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Friday, January 4, 2013

Captivating Capiz

Some Attractions in Capiz 

Suhot Cave With Suhotan Springs In Front or At the mouth of the cave. Suhot which means "to crawl inside" in English is in the town of Dumalag. 

Pan-ay Bells in the town of Panay is the largest bell in the Philippines and said to be the largest in Southeast Asia. 

Badiang Cave in Dumarao is rich in Phosphates minerals.     

         The name Capiz was based on a popular legend that when the Spaniards came to Capiz,  it was the time when Datu Bangkaya's wife gave birth to twin daughters. Twin is called "kapid" in local dialect. So the Spaniards  adopted the name Capiz instead kapid as a misspelled and mispronounced communication between them and the natives.
         First stop would be the caves situated on a small grassy plain near the foot of a hill overlooking the poblacion proper of the town of Pilar and Roxas City. The caves can be explored through six entrances but you might get lost in its labyrinth if you explore it by yourself. The cave chambers vary in size - some are small some are as big as a chapel.. There are vines from mountain top reached the caves through its openings. The water from a spring on top of this mountain is continuously dripping to the cave floor of this chamber. In the late 1980s, some people discovered some earthen pots with intricate designs from these caves. It was believed that these caves must have been the burial sites of Pre-Spanish Filipinos. In the Balisong caves, a cannon used by the Filipino revolutionaries during the Philippine Revolution, was found which was displayed in front of the town hall. Thus, it was believed that this cave was the hideout of the artillery of the revolutionary forces during the Philippine revolution.
         Next is the Tucad Reef in the town of Pilar which has a span of four hectares, This famous reef is actually an islet composed of seashells and corals with only a thin layer of sand in it. The corals are beautiful with varying gleaming colors of green, red, blue, saffron, pink and mauve and be thrilled by its aesthetic effect. From that vantage point, mountains of Masbate can be seen from afar. From the Tucad Reef, one can go to the fishing village of Casanayan still in Pilar town with a welcoming surrounding that makes you calm and relax - smoothly curved roads with protective palms of the shady coconut trees along its hazy streets. This village is noted for its home made patis and ginamos (bagoong or shrimp paste). What made this village very much well known was the bizarre if not miraculous phenomenon which happened many years ago but still believed by many people up to now.
         In 1929, a woman named Maria Basanes died of a heart attack at the age of 47. Ten years later, when her body was exhumed, it was found out that it was still intact and preserved. Many people, out of curiosity, flocked to this place just to see for themselves this rare phenomenon. Others came because of religious fanaticism on the belief that by praying before the preserved cadaver or touching any part of it may cure any of their ailments. Still others came on their superstitious believe that even just a pick of the smallest part of the body will serve as an amulet of good luck charm.
         Igang Cave in Barangay Tapulang of the town of Maayon has several entrance carved suitably at different levels. These different entrances, however will ultimately lead to the only one large chamber. Therefore, even if you decide to enter the cave through the entrance down below, at the middle, or at the upper level, you may still arrive at the same chamber with those who opted to enter the cave through the entrance at different levels. This huge chamber is located at the core of this cave. The whole cave including its chamber and tunnel system is as large as around 3 hectares of rice land. Inside the cave, trickles of water were regularly dripping from the source above the ceiling, forming a shallow creek which winds its way into a bigger river a few meters away from the cave's mouth.
         Next is the town of Pan-ay (written as Panay) with its famous church as its local attraction. Pan-ay Church is one of the oldest churches in Capiz if not in the whole island of Panay. In fact this town has the distinction as the only town to challenge Dumangas town (Iloilo) as the first town to receive the Catholic faith. According to history, Father Martin de Rada was said to have  been the first to preach the gospel in 1566 by the banks of the river of the town of Bamban (now Panay) before he proceeded to Dumangas.
          Pan-ay Church belfry is five-storey high with the topmost concealing its treasured relic - a huge antique bell. The belfry nine-foot thick walls is made of white coral blocks taken from the surrounding beaches of Pan-ay as ordered by the Spanish authorities.
