AKLAN: Home of Boracay

One of the world's best beaches

Brief History

Aklan is the oldest province in the Philippines, organized in 1213 by settlers from Borneo as the Minuro it Akean to include what is now Capiz.

The capital of Akean changed several times. Towards the end of the 14th century Datu Dinagandan moved the capital from the present Batan which was captured in 1399 by Chinese adventurers under Kalantiaw, who forthwith rules Aklan. In 1433, the son of Kalantiaw III laid down a written code of laws now known as the Code of Kalantiaw. The short lived Kalantiaw dynesty ended when Kalantiaw III was slain in a duel with Datu Manduyog, legitimate successor to Datu Dinagandan. When Manduyog became the new ruler, he moved the capital to Bakan (ancient name of Banga) in 1437. Several datus succeeded Manduyog and when Miguel Lopez de Legaspi landed in Batan in 1565. Datu Kabanyag was ruling Aklan from what is now the town of Libacao.

Lopez de Legaspi divided the Minuro it Akean into five enconmiendas which he distributed among his farming followers. These encomiendas were in Mambusao, Batan and Panay. Along with political changes, the Spaniards introduced Christianity and in a short while thousands of Aklanons were baptized.

Towns were laid following the Spanish pattern, each organized around a plaza with church, municipio and school. Roads were carved out of forests to link principal towns. In 1716, the area of the Minuro it Akean was designated a province. But to the dismay of Aklanons it was called Capiz and until Aklan became a province on its own in 1956, the Aklanons new knew rest.

In 1896, an Aklanon member of Bonifacio's Katipunan arrived in Batan and he organized Aklan for the fight against Spain. Battles marking this struggle are commemmorated today with numerous municipal holidays, notable among them being New Washington's Pacto de Sangre celebration.

Having developed an identity of their own, a distinct dialect being no problem, the people of Aklan felt they should govern themselves. After the Americans took the country from Spain in 1901 an Aklan delegation petitioned the Taft Commission, which structured the new civil government of the country for separation from Capiz.

The petition was not turned down, but it was not granted. As a sop, the Americans promised to set up at the right time a separate court of first instance for Aklan at Batan. They appointed Simeon Mobo Reyes first provincial secretary. But the struggle for separation never let up. The newspaper "Aklanon" which began publication in 1914 advocated creation of a separate province while Aklanons in Congress filed numerous bills for the same purpose, including the Urquiola-Alba bill in 1920, the Laserna-Suner bills in 1925 and 1930 and the Tumbokon bill in 1934.

Aklan finally became an independent province when President Magsaysay signed into law on April 25, 1956, Republic Act 1414 separating Aklan from Capiz. This law was authored by Congressman Godofredo P. Ramos and the province was inaugurated on November 8, 1956. Ramos became the first congressman of Aklan; he was succeeded by Jose B. Legaspi. The third congressman serving until the declaration of martial law in 1972, was Rafael B. Legaspi.

Jose Raz Menez was appointed the first governor of Aklan by President Magsaysay and he served until December 30, 1959. In 1960, Godofredo P. Ramos became the first elected governor but upon resigning to run for Congress he was succeeded by then vice-governor Virgilio S. Patricio. In 1974, Jose B. Legaspi succeeded Patricio and held office for two consecutive terms from 1964 to 1971.

Geography

Aklan encompasses the northwestern portion of Panay Island and nearby Boracay Island, both situated within the Visayas island group. Aklan has an estimated land area of 181,789 hectares. However, the figure remains only an estimate because the provincial and municipal boundaries are still in dispute, plus the province has not been entirely cadastrally surveyed.

The province is composed of 17 municipalities, the largest in land area being Libacao and the smallest, Lezo. Each municipality maintains a municipal government whose seat is the poblacion. Within the province are 327 barangays while Ibajay having the most numerous under and Belete with the least.

