The visual spectacle on the ceiling of the Saints Peter and Paul Parish church tells the story of Creation, the Fall of Man, and Redemption. It also weaves the story of how the church, the local community, and a group of talented artists came together to undertake a momentous project.
Before it was painted, the church ceiling was plain and bare, said Fr. Brian Brigoli, chairman of the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church.
It was painted in 2018 to 2019, during the administration of parish priest Fr. Joselito Danao, with the blessing of the commission.
Fr. Brigoli came up with the concept on the panels.
He said the painting gives churchgoers the connection between art and faith. Art, he said, expresses deep faith and feelings that sometimes words cannot. The project is meant to deploy art as a means of evangelization.
The visual liturgy, Fr. Danao told local newspaper Sun.Star Cebu, “is to remind (the Bantayan faithful” of the love and mercy of the lord.
Mary Frances Despi, a member of the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, pointed out what she said were the significance of the ceiling painting.
“It is a comprehensive catechesis in visual religious art; a visual aid for the exaltation of the spirit for the search of the Divine; a tangible narrative of the Life of Christ and His Paschal Mystery as aid for the faith seeking understanding; an opportunity to instruct, to inspire and to evangelize the faithful; and a reminder of our being a Church in communion with all the saints and the elect,” Despi said.
The panels above the sanctuary, Fr. Brigoli said, all has to do with the eucharist. The images tell the story of who God is. The rest has to do with the parish as well as catechism on the seven sacraments.
Paris Avilino, who led the group of artists who painted the ceiling, said it was a monumental challenge that took months of hard work.
The parish raised funds from the community and benefactors both here and abroad. A finance committee was organized to oversee the funding of the project
The painted ceiling serves as “a visual catechism” to people who attend mass and the many visitors who drop by the church.
Frequent pirate raids, bountiful seas, and a people of strong faith define Bantayan Island.
Bantayan is the first parish to be established in Cebu. It was founded by Augustinians in a gathering in Manila on June 11, 1580 as the Convento de la Asuncion de Nuestra Señora or Our Lady of the Assumption. It was established 4 years before the Parish of San Nicolas in Cebu City.
The parish served as mission station for friars doing outreach in nearby islands. It was the center of church activities in northern Cebu and acted as the matriz of the parishes of Bogo and Daanbantayan, according to a document at the Bantayan Parish Museum.
History of Bantayan
Bantayan is one of the oldest settlements in Cebu, as proven by archeological findings. It was populated by people from Samar and Leyte, who were attracted to the bounty of fish in the area. Bantayan was so teeming with fish that during the Spanish era, it was referred to as the “Mother of Fish.”
Although Iloilo is closer, the migration by Ilonggos came later in the 17th and 18th centuries. This is why Bantayanons speak a mix of Cebuano, Ilonggo and Waray.
When the Spaniards came, Bantayan already had a large population. Early Spanish missionaries in the 1570s and 1580s already reported that there were many people in the island.
What’s in the name?
Traditional belief held that the name came from the bantayan sa hari or the watchtowers that ringed the island during the Spanish occupation. The watchtowers were built to secure the island from the frequent pirate raids.
Historian Trizer Mansueto said in an interview, however, that even before the Spaniards built the watchtowers or the bantayan, the place was already called Bantayan. He said the name may have come from “puó nga gibantayan” or guarded island because either the pirates were always on the lookout to strike anytime or that the islanders were guarding their island to avert frequent pirate incursions.
Bantayan was a favorite raiding target because it was flat and heavily populated thus the pirates were assured of captives. A 17th century historical document also indicated that the island was a favored target because Bantayanons were good looking.
Frequent Moro raids marked the island’s history. A raid in 1628 almost wiped out Bantayan’s population when 800 residents were captured. A 1630 account by Juan de Medina said the parish priest and several Spanish residents attempted to fight off the raiders but ran out of ammunition and had to flee and hide.
The pirate raids prompted the Spanish government to relocate Bantayan residents to the mainland, which was easier to defend and had mountains to hide in time of danger. Bantayanons, however, refused to abandon the island.
In 1754, Bantayan was again raided by pirates. The raid, according to historical accounts, left the church and community in ashes.
When Fr. Doroteo Andrada del Rosario was assigned to administer the parish in 1834, he set about to build a church that could also serve as refuge.
About the Bantayan church
The present stone church was built by Fr. del Rosario in 1839 and completed in 1863. The church is distinguished by its thick walls, likely the thickest in Cebu, and rich embellishments.
The church has very thick walls both to provide stability as the ground it is built on isn’t as solid and to serve as fortress where islanders can take refugeduring pirate raids. Although by then less frequent, there were still pirate raids when the church was built.
The church is heavily embellished with reliefs of angels and saints both inside and outside the church.
Bantayan church facade
The church facade contains various beautiful reliefs, according to the book Balaanong Bahandi. The features in the facade are described in the book as:
“The topmost pediment occupied by low relief of the Holy Trinity. Directly below it is a high relief of Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario.
