The original name of San Carlos was “Nabingkalan”, being referred to the Negrito settlement of inhabitants. Some of the original settlers from the western coast of Cebu were led by an enterprising Cebuano from Badian, Carlos Apurado, who developed the area into a thriving Christian village with the help of his fellow pioneers.
According to a legend, “Nabingkalan” is also derived from the name of “Nabingka”, a beautiful princess who ruled the territory for many years that when she died, the inhabitants of this Negrito region mourned the death of their beautiful princess for two years. In order to perpetuate her soul, the people gave the name of “Nabingakalan” to the place where their beautiful princess ruled for a long period.
In 1856, the first politico-military Governor of Negros Island, Don Emilio Saravia, renamed the place “San Carlos” and established it as “pueblo” status in 1890 when Negros Island was divided into two provinces Occidental and Oriental Negros. San Carlos was recorded as an “arrabal” or barrio of Calatrava, then known as “Hilub-ang.”
In January 1892, the Bishop of the Diocese of Jaro in Iloilo appointed a Recollect priest as the first parish priest of San Carlos and three years later, the place regained its momentum for progress with 16 well-equipped sprawling “haciendas” in operation.
In 1898, San Carlos acquired its township status when Gen. Juan Araneta of the Revolutionary Negros Republic officially proclaimed it as a municipality. This was confirmed by the American Military Administration in 1901.
Five years later, in 1906, a constraint of the new administration from of local government implemented by the American Administration made Calatrava an “arrabal” or barrio of San Carlos.
San Carlos became a city on July 1, 1960. Each year, the city celebrates the Pintaflores festival on November 3-5 that culminates in a fascinating street dancing competition participated in by floral-painted dancers donned in colorful, ethnic-inspired costumes.