The capitol of Aklan is in Bgy. Estancia, near poblacion Kalibo. Poblacion Kalibo is approximately 160 road kilometers from Iloilo City, 90 rd kms from Roxas City in Capiz, 175 rd kms from San Jose, Antrique and 216 air kms from Manila. Approximate road distance from Kalibo to all other poblacions are as follows: Altavas, 38 kms, Belete, 17 kms, Nabas, 44 kms, New Washington, 10 kms, Numancia, 4.5 kms and Tangalan, 19 kms. As of 1990, the population of Aklan is 380,497. Languages spoken are English, Tagalog, Akeanon, Hiligaynon, Cebuano and others.

Climate

According to the Philippine Atmospheric Geographical and Astronomical Service Administration, the province of Aklan is characterized by two areas of somewhat different climates. The difference lies mainly in the amount and schedule of rainfall, while temperature differences are very slight.

The municipality of Buruanga, Malay, Nabas, Madalag and Libacao has the first tupe of climate, meaning two pronounced seasons which is dry from November to April and wet the rest of the year. While the municipalities of Ibajay, Tangalan, Makato, Lezo, Numancia, Kalibo, Bangan, Malinao, Balete, Altavas and New Washington belong to the other type climate. Season differences in this area are not very pronounced it is only relatively dry from November to April and still wet the rest of the year.

The coldest month is experienced on January measuring 26 degrees Centigrade, it rises steadily to an average of 29 degrees in C in May, and then declines gradually to the January level.

Industries

Most Akeanons drive livelihood from rice, corn, coconut, abaca and pottery. Fishponds, hatcheries, fish fingerling farms, and off-shore fishing also employ many in the province. Small-scale industries like pina-cloth weaving, abaca and bamboo handicraft making also thrive in Aklan.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

Historical

Freedom Shrine - This can be found in Kalibo town proper and as such, readily accessible. A monument built to signify the heroic stand of Aklanons, the shrine marks the site of fierce skirmishes with the invading Japanese army in World War II. Mortar and other fragments of armaments still turn up during routine road and construction diggings in its vicinity.

Kalantiaw Shrine - This can be found east of Kalibo, in Batan, once the seat of government of Rajah Bendahara Kalantiaw, the third chief of Panay and promulgator of the famous code of Kalantiaw. The marker was erected by the Philippine Historical and Cultural Society. Nearby, a former school building converted into a museum displays antiques, a copy of the original manuscript of the Code, and historical accounts of great national heroes.

Ingus-Ingus Hill - This is 2 kilometers from Buruanga town proper, approximately 10 minutes ride by bus, jeepney or private car. It is an elevated mass of rocks, bordering the mouth of Buruanga river and separates the poblacion from Bgy. Alegria. It offers a view of the sea at three sides. In Spanish times the hill served as a lookout point to see approaching Moro pirates that used to maraud coastal villages. Underneath the hill is a cave which, according to tales of old, was used as an ambuscade of English pirates, buccaneers, and other plunderers of Spanish galleons carrying precious cargoes from Mexico.

Agtawagon Hill - The Agtawagon Hill is Balete's pride. It is located at the southeastern part of Morales, about 7 kms away from the heart of the town. The hill was the last line of defense of Filipino patriots during the war of independence. The same hill served as camp of Filipino soldiers and guerillas during the World War II. Foxholes were dug on the summit to serve as sentries' lookouts against the province's rich cultural and historical past.

Cultural

Museo It Akean - Located within the town proper of Kalibo, corner Martelino and Burgos Streets. A repository of antiques dug up in Aklan. Famous works of arts are likewise displayed. These trace the province's rich cultural and historical past.

Natural

Manduyog Hill and Aklan Agricultural College - Located in Banga, 9 kms southeast of Kalibo. The hill was named after Datu Manduyog, successor of law-giver Kalantiaw III. It is 500 feet high with lifesize stations of the cross winding up the hillside and a chapel at the summit overlooking the countryside. It can also be classified as religious tourist attraction.