San Pedro occupies the niche just below the relief of the Holy Trinity. The lower niche found on the left side of the facade is dedicated to Sta. Ana and the other niche is occupied by San Roque.
A cartouche found below the pediment commemorates in Spanish the construction of the church. Directly above the main door and under the cartouche is a seal that has reference to San Pedro consisting of a papal tiara, two crossed keys and two palm fronds.”
Inside the church is a wooden cartouche in Latin. In English, it says “When Doroteo Del Rosario was parish priest and in his memory, this church was began in 1839 and finished by him in 1863. Have mercy and pray for him.”
Throughout the church are religious reliefs. One of them is this image of San Antonio de Padua who is traditionally shown with the Holy Child. In the relief on the church’s walls, Saint Anthony is shown with the Santo Niño.
The retablo is another treasure of the parish. On top is the life-sized statue of Saint Peter. In it are images of La Virgen del Santisimo Rosario, San Jose with the Child Jesus, San Damaso, and San Roque.
Dibuho sa Kisame
In 2018, the bare ceiling was transformed into a visual Biblical spectacle with the Dibuho Sa Kisame, which tells the story of the Creation, Fall of Man, and Redemption. It also weaves the story of how the church, the local community, and a group of talented artists came together to undertake a momentous project.
Saints Peter and Paul
When it was established, the parish was under the patronage of Saint Peter the Apostle and was known as such for centuries. Saint Paul was added only in the 80s and the parish became known since then as the Parish of Saints Peter and Paul.
Is Holy Week the town fiesta?
No. Bantayan’s fiesta is on June 29 in honor of Saints Peter and Paul. The fiesta, however, isn’t as well attended and celebrated as the Holy Week.
The island is known for its Semana Santa or Holy Week observance, with the parade of elaborately decorated carriages with religious icons. It is an annual religious event that draws in thousands of tourists and returning residents.
Many residents join the procession as a religious offering. People often take the flowers that decorate the carriages believing them to be miraculous and having a way to grant their prayers.
A Papal indult issued by the Office of the Holy Inquisition in Madrid allowed Bantayan parishioners to eat meat during the Holy Week. Mansueto said it was issued upon the request of Fr. del Rosario who told the Vatican that parishioners did not go out to sea during the Holy Week. The indult, however, required that the parishioners abstain from meat on other days.
A copy of the indult can be found at the Parish Museum.
Fr. Danao, in an interview with local newspaper The Freeman, also pointed out that the indult has long expired.
Bantayan became the first parish to be secularized. On 1603, it was handed over to Fray Pedro de Agurto, OSA, the first Bishop of Cebu.
Don Pedro de Arce, the third bishop of Cebu, installed Fr. Garcia Jacome as parish priest in 1614, according to a document at the parish museum. The bishop also placed Daanbantayan and its suburbs under the administration of the parish. The following year, the island of Maripipi was also handed to the parish.
Bantayan served as the matriz of the parishes of Bogo and Daanbantayan. Bogo became a separate parish on May 31, 1850 and Daanbantayan in 1855. Santa Fe separated from the parish in 1881.
In 1903, the parish priest defected to the Aglipays. “Although the new church took root in Santa Fe, it did not survive in Bantayan town,” according to the museum document. The parish played a crucial role in the reestablishment of Catholic faith in Santa Fe when Fr. Faviano Abrau officiated baptism in the town.
The parish of Madridejos was formed in 1914. It was named after Fray Benito Romero de Madridejos, the first Spanish bishop to visit the island. It is also the name of a town in Spain.
Fr. Emilio Bataclan, now a bishop, became administrator of the parish in the early 70s. It was through the efforts of Bishop Bataclan, a son of Bantayan, that the parish of Doong, an islet, was established in 1974. He was at the helm when the parish celebrated the 4th centenary of its foundation in 1980.
“Because of his devoted service to the church, Fr. Bataclan was invested with the miter. Another Bantayanon would follow Bishop Bataclan’s footsteps, Monsignor John Forrosuelo Du, now the Archbishop of Palo, Leyte.”
In 1998, Fr. Camilo Alia became the parish priest and was credited with restoring its former glory. In his term, the parish received relics in the form of the bones of its patrons – Saints Peter and Paul. It was in his term that the parish celebrated its 425th anniversary and opened the Parish Museum.
On May 15, 2004, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal consecrated the church to God.
Under Msgr. Boboy Romanillos, church restoration by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines started.
In 2018 and 2019, restoration of the church was completed and its ceiling painted under the Dibuho Kisame Project, undertaken during the term of Fr. Joselito Danao.
(Based on interviews with historian Trizer Mansueto and documents provided by the Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church and Museum).
Experience the intense variety and striking beauty of the islands of one of Iloilo’s most popular destinations. A trip to the exotic islands in Carles is packed with physical activities, culture, history and good food.
Embark on a tour. If you have something of the explorer in you, then an island-hopping holiday is ideal. Traveling across its vast sea evokes a spirit of discovery and offers a totally new perspective on the area. Explore and immerse yourself in the Gigante Islands of Carles.
