ANILAO is a lovely little town that for some reason does not often get a mention in the papers or site or any other for that matter. In fact, there is so much to see and do here. It is a very cultural little community with beautiful natural sites in and around the town itself. It is a great little town very much worth a visit, any time of the year.
The Fourth-Class municipality of Anilao is located in the northeastern portion of the province. It is 40 kilometers away from Iloilo City. It is bounded in the north by the town of San Enrique; the highest mountain of the town in the west; in the south by Barotac Nuevo; and the Guimaras Strait in the east. It has a total land area of 7, 538 hectares and is politically subdivided into 21 barangays.
Anilao is populated by 28, 684 (2015 Census on Population) Anilaonons. Market day is every Friday. It annually celebrates its Religious Fiesta every 22nd of May in honour of Sta. Rita de Casia.
To get to Anilao, one can take a van or bus at the new Ceres Terminal in Barangay Camalig, Jaro, Iloilo City.
Like other towns along the coast of the island of Panay. Anilao was founded by fishermen during the Pre-Colonial times. Its name was reportedly derived from the anilao tree growing abundantly along the bank of Anilao River.
It was formerly an arrabal of the Banate and became an independent town in 1939 by virtue of Executive Order No. 220 signed by President Manuel L. Quezon under the sponsorship of Governor Tomas Confessor and Assemblyman Victorino Salcedo.
MT. HAMUGNAW situated in Barangay Manganese is dubbed as the “Cold Mountain of Anilao,” It is this town’s highest mountain peak. To get to the barangay is more than 5 kilometers from the Poblacion. Passing by the area, one will see remnants of an old sugar mill center where a century-old chimney and sugarcane grinder sits quietly in one of areas to the peak. It is ideal for adventure tourism that offers good trekking and mountain climbing activities.
AGTAMBO FALLS in Barangay Balunos is a popular tourist destination of the locals especially during the summer.
GUINAMOS / SHRIMP PASTE PROCESSING in Barangay Poblacion is this town’s One-Town-One-Product (OTOP). Anilao is the leading producer of shrimp paste in Iloilo. Guinmos is a common ingredient used in many Ilonggo cuisines. It is made from fermented ground shrimp mixed with salt. Some versions are in its wet form and other versions are sun dried and either cut into fist-sized rectangular blocks or sold in bulk. It is often an ingredient in dip for fish or vegetables and even fruits. It is commonly eaten as a topping on green mangoes or used as a major cooking ingredient. It varies in appearance, flavor, and spiciness depending on the type.
BANAAG celebrated in the last week of October till the first week of November is a celebration of life and spirit of its people. The festivity seen through the mesmeric and enchanted performances revisits the significance of fire that once saved their lives as they fought for freedom against the Spanish authorities. It celebrates life and spirit through their pathways of music and movement. Dancers work with fire or light, taming and shaping its flames that flicker on poles carried by performers or dancers. They even spin flaming torches and hoops of fire to the beat of drums and percussion instruments as they raise their voices to chant, dancing and bringing their hearts in sharing this fantastically fun cultural presentation of fire and festival with the community.
The community come together to explore the beauty and mystery of life: its history through this light-hearted image ritual of upbeat performances in ecstatic bliss of modernized theatrical interpretations of its history.