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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bits Of Philippine Trivia

1907 Philippine Assembly 

Pura Villanueva Kalaw, the first Miss Philippine Carnival 

Pura Villanueva Kalaw is the first Filipina to be crowned Miss Philippine Carnival as “Queen of the Orient” in 1908. Miss Philippine Carnival is the first renowned national beauty pageant in the Philippines. 

Pura Kalaw also wrote the first cookbook in the Philippines. She is a native of Molo, Iloilo. 

Jovita Fuentes was known as the “Nightingale of the Philippines” because of her melodious and sweet voice that has enchanted a lot of men. 

1907 – The first national election in the Philippines 

1935 – the first women suffrages in the country. Both Ilongga women, Pura Villanueva Kalaw (from Molo, Iloilo) and Sofia de Veyra (from Arevalo, Iloilo) the very first women suffragettes fought for the right of the women to vote. 

Gemma Cruz is the first Filipina to win an international beauty pageant competition, Miss International in 1964 in Long Beach, California, USA. 

Un Homme Au Chapeau (Man with a Hat), Une scène de danse japonnaise (Scene from a Japanese Dance), Les Boxers (The Boxers), and La Place de L' Opéra (The Place L' Opéra) were the first movies shown in the Philippines on January 1, 1897 at Salon Pertierra, Escolta, Manila.

 Dalagang Bukid – is the first full length or feature length film made and shown by a Filipino filmmaker David Nepomuceno dubbed as the “Father of Philippine Cinema” 

Photo Source: Alex Castro

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Backpacker's Guide To Western Visayas

The residence Of Magdalena Jalandoni which houses some of her valuable writings

One of the well preserved watch towers in Guimbal

SEAFDEC in Tigbauan houses the facility for the breeding and research of fish and other marine animals.

Irresistible Iloilo (Part I)