Carles is a Second-Class municipality situated in the northernmost tip of Iloilo Province. It is 147.6 kilometers away or a three hour drive from the City of Iloilo. It is bounded in the north by Jintotolo Channel; in the northeast by the Visayan Sea; in the west by Municipality of Pilar, Capiz; and, in the south by the Municipality of Balasan, Iloilo. It has a total land area of 11, 202 hectares that is politically subdivided into 33 barangays.
Carles is populated by 68, 160 (2015 Census on Population) Carlesnons. Market day is every Mondays and Fridays. It annually celebrates its TReligious Fiesta every 15th of October in honour of Sta. Teresa de Jesus.
To get to Carles, one can take the bus at the New Ceres Terminal in Barangay Camalig in Jaro, Iloilo City.
Immigrants settled in the area of Punta Bulakawe, north of the poblacion in 1846. Other settlers from Antique and Aklan eventually populated the settlement which fell under the jusrisdiction of Pueblo de Pilar, Capiz. Ten years later, the settlement was transferred to the lowlands and renamed Badiang.
The first attempt to elevate Barrio Badiang into a municiopality occurred in 1860 but the Provincial Government of Capiz refused. This prompted the town leaders to petition to the Governor of Iloilo, Gov. Jose Maria Carles who eventually approved their petition. Much to the delight of the town leaders of Badiang, a new pueblo was established and named Carles in honour of the Governor. It was inaugurated in 1862.
The Gigante Islands is a string of islands located 21 kilometers northeast from Bancal Port in mainland Carles—the last town north of the province and is 147.6 kilometers away or a 3-hour bus ride from the city.
Consists of Gigante Norte and Gigante Sur, Gigante Islands is not only a favorite holiday destination itinerary by most tourists, but also home to a biologically diverse and rich coastal and marine resource. It contains more or less 50 caves. It is home to an endemic forest frog (Platymantis Insulates) listed to be critical and a Narrow-disked gecko (gekkogigante) listed as endangered under the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Gigante Sur is 21 kilometers or an hour and a half motorized boat-ride from the mainland port of Bancal. Comprised of the barangays of Gabi and Asluman, it prides itself with strings of island beaches that include the islands of Antonia Point, Bantigui, Cabugao Dako, Cabugao Gamay, Ojatras, Balbagun and Tangke. It is also home to Long-tailed Macaque, Bhraminy Kite, Blue-naped Parrot, and Grass Owl.
Gigante Norte is the biggest of the island group chain. Known for its picturesque fishing villages, it is separated from Gigante Sur by a 5-mile channel or a 30-minute pumpboat ride and is made up of the barangays of Granada and Asluman with the islands of Bolobadiang, Uaydajun, Gigantona and Giganteleo. It is home to Long-tailed Macaque, Bhraminy Kite, Blue- naped Parrot, Grass Owl, Monitor Lizard and Gigantes Island Limestone Frog.
SICOGON ISLAND brings together classic charm and modern touches for a unique seaside experience. One will surely enjoy this hideaway with dazzling white sands and clear turquoise sea. Overlooking Tomaguin Island and Molopolo, the Island of Sicogon measures 489.0514 hectares and is composed of the barangays of San Fernando, Alipata and Buaya. The beach of Barangay Buaya is reason enough to go to the island. There is enough space and so few visitors that you will probably find a spot just for yourself. The sugary sands of Buaya extend into deep waters far offshore. It is a heaven for snorkelers.
Sicogon has long been a popular spot with foreigners on holiday and had made its mark as a hot spot for travelers from around the globe. The island was once famous among celebrities and royalties all over the world. It was known as one of Asia’s as a top tourist destination prior to its closure in the 1980s. It has tourist-friendly facilities such as its famous cottages and resort clubhouse, swimming pools, sports facilities, a wharf and an airstrip.
The beach of barangay Buaya in Sicogon Island remains among the most beautiful even up now. It is for those who are dreaming of a quiet vacation under a warm sun and a constant breeze. The island is still a big potential to welcome many of tourists looking for the best beach in Iloilo.
Presently, Sicogon is being managed by Ayala Land Corporation with two high-end accommodation establishments, Balay Kogon and Huni.
PAROLA or the 18th century lighthouse is situated in Barangay Asluman, Gigante Norte where the original lighthouse was built by the Spanish but has long been replaced by a new and modern one with the help of the Japanese. There used to be access for people to climb up the lighthouse and get a more scenic view.
SITIO BAROSBOS in Barangay Asluman, Gigantes Norte is an area identified by the National Museum (as per letter of Wilfredo P. Ronquillo, Chief, Archeology division dated October 1997) as an archeological site, due to the discovery of abundant archaeological material, notably earthenware ceramics that were dated somewhere between ca. 500 B.C. up to A.D. 500.
TUMAQUIN ISLAND fronting Buaya Beach is known for its aura of fantasy. This uninhabited island has crystal clear waters and creamy beach. Identified as a potential scuba diving site, it holds the elusive qualities of undersea world.
