OTON is an eclectic mixture of waterfront resorts and restaurants and local shops to provide for the desires and comfort of its visitors. There are all the services and amenities like that of an urban area without the crowds, bustle and impatience. The community typifies the charm and variety of activities to be found in the area.
The First-Class town of Oton is situated south of the province. It is approximately 10.2 kilometers or a 30-minute ride from the city and is bordered in the east by the district of Arevalo in Iloilo City; west by the municipality of Tigbauan: north by San Miguel; and the southern portion by a stretch of shoreline of the Sulu Sea. It has a land area of 8, 456 hectares that is politically subdivided into 37 barangays.
Oton is populated by 89,115 (2015 Census on Population) Ogtonganons. Market day is every Mondays and Saturdays. Its Municipal Fiesta is celebrated every December 8 in honour of our Lady of Immaculate Conception.
Visitors can take a Tigbauan, Guimbal, Miagao or San Joaquin jeepneys at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary in Barangay Mohon, Oton or when in the city, at the market situated at the back of Robinsons Place Iloilo.
Many people believe that Oton is a Hispanized version of the phrase “ogtong adlaw”, which means “noontime.” According to the story, the native gave this phrase when they were asked by the Spanish exporters as to the time of the day. Many people still refer to the town as Ogtong.
The oldest pueblo in Panay after Cebu and Manila upon their arrival in the 16th century, Oton became the seat of the Alcadia de Panay from 1572 to 1581. The seat pf government was transferred to la Villa Rica de Arevalo in 1581 thus making Arevalo the capital of Probinsya de Iloilo from 1581 to 1688. It was said that Oton was an ancient Malayan capital under Datu Paiburong. The seat of this ancient government was in Katagman, now Barangay San Antonio.
Its pre-Hispanic past identified it as a center of trading with merchandise coming from other parts of Asia. A source of pre-Hispanic culture can be established upon the recovery of a number of antique Chinese jars and porcelain excavated from several sites in the area. The most popular was in the 1960s when anthropologists Alfredo Evangelista and F. Landa Jocano excavated an ancient grave site in Barangay San Antonio and found a death mask made of very thin gold with one piece used to cover the eye and the other piece placed on the nose.
GROTTO WALLS situated on the left-side area upon entering the churchyard uses coral rocks from the remains of the old church after it was devasted by a powerful earthquake, Lady Kaykay in January 24, 1948. The grotto walls are engulfed by the roots of a humungous tree beside it.
WEAVING in Barangays Salngan, Cagbang and Lambuyao’s is a livelihood program where the ancient craft of hand-weaving, along with hand-spinning, remains a popular craft in these barangays up to this day. It is one of the most important crafts handed down from generation, and their indigenous fabrics of hablon and patadyong are admired for their sheer beauty, uniqueness and global appeal.
Oton’s flourishing weaving industry is one of the traditional industries literally woven around its histories and culture. However, production slowed down at some point in time because of better quality textiles came into market. Today, hablon and patadyong, a once traditional material, is being revived into a contemporary textile that holds endless opportunities for exciting applications.
SHELLCRAFT in Barangay Cagbang in Oton, Iloilo is a center for the producing quality shell craft products that will make that perfect holiday souvenir. Visitors can choose from a wide range of hand-crafted shell fashion accessories, curtains, jewelry boxes, lamp shades, candle holder, picture frames, table decors and many other items all handcrafted and made of natural shell component and materials. Oton’s shell-craft industry has metamorphosed into one of Iloilo’s top pasalubong items.
KATAGMAN is celebrated every last week of April till the first week of May. The festival name was derived from an older name identifyuing the ancient settlement of Katagman which eventually became Oton. Celebrated since 2004, it showcases Oton’s rich history starting from its pre-colonial settlement of Katgman and its role as a major trading emporium for indigenous and foreign goods.
The icon of the celebration is the Chinese Golden Death Mask worn by performers on their foreheads or as a mask or used as an accessory or hand prop. Seven (7) participating tribes are clustered from its 37 barangays.
SANDIYA celebrated every 1st week of December is organized by the Municipal Agriculture and Cooperative Office of Oton and the Oton Watermelon Grower’s Association (OWGA) in partnership with the East-West Seed Company to honor the many watermelon farmers of the town for their outstanding contributions to the community.
Oton, being well-known as a major source and the largest producer of sweet and juicy watermelons in the province supplies watermelons to may parts of the region. With this, an annual festivity celebrates the bountiful harvest of watermelons by the farmers of this town that also brings together the community and its visitors from all walks of life to enjoy and participate in various watermelon events.