           First stop is St. Vincent Seminary. St. Vincent Seminary is the fifth and last seminary founded in the year 1869 by Bishop Mariano Cuartero, the first Bishop of the Diocese of Jaro. This was founded to train priests for the different parishes which at that time were almost entirely in the hands of the Augustinian friars who were regarded as the Fathers of the Faith. Just fronting Jaro Plaza is the majestic Jaro Cathedral. Jaro Cathedral is the first cathedral constructed in Panay. Built in 1864 by Fray Mariano Cuartero y Medina, first Bishop of the Diocese of Jaro, with the help of Don Manuel Arguelles, ex-municipal head of Jaro, it was inaugurated on the feast day of the Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria on February 2, 1874. Its architecture follows a cruciform plan with a round, octagonal dome on its main altar. Pope John Paul II visited and celebrated mass here in 1981.
          The belfry you see over here was the former bell tower of the old Jaro Parish Church built in 1826-1837 by Fray Llavor but it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1948. Before that, it served as a lookout tower to warn people of the approaching invaders by the ringing of its bells. This belfry is considered an important religious landmark.
         Nearby from Jaro Plaza is the residence of Magdalena Jalandoni, the famed and well-loved woman novelist in Hiligaynon. Her place is much visited because it is a museum of historical artifacts. On the left side of the lawn, one can see life-size figures depicting Barter of Panay while in another corner is a set of sculpture, this time depicting the First Mass in the Philippines. Magdalena Jalandoni surely must have been a lover of history. In the ground floor is a rich collection of big antique earthen jars, paintings of rustic scenery and small dolls dressed in native Filipino costumes. A series of diorama depicting native Ilonggo customs and traditions particularly those of the country folks completed this collection.
          On the second floor, the walls are covered with large paintings showing important chapters in Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. On shelves below those paintings were 3-D dioramas showing rural festivities and other Ilonggo customs pertaining to marriage, birth and baptism. In a big room were found various memorabilia and souvenir items collected by the late Magdalena Jalandoni together with the original manuscripts and published book bound copies of her first and most recent Ilonggo novels. The whole house is really a showcase of Ilonggo literature and history. It was with regret that the group left the fascinating place.
          Another house of interest is the residence of Mrs. Letecia Jesena, Iloilo’s foremost collector of antiques. In the display room was a huge collection of antiques of varied shapes, sizes, forms and colors displayed artistically on tables, in shelves and on stands. They were mostly blue-tinted ceramics but others were made of bronze and compound gold. The next antique house was that of Mrs. Lourdes Dellota. Mrs. Dellota’s collection of ceramic pots and jars was arranged in elevated wood and iron stands near a double-paneled wall. Another group of plates, bowls and jewel cases was neatly arranged in half-opened glass-encased shelves in the center of the room. A wide assortment of intricately designed trinkets and body ornaments was also prominently displayed. In one corner of the room, a unique array of household tools and implements were exhibited on an open shelf.
          From the Dellota’s antiquarian, one can proceed to the iconic Museo Iloilo where the young people feasted their eyes on the history of mankind revealed in artifacts dug out of the earth’s surface. Just beside the information desk, a topographical ethnolinguistic map of Western Visayas in relief form was displayed on a white-painted panel together with an information module on the profile of Western Visayas.
Just right inside the main door, the Ati environment was recreated in the form of wooden statues. With it was a wall module containing selected weapons of the Mundos, an ethnic group inhabiting Panay’s hinterlands. Shown next were the relics salvaged from a British frigate discovered off Guimaras island in the 1980s. They included Victorian China, a bottle of English port wine and Glasgow beer. Personal mementos and memorabilia of Gen. Rafael Jalandoni, a narrative of the civilian and military resistance during World War II including an original copy of the radio message received by the Panay guerillas from Gen. MacArthur’s headquarters and the various types of World War II weapons used both by the guerillas and the Japanese, then followed by a display of a 250, 000 year old elephant fossil, stone artifacts of Panay primitive men and geologic rocks of the Cretaceous Period 25 million years ago.
             At the center of the eastern side of the room was a platform with religious objects of wooden “santos”, gold and silver chalices, bells and monstrances, with life-sized wooden statue of an interred Christ; Middle-Aged gold leaf mask for the dead, a reconstructed coffin, a collection of weapons, and Chinese porcelain and potteries of the Tang and Ching dynasties.
            At the northern side of the wall, a tableau of life-sized mannequins resembling quaint Visayan women weaving finely embroidered pinya garments greeted the roving weavers. Adjacent to it was a “babaylan” tableau of a witch doctor involved in a ritual initiating a newborn child into the world, graphically illustrating an aspect of the Visayan belief system.
           At the western side of the wall was a glass-enclosed showcase of a soil strata and composition of Western Visayas, the Western Visayas prehistoric period from Paleolithic Period to the Age of Contact with traders while at the northeastern portion of the building near the library, there were exhibits of paintings, sculptures, and prints of famous Ilonggo artists.
            Iloilo Society of Arts houses some of the precious galleries of paintings. At the second floor of the building, one can see a wide variety of paintings rendered both in conservative and in modern style, from Amorsolo and da Vinci to Manansala and Picasso style. At the lengthy pier-side street of Muelle along the intersection of Aduana Street stands a statue of Nicholas Loney with a usual historical marker embedded on its moderate-height base. Nicholas Loney is an Engineer and the British Vice-Consul to the Philippines assigned here in Iloilo. It was through his efforts that the once non-existing port of Iloilo was modernized which upsurged Iloilo’s economic progress through its sugar export starting 1855 and is opened to world trade in that year. The port grew with the sugar industry in Western Visayas, thus, promoted the rise of commercial and financial institutions in Iloilo. Iloilo then emerged as the biggest center of commerce and trade in Visayas and Mindanao. Now, Muelle Loney serves as the port of call for the titans of the shipping companies like the Negros Navigation Company, Inc., the Sulpicio Lines, and the Aboitiz Shipping Company and the government-run roll-on, roll-off (RORO) ships. Located at the southernmost tip of the nose-shaped city to the extensive wharf fronting Camp Delgado is Fort San Pedro park. Standing on a high pedestal erected a few meters away from the eastern seawall is the life-sized statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, facing the vast expanse of the sea.
              When the Spanish colonizers came to Panay in 1566, they made Ogtong (Oton) the capital of the province which comprised the islands of Panay, Romblon, and Negros Occidental. The Spanish Governor General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi appointed Gonzalo Ronquillo as deputy encomendero who in 1581 moved the capital to “La Villa de Arevalo,” a ‘sitio’ named in honor of his hometown in Avila, Spain. In 1700, due to recurrent raids by Moro pirates, Dutch and English privateers in Arevalo, the capital was moved to the village of Irong-irong where Pedro Bravo de Acuna, the Spanish ‘encomendero,’ built a fort close to the mouth of the now Iloilo River as a fortification against the raiders. The fort was first named “La Fuerza de la Senora del Santo Rosario” in honor of the Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary whose image was found on the mud by the carpenters building the fort. Later, the fort was named “Fuerza del San Pedro.” It was also the birthplace of the Iloilo-Negros Air Express Co., the first Filipino commercial air transportation and domestic airline in the Philippines founded by the Lopez brothers on February 3, 1933.
             Molo is popularly known as the “Athens of the Philippines” because of the numerous intellectual giants it has produced seven senators, seven governors of Iloilo, a Chief Justice and three Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, five generals and many cabinet members, three famous writers in the vernacular, and the first Miss Philippines and national women suffragist. It is noted for its coral, Gothic, Renaissance church built in the 1800s. It is also known as the home of the nationally known “Pancit Molo,” a delicious noodle soup originally made by Chinese culinary artists in the late 18th century, and the equally noted biscuits and cookies from the Panaderia de Molo. Molo was formerly called “Parian” because during the Spanish regime, the Spaniards, fearing uprising, rounded up the Chinese and placed them in the “parian” (Chinese quarters) in the place now called Avancena Street where they built stores for their wares. Because of the busy trading, it was later on called “Calle Real.” The famous St. Anne Parish Church with its lofty, tapering facade with pointed spires of the Gothic-Renaissance church can be found in Molo. Inside, the large coral-rock structure of the open arcade and the pillars do not really obstruct the movement from the nave to the aisle but allows traffic to flow freely from one section to another.
               The church was constructed in 1831 under Rev. Fr. Pablo Montano as parish priest and was completed during the time of Rev. Fr. Agapito Buenaflor. It is said to be one of the most beautiful churches in Western Visayas. Its design follows a three-nave plan. Parallel rows of slender fluted pillars made of wood divided the nave from the aisles. The composite pillars are richly carved while the open arched close to the cornices are shallow. The overhead appertures are inserted like lunettes through the barrel-shaped ceilings. One can see that the graceful curves of the arches matched with the dome-like ceiling of the main altar which harmonizes with the richly adorned statue of St. Anne and the more than a dozen women saints statue which stand side by side and fronting each other. The church is more popular because of its exclusively women saints statue which adorned the walls of the church interiors. Outside fronting the church is the beautiful Molo plaza with its cupola-structured “Temple of Gods” fountain standing at the center of the finely lawned grounds.
              Molo is also the home of the Asilo de Molo, Iloilo’s only orphanage and home for the aged. There is a workshop room where princely vestments worn by priests and church dignitaries were designed, made and embroidered by the orphan girls under the direction and supervision of a Sister of Charity.
Arevalo is known as the “Flower Village” of the city and of the region as well. It is commonly called Villa by the people, a shortened name for “La Villa de Arevalo,” the name adopted by its governor, Gonzalo Ronquillo, in honor of his hometown in Avila, Spain. During that time, this district was made as the political, religious and military capital of Panay and Negros Occidental. It was also the supply base of the Spanish expeditions to Muslim Mindanao and the Moluccas. This place is also noted for its fire crackers and fireworks factory which could be well witnessed on the eve of its district fiesta on every third Sunday of January when Arevalo’s skyline displayed colored and blazing lighting effects accompanied with the endless deafening sounds of giant firecrackers.
             Next stop is Oton. Oton, hispanized name of Ogtong, is the oldest town in the province of Iloilo. Its former name “Ogtong” means “place of devils and demons” so it was changed to Oton. Oton in Visayas means “reef.” It used to be a well-known “encomienda” of Don Miguel de Loarca. Before the town plaza one can pass by the Ampitheater Green called the “People’s Ampitheater” because it was built through the cooperation of the townspeople. Serving as a permanent backdrop to a concrete stage is a bas relief mural depicting salient points in the town’s history. Beside the ampitheater is the modernized children’s playground with its complete playground facilities and apparatuses.
             Next is Tigbauan where the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) can be found. SEAFDEC is a fish research facility where different variety of fish and prawns are being stored for breeding and further study for research. Tigbauan comes from the word “tigbao” meaning “reed.” Therefore, Tigbauan means the “land of the reeds.” It was the site of the first Jesuit boarding school established by Fr. Pedro Chirino, the great Spanish historian. Fronting its plaza is Tigbauan’s Baroque yellow sandstone church with its facade decorated with carved shapes of cherubs and other intricate designs above the arched main entrance door. The church is made of yellow sandstone and corals and its ornaments are rather curved rather than straight and all its design were exaggerated to convey a theatrical effect. At the plaza can be found the statue of Gen. Fermin Rivas standing erect at the center of the two busts of World War II heroes at the place called as “Heroes Shrine.” Gen. Fermin Rivas was the Central Zone Commander of the Ilonggo revolutionaries who called themselves “Ejercito Libertador” during the Philippine Revolution of 1898. The two World War II heroes who were enshrined here were native Tigbauanons who led the Filipino-American forces in the liberation of Tigbauan as well as the whole of Panay from the hands of Japanese. Parara beach in Tigbauan has a significant place in history. Here on this beach, the Americans landed on March 18, 1945 to start the liberation of Panay. From here, the elements of the 40th Cavalry (Sunburst) Division of the U.S. 8th Army under Maj. Gen. Ralph Bush entered the city of Iloilo already cleared of the enemies by the guerillas under Col. Macario Peralta Jr. which completed the liberation of the city from the hands of the Japanese. The historical marker is composed of the bust of three World War II heroes above which a replica of a battleship cast in concrete was perched atop a concrete pedestal.
               One can notice the four ruins of the Moro watchtowers upon entering Guimbal looming like squat giants with its massive, deteriorating coral-stone structure partially covered with mosses and ferns at the sides and thick shrubs at the top. These Moro watchtowers were constructed around 17th century to warn the natives and the Spanish authorities of the impending Moro pirates attacks. There is also another separate isolated watch tower from these with a half-submerged coral stone base and tapered conical-shaped tower jutting around eight feet above its base. At the mid-section of the conically shaped tower is a horizontal peep hole through which one could easily view the approaching enemy but could not be easily seen by the enemy himself. This tower is exceptionally neat as it has no weeds, mosses, ferns or shrubs growing around it.
               Guimbal plaza has an underground ampitheater and colored fountains. At the left side of the road facing the plaza is a yellow sandstone church and just across the street beside it is the municipal hall which retained its colonial structure. The yellow sandstone church of Guimbal was built by Father Campos at the same time with the watch tower at the beach. Its Spanish-Filipino vintage towers were built by Fr. Agustin Llorente together with the stone-walled cemetery located farther from the church.
               As one leaves Guimbal, it may pass the Pedro G. Trono Bride, the longest steel bridge in Panay. After Guimbal, the municipality of Miag-ao is next where the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site Miag-ao church is located.
               This Baroque church was built both as a place of worship and as a fortress against the Muslim pirates terrorizing the coastal towns of Panay during the Spanish times. Its area is almost 38 meters wide and 72 meters long. The construction of this church was started on a Saturday in 1786 by Fr. Francisco Gonzales Maximo and was completed in 1797. It has withstood all earthquakes and typhoons including the powerful earthquake of January, 1948 which reduced 80% of Panay Island to rubbles. The huge stones used in the construction were quarried from Sitio Tubo, San Joaquin, and from the mountains of Igbaras. The foreman was a certain Matias from Igbaras but had to be replaced by a certain Aquino from Alimodian because he had to help complete the church in his hometown. It was constructed on top of a hill called “Tacas” overlooking Miag-ao River. This church has been called the most Filipinistic of our churches because it exudes the native touch with its facade ornately decorated with reliefs of coconut, banana and papaya trees and stylized guava fruits. Immediately below the pediments, carved in a niche, is a small relief sculpture of Saint Christopher carrying the Christ Child. Centerpiece of the facade is an oval cavity which has the statue of St. Thomas of Villanova, patron saint of the town. It is also called as a unique explosion of botanical motif reminiscent of Aztec art. Its massive, four-storey fortress-like belfry was built to provide protection for the faithful from Muslim raiders. The two massive towers are not alike in terms of shape and size because the priest foreman in charge of the building died before he could finish the job and his successor deviated from the original plan. By virtue of Presidential Decree 260, 1 August 1973 as amended by Presidential Decree 375, 14 January 1974, this church was declared as a National Landmark. In 1994 it was listed by the UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Sites. At the belfry, one can see the large bells with inscription: “N.P.S.N. Agustin, Siendo Carra Parroca, De Este Pueblo de Miag-ao, R.P.E. Jose Laviana.” It must be that of Agustin, maker of the bells and the bells were acquired during the time of Father Jose Laviana as the parish priest. University of the Philippines Visayas Campus can also be found in Miag-ao.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