LANGUB CAVE in Sitio Langub, Barangay Granada, Gigante Norte is popular among residents eager to narrate the enchanted fairy tales. They tell of the world of the famed Golden Ship and a generous cave. The Golden Ship is said to be the royal inter island carrier of the unseen friends while the cave is said to be a storehouse of regale wardrobe and utensils ready for lending to those with the intent of returning them after use.
GIGANTILLO, GIGANTONA, in Gigante Norte are granite islets that offer an unusual combination of undersea environments, coral reefs and marine rock formation.
PANGISDA is celenrated every 2nd week of October. Derived from a Hiligaynon word for fishing, Pangisda, as a festival pays tribute to the efforts of the local fishermen who provide income not only to his family but practically to the whole town as well. It celebrates the bounties of their sea. Special events include tribal dance competition, boat races, cooking contest, food festival and beauty pageant.
Located in the northern part of the Iloilo Province is famous for its impressive marine resources. It is known around the country as a center for commercial fishing, so much so that it carries the name “Alaska of the Philippines” as a testament to its bountiful marine resources. The reason for this is that Estancia lies in the Visayan Sea triangle, an imaginary triangle extending from the provinces of Iloilo, Negros, Cebu, Samar, and Masbate. This triangle is a part of the “Sulu-Sulaweisi Triangle” of the Sulu Sea and neighboring Indonesia where a large concentration of marine organisms coupled with climate conditions support a massive marine ecosystem. Commercial species such as mackerel, barracuda, sardines, shad, pompano, grouper, squid, cuttlefish, shrimp, prawns, shells, seaweed and others are harvested along Estancia’s waters. It has a fishing port and a pier known to be one of the most developed in northern Visayas and quality accommodations where one can enjoy at a great vacation value.
Estancia is a Second-Class municipality situated in the northeastern portion of the province. It is 135.5 kilometers away or a three-hour drive from Iloilo City. It is bordered in the…It has a total land area of 3, 197 hectares that is politically subdivided into 25 barangays.
Estancia is populated by 48, 546 (2015 Census on Population) Estancianons. Market day is every Tuesday. It annually celebrates its Religious Fiesta every 15th to 16th of May in honour of Ma. Reyna Sto. Rosario.
To get to Estancia, one can take the bus at the New Ceres Terminal in Barangay Camalig in Jaro, Iloilo City.
Don Felipe Aguilar, a rich Spaniard, owned a property that was converted into a ranch in the northern portion of Iloilo Province. It was named Estancia, a Spanish word meaning a large estate or cattle ranch.
It became a pueblo in 8162. Being coastal in location, Pueblo de Estancia developed into a prominent fishing port and became known as the “Alaska of the Philippines” because of its very rich fishing grounds. Because of plentiful catch, Talagog and Waray fishermen and fishbrokers settled in the town and contributed much to the development of the fishing industry and boosting the economy of the town.
PANAGAT celebrated every last week of April is a tribute to Fishermen. It is a call for unity among the people who thrives near the municipal water or sea. It is a celebration that calls for full cooperation among the neighboring towns.The festival shows the creativity of the people through its festive tribal dance competition that incorporates traditions in fishing and showcases costumes inspired from the living creatures found under the sea.
Balasan is a Fourth-Class municipality situated in the northeastern portion of the province. It is 128 kilometers away or almost a three-hour drive north from Iloilo City and is bordered in the north by Carles; in the south by the town of Batad; in the east by Estancia; and in the west by the town of Pilar in the province of Capiz. It has a total land area of 4,100 hectare that is politically subdivided into 23 barangays.
Balasan is populated by 33, 088 (2015 Census on Population) Balasanhons. Market day is every Thursdays and Sundays. It annually celebrates its Religuous Festival every 26th of June in honiur of Sta. Ana.
To get to Balasan, one can take the bus at the New Ceres Terminal in Barangay Camalig in Jaro, Iloilo City.
In 1847, the Military Governor of Capiz, Don Juan Silverio permitted 50 families from the pueblo of Navas in Aklan to resettle in the unpopulated eastern part of the province of Iloilo. The immigrants settled in a place they named Bolo, after a specie of bamboo that grow in the area.
Due to the scarcity of food, the Barrio Teniente, Vicente Navales established a sister settlement that was named Maya, after the Philippine sparrow.
In 1852, Barangay Maya became a barrio but did not take long when the site was once again transferred until it was finally established to the present site of the poblacion of Balasan. The name of the barrio, Balasan was derived from the sand (balas) of the nearby Bangon River. Balasan was then a barrio of Bolokawe (the original settlement of Bolo) which became a pueblo of the town of Carles. Finally in 1894, Balasan became an independent pueblo.
SALVACION FALLS belongs to the San Juan Del Monte (Barangays Salvacion, Zarragosa, and Salong) mountain ranges which dominates the south-western side of the municipality. It can be reached on foot going uphill on a normal pace for about 30 minutes.