          Pan-ay church floors are made of colored marbles taken from the far mountains of Romblon. The whole interior of the church is shaped like a cross with all the walls and crevices, especially in the side and central altars, richly decorated with silver decors and trinkets while the sculptured statues of the saints were aesthetically dressed in the richly woven fabric adorned with various jewels. The altar platforms and panels were all made of hardwood. There is an arched door leading to the winding stairways to the top. On the belfry, a massive antique bell is hanging on a thick, sturdy truss made of hardwood being held tightly to it by a coil of big, strong and compact steel rope. This old, gigantic bell was made in the 18th century from the 76 sacks of coins donated by the cooperative people of Panay. This bell measures 7 feet in diameter and weighs around 10, 400 kilogram. It is believed to be the biggest bell in the Philippines and many considered it to be the largest bell in Asia! Around it are eight smaller bells which were hanged on smaller hardwood by the same kind of steel rope.
          Another popular attraction in Panay town is Bontod beach which is one of the cleanest beach in Capiz due to the fact that it is situated in the unpopulated area of the town.  All year round this beach is free from any jellyfish which is quite unusual for most beaches. Naptis Island is popular for its crystal-clear and chillingly cold waters giving one a spine-tingling sensation aside from its white sand beach. The island is immaculately clean and not a speck of debris, animal or human waste, nor a glimpse of  the dangerous jellyfish or sea urchin could be found floating on the waters surrounding the island. On the white sand beach one can see an abundant supply of small empty white shells which are excellent materials for making beautiful shell necklaces. On top of the island one can see the breath taking view of Roxas City, the capital of Capiz and Panay town. Opposite the island is a small cave which is another tourist hot spot waiting to be explored. It is a dark, cold and damp cave teeming with some exotic cave dwelling animals makes an eerie feeling for someone. On the outskirts of the Panay town, is a barangay called Culasi, a coastal community which is already a part of Roxas City. Its port serves both as a docking facility and as a commercial port of Roxas City. Direct trade and commerce between Capiz and other provinces or cities are carried out here. The port boast not only as a docking facility but also as a tourist spot with its breath-taking view of the surrounding islands including the hazy image of the mountains of Romblon.
           Olotayan Island near Roxas City is another popular destination which tiny, smooth, white and shiny crusted shells locals called "cascaho." These shells have great commercial value as they are excellent material for a shell craft industry. They could be made into necklaces, lampshades, chandeliers, wall and table decors which foreign and local tourists are fond of. The nature-carved rocks which seemed to hang precariously over the northern shore are formed and exquisitely carved by the combined forces of nature stood like mute sentinels over the clear blue waters of the islands.
           A Spanish colonial mansion located at Zamora Street in Roxas City is the birthplace of the 5th President of the Philippines, last President of the Commonwealth Period and 1st President of the Third Republic, Manuel A. Roxas. There is a bronze historical marker by the National Historical Commission in front of the house to make it easy for other people to recognize. The house was recognized as a national shrine as indicated by the marker. Inside shows the lifestyle of the early Filipino ilustrado and inteligentias as shown by the decorative balustrade of stylish design which served as the railing of a wide staircase leading to the second floor. The reception room was composed of furniture which were mostly carved. The interior walls and partitions were all decorated with elaborate lace-like carvings which matched with the other panelings. On a corner of the sala was a large portrait of President Roxas placed on a low narra shelf close to a framed biographical sketch about him. On the opposite side was a picture of him and his family, placed on a larger frame. There is a large library - study room where one could easily notice a ten foot high book  shelf filled up with the rows of books - mostly law books and memorabilia of the former President. Through this room, one could get out to the second floor balcony with overhanging railings made of intricately carved balusters. From this veranda one could relax even for a brief moment while taking a breath of fresh air and viewing the scene below.
           Next town outside Roxas City is Ivisan another coastal town. Entering the town is a half-torn, old stone structure that measures around seven foot square wide and ten feet high. It is a stone fortress called "Moro Tower." It was built in 1814 by the Spanish authorities as a watch tower to protect the towns and villages from the deliberate attacks of the marauding Moro pirates and the pillaging Portuguese invaders. This ruined structure is but a mute testimony to our living past. 