         Negros Occidental is a province located in the western portion of the Negros Island and southeast of Panay Island which is separated by the Guimaras Strait.
         It is bounded on the north by the Visayas Sea, on the south by the Sulu Sea, and on the east by the Tanon Strait and Negros Oriental. It has a total land area of 792, 607 hectares or 7,965.2 sq. km., 80% of which is arable land and suited to agriculture. Around 240,000 hectares are planted with sugarcane. In fact, the province produces half of the country’s supply of sugar through its fifteen sugar mills. Victorias Milling Company (VICMICO) is the largest sugar mill in the country with sales level of approximately $270 million annually. This earned the province a sobriquet as the “Sugarlandia of the Philippines.”
        The sugar boom in the late 1960s to the early 1980s when the price of the sugar was high in the world market and the Philippines was one of the major exporters and suppliers of sugar to the United States brought economic prosperity to the province such that distinctive signs of affluence were very much evident in the luxurious lifestyles of the sugar barons – big landowners, planters, producers and millers of sugar called the “hacenderos” of Negros Occidental. Chic style of living was brought to the province by their socialite children. Outmoded cars were frequently changed by brand new ones. Parties and shows are frequent. Celebrated artists were invited from Manila to Bacolod. The economy of the province has improved with the numerous business and commercial establishments in Bacolod as well as in other key cities of the province. This situation generate thousands of employment and job opportunities for the people not only of Negros Occidental but also of the neighboring provinces. With the higher income derived from sugar, the government was able to put up various infrastructure and development projects throughout the province.
         The proverbial “pot of gold” found among the green stalks of the sugarcane of Negros Occidental could not have been made possible without the favorable climate, the fertile soil and the tenacity of the Ilonggos (which includes people from Panay, especially from the provinces of Iloilo and Antique) to work on the haciendas as “sacadas.” Negros Occidental is blessed with a generally pleasant climate with two pronounced seasons – dry and rainy. The climate of the northern part of the province differs markedly from that of the southern part. In the north, the rainy season starts gradually in June, reaches its peak in September and October, and closed with the dry season starting from late December to May. While in the south, the climate typically features a rainy season which starts in June, reaches its maximum in August, and tapers off until October preceding the dry season starting from November to May.
The vast plains consisted mostly of sandy loam or clay loam soil and supplemented with rich topsoil of the mountains surrounding the towns of the whole province, as particularly suited for sugarcane plantation. Contributions of these mountains to the fertility of the soil could not be discounted. Most famous among these mountains is Kanlaon Volcano, the highest peak in Central Philippines with its peak of 8,100 feet or 2, 695 meters above sea level. Located about 80 kilometers away from Bacolod City, this active volcano serves as a natural barrier separating the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.
Its western half is rimmed with settlements formed by people of Murcia, La Castellana, Ma-ao and La Carlota while its eastern half is occupied by inhabitants of Kanlaon City, Vallehermoso and San Carlos City. The volcano has five craters with the active cone at the southernmost portion of the summit. The bigger one, an old crater north of the active cone, the “Hardin sang Balo” (Garden of the Widow) crater, measuring about a kilometer wide and about 450 feet deep, has been filled by volcanic and plant debris and is presently occupied by a rain-filled lagoon. Another old crater on the same side of the cone measuring about a hundred meters descending cylindrically to an 800 feet depth is occupied by a placid lake and contains numerous deposits of sulfur.
         The mountains of Negros Occidental including Mt. Mandalagan and Mt. Silay are covered with forests which totaled to an area of 252, 884 hectares, or around 30% of the total land area of the province. However, of this total forests, the rest are classified as lagged-over, open, cogon, pasture and brushlands, reforestation projects, mangrove or swamplands, reservations and parks. In 1979, the timber produced by these forests amounted to 170,000 cubic meters.
          Besides timber, the mountain forests serve as watershed areas for the mountain springs which flowed to converge into the six (6)big rivers of Negros Occidental namely: Himoga-an, Danao, Malogo, Bago, Binalbagan and Ilog.
          Beneath the bosom of the mountains and hills of Negros Occidental are some metallic and non-metallic minerals. Among them are copper, gold, silver, molybdenum, iron ore, coal sulphur, silica, phosphate, and gypsum. One of the biggest copper mines in the country is in Sipalay. Negros Occidental, through the foreign investors have abandoned its large-scale operations in recent years.
          Besides agriculture, the coastal towns of Negros Occidental are engaged in fishing as their major industry. In 1985, the estimated total fish product ion of the province was 92, 746.97 metric tons. This total fish production represents the combined output of the sustenance and commercial fishing and brackish/fresh water fishponds.
         The province of Negros Occidental is composed of thirteen (13) cities and nineteen (19) municipalities connected with each other by a well-paved concrete or asphalt road with the exception of a few remote and interior towns which could be reached only by a rough and mountainous. The thirteen (13) cities were: Bacolod City, Bago, Cadiz, Escalante, Himamaylan, Kabankalan, La Carlota, Sagay, San Carlos, Silay, Sipalay, Talisay and Victorias. Nineteen (19) municipalities are grouped into two: northern and southern towns. Located north of Bacolod City are the towns of E.B. Magalona, Manapla, Toboso, S. Benedicto and Calatrava. Situated on the south are the towns of Murcia, Pulupandan, Valladolid, San Enrique, Pontevedra, Isabela, Moises Padilla, La Castellana, Hinigaran, Binalbagan, Ilog, Candoni, Cauayan, Sipalay and Hinoba-an.