LECHON serves as a kick-off to their Religious Fiesta celebration in honor of their patron Sta. Ana every 24th of July, residents of this town gather on the main street fronting the municipal hall to share a sumptuous feast, the culinary centerpiece is the most revered of all Filipino food, the mouth-watering and flavourful lechon or roast suckling pig.
The lechons are prepared authentically Balasan by cooks who grew up roasting and eating it on this town. As early as 3 a.m. the cooks are already preparing the lechon. The pig is placed on a spit, innards removed, on a large stick and cooking it in a roasting pit filled with charcoal. It is roasted while continuously wiping its skin with brush made of banana leaves with oil and milk. This procedure makes the skin crispy, and repeatedly roasting it over the heat for at least 5 hours until they turn a crispy, red-golden brown.
The entire day creates an aromatic atmosphere that hangs over the festival, leaving a taste you will never forget.
The highlight of this theme-based festival is a mischievous merriment through a no-holds-barred boodle fight open to everybody. By the time the boodle fight starts at noon, the skin will be crispy, with some fat and super tender roast meat. The sumptuous buffet features a whole pig on display. People just sidle up to the table and pluck off whatever they want. When lunch is over, there is nothing but a few bones. Boodle feast bring the community even closer together.
Looking for a weekend drive through into the countryside to a destination that will amuse you? The scenic municipality of Batad in the northern portion of Iloilo has some of the most beautiful natural sites to take in. It features deep valleys, vast farmlands, foothills and acres and acres of cornfields that provide an excuse for a stroll in the sunshine.
Watch corn grow as you drive through this quiet town where nearly half of its cropland grows corn. The town’s beautiful landscape enhances the drive. The cornfields make many appearances as they weave through the valleys. It was due to abundant production of corn that the community was called “Corn Capital of Iloilo.”
Batad is a Fifth-Class municipality situated in the northeastern portion of the province of Iloilo. It is 125 kilometers or a two hour and forty-five minute drive from Iloilo City. It is bounded in the north by the towns of Balasan and Estancia; in the west by the Municipality of Pilar in Capiz; in the south by the Municipality of San Dionisio, and; in the east by the Visayan Sea. It has a total land area of 4, 476 hectares that is politically subdivided into 24 barangays.
To get there, visitors can take can take the bus at the new Ceres Terminal, Barangay Camalig, Jaro Iloilo City.
A pre-Hispanic settlement with the name Dulungan or landing place used to exist in northern are of the province. It was a busy trading port frequently visitedby Chinese and Arab traders. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they Hispanized the name of the place into Embarcadero, a Spanish word with the same meaning and made it a barrio of Balasan.
Sunsequent Moro invasion saw Embarcadero burnt causing the inhabitants to move further inland to escape the marauders. The migrant villagers established another barrio they named batad-batad after a kind of shell that was abundant in the site.
Their first teniente was Bautista Villalobos. With a growing population, the villagers once again transferred to the present site of the municipality. The old place they renamed Daan Banwa or Old Town. In 1949, President Elpidio Quirino signed executive order creating the town of Batad.
ALAPASCO SMALL RESERVOIR IRRIGATION DAM in Barangay Alapasco in Sitio Luy-a, Bulak Sur is around 6.50 kilometers away from the main roadserve as a water storage reservoir in the low foothills of cornfields that forms a backdrop to this artificial lake. Besides being an educational site, it is also cheap entertainment, that is, there is no fee for enjoying scenery. The dam originated in 1993 and was finished in 1997. Its length measures 264.90 meters with a height of 21 meters. A trip to the dam is one fun activity that keeps visitors coming back.bThe area is now a popular camping site.
MAGALUMBI ISLAND is situated in the eastern side of Barangay Binon-an. It is a 20-minute motorized boat ride from barangay Tanao situated four kilometers from the poblacion. It is this town’s only island attraction, a perfect snorkeling and swimming area for visitors. Motorized boat service is convenient and economical. The island barangays of Concepcion, Estancia and Carles serves as backdrop of this island. Its turquoise waters and sunshine make it a perfect adventure destination.
The municipality of San Dionisio is an ideal get-away from the hustle and bustle of Iloilo City. It offers a different kind of adventure. It is situated in an area with a panoramic site which makes it an interesting place to visit. Viewed from its Municipal Hall, the town is a combination of beauty and tranquility as it is set against a backdrop of blue seas, clear skies and lush landscapes. The town remains as the undiscovered gem of Iloilo.
The Fourth-Class municipality of San Dionisio is situated in the eastern side of the province. It is 111.8 kilometers away or around two hours and thirty minutes drive fro Iloilo City. It is bounded in the north by the town of Batad; in the west by the town of Sara; in the south by the town of Concepcion, and; east by San Dionisio Bay. It has a total land area of 12, 677 hecatres that is politically subdivided into 29 barangays.
San Dionisio is populated by 38, 775 (2015 Census on Population) San Dionisionons. Market day is every Friday. It annually celebrates its Religious Fiesta every 5th of May in honour of St. Voincent Ferrer.
