6: Western Visayas ••• Aklan
between latitudes 11° 09' 30" N and 12° 01' 00"
N, and longitude 121° 50' 00" E and 122° 34' 45"
E, Aklan like Capiz shares the northern coast of the roughly triangular
island Panay. More than a third of the land is mountainous, with Aklan's
western flank sharing the high cordillera that divides the province
from Antique. A break
in the cordillera at Nabas allows passage to Pandan, Antique. The south is bounded by the central cordillera of Panay, common
to the provinces of Capiz and Iloilo. The lowlands are limited to a narrow strip that starts from
the coast and extends to the foothills, the widest are the floodplains
of the Ibajay (30 kms) and Aklan Rivers (60 kms), two of five
major rivers in the province.
The other rivers are the Tangalan, Jalo and Talon.
The rivers empty into Sibuyan Sea.
beginning as a settled area is wreathed in legend and spurious
and undocumented historical claims.
We come upon hard documentary evidence with the coming
of the Spaniards. In 1566, the Augustinian Fray Martin de
Rada had begun evangelizing Panay Island, where he preached the
Gospel at Pan-ay, Capiz and in Dumangas to the South. Legazpi transferred the Spanish colony from Cebu to Pan-ay
in 1569 because there was a scarcity of food in Cebu. But by 1571, the Spaniards had moved their base to Manila.
The Augustinians, however, continued their missionary work
and in 1581 evangelized Kalibo and in 1596, Ibajay. Both were strategic settlements because
they were near the mouth of Aklan's great rivers, a convenient
waterway for penetrating the island's interior.
participated in the Revolution against Spain when Gen. Francisco
Castillo, who had donated his fortune to found a national press
for the Katipunan and Candido Iban arrived in Aklan to found a
chapter of the Katipunan. Iban was a native of Malinao, Banga and
had befriended the brother of Andres Bonifacio, Procopio. Inducted into the Katipunan he returned
to Aklan to organize in the Visayas. Barrio Liloan became the
base of the Katipunan. In 1897, eighty-two Katipuneros rose in
arms though unsuccessfully.
Their revolutionary efforts were repaid with the round
up of leaders and the execution of 19 of them in 1897, including
Iban. Their heroic deed is commemorated in the In Memoriam
monument at D. Maagma St., Kalibo.
Nineteen steps commemorating the 19 martyrs of Aklan led
to the statue of Gen. Castillo. Another monument to the revolution is
the Second World War, Aklan had a well-established resistance
movement against Japanese occupation.
many generations, Aklan was under the jurisdiction of Capiz with
which it formed one political territory.
Although the Aklanon felt that they were culturally different
from the Capiznon, having their own language, attempts to create
a separate province, took more than half a century.
The 1901 Taft commission was presented by petition by a
delegation headed by Natalio B. Acevedo; the Urquiola-Alba Bill
of 1920, Laserna Suñer Bill of 1925 and 1930, the Tumbokon
bill of 1934 were presented to the legislature all to no avail
but finally on 25 April 1956 a law was passed creating Aklan the
50th province of the Philippines.
however, Kalibo (Aklan) became an independent diocese on 17 January
1976. Through most of the Spanish era it was
under Cebu, until the Jaro (Iloilo) diocese created in 1865, and
when the Capiz diocese was erected 27 January 1951 it fell under
the jurisdiction of Capiz.
Aklan has hardly any historic church complexes remaining,
in contrast to the neighboring provinces. Perhaps, being under Capiz for a long
time, the Augustinians' building enterprise focused on this center
rather than what was considered periphery.
best-known tourist attractions are: the Ati-atihan and Boracay
Island, both relatively new attractions.
Although the story told of the origins of the Ati-atihan
links it to the legend of the peace pact between the Bornean datus
and the Ati (Ayta) who occupied Panay Island in the 13th
century, the fact is the Ati-atihan (held on the third Sunday
of January to coincide with the feast of the Santo Niño)
was concocted in the 1950s as a way to boost tourism. Contrary to Alejandro Roces, who in his
book Fiesta, proposes that a probable origin of this celebration
were the artillerymen who successfully defended Aklan from slave
raiders and who attributed their continued deliverance not just
from military savvy but also divine intervention of the Santo
Niño, the gran capitan.
Roces observes that after a fierce firefight against slave
raiders, the brave artillerymen would have their faces covered
with sooth, because to fire a cannon was a dingy affair.
Boracay a long but narrow white sand island came to the
attention of surf and sun backpackers in the late 70s, by the
80s enterprising Europeans had set shop on the island and by the
end of the century, the island boasted of five star resorts, a
gulf course, establishments catering to different clientele: from
economy to the luxury tourist budget, and a string of restaurants
that serves the cuisine of the world: from native islander, to
Japanese and Chinese, to Asian to continental, and what have you.
These two attractions alone bring in most of the tourist
dollars and Euro to Aklan.
historic areas and heritage sites are clustered in the flood plains
of the Aklan and Ibajay River.
The plains are the most extensive flat area in Aklan, and
also the most fertile, hence, appropriate for agriculture and
human habitation. The towns of Kalibo, Numancia, Banga and Malinao, formerly
a barrio of Banga, are the oldest settlements in the province.