GUIMARAS: The Island Orchard

        Guimaras is an exotic island province just south of Iloilo located in southeast Panay and northwest of Negros in Western Visayas. Its beautiful spots make local and foreign tourists flock to the place. Dr. Jose Rizal even recommended the place after his visit in 1896. It is separated from Iloilo by the Iloilo Strait and from Negros Island by the Guimaras Strait.
         It is an island but to reach it is not difficult for a prospective trader or investor. From Iloilo harbor to Guimaras Island is only a 15-minute ride by ferry boat. The surrounding islets could could be reached by special arrangement with pumpboat owners ¬¬¬from 5 minutes to 2 hour depending on the distance of the place.
        Agriculture¬ is the chief industry of the people. A great number of people are engaged in crop production because of its tropical climate. The climate is really suitable to farming. Rice, corn and vegetables are the main produce, they being the staple food of the people. Mangoes, coconuts, cashew, citrus, jackfruits and bananas are fast becoming profitable.
        Today most of our commercial fruit planters are interested and concentrated on the production of mangoes. The mango industry is a major income earner for the people of Guimaras since they export it to US, Europe and some places in Asia. The mango industry is picking up because every year there is an increasing demand for the supply of mango for export. Aside from mango, the province is concentrating to produce calamansi and cashew fruits. Cassava too is cultivated in a large scale and converted into starch at a multi million dollar processing plant at Barangay Dasal, Jordan. Because of its huge and various production of varied kinds of fruits the province of Guimaras has earned the distinction as the “Island Orchard of Western Visayas.”
        Guimaras is an island with 5 municipalities namely Buenavista, Jordan, Nueva Valencia, San Lorenzo and Sibunag with Jordan as its provincial capital. It has 98 barangays.
Fishing is another industry common among Guimarasnons. Its commercial fishing catch includes such fish varieties and seafoods as shrimp, mackerel, moonfish, anchovies and lapulapu. But the most sought after is the banagan (lobster) which gets a good prize in Manila.
        Among other industries engaged in by the people in Guimaras are charcoal making, manufacture of hydrated lime, rice milling, basket making and mat weaving.
        Guimaras is an exotic island blessed with picturesque beaches, radiant falls, copious springs and scenic offshore islets. Any day of the week, foreign and domestic visitors flock to the Daliran and Moroboro Caves, Siete Pecados, Roca Encantada, Pungkok, Navalas all in Buenavista; Naburot and Nagarao Islets, Rumagangrang and Cabalagnan beaches, Tiniguiban Island all in Nueva Valencia, and Balaan Bukid (Holy Mountain) at Jordan. These beautiful places help in increasing the income of the island province through the tourism industry.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