To get there, visitors can take can take the bus at the new Ceres Terminal, Barangay Camalig, Jaro Iloilo City.
In 1877, the Spanish recorded a settlement called Lakdayan. A native leader of the community was identified as a sertain Dionisio. After this modest and humble fisherman the Spaniard changed the name of Lakdayan to San Dionisio. However the Patron Saint indicated by the Spaniards was St. Vincent Ferrer, the town’s patron up to the present.
The Spaniards established a seat of government in Concepcion and San Dionisio was part of the said municipality along with Sara. The head of the local government of Concepcion was called Kapitan while the subordinate leaders in San Dionisio were called Teniente and Cabezas de Barangay. Later, when Sara separated from Concepcion, San Dionisio became a part of Sara.
Prominent citizens from San Dionisio and Concepcion worked hard for the separation of San Dionisio from Sara. In 1920, the officials endeavoured in Manila to make San Dionisio a separate municipality.
SUA BEACH in Barangay Sua is known for its scenic shoreline measuring about 1,500 meters. It can be a popular spot for water and jet-skiing, wind surfing, sail-boating and swimming. It is protected by the mountains of Malpal in the north and Opao in the south-western side. It has a string of accommodation establishments where visitors can dine and stay overnight.
LACDAYAN and MATAGDA ISLANDS are formed during high tides. Lacdayan is about 14, 311 square meters in area and has some perennial trees cooling its surrounding; while Matagda is round in shape and is about 10, 816 square meters in area.
PANAAD is celebrated every frist week of May. Derived from a Hiligaynon word Panaad or pledge or vow, it is a celebration of thanksgiving for the blessings received from God through the intercession of St. Vincent Ferrer, the town’s patron. The community became witness to the many miracles brought about by the intercession of their Patron Saint especially during the colonial period. The centrepiece is the tribal dance presentation that focuses on the rich culture of the town.
Exotic mountain ranges and lush vegetation, genuine rural hospitality and scenic drives: the municipality of Sara has all the makings of a memorable holiday. The town is actually a fine mixture of sightseeing and to do activities. The town welcomes travelers with happiness.
The Second-Class municipality of Sara is situated in the northeastern paortion of the province. It is 97 kilometers or a two hour and twenty-five minutes ride from Iloilo City. It is bounded in the north by the province of Capiz: in the east by the towns of San Dionisio and Concepcion; in the south by Ajuy; and, in the west by Lemery. It has a total land area of 18, 300 hectares that is politically subdivided into 42 barangays.
It is populated by 52, 631 (2015 Census on Population) Saranhons. Market day is every Mondays and Saturdays. It annually celebrates its Religious Fiesta every 24th of June in honour of San Juan de Bautista.
To get there, visitors can take can take the bus at the new Ceres Terminal, Barangay Camalig, Jaro Iloilo City.
What used to be a small native settlement on the banks of Aswe River the Austinian Fathers founded the barrio of San Juan under the patronage of St. John the Baptist, whose feast is celebrated on the 24th of June.
Cholera ravaged the barrio in 1870 and many of the afflicted were cared by no less than the sister of the parish priest Fray Paulino Diaz. Upon the advice of this lady, thye barrio was relocated farther inland away from the river bank to prevent another epidemic from happening.
When the barrio became a pueblo in 1877, San Juan was renamed Pueblo de Sara after the selfless sister of the parish priest. Later on it became a regular parish in 1895 with Fray Paulino Diaz as curate. Formerly a small land, a simple barrio called San Juan, Sara was transformed into a prosperous town, rich and aesthetically urbanized through the indefatigable efforts of its frist parish priest and his dedicsated sister named Sara.
SAN JUAN FALLS is located 6.2 kilometers from the town proper. It is a series of falls and pools located in a valley of lush vegetation.
MASSKARA SA SULAY BASYA is celebrated every 3rd week of June in honor of Saint John the Baptist. This festival is celebrated with water, the key element in baptism. Sulay is the Hiligaynon word for getting wet usually under the rain or any gushing water, and Basya means to intentionally douse water on someone or group of people.
The centeroiece of the celebration is the tribal dance competition where performers wear masks, brightly-colored costumes and dance to the pulsating samba beat. The merriment ends with the community observing the tradition of dousimng everyone with water using a tabo or water dipper, others have water guns. A firetruck is on standby in one corner to make sure everyone gets wet. By allowing oneself to get wet, devotees hope to receive blessings and the community have bountiful harvest in their farming.
Endowed with bounties of nature; the municipality of Concepcion, represents one of the finest destinations in the entire province. The town is one of the more popular island destinations in Iloilo where dreams of sun-drenched, palm-fringed tropical beaches are turned into exotic and romantic realities. With so many stretches of beautiful island beaches with kilometers of white sands, there will always be one perfect place for you to lie back, relax and enjoy in the island.
Concepcion is also locally significant due to its rich biological diversity. It has Live Coral covers, Tabon birds, Watching-Bread Sea Eagles, Sabalo (mother milkfish), seven (7) Enfangered Species of Giant Clams, Sea Turtles, Dugong or Sea Cow, rare wild orchids and wild monkeys or Philippine Macaque.