1581, the Augustinians established a mission in Kalibo. In 1680, the Kalibo was erected a parish under the advocacy
of the San Juan Bautista Then,
the town site was at Barrio Laguinbanwa in Numancia, some two kilometers
distant from the present site of Kalibo.
Site: Here at Laguinbanwa, a church was erected
but when town transferred site to its present location, another
church was constructed at the new site (1804).
Both church and convento were completed completed in 1826. But tragedy struck the complex when on
24 May 1885 however, a big fire razed the town including the convento. The convento was reconstructed the following
the World War II, in 1947, Gabriel M. Reyes, Archbishop of Cebu
and later Manila, personally took a hand reconstructing and remodeling
the church. The church "On 14 June 1990, an earthquake measuring
7.1 in the Richter Scale hit Panay Island at 3:41 P.M., � The epicenter
was located at 11.34�North latitude; 122.10� East longitude,
in the vicinity of Culasi, Antique. The depth was computed to be
15 kilometers," reported Philvocs.
Damage to property included "The Catholic Church of
Kalibo that is made of bricks (which) suffered cracks on its walls."
During the incumbency as bishop of Gabriel V. Reyes, a nephew
of the former archbishop of Manila restored and improved the church
to accommodate the many pilgrims who come to celebrate the feast
of the Santo Niño.
church of Kalibo is of modern construction but retains some of the
lines characteristic of the post war church, which in turn alludes
to earlier church styles.
The center of attention in this church is the image of the
Santo Niño, in whose honor the annual Ati-atihan is celebrated.
It Akean. The Museum
of Akean (Aklan) located at Martelino St., Kalibo, Aklan is housed
in the "Eskuylahan it Hari" or School of the King.
This one story structure of mortar is designed along neoclassical
lines with its arched openings and the straight lines of what is
fundamentally a large box. The school buildings one of a number dating
from the Spanish era, when public education was first introduced
in the 19th century.
The museum houses artifacts reflecting Aklan's history and
ancient site is what is presently the municipality of Malinao (see
Malinao). Erected as
a parish in 1745 under the advocacy of San José.
The town site was transferred across the Aklan River at the
foot of Maduyog hill in 1792.
first appears in the historical record during the 18th
century, when it was decided to transfer Banga's town site across
the Aklan River. This happened in 1792, however, several
prominent families decided to remain in the "old town,"
with the transfer of Banga was reduced to a barrio, and named Malinao,
after a placid tributary of Aklan River, which traversed the western
and eastern perimeter of the old town.
Don Juan Nepomuceno led the campaign to constitute lands
west of Aklan River as a separate town. Malinao was founded as a town in 1796
with Casimiro Barrera as first governor. Erected as a parish in
1798 under the advocacy of San José, its first parish priest
was Padre Manuel.
was erected as a parish in 1601 under the advocacy of Immaculate
Conception; its barrio Torralba became a parish in 1897 under the
advocacy of San Blas. The 19th century saw the establishment
of a number of parishes, namely:
Numancia: Erected as a parish in 1874 under the advocacy
of San José
Lezo: Erected as a parish in 1867 under the advocacy of San Isidro
Nabas: Erected as a parish in 1858 under the advocacy of San Isidro
Makato: Erected as a parish in 1834 under the advocacy of Santo
Tangalan: Erected a parish in 1889 under the advocacy of San Juan
Buruanga: Erected as a parish in 1895 under the advocacy of San
Antonio de Padua
is the second center established by the Augustinians in Aklan. Established as a mission in 1596 Ibajay
took as patron saint of San Pedro.
Ibajay has its own version of the Ati-atihan, claimed to
be more original than Kalibo's.
is not quite a heritage destination, perhaps fifty years from now
it will be. But Boracay is a phenomenon since Aklan
for many tourists is synonymous to Boracay; in fact, many more know
about Boracay than Aklan.
At peak season, some the island's population may swell to
20,000. A word on the island is added a bonus
for the weary heritage traveler.
Boracay was known to fishermen and some of its land owned by non-residents,
the island came to international attention in 1980s when European
backpackers, mostly German, wrote about this idyllic island in the
South China Sea. Soon enterprising Europeans who had married
residents of the island or towns nearby built rest houses, and later
engaged in a seasonal business to cater to tourists. The English baker on the island is one of the oldest tourist
the end of the 80s, many rest houses had been built and by the end
of the century, Boracay could boast of five star accommodations
and a golf course.
central attraction is White Sand Beach, a gem of nature stretching
for about four kilometers on Boracay's southwestern flank, where
most of Boracay's 300 or so
hotels and resorts are located.
The northeast is rocky and subject to dangerous currents,
especially during the rainy season. Nearby reefs make the island an ideal
jump off point for the enthusiastic scuba divers or snorklers.
on the island range from dirt cheap to luxurious. Food likewise. Those
on economy budget go to the talipapa, or open market, where
fresh sea foods can be found and which can be cooked right there
or brought to where one is staying.
But the island has many restaurants catering to all tastes.
for water sports are also available, as well as lessons for scuba
diving and wind surfing.