ILOILO: The Foodbasket Of The Philippines

        Iloilo is not as popular as Baguio but it is one of the exotic beauties, a strange combination of the modern ways of living and the cultural influences of our glorious past. It’s the biggest province in Panay and it could be reached within 45 minutes by air from Manila and 18-20 hours by water transportation. It’s a first class province with 42 municipalities, one component city, one chartered city and 1,901 barangays. It has a total population of 2,110,588 as of 2007 statistics warm, loving, accomodating and God-fearing Ilonggos. The province has a nose shape, intersected by the mountain ranges of Antique from the western port of Capiz. That is where Iloilo got its name the shape is like a nose (Irong).
From the mountain peaks down the hills, the clear-water springs cascade down through its navigable rivers below. Along these rivers, several irrigation canals branch out revealing man’s ingenuity in his struggle for survival.
        Iloilo’s mild, tropical climate is best suited to agriculture. The province has two distinct climate, the wet and the dry, which varies from place to place within the province. Municipalities within the southern and central areas are dry from December to June and wet from July to November while some towns within the northern and northeastern areas have no pronounced rain period with dry season from January to March. Those within the western and southwestern areas have distinct rain period and no pronounced dry and wet seasons.
        With the abundance of our rich natural resources, coupled with the favorable climate and our people’s ingenuity and industry, there never had been a serious famine in Iloilo.
Although the province is bounded by mountain ranges its mainland is made up of vast plains with fertile soil favorable to farming. There are 150 rivers and creeks throughout the province. These rivers provide enough water to supply the ricefields of the different municipalities. The Jala-ud River which winded its way through the municipalities of Dumangas, Barotac Nuevo and Pototan supplies water to the said municipalities.
        We have also some falls which helped increase our food production. These are the Puruguan Falls in Sara, Iloilo; the 60-foot high Nadsadjan Falls in Barangay Passi, Igbaras, Iloilo; and the Darangkulan Falls of Ajuy, Iloilo.
        A unique, salty “Paet Spring” in Maasin, Iloilo, is nature’s handiwork which when developed could be one of the said town’s tourist attractions.
        Every year, our province yields not less than 10 million metric tons of rice because of our improved irrigation system and scientific method of farming. The latest rice production of the province was 528, 983 million metric tons planted in 158, 920 hectares of land.
       Our rice-producing municipalities are Pototan, Pavia, Oton, Sta. Barbara, Dingle, San Miguel, New Lucena, Lambunao, San Enrique and Leganes. Pototan is considered the “Rice Granary of Iloilo.” Almost every year we have an excess in rice production which were exported to other countries except on October 1989 to May 1990 when the province experienced a long drought causing the President of the Philippines to declare Iloilo as a calamity area. This is again repeated in December 1990 to March 1991 when Iloilo was declared as one of the drought-stricken areas of the country.
       The district of Jaro in Iloilo City is a mass supplier of green onions to the people of the city and the surrounding towns. Likewise the municipalities of Igbaras, Tubungan, Pavia, Oton, San Miguel, Alimodian and Leon are rich sources of fresh vegetables coming from their barangays. High valueds crops like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and strawberries are being cultivated and produced by Alimodian’s “Seven Cities”.
       Fishing is also one of the means of livelihood of the people in the coastal towns. Such fishing communities are the towns of Estancia, Carles, Balasan, San Dionisio, Batad, Concepcion, Banate, Barotac Viejo, Ajuy, Tigbauan, Guimbal, San Joaquin, and Miag-ao. In fact, Estancia is called “Alaska of the Philippines” because of its voluminous fish supply such that big fish sellers and vendors flock to Estancia for their fish supply . At Tigbauan, there is the Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) which helped develop the fishing industry of the province.
       If you like to eat sweet, ripe mangoes, there are plenty in Guimbal, Tubungan, Leon and Alimodian. There are also plenty of camachiles in Igbaras, San Joaquin, and Leon; siniguelas from San Joaquin, Tubungan, and Igbaras; and sweet, varied bananas from Alimodian. Our province has a total annual production of 2, 915 metric tons of these fruits planted in 524 hectares of land.
       Iloilo ranked second to Bacolod in sugar production. Green and brownish sugarcanes are converted into sugar in four huge sugar centrals in Calinog, Lambunao and Passi. Sugar was our number one dollar earner which amounted to $30.424 million annually, or 63.2% of the total exports which included molasses, copra and others.
      Livestock and poultry raising are another sources of income for food production. The Egger Farm at San Jose, San Miguel, Iloilo, is a poultry farm which serves a number of municipalities in the province of Iloilo. The livestock markets at Leon, San Joaquin, and Cabatuan are concrete examples of a thriving livestock industry. Cottage industries are also found in our municipalities like weaving in Miag-ao and Arevalo, ceramics and metalcraft in Pavia, and woodcraft in Estancia.
      Infrastructure projects were briskly constructed in Iloilo the newer ones like the flyovers, Iloilo International Airport, Provincial Capitol and Iloilo City Hall, widening of highways, national and local roads, the construction of barangay roads and public markets, and the concreting or asphalting of national and provincial roads in the different municipalities. All these brought the accessibility of transportation, encouraged investment, and established more trade, business and industry which improved the economic condition of the province. Tourism is just high during the festivals and events like Dinagyang Festival, Paraw Regatta and Chinese New Year and could not sustain tourists and earnings from tourism all year round due to lack or absence of creative ideas from the people most especially from Department of Tourism Region VI Regional Director Edwin Trompeta.
     The substantial annual increase in the production output aided by the continuous growth of the infrastructure projects will spur the fast growth of business and industry that will further contribute to make Iloilo truly the Foodbasket of the Philippines.

CAPIZ: The Home of the Sunshine Industry

          The province of Capiz is situated in the heart of the Philippine Archipelago. It is bounded by Sibuyan Sea in the north, the province of Antique in the west, and the province of Iloilo in the south. It has a total land area of 263, 319 hectares or 2,729.2 sq. km representing 13 percent of the total land area of Western Visayas and 0.9 percent of the country’s total land area. Roxas City is around 10, 196 hectares.
When Miguel Lopez de Legaspi entered Pan-ay, a town of Capiz, 1569, he made Capiz as a Spanish settlement. It was made into a separate encomienda in 1570 and was later organized as a politico-military province in 1716, embracing the neighboring island of Romblon, Nuestra de Ocampo, Tablas and Sibuyan. On April 15, 1901, the Americans established a civil government there with William Howard Taft as its first honorary municipal president. On May 12, 1991, the town of Capiz was converted into the city of Roxas in honor of its most illustrious son, Manuel A. Roxas, the first President of the Philippine Republic. In the 1954, by virtue of R.A. 1414, Capiz was separated from Aklan and was made into an independent province.
          Capiz is considered as one of the richest province in Western Visayas. It is because of its favorable climate and fertile soil. The irregular coastline of the province serve as excellent fishing grounds and sites for ports and docking facilities.
          In agriculture, the total land area cultivated for palay is 93,622 hectares (35% of the total land area); for sugarcane, 13,739 hectares; for corn, 7,100 hectares; for coconut, 7,039 hectares; and for vegetables, 3, 298 hectares. Sugarcane used to be the important, dollar-earning crop of the province but due to the imposed U.S. quota restrictions and the stiff competition in the world market, sugar production had been greatly reduced.
         The coastal waters of Capiz constitute one of the richest fishing grounds in the whole Western Visayas region – that’s why it is often called “Seafoods Capital of the Philippines”. Among its enormous catch are crustaceans, slip mouth, nemopterid, oysters, mussels, litog, diwal, and other varities of sea foods. Fishponds also abount in Capiz covering a total land area of about 20,000 hectares. Prawn raising is considered by the Capicenos as their Sunshine Industry.
         Besides farming and fishing, there are other industries such as poultry raising, livestock, handicraft, metalcraft, shellcraft, ceramics, lime processing, abaca-slipper making, food processing, fish and prawn processing, cane milling, cassava flour milling, furniture and boat making.
         Part of the higher income derived by the people from agriculture came mostly from increased rice production.
        The effective irrigation system comes from the four big rivers of Capiz namely Mambusao, Pan-ay, Badbaran, and Maayon, whose combined discharge rate of 1, 182, 000 liters per minute is enough to water all the ricefields within their area of coverage. As for the potable water used for household consumption, seven (7) out of the sixteen (16) municipalities plus the city of Roxas are served by effective waterworks system.
        The water level of the four large rivers of Capiz is maintained mainly by the vast tracts of virgin forests and forested areas along the mountain of Capiz bordering, These forests also serve as sanctuary for wildlife.
        Copper formation was discovered in Pilar in 1935. That same year, reserve deposits of manganese were found in Ivisan.
        A well-paved, thickly asphalted national highway connects the province of Capiz with Iloilo, particularly Roxas City to Iloilo City.
        Capiz has one airport in Roxas City serving passengers bound for Manila. Cebu or any part of the country.
        The province has sixteen (16) municipalities. They are Dumalag, Dumarao, Ivisan, Jamindan, Maayon, Mambusao, Pan-ay, Panit-an, Pontevedra, Pilar, Pres. Roxas, Sapian, Sigma and Tapaz.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Untapped Potentials of Antique

