One of the very first things people notice about the Santa Catalina de Alejandria Parish Church is the life-size statues of the 13 apostles perched on the columns of the structure’s fenced patio.
Another is of a similar sculpture of the fourteenth apostle, the betrayer Judas Iscariot, standing apart on a pillar near the rectory.
Construction of the present-day Carcar Church started in 1860 under the supervision of then parish priest Fr. Antonio Manglano, according to Balaanong Bahandi, a book on the heritage churches of the Cebu Archdiocese.
It was only in 1875, though, that the structure was completed under Fr. Manuel Fernandez Rubio, who was also credited with building the church rectory of stone and wood, the book said.
A relief of a different church, this one with a single belfry, carved on the door of the sacristy and a bell dated 1810 suggest another stone structure had stood on the site of the current one in the early 19th century, said the Balaanong Bahandi.
This undated archival photo shows a funeral cortege leaving the St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Carcar. (Photo provided by Carcar City Government)
Fr. Felipe Redondo, in his book Breve Reseña published in 1886, described the present-day church as made of mamposteria or cut stone, with three naves and roofed with tiles, and two bell towers incorporated in the facade.
The Carcar Church has a rectangular floor plan with a main nave and two side aisles. Its facade is divided into segments by cornices, and the pediment flanked by the topmost part of two bell towers.
A cross decorates the apex of the pediment and the two belfries.
Although some writers have described the Carcar Church bell towers as being capped by onion-shaped domes, their base is square instead of circular and the arch flat instead of full like those of the Roman Orthodox churches.
Balaanong Bahandi said the church’s architecture bears Graeco-Roman influences.
A massive recessed arch that occupies almost two-thirds of the facade’s height frames the main doors.
St. Catherine’s Church is well-preserved. Its retablo has been restored to bring back the original look of the old church.
The Santa Catalina de Alejandria Parish was originally established as the convent of the La Visitacion de la Nuestra Señora on June 21, 1599, wrote another church historian, Fr. Pedro Galende, in his book Philippine Church Facades. This was in the coastal village of Sialo or Siaro, known today as Inayagan in Barangay Villadolid.
Frequent Moro raids prompted the transfer of the settlement to what is now the city center, known then as Mowag or Kabkad after the name of a fern which used to grow abundantly in the area, he said.
Patron Saint: St. Catherine of Alexandria Feast Day: November 25
If walls could speak, the story of the growth of Catholic faith in Cebu would be told in the Archdiocesan Museum of Cebu. The museum was opened in 2006 to serve as an instrument for Christian evangelization through its exhibits and events. Built in the mid-1800s, the structure is a fine example of an arquitectura mestiza made of coral stone blocks, timber and clay roof tiles. This is the only ecclesiastical museum in the country that is completely housed in a Spanish-era rectory restored for use as a museum. It was formerly used as a convent for priests of the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral until the 1980s.
Every year, hundreds of visitors, including foreign tourists, come to view its collection of artifacts to learn about the religious heritage of Cebu. Students and history buffs can also join guided tours or attend lectures on special topics.
The museum houses seven galleries, an archive room, a museum shop and a lecture/audio-visual room. The exhibits include a collection of “santos” and sacred images from different parishes of Cebu, liturgical vestments, sacred vessels, ecclesiastical records, cantorals, retablos, to name a few, no longer in regular use.
The place is also a venue for book launches and art exhibits. Stage plays, musical performances and cultural and religious events are hosted in a garden courtyard. Upstairs one can find most of the exhibits, including a sample of a priest’s room and memorabilia of the well-loved Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. The museum was his brainchild.
A striking impression is made upon entering the Msgr. Virgilio Yap Memorial Chapel on the first floor. Its main feature is a silver–plated tabernacle with front panels and antique altar pieces from Carmen town in north Cebu. In the same room, pilgrims are able to venerate first-class Relics of Saints that form part of the wide collection of the late Julio Cardinal Rosales, the first cardinal of Cebu.
The museum is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. The museum offers a rich experience for students, families, and other Catholic faithful who want to know more about the mission and life of the church from the Spanish era till today. The museum is owned by the Archdiocese of Cebu and managed by the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church.
It was inaugurated on Nov. 26, 2006 as the “Cathedral Museum of Cebu”. In 2015 it was renamed the “Archdiocesan Museum of Cebu” and organized as a non-stock, non-profit foundation registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Before you now stands a strong and regal church, with its squat form and thick walls and trefoil-shaped pediment decorated with carvings of phoenixes, leaves and flowers, clamshell medallion, and images of two saints.