            The town of Ivisan has a famous cove in Balaring, a barangay or village in Ivisan. The white sand beach of Balaring cove was made up of  clear, dark blue waters with its waves gently lapping the white sand beach on the shore. Some hovering seagulls deftly touching their wings to the swaying waves added a gentle touch to a romantic atmosphere.  
            Across the cove is a small island of Baslao. It is as beautiful as Balaring with the same clear, dark blue waters and white sand beach as that of Balaring. The 250-meter long stretch of the white sand beach is noted for being spotlessly clean with no signs of debris, sharp rocks, dangerous sea urchins or jellyfish  to despoil its pristine environment. The white sand beach of the cove also has plenty of stone sculptures intricately carved into strange forms and shapes by the incessant forces of nature abounds in different nooks and corners of the island. The crystal clear water revealed the multi-colored fish swimming in the shallow waters of the cove. On a partly secluded beach by the eastern portion of the cove, a thick carpet of tiny white, shiny seashells of varied shapes and sizes covered the whole stretch of the beach. The beautiful scenery, the cleanliness of the place, the calmness of the waters and its environs, and the gentle sea breeze swaying the shady coconut trees of the cove all contributed to make the place for enjoyment and relaxation.
           After Ivisan town is Dao en route to Cuartero. There is a famous lake in Cuartero called Agpayao Lake but before that here is a small background history of Cuartero.
            The town of Cuartero has had several names. First, it was named as Binudhian, the place where the natives were robbed and treacherously killed by strange people. But the name has bad connotations, thus it was changed to Mapanag, a creek which once was one of its natural boundaries. But the name did not last long when an influential businessman from Dumarao who became a permanent resident of the place conferred with the local leaders and agreed to change its name to Fonda. The present name of the town was adopted in honor of His Excellency Mariano Cuartero, Bishop of Jaro, who during his pastoral visit, officiated the first mass in the town during the inauguration of its church in 1880.  
           Travelers can be astounded by the beautiful sight of a lake before them with its shiny, clear sky-blue waters which looked so peaceful, quiet and calm like a sleeping lady in the midst of her sweetest dream. This is Agpayao Lake, the pride of Cuartero town. This lake embraces around seven hectares in land area. This lake is formed by many rivulets, creeks and other tributaries upstream somewhere in the mountains and hills of Cuartero. The waters of the lake maintained its depth and cleanliness because the place is uninhabited. The area surrounding it is covered with thick foliage of the large shady tree, and the mountain springs, being the main source of the waters of the lake, are protectively covered with enough virgin forests.
           The lake boasts not only of its beautiful scenery but also of its water teeming with fish. The lake could adequately support the people of the town a supply of fresh-water fish for a long time. The lake, however, is not suitable for swimming especially for those wanna be swimmers because it is thirty feet deep at its deepest depth. 
            Dumalag town has a unique cemetery because it is uniquely located on both sides of the road facing each other. The one at the right side has a chapel with a circular-shaped wall while that at the left has a rectangular-shaped wall. The chapel with a circular shape is 40 meters in diameter while the one with a rectangular shape is no longer in use for it was built in the 1880s yet. The mountain of Dumalag is famous for its Suhot Cave (Suhot in English means crawl inside). There is a pool of water at the entrance of the cave. That's a swimming hole formed by the water gushing out from an underground stream found inside the cave. Try dipping your feet on it and you will feel that it's icy cold. The inner chamber of the cave has some water dripping from the dark ceiling of the cave. The waters forming from the underground stream inside this cave and flowing out to the swimming hole outside actually originates from the Panhira-on Mountain comprising this cave and the Badiang Cave in the town of Dumarao, Capiz. These waters flowed from the mountain springs then through the subterranean passage until it emptied through the small opening found at various points on top of this cave. The source of these waters are mineral springs. Thus, swimming on these waters has both a relaxing and a curative effect. The cave also has many small and huge chambers branching out into different directions. In one of those cavernous chambers, they found curtains of stalactites and stockpiles of stalagmites shaped like grotesque forms of human figures and objects. These rock formation dropping from the ceiling are called stalactites while those rising from the ground are stalagmites.