      Antique is composed of 18 municipalities with a total of 590 barangays. It has a total land area of 251, 757 hectares or 2,729.2 sq. km., 83% of which is upland and 17% is lowland. It is mostly an agricultural province where majority of its people derive their income from agriculture. The 1989 survey showed 130, 387 metric tons of palay was produced followed by copra with 11,600 metric tons. The lowest is cacao with only 15.85 metric tons.
       Antique is a mountainous province which accounts for the majority of its area (83%) as upland. Thus, the land produce is not sufficient to meet the basic needs of the Antiquenos. Therefore, various development programs and projects were implemented to sped up the economic development of the province such as the Evelio B. Javier Upland Development Project and others.
       For livestock production, the province has produced hogs, cattle, carabao, goats while they produce chickens for their poultry production.
       Fishing is another major industry of the province especially among the coastal towns of Antique. On average, an estimated 10,536.2 metric tons of fish is produced annually. Fish is exported to Iloilo and Manila. Crustaceans also abound in the province especially in the island town of Caluya, where robber crab known locally as “Tatus” is plenty.
       Coal and marble are the two major minerals found in Antique. Huge reserves of coal are found in Semirara Island, one of the six islets of Caluya. In fact, it has the second largest coal deposit in the Philippines. Marble is found in the mountains and quarries of Pandan and Libertad. The multi-colored marbles extracted from these places are exported to the different parts of the country.
       Antique has two distinct climates: dry and rainy. The dry season extend from December to May while the rainy season starts from June to September. The months of October and November are characterized by alternate sunny and rainy weather.
       Antique is shaped like an elongated stretch of land along the entire west coast of Panay bounded by the province of Aklan on the north and northeast, Capiz on the east, Iloilo on the south and southeast and the Cuyo East Pass on the west.
       Because of its long, entrail-like shape, with rugged, hilly and mountainous terrain, the most important concern of the Antiquenos is their road. Going to any towns of Antique by bus from Iloilo City is really a trying experience. All the towns in northern Antique could be reached only through the capital town of San Jose except Hamtik. Other towns in southern Antique like Anini-y and Tobias Fornier could be reached via a separate road. The total road network of the province is 1,442.672 kms.
      San Jose is 97 kilometers away from Iloilo City – that would take around one hour and a half travel by bus. Being the capital town of the province, San Jose is the central point by which the distance of each town in Antique is based. The farthest, Libertad, is 143 kms. from San Jose, followed by Pandan (123 kms.), Sebaste (108.9 kms.), Culasi (89.5 kms.), Tibiao (73 kms.), Barbaza (61.30 kms.), Valderrama (57.17 kms.), Laua-an (55.1 kms.) Bugasong (43 kms.), Anini-y (40.46 kms.), Tobias Fornier (28.20 kms.), Patnongon (25 kms.), San Remigio (21.7 kms.) Belison (15.56 kms.), Sibalom (10 kms.), Caluya Island could be reached only by ferry boat on a one to two hour drive from the port of Culasi.
         Most of the towns of Antique are fishing communities. Out of the 10 municipalities, 14 are coastal towns and 1 is an island of six islets. Only 3 are inland towns. These coastal towns are: Anini-y, Tobias Fornier, Hamtik, San Jose, Belison, Patnongon, Bugasong, Laua-an, Barbaza, Tibiao, Culasi, Sebaste, Pandan and Libertad. The inland towns are Sibalom, San Jose, San Remegio and Valderrama. Caluya is an island with six islets.
         Going to the different towns of Antique from Iloilo City is done through a bus but from San Jose to the different municipalities, jeepneys could be used. Travel by ship to Manila from San Jose and vice versa using RORO or other ships are regularly scheduled. There is also a ferry boat which ferries passengers to the neighboring province of Palawan and vice versa at least thrice a week.
         There are two ports and two small airports in Antique for the ocean-going vessels and similar aircraft. One port and an airport is located in San Jose while the other port and an airport is located in Semirara Island, Caluya owned by the Semirara Coal Corporation, a private mining firm. There are also two subports in Antique which serve small ships and other sea-going vessels. One is located in the town of Culasi which serve as departure and entry point for small vessels plying the Caluya-Mindoro route. The other one is situated in Jinalinan, Pandan, which serve also as another departure and entry point for ships sailing the Pandan-Cagayan de Oro and Manila route. There are several big bus companies and airline companies and ships sailing alternately twice a week to and from the province, besides the numerous jeepneys, tricycles and trisikads which cater to the transportation needs of the Antiquenos.
           Mails, telegrams and packages are handled not only by government’s postal service system and the Department of Transportation and Communications but also local and international couriers. Telephone companies like PLDT, Globe Telecoms, Islacom and cellphone networks like Smart Communications, Globe Telecom, Sun Cellular among others provide the telecommunication needs of the natives.
There are quite a few number of radio stations in Antique and one or two local newspaper.
Improved economic productivity was facilitated by the electric power provided by the Antique Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ANTECO) to the more than 200,000 consumers of the 18 towns of the province with an average daily consumption of 10,987.83 kilowatts. The northern towns of Pandan and Libertad are served by the Aklan Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AKELCO).
           One important factor for increasing economic productivity is water for irrigation and consumption. Of the total potential irrigable area of 26,650 hectares, only 14,251 hectares, or 60.26 percent are served by irrigation systems. The sources of water supply in Antique are as follows: deep or shallow walls and improved springs (Level I); piped water system with communal faucets (Level II); piped water system with service direct to the consumers (Level III). The total number of households served by potable water in 1989 is 59,613 or 75.50 percent.

ANTIQUE: Legendary Land of Mythical Madia-as

      The province of Antique is oftentimes called the “Binirayan Country” because every year every month of December, Binirayan festival is being celebrated in the capital town of San Jose de Buenavista. This festival is a reenactment of the landing of the ten Bornean datus from Borneo under the leadership of Datu Puti. The first Malayan settlement was established in Panay at a place called Malandog, now called Hamtik, in Antique during the 13th century.
      Mt. Madia-as, the tallest peak in Panay with a peak of 6,945 feet (2,117 meters) can also be found in the province. This mountain acts as a natural boundary and spans the three provinces of Antique, Aklan and Capiz. It is situated west of the serene town of Culasi across the turbulent waters of the Carit-an River. This imposing mountain covered almost 12,000 hectares of dense forest thats more or less one half of Culasi’s total land area.
      Mt. Madia-as is a strange combination of enchanting beauty and unfathomed mystery. One would find it fascinating to watch its summit glow like solid gold at sunset. You would be amazed looking at its 24 waterfalls, several lakes and lagoons, “tinagong dagat (hidden sea)” and vast rice terraces winding around the foot of the mountain. Its forest protectively conceals and shelters the more than 100 species of orchids, the floral aristocracy of the wood lands, various ferns, wild herbs and moss. Added to these are the abundant growth of dwarf fir trees, Benguet pines and other species of flora and fauna. Mt. Madia-as serves as the best sanctuary for wildlife from the pernicious and ruthless hunters and poachers.
      Historically, Madia-as was the seat of the first organized regional political organization – the Confederation of Madyaas – under Datu Sumakwel sometime in the 12th century . In the mythical lore the mountain was called “Orang Madya-as,” an active volcano 2,300 meters high. It is believed to be the legendary home of Bulalakaw, the supreme deity of the early Malayan pagan settlers. It is also considered as the mythical abode of the spirits of our early ancestors such that sacrificial offerings for the “anitos (tribal gods)” were held at its deadly crater to appease the angry forces of nature believed to be caused by these ancient deities.
        The imposing mountain peak pose a thrilling challenge to adventurous mountain climbers. Some people do penance during the Holy Week by scaling the peak.
Scaling Mt. Madia-as is difficult and dangerous. Some of its slopes are steep as 80 to 90 degrees. Its. Steep ravines, damp grounds and moldy rocks can prove treacherous. Besides, one has to climb a gut-wrenching tightrope, walk on a narrow bridge floating on a sea of cloud and clamber up the sharp vertical slopes while holding on to slippery rocks and roots of trees a thousand feet high above could mean certain death. Also, one has to endure a 15-kilometer trek along a stony road leading to a dry river bed, brave the several improvised wooden and bamboo bridges over a boulder-strewn river and hurdle numerous hills before reaching a village at the foot of the mountain where the ascent actually starts. Still many climbers braved the hazards just to conquer the magnificent peak of this legendary mountain.