The town has 16 islands, namely Agho, Bago-abo, Bago-Isi Chico or Bagosipol, Baliguian, Bocot, Botlog, Bulubadiangan, Clebra or Bago-alas, Danao-Danao, Malangabang, Igbon, Pan de Azucar, Sombrero or Botlog Gamay, Tago or San Vicente and Tagubanhan.
Nearest to the mainland is Tago (San Vicente) Island which is approximately 200 meters away from the mainland. The farthest is Baliguian, a coral reef is approximately 22 kilometers from the town center. The biggest island Pan de Azucar (considered a dead volcano) is home to Mount Manaphag rising 572 meters above sea-level. The smallest is the uninhabited Bocot Island.
The Third-Class municipality of Concepcion is situated in the northeastern part of the province. The town is 111.4 kilometers or almost a two-hour drive from Iloilo City. It shares border in the north by the municipality of San Dionisio, in the south by the municipality of Ajuy, in the west by the municipality of Sara, and in the east by the Visayan Sea. It has a total land area of 9,702hectares that is politically subdivided into 25 barangays.
Concepcion is populated by 43, 159 (2015 Census on Population) Concpcionanons. Market day is every Thursdsay. It annually celebrates its Religious Fiesta every 8th of December in honour of Our Lady of Imaaculate Conception.
To get there, visitors can take can take the bus at the new Ceres Terminal, Barangay Camalig, Jaro Iloilo City.
Concepcion was originally called Bacjawan, following the native practice of naming places after natural landmarks. The place actually means “the place of the bacjaw trees” which used to proliferate in wide swampy areas along the coast.
In 1855, during the Spanish colonial regimne, bacjawan was formally founded as a pueblo, with Felizardo Azucena as its first captain basal or gobernadorcillo. Later, the local Cabesas de Barangay petitioned the Spanish Comandante Enrique Garcia to change the name of the town from Bacjawan to Concepcion, in honor of the first born daughter of Capitan Azucena.
In 1895, the town became officially known as Concepcion, and recognized as a political subdivision of the national government. Today, two adjoining barangays west of the poblacion still carry the name Bacjawan.
Concepcion was the seat of the sub-Province of Northern Iloilo in 1872 – 1899 which comprised of the towns of Banate, Barotac Viejo, Ajuy, Sara, San Dionisio, Estancia, Balasan and Carles.
TAMBALIZA ISLAND also known as Pan de Azucar Island is the largest of all Concepcion islands. Located seven (7) nautical miles from the town center covers the barangays of Tambaliza, Macatunao and Taloto-an. It is characterized by cliffs. It is surrounded by green areas with its centrepiece, Mt. Manaphag, categorized as a dead volcano, rises 572 meters above sea-level. It is ranked 127th highest mountain in the country according to Peakery Data. Popular in the area is the Hampangan Rock in Barangay Tambaliza that offers natural inland picnic grooves and a scenic hike to its Station of the Cross. Lumpatan Rock in Barangay Macatunao is ideal for diving and swimming.
BAGO SIPOL or CHICO ISLAND located 7.2 miles east from the town proper is a perfect oasis for anyone who is looking for complete isolation and relaxation. Measuring four (4) hectares, it is one of the least-visited island beaches in the area with its gorgeous white-sand and crystal clear water. It is impossible for visitors not to feel relaxed in a place filled with so much serenity.
SPANISH CANNONS are historical artefacts situated at the front of the Municipal building. A SPANISH WELL is found in Barangay Agnaga.
AGHO ISLAND located in Barangay Igbon 7 nautical miles northeast from the town center is considered one of the most popular island beaches of Concepcion. This eight (8) hectare `island is one of the few uninhabited islands with extensive creamy-white sand beach area and s sprawling coral reef.
BULUBADIANGAN ISLAND located 5 nautical miles east from the town center is known for its beautiful panoramic view with the longest sandbar in all of the islands in Concepcion. It is one of the most-visited and photographed island beaches in the province.
BASIAO ROCK FORMATION located in Danao-Danao Island is known for its wind-carved rocks and natural pools.
MOUNT APITONG rising 473 meters above sea-level is one of the the three (3) sites of the Voice of America (VOA) in Panay Island that linked the Philippine Guerilla and the United States Armed Firces.
COMPOUND OF NORTHERN ILOILO POLYTECHNIC STATE COLLEGE is a former site of the headquarters of the Spanish Commandancia of the defunct Sub-Province of northern Iloilo.
TAMPISAW is celebrated every 3rd week of April. It was coined from a Hiligaynon term Tampisaw or “to frolic” or “playfully wade in the water.” It is a three day festivity that coincides with the annual Earth Day Celebration—celebrated in almost 192 countries across the globe, the event is to increase awareness and appreciation of our natural environment.
The LGU had worked in partnership with other organisations to support community programs which promote conservation. Many actions are being taken to prevent pollution especially at their island beaches, with the local government tackling sources of pollution in a range of ways.