Down the hill is the Aklan State College of Agriculture, an agricultural institution spread on 69 hectares near Banga poblacion. Tropical fruit trees such as rambutan, mangosteen and lanzones abound in the school campus as well as pastureland and a sprawling ricefield. The school has been, many times, a venue for regional and national conferences, workshops and seminars. One can easily get there by buy, jeepney, or tricycles.

Ob-ob Hill - Located at Bgy. Songcolan, 4 kilometers east of Batan poblacion. It stands like a lighthouse facing the Sibuyan Sea being 200 meters high. At the foot of the rocky hill is the fine beach of Ob-Ob. Approximate travel time from Klaibo via Dumaguit is one hour and twenty minutes. Mode of transportation - buses, jeepneys, tricycles, private cars, and pumpboat from Dumaguit to Batan.

Tinagong Dagat - 20 kms from Kalibo via Dumaguit and 1 km from Batan. Approximate travel time is one hour and five minutes to the site. This "hidden sea," approximately 8 kms long and 4 kms wide, is between Altavas and Batan are partly hidden from Batan Bay to two islands. It is fringed with mangroves, thick undergrowth and rocky beach. It is a rich fishing ground during the northeast monsoon season when Sibuyan Sea is rough. Water is clear and ideal for swimming, speedboating and waterskiing. Mode of transportation from Kalibo to Dumaguit are by jeepney or bus, then pumpboat to Batan.

Tigayon Hill - A solitary mountain of solid rock standing amidst stretches of flatlands. On one side of the hill is a shallow cave with an arched entrance. Inside one can see a rock resembling an altar, and on its side are two bench-like formations.

Lambingan Beach - A fine palm-fringed beach, 3 kms northwest of Kalibo lined with cottages for frolickers to take shade in after a refreshing swim.

Bougainvilla Beach - 4 kms northeast of Kalibo. Its cool water is perfect for swimming. At sundown the place abounds with promenaders. Can be reached by jeepney or tricycle.

Ignito Cave - This and other nearby caves are being managed by the San Lorenzo Ruin Farm Eco-Tourism Cooperative. The Ignito Cave is locally known as Elephant Cave due to its appearance. It is located at Barangay Tigum, Buruanga, Aklan. All the caves in the area have beautiful limestone formations of stalagmites, stalactites and other crystalline structures. Ignito Cave has a "skylight" in one of its chambers that lets in a soft flow of light at noontime.

Around this tourist site itself is a fishpond, a ricefield, a vegetable farm, and a campsite. Plans are up to develop a nearby cool freshwater spring into a swimming pool surrounded by at least five rooms with basic amenities.

Liloan Citrus Farm - This agri-tourism spot can be found in Brgy. Liloan, Malinao and is about half an hour's ride from Kalibo. Here various fruit trees abound intersperes with colorful anthuriums and heliconias.

Tigis Falls - This is 3 kilometers from Buruanga town proper, approximately ten minutes ride by bus, jeepney or private car. A good summer hideway due to its secludedness.

Basang and Hurom-Hurom Cold Springs - Both are found in Brgy. Laserna, around 15 minutes ride from Nabas town proper. These alternative summer destinations offer the beauty of fresh water gushing forth from nature-hewn rocks and exhilarating adventure down Gibon River in a kayak. But for those who just want to lounge around Basang Cold Springs has swimming pool for adults and kids.

Boracay Island - Paradise island of the Philippines. Sixty eight kilometers northwest of Kalibo then 25 minutes by pumpboat across a channel from the northwestern tip of Panay. It is world-famous for its fine and lovely palm fringed sugar-fine white sand beaches, azure waters, coral reefs and rare shells. Its area is 108 hectares consisting of three barangays namely Balabag, Manok-manok and Yapak.

The widest and longest white sand beach stretches about three and a half kilometers from sitio Diniwid to Sitio Angol between Balabag and Manok-manok. Water is crystal clear, and in fine weather, one can see the sea floor. The beach at Manok-manok is somewhat rocky with occasional patches of white sand and the ocean floor slopes steeply.

White pebbles of varying sizes are abundant at Yapak. Here too is the source of puka shells that can be made into elegant necklaces and bracelets.

