorus. Whereupon, the chief engineer-surveyor jotted down in his diary of travel the word “Bais” and from that time on, the place bore the name of the snaky aquatic denizen.
Bais as a barrio and later a municipality. During the era of Spanish domination, Bais was merely a barrio of the municipality of Manjuyod. The appointed village headman as well as the followers pledged loyalty to the alcalde of the municipality. Unlike other villages of the time, Bais was already endowed with progress in terms of culture, commerce, politics and standard of living.
The Spanish authorities, witnessing the phenomenal growth and development of the village, erected the first church. Much later, a village audiencia was established and streets were improved.
Notwithstanding all these improvements, Bais still remained a barrio of Manjuyod.
When the Americans replaced the Spanish regime in the Philippines, Negros Oriental became a province with the late Demetrio Larena of Bais holding the distinction as its first governor. It was during this epoch in 1901, that Bais realized a dream come true when she was raised politically from a barrio to full town hood, distinct and separately weaned from the apron strings of Manjuyod. Emilio Teves served as its first municipality mayor.
Since then, Bais Continued to move forward with remarkable persistence towards enviable heights.
Cityhood, The city of Bais comes into being on September 9, 1968 by virtue of Republic Act No. 5444, otherwise known as the Act Creating the City of Bais. President Ferdinand E. Marcos personally proclaimed Bais a city on that historic day of September. Genaro Goñi was the first city mayor.