The fishing and agricultural town of Ajuy is quite a remote area although it has popular island beaches that remain a site with minimal disruption. Locals usually find that the island beaches are enough of a reason to visit the area all by itself. It has popular restaurants and scenic mainland resorts and its own share of historical attractions.
Regardless who you are visiting while on vacation in the island or mainland, with friends, your family or as a couple, you will truly enjoy the beauty and the things you do here. And if you want a break from the beautiful island beach experience, there are a number of mainland attractions and things to do.
The Second-Class municipality of Ajuy is situated in the northern portion of the province. It is 91.9 kilometers away or a two-hour drive from Iloilo City. It is bounded in the north by Sara; south by Ajuy Bay; and the west by Barotac Viejo. It has a land area of 19,346 hectares that is politically subdivided into 34 barangays.
Ajuy is populated by 52, 268 (2015 Census on Population) Ajuynons. Market day is every Sunday. The town celebrates its annual Religious Fiesta every 10th of September in honour of San Nicolas de Tolentino.
To get to Ajuy, busses are available daily at the new Ceres Bus Terminal in Barangay Camalig, Jaro, Iloilo City.
Folk history posits the municipality of Ajuy started as a small settlement established by the early Malayan immigrants on the northern side of the Gubaton River near the present site of Barangay Lanjagan.
The natives originally called it “Aswe.” Based on folk history, it is said that during the Spanish time, a Spaniard who was assigned to list the names of coastal villages in this part of the province, came to Aswe where he met a native who was gathering wood. The stranger asked for the name of the settlement. The native did not understand what the stranger was asking thought he was inquiring about what he was gathering and so he answered, “kahoy.” And so the Spaniard noted down the word “Ajoy” which was later changed to Ajuy, the present official name of this town.
Ajuy was formerly a part of the town of Sara and became a separate full-fledged municipality in 1917.
BARANGAY PEDADA is a small and rich community of mangrove forest with an estimated 42.5 hectares. Worldwide, more than 70 species of mangroves exist. Around 35-40 species are found in the Philippines; and 29 of it are found in Barangay Pedada.
TERRA VERDE FARM AND FOREST PARK is a remnant of an old Hacienda in Barangay San Antonio converted into an inland resort designed to inspired visitors by its surrounding lush and green scenery. The facilities and the amenities blend perfectly with its natural environment surrounded by lush trees, established landscaping, and an ever-so-peaceful environment.
It promises to its guests a unique and comfortable stay. The calmness of nature and the soothing landscapes of the nearby areas make one’s stay an unforgettable one. The resort offers a wide variety of leisure and recreational facilities to its nature visitors. Fishing, camping, paddling, cycling, nature walks and picnic areas are just a few of the many recreational opportunities to be enjoyed when in the resort.
MARBUENA BEACH RESORT in Binongan-an Island is a beautiful holiday destination especially in the bright sunlight of summer. There are plenty of things to do. Activities include sailing, fishing and scuba diving and trekking. You can beach-hop your way down the Island situated seven kilometers from the poblacion. It boasts of white sand surrounding the island; home to birds and fruit bats; and perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling.
NASIDMAN ISLAND offers a place for relaxation, land and sea playground and fishing. There are residential units clustered in the northern portion. Easy motorized boat access of almost 30 minutes motorized boatride from Culasi Wharf makes this among the favorite location when visitors would want to enjoy one of Ajuy’s the best in terms of water, sand and hospitality.
Nasidman is also rich in marine life. It has a Marine Protected Area that is slowly becoming a major attraction for water activities such as snorkeling, paddle boating and diving and promoted continuously by the locals. A holiday weekend is also definitely more fun with friends and families. The island is also a perfect place to witness Tabagak-drying and buy some to bring home. It is only 500 meters away from Calabasa Island.
ISLA BIDA in Barangay Pantalan-Nabaye, Sitio Binongan-an, is a great beach experience that very few people find. It is a small sheltered hidden gem and a magical spot for a dip and a picnic. This is a perfect destination for those of you who want to find a beautiful secluded island, far from the crowds, and the frenetic city life.
CALABAZAS ISLAND commonly called “Parola” has a functioning lighthouse managed by the Philippine Navy. It houses the 1884 Parola or Lighthouse known to the Second Oldest Lighthouse in the country. Tourists can spend a good time swimming, snorkelling, fishing, boating or for just a simple respite.
BAY-ANG POINT in Barangay Peninsula has a clean beach with smooth stones instead of sand thus making its waters crystal-like clear. It is an ideal place for swimming, fishing, skin diving, boating snd solitude.
PANALIKDIKON FALLS is situated in Barangay Tipacla four kilometres away from the town center. It has a cool environment and clean water for swimming and areas for picnic.
TAMBOBO is celebfrated every 2nd week of September. Derived from a Hiligaynon word tambobo or a structure from storing agricultural products such as grains, it celebrates the abundance of harvest of crops and the bounties of the seas with series of special events daily for the whole community to enjoy.