Agnaga Falls - 2 kms away from the town proper of Malay. A scenic view awaits visitors as they swim in its clear waters. It is a perfect hideaway specially during summer as its cool water beats the intense heat summer months bring. Modes of transportation - bus, jeepney, private cars.

Tigwati-an Isand (Crystal Cove) - Lies northeast of Sitio Tabon, Caticlan, Malay. About five minutes by boat from the mainland and twenty minutes from Boracay Island. Shells of varying sizes and kinds lie on its predominantly white sand beach. Caves with interesting crystalline formations are on the island for exploring.

New Washington Beach - A 14 km beach with the poblacion at its midpoint fronting Sibuyan Sea. The place is the fishing village of the town. Fresh fish, crabs, shrimps and lobsters are sold here. Accessible by jeepney, bus, tricycle or private car.

Navitas and Camanci Beach - Both beaches border the Sibuyan Sea. Its waters are excellent for water skiing and coconut trees are line the shore. Located at Numancia about 4.5 kms northwest of Kalibo. Accessible by jeepney, bus, tricycle or private car.

Jawili Falls - It has seven basins tiered about 20 feet apart. The highest basin is about a hundred feet high, oval-shaped and is around 240 sq feet and 12 feet deep with clear water, almost like a small lake. The other basins are of similar shapes from 130 square feet to 240 square feet in area and 8-10 feet deep except the sixth basin which has a swimming area of around 540 square feet. It is three kilometers from the poblacion Tangalan and about one hour's ride from Kalibo 28 kms northwest by jeepney, bus, cars or tricycles.

Afga Beach - 22 kms northweat of Kalibo in bo. Tafga, Tangalan, Aklan. Its white sand beach stretches two kilometers and the water's fine for swimming or boating. Colorful fishing nets are dried at daytime on the shore. Accessible by jeepney, bus, tricycle or private car.

Tulingon Cave - Fifteen kilometers from poblacion Nabas, it is believed to be one of the longest caves in the Philippines. Tulingon stretches twenty kilometers from Bgy. Libertad, Nabas, Aklan to Bgy. Patria, Pandan, Antique. A survey indicates an enormous deposit of guano. Cave entrance is at Bgy. Libertad, Nabas, just 55 kms northwest of Kalibo. It is accessible by jeepney, bus, tricycle, or private car.

Religious

Fatima Hill - Located 9 kms southwest of Kalibo, it is noted for its stations of the cross on the hillside culminating in a chapel made of marble on top the hill.

Pink Sisters Convent - 11 kilometers from Kalibo. For the highly religious New Washington folks, this convent means much to them. Everything here is pink, from the convent's fašade to corridors and to the nun's attires.

Man-Made

Campo Verde - Straddling the border of Tangalan and ibajay, 28 kms west of Kalibo, its 3,700 feet altitude makes it a perfect retreat in the hot summer months. Green pines, mahogany, acacia, ipil-ipil and butterfly trees draw visitors into the woods - a hiker's paradise.

Nabaoy Reforestation - If Tangalan boasts of its Campo Verde, Malay itself has its own to be proud of. Greenery abound in the area, sparkling clean air - a natural naturer's refuge one can call little Baguio, plus a clear river winding through it. Just 6 kms from Malay town proper.

Festivals

Kalibo Ati-Atihan - Scene of yearly celebrations in honor of Sto. Nino. Held every third week of January, popularly known worldwide as Ati-Atihan. So called because Aklanons, domestic and foreign tourists wipe soot on their face and don ethnic paraphernalia and masquerade around town as Negritos and make merry and dance in the streets to the beat of ambulant ethnic troubadours. A church ritual ends the festival.

Special Interest

Pottery Making - Families living along the banks of Aklan River near the town plaza of Lezo make clay pots and jars the old fashioned way.

Pop Rice Making - In Lezo, Aklan. The industry that has augmented the people's livelihood in this municipality. Some of it are even exported. (Department of Tourism Region 6).

 


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