AKLAN: Acres Of Calm and Comely Beauty

       There was once a group of ten Bornean datus headed by Datu Puti who escaped from the oppressive rule of Makatunaw, the sultan of Brunei. They landed in the island of Panay which was then inhabited by aborigines known as the “Ati” (Negritoes) with Marikudo as their king. Datu Puti purchased Panay with gold “sadok” and a golden necklace known as “Manangyad.” A feast was held in celebration of the barter. The Ati-atihan festival is a celebration of that historic event. Datu Bangkaya settled in Panay in 1213 and their first settlement was in Magyanos, now called Marianos, Numancia, Aklan, which at the same time became the capital.
        In the 14th century, the capital of Aklan was moved to Batan by Datu Dinagdagan, its ruler. Batan was later overrun by the son of Kalantiaw. He was later defeated by Manduyog, the son of Datu Dinagdagan.
        In 1901, Aklan delegation petitioned the Taft Commission asking for a separation from Capiz. It was granted only on April 25, 1956 and Aklan became a province.
       Aklan is the smallest of the provinces in the region with an estimated land area of 181, 789 hectares or 1, 821.4 sq. km. and with 17 municipalities having 327 barangays. Of all its municipalities, Ibajay has the largest population while Balete has the smallest.
       Aklan is bordered on the northwest by Sulu Sea, on the northeast by Sibuyan Sea, on the west by Antique, and on the south by Capiz. Lapuz-lapuz is the northernmost point while Libacao is the southernmost. Some towns are founded near the sea while some towns are separated from each other by mountain ranges.
      Boracay, the famed beach not only in Western Visayas but throughout the Philippines, was acclaimed by the BMW Tropical Handbook of the Fourth Estate of London as the world’s best beach. They also have Ob-ob Hill where one can view from the top a breathtaking scenery. They also have other beaches like Lambingan beach, Bougainvillea beach, Afga, Navitas and Camanci. You can also enjoy swimming and the feel of the rushing of water on your body from their waterfalls such as the Jawili Falls in Tangalan, the Mampahon Falls, the Tindog Falls, the Agnaga Falls, and the Tigis Falls. All of these are well-developed but still retain its naturalness and freshness. Another beautiful panoramic hill is Manduyog Hill in Banga. Tigayon Hill and the Fatima Hill also have chapels on their summit. The religious folks of New Washington are proud of the Convent of the Pink Sisters. Tourists who are interested about Aklan’s rich cultural and historical heritage can go to Museo et Akean to see its rich collection of priceless relics and antiques or visit the Kalantiaw Shrine in Batan, east of Kalibo.
       The renowned Ati-atihan festival started since the 13th century is being held annually every 3rd week of January to honor the holy child Jesus and to celebrate the original tribal dance of the original ancestors of Panay – the aborigines called Ati or Negritoes. Tourists both local and foreign flock to Kalibo on this date to have a mardi gras type of merry making and dancing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beauty Enshrined and Enfolded

Miag-ao Church

Gigantes Island located in the northwestern most point of Panay and part of Carles, Iloilo

Nelly Gardens in Iloilo

       With its scenic tropical environment teeming with animal and plant life, a colorful history and a rich cultural heritage, Western Visayas is a captivating tourist package offering enriching experiences to visitors. A thrilling bird-watching experience await bird watchers at Taklong Island in the southern tip of Guimaras and in Semirara Island off Caluya Island in Antique. Crowds of beach lovers are drawn irresistibly to the white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters of Boracay in Aklan, in Sicogon Islands in Estancia and Gigantes Islands in Carles. For mountain climbers, the 7,989 feet (2,435 meters) summit of Mt. Kanlaon or the 6,945 feet (2,117 meters) peak of Mt. Madia-as promises to be an exhilarating experience.
         Evidences of the long colonial presence of Spain in the region are old Spanish churches and the old colonial mansions of sugar barons in Negros Occidental and in Iloilo City. Most famous of these churches are the UNESCO World Heritage Site Miag-ao Church and Alimodian Church in Iloilo and the Pan-ay Church in Capiz with its century-old bell made out of copper, silver and gold. It is said to be the largest in Asia. Other historical edifices include monuments and shrines of World War II.

Transportation and Communication

one of the coolest public jeepneys roaming around the province of Iloilo

Panay News, Western Visayas' first and largest daily newspaper.

the modern jeepney - innovation of the Ilonggo entrepreneurs and drivers

          Transportation is not a major problem in Western Visayas. Most of the towns and cities of the various provinces are linked to each other by a network of well-paved roads and permanent bridges. Travelling from province to province in the island of Panay is easier and faster nowadays because of a modern network of wide, asphalted highways connecting the provinces. Taking a voyage from Iloilo to Negros and back is no problem for ships like Negros Navigation and Superferry and also fastcrafts. Caticlan port is connected to the Mindoro port via the interisland shipping system in the country, roll-on roll-off (RORO) as well as the ports of Semirara, Culasi and San Jose de Buenavista in Antique. One could travel from Iloilo to Guimaras and vice versa by means of pumpboats, sailboats or steamboats anytime daily provided the weather is fair.
        Travelling within Panay and Negros Occidental is easier because of different means of transportation and hundreds of thousands of buses, taxis, jeepneys, vans and other public vehicles like tricycle and motorcycles which provide pleasant transport service to millions of commuters. The giant bus companies which lorded it over the long-distance travel are Ceres Liner, Vallarte Liner, Garnet Express, Seventy Six Express, Calmark, RN Express and JP Joyce.
        Besides those bigger vehicles, taxis and jeepneys, there is an array of tricycles, motorcycles for hire. The invention of the Ilonggos, the trisikads – bicycles attached to a sidecar that could accomodate 2 passengers but the modern version of trisikads are mechanically powered by motor engines. These vehicles could enable the commuter to go to any places with narrow passageways. There are also six (6) airports which serve the people of Western Visayas who wish to go to any parts of the country namely Bacolod Airport, Busuanga Airport in Aklan, Caticlan Airport in Aklan, Iloilo Airport, Kalibo Airport and Roxas City Airport in Capiz. The biggest airport in Western Visayas, the Iloilo International Airport will cater to international flights both direct and connecting flights starting in 2012.
        Several telephone and wireless cellular networks and TS1 and underwater cable broad bandwith serves different cities, towns and localities in Western Visayas. Major telephone companies are Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT), Globe Telecoms, Islacom, Bayantel among others give a convenient way of communicating through phone among the region’s populace while wireless cellular networks like Globe Telecoms, Smart Communications Inc, Sun Cellular are just a few that provide wireless mobile services. More than half of the region’s population has at least one cellphone or mobile phone. Internet with high bandwidth is common in the region which makes it interconnected with the rest of the world. Philpost with more than a century of delivery mails and the nation’s oldest postal system serving the country still delivers mails and packages around Western Visayas. Local express courier in the form of freight, cargo and mail forwarders are LBC, 2GO, JRS Express and Eagle while International express courier are FedEx, DHL and UPS allows packages and big deliveries to arrive the fastest to its destination in Western Visayas.
        There are several local and national newspapers widespread throughout the region which represent the print media. Several dozens of radio stations both AM and FM station dominate the airwaves to bring in the latest news and weather update and other information as well as music to the music lovers. While there are at least 4 tv local stations in the region to entertain the populace.

