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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

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.

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