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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.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Western Visayas In A Nutshell

           Western Visayas is the cradle of Malay civilization in the Philippines. It is in the island of Panay where the first Malayan settlement was established. The region is composed of the island of Panay and the province of Negros Occidental. Panay is divided into five provinces namely Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras and Iloilo. Negros Occidental is the western part of the Negros island. The eastern part, which is Negros Oriental is already a part of the Central Visayas region.
          Western Visayas has a total land area of about 2,022,300 hectares or 20,625.9 sq. km which makes it the sixth largest island in the Philippines. Negros Occidental, which comprises 30% of the total land area of the region, is the largest province of the region. Iloilo comes next followed by Antique, Capiz, Aklan and Guimaras, respectively. The smallest province, Guimaras lies between the islands of Panay and Negros. It is separated from Panay by the Iloilo Strait and from Negros by the Guimaras Strait.

The Treasures Of The Western Frontier


        One could appreciate fully his cultural heritage only if the tangible aspects of his culture are accounted, unraveled and appreciated. The material aspects of one’s culture include the land, water, natural resources and tourist spots. These physical evidences of our material culture are so concrete so familiar and trivial such that scanty resource materials and references could be found, if any, which contained the data needed in writing this article. Perhaps this seemingly muted if not listless attention given to the patrimony of our region could be attributed to the misconception that what are found in the region could similarly be found anywhere else in other regions. It is hoped, however, that what are revealed in the following articles, insufficient they may be, can help deepen our awareness and heighten our appreciation of our region’s rich natural resources and endowments which could equal if not surpass those of other regions.
         Our region is blessed with countless scenic and historic tourist destinations whose beauty could cause viewers to marvel, drool and dumbfounded and whose historic significance could evoke in one’s memory our glorious past. Included in the later articles are profiles of those destinations found only in the printed pamphlets and other reading materials published and compiled by the regional office of the Department of Tourism in Iloilo City. Sadly, however, these references are found wanting in accurate, compete and definite descriptions of the different places of interest mentioned therein.What is most noticeable in the published materials compiled and disseminated by the Department of Tourism is that more emphasis and attention are given to the already popular tourist destinations to the detriment and disadvantage of the less famous though equally attractive ones. It is there, expected that with the following articles those obscure and unnoticed tourist destinations will receive the proper attention they deserve.

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