Political Partitions

       Western Visayas is composed of 6 provinces. They are subdivided into 117 municipalities and 16 cities with 4,050 barangays. Aklan has 17 municipalities and 327 barangays under 1 congressional district. Antique is composed of 18 municipalities with 590 barangays under 1 congressional district. Capiz is composed of 1 chartered city, 16 municipalities with 473 barangays under 2 congressional districts. Guimaras has 5 municipalities with 98 barangays under 1 congressional district. Iloilo is composed of 1 independent component city, 1 chartered city, 42 municipalities with 1,901 barangays under 5 congressional district and 1 lone district. Negros Occidental has 1 independent component city, 12 chartered cities, 19 municipalities with 661 barangays under 6 congressional districts and 1 lone district.
       Western Visayas is basically an agricultural region. Agriculture is the region’s second largest industry group employing 33% of the region’s workforce with those engaged in agriculture, hunting and forestry making up the largest subsector. Other members of the labor force are employed in various public and private offices, institutions, factories, and business and commercial firms. Establishments which commonly attract people for employment are banks, department stores, financial and investment houses, real estate agencies and transportation companies. A good number are self-employed as small storeowners and businessmen, vendors and drivers.
       According to the 2011 mid-quarter statistics recently released by National Statistics Office, around 5 million people who aged 15 to 65 years old belong to the labor force who were still capable and willing to work. Out of the said total, around 3.3 million were employed either fully or partially. Unemployment accounts for 7.6% of the total labor force while 23.4% are underemployed. Underemployed workers are persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in the present job, to have an additional job or to have a new job with longer working hours.
      The bulk of employed persons were in the services sector comprising more than half or 51.7 percent of the total employed population, specifically in the wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and personal and household goods.
Workers in the agriculture sector accounted for the second largest industry group at 33 percent, with those engaged in agriculture, hunting and forestry making up the largest subsector.
The industry sector registered the least share at 15.3 percent to total employed with manufacturing and construction comprising the largest subsector.
      Among the various occupation groups, 32.7% were laborers and unskilled workers; farmers, forestry workers and fishermen came next at 15.3% of the total employed; officials of government and special interest organizations, corporate executives, managers, managing proprietors and supervisors at 13.9%; and service workers, shop and market sales employees at 10.8%.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Land Shapes and Shores

        Western Visayas lands are designed in myriad shapes. Panay Island is triangularly shaped. Negros Occidental is boot-shaped. Iloilo is nose-shaped. There is a striking relationship between Aklan and Antique because while Aklan is shaped like a chicken head, Antique is shaped like the chicken’s intestine. Guimaras is shaped like a coral rock and Capiz is shaped like the palm of the hand.
Of the 2,022,300 hectares of total land area of the region, 43% is devoted to agriculture, and of the cultivated areas, 35.4% is devoted to palay farming. Of the remaining areas, 34% is devoted to forestry, 6% to settlements, 3% to inland fishing, 1.5% to pasture and 0.5% to mining.
        Western Visayas is a mountainous region. A rugged mountain chain cuts across the western portion of Panay separating the province of Antique from Iloilo. Mt. Madia-as, the highest mountain in Panay, is situated in the northern part of the chain. It forms a majestic backdrop to the town of Culasi in Northern Antique and believed by the natives as the abode of ancestral spirits. In Negros Occidental, rugged mountains also characterize the terrain of the province, the most famous of which is the Kanlaon Volcano, the highest peak in Central Philippines. It is 8,100 feet above sea level. A chain of mountains lace the Capiz-Antique border with Mounts Baloy, Magsalom, Toctocan, Tinayuga and Mansang. Another mountain chain runs along the Antique-Iloilo border with Mts. Baloy, Inaman and Igdalig composing it.
        Western Visayas has plenty of big and small rivers which account for its excellent drainage system. Iloilo River is one which affords an excellent place for the dry dock of ships, boats and trawlers. It has also a row of beautiful lakes, both natural and man-made.
        Western Visayas has a basically tropical climate with two pronounced seasons. The rainy season starts from June to November while the dry season starts from December to May.
         The mineral resources of Western Visayas yield an estimated 775,595,500 metric tons of copper and non-metallic resources such as cement and agricultural lime. It has about 152 million metric tons of coal reserves. The Semirara coal mines in Antique has a potential reserve of more than 50 million metric tons, making it the second biggest supplier of coal in the country. The Hinoba-ab – Sipalay gold mines has a gold deposit of 100 million metric tons. Chromite and manganese were discovered in Sibalom, Antique and in Ivisan, Capiz. Copper formation was discovered in Pilar, Capiz in 1935. The non-metallic minerals found in the region are sand, gravel, salt, limestone, ore and quartz.
          It is unfortunate that our forest reserves which cover 130,344 hectares and timber lands occupying 385,482 hectares are rapidly disappearing due to indiscriminate logging and kaingin farming.
The following wildlife abound in our region: Bakwa (red-breasted robin), Tulabong (heron), Dugwak (gray heron), Gakit (wild duck), Dapay (hawk), Morokpok (owl), Dapayan (ern), Usa (deer), Usa nga burok (white-spotted deer), Singgarong (wild cat), Pawikan (tortoise).
         Our region’s fishing grounds, which span 1,561 kilometers of coastline, are teeming with fish and other marine life. In 1986, commercial fishing along the municipalities of Iloilo and the seacoasts of Antique and Negros Occidental hauled in a total of 111,672 metric tons of fish. Municipal fishing grounds along the coastal towns of the region contribute 144,255 metric tons of marine products enabling the region to supply Manila with fish, shrimps and crabs. Inland fishing is increasing its share of the total fishing sector’s output, supplying 20% of the total catch.

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