Aklan: Visita Iglesia at Philippines’ Oldest Province
Little did I know that Aklan, originally known as Minuro it Akean, is considered as the oldest province in the country and believed to have been established as early as 1213 by settlers from Borneo. As per province’s website, their written history takes back to the middle of the 13th century when ten Bornean datus, together with their families, fled the oppressive rule of the Bornean king, Sultan Makatunaw. Barter of Panay was made between Atis(the black-skinned, pygmy aborigines of Panay Island) and Bornean datus in exchange of seeking new home. Hence, the Atis moved to hinterlands and a celebration was made. Thus, from then on, that has withstood the tests of centuries came to be known as the Ati-Atihan Festival. One of the “sakups” (districts) of Panay Island is Aklan (what was then Aklan and Capiz combined) under Datu Bangkaya. With other “sakups” of Irong-Irong (now Iloilo) and Hantik (now Antique), they united for mutual protection against enemy attacks into one confederation called “Confederation of Madyaas” under the overlordship of Datu Sumakwel who was the oldest and wisest of the ten Bornean datus.
After frolicking the water of Boracay, I went back to main island of Panay to visit the mother church of Aklan located at province’s capital, Kalibo.
The Ati-Atihan Festival was originally a pagan festival from the Ati tribe practicing Animism, and their worshiping their anito god. Spanish missionaries gradually added a Christian meaning by incorporating Santo Niño (image of Holy Child Jesus). Today, the Ati-Atihan is celebrated as a religious festival and considered “The Mother of All Philippine Festivals”. Nowadays, other towns in Aklan with Ati-Atihan Festival aside from Kalibo are: Ibajay, Malinao, Makato, Batan, Altavas, and Boracay in Malay.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Kalibo is a diocese that constitutes the entire province of Aklan in the Philippines. Erected in 1976, the diocese has experienced no jurisdictional changes, and is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Capiz.
Cathedral Parish of St. John the Baptist, Kalibo
Parish of St. John Nepomucene, Tangalan
Parish of the Holy Child, Makato
Parish of St. Joseph the Worker, Numancia
Parish of St. Joseph the Worker, Malinao
Parish of St. Isidore the Farmer, Lezo
Central Aklan Route: Kalibo-Tangalan-Makato-Numancia-Malinao-Lezo
It was such a fulfillment to visit and pray at these heritage churches of Aklan. There’s more than to see in this Panay province aside from its natural wonders.