            Another  place of interest in Dumalag town is Miss Ford's Museum. Doña Maria Ford, as Mrs. Maria Garcia Ford was fondly called  by most Dumalag local residents, has an only daughter named Miss Mary Ford who died single. Miss Ford was noted for her humanitarian, philanthropic and charitable deeds, one of which is the founding of this museum which everybody in Dumalag could be proud of. Now her museum stands as a living legacy she has bequeathed to the fortunate people of Dumalag. The museum was formerly a Spanish-American mansion, formerly the residence of Miss Ford and now a museum. The second floor of the building houses rich collection of antiques which dated as far back as the Ming Dynasty period. On a corner, in a glass-encased shelf, lies a neatly piled manuscripts of Pre-Spanish times attesting to the existence of the ancient civilization in Panay long before the Spaniards came. On the other corner is a high rectangular-shaped glass encasement filled with priceless assortment of collector's items as swords, alabaster, wood statues, antique jewelry, stuffed animals and various artifacts like crude tools and implements of the Mastodonic Era taken out of the archeological diggings. In one of the rooms stood an eight foot high book shelf with rows of neatly piled books dealing with topics from politics to horticulture, archeology and anthropology. p. 159
           The town of Jamindan is an inland town northwest of Dumalag. It could be reached, more or less, in two hours from Roxas City and precisely within the same time period from this town going back to Roxas City.  Jamindan boasts of tourist attractions comparable with if not surpassing those found in other places in the country. One of those widely known is the Suhot Cave which is similar to if not the same cave found in Dumalag tunneling through the same mountain range separating the municipalities of Jamindan and Dumalag. This Suhot Cave (Suhoton in some articles) is located in the forested hill of Barangay Agcagay, the barangay or village known as the "home of the vegetables," in Jamindan, Capiz. This cave, which is approximately two to three kilometers away from the poblacion or town proper of Jamindan, consists of 40 other chambers of different sizes where stalactites and stalagmites marvel visitors with their grotesque human-like formation. The sound of nocturnal bats "kabugs" makes the cool, dark caves even more eerie but its ton of guano dung are useful as fertilizers by farmers not only of the said municipality but also of other municipalities of the province. Outside the cave different kinds of bird could be found.
           There are two waterfalls also found in Jamindan. These waterfalls are located in Barangay Lucero. These falls are called Lucero Falls and Cabalalan Lerong Falls.  
           Dumarao, on the other hand, is proud of its Badiang Cave as its tourist attraction. During the pre-war days, phosphate was extracted from this cave. However, because of the Second World War, the mining operations were stopped and until now the operations never resumed although phosphate deposits are still plenty there. Badiang Cave is believed to have a connecting tunnel to Suhot Cave of Dumalag because both are found at the opposite sides of the same mountain. Badiang Cave's elevation is higher than that of Suhot. The entrance of the cave is hidden by big trees, undergrowth and vine thus giving the place a jungle like atmosphere so invitingly cool. Near the cave are streams of crystal-clear water spurting from the ground under the cool shade of the trees. Near those streams is a small crack in the rocks where sulfuric water gushes out.
           Another town with an interesting tourist attraction is Mambusao with its Quipot cave as its main tourist hotspot. Before one can enter the cave, one has to cross the small stream in front of its entrance. This cave, like any other caves, has many chambers at different levels. There are numerous chambers inside in varied sizes. In a certain portion, one has to crawl because the space between the ceiling and the floor is just two to three feet. There are also portions which look like dead ends except for a small hole where only one person can fit in. This leads to a larger chamber as big as a ballroom of a hotel. The atmosphere inside the cave is very cool and just like any other cave, it has also plenty of stalactites and stalagmites. As one go further through these labyrinths of caverns and chambers, one can went out to the other side of the cave where one can see wild birds and wild ducks soaring over the sky.   


Other Places of Interest In Capiz 

Olotayan Island near Roxas City 

Basiao Cove in the town of Ivisan 

Ancestral Home of Manuel A. Roxas, 5th President of the Philippines, also his birthplace was made as a national shrine by the National Historical Institute.

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