The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, as it is called, is a fitting ecclesiastical seat of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
It didn’t always look this way, though.
For years, it was in various states of disrepair, historian Resil B. Mojares wrote in his book “Casa Gorordo in Cebu, Urban Residence in a Philippine Province.”
The church, dedicated to early Christian martyr St. Vitalis,was established as the seat of the Bishop when Cebu became one of the suffragan dioceses of or dioceses overseen by the Archdiocese of Manila on August 14, 1595 and, like others built during the period, started out as a structure of wood and nipa, according to the “Balaanong Bahandi, a book on the Sacred Treasures of the Archdiocese of Cebu.”
Church in ruins
In 1665, when Fray Juan Lopez took over, and up to 1741, there was still no decent church, only a tabique barn covered with palm leaves, said Mojares, adding that one was substantially finished in 1786 but by 1829 it was in ruins.
A renovation in 1865 was not completed and plans to build another by Bishop Martin Garcia Alcocer, Cebu’s last Spanish bishop, were overtaken by the 1898 revolution.
According to the Balaanong Bahandi, a stone church was successfully completed during the latter part of first Cebuano Bishop Juan Bautista Gorordo’s term from 1862 to 1934.
This structure was renovated by Gorordo’s successor, Archbishop Gabriel Reyes, and consecrated in 1940 but it was destroyed by American bombings during World War II and all that remained of it was the facade.
It was not clear what year he saw the Cathedral but Felipe Redondo, in a book published in 1886, described the church as having thick and strong walls made of mamposteria (rubblework) of three yards in thickness with a cross vault measuring 75.91 meters.
He said the roofing was made of clay tiles and there was a spacious sacristy where paintings of the Bishops of the Diocese were kept, a wide ante-sacristy with a room on the upper portion for religious vessels, and a 28 meters-high, three-level belfry made of mamposteria and decorated with a clock.
When Cebu Archbishop emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal was appointed parish priest of the Cathedral in 1981, it was already the current structure minus the two side extensions.
“When I came, the structure was narrow. It was just the middle part of the current church and could only accommodate 200,” he explained.
The cardinal recalled asking the National Historical Commission in 1990 for permission to expand the church and being told he could go to prison if he would touch any part of the structure.
Cardinal Vidal said they were preparing to celebrate Cebu’s 400th anniversary as a diocese in 1995 and he didn’t have any choice but to renovate the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
“On its side near the belfry, the structure had a little side extension for baptistry services. There was nothing on the other side. It had no symmetry,” he explained, adding he had the architecture of the original structure followed in the construction of the sides.
Aside from the new exterior paint, other changes he introduced include the construction of another level as a meeting place of the clergy, addition of a pipe organ from Holland costing only P3 million, and improvement of the plaza in front of the church.
“After finishing the renovation, nobody could tell me that I didn’t do anything here to meet the growing needs of the diocese,” Cardinal Vidal pointed out.
The Cathedral, under the leadership of newly appointed parish priest Msgr. Roberto Alesna, underwent another renovation in 2009 in preparation for the opening salvo marking the Diamond Jubilee of Cebu as an Archdiocese.
Improvement involved the redevelopment of the perimeter sidewalk of the plaza, restoration of 19th century fence, creation of new courtyard, and putting in of a 21-bell digital carillon that incorporated three old ones. A big clock was installed at the belfry.
Changes to the main church structure included the installation of a new wooden retablo made of Philippine mahogany and a fresh coat of interior paint to match it and two other wooden retablos flanking the main one, replacement of new chandeliers and lamps, new wooden canopy above the cathedra or the seat of the Archbishop, refurnishing of pews, repair of pipe organ, putting in of three air-conditioned confessional boxes and new stained glass windows, upgrading and rewiring of electrical lines, and all-steel retrofitting of wooden trusses infested with termites.
This convent was built ahead of the construction of the church under the leadership of Fr. Doroteo Andrada del Rosario in 1839. It now also houses the Bantayan Parish Museum. Inside the museum are several artifacts including wooden images of saints and a wheel of bells called rueda that is rung during the consecration of the Eucharist.
Also found inside the museum is an orimon or silla de manos, a covered wooden contraption borne on the shoulders of two men that was used to bring a priest from one place to another. The priest takes this mode of transportation when called to the home of a sick parishioner.
Inside the museum is a copy of the Papal indult that allowed Bantayan parishioners to eat meat during the Holy Week, on condition that abstinence is carried out on some other days. The island is renowned for its elaborate and well-attended Holy Week procession that many people have the mistaken notion that it is the town fiesta.
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.