Religion, Christian Faith, and Immorality

Religion, Christian Faith, and Immorality

By Apolinario Villalobos


I am wondering whether those who profess religiosity based on what they practice really “understand” what they are doing. They claim that the bible contributes a lot to their spiritual development. The problem with these people though, is that, while some stick to just the New Testament, others devote their time more to the Old Testament, when the two sections of the bible are supposed to complement each other. So what happens is that, while some of them learn about the teachings of Jesus which are in the New Testament, they do not have a slight idea that the religion that they follow can be traced back to Abraham who is in the Old Testament, and whom they hear only as a name when mentioned in sermons. The ignorance came to light when I asked one Catholic Lay Minister if he has an idea on who the eldest son of Abraham is. I found out that all he knew was that Abraham has a son and that, he was Isaac. When I told him that Ishmael was his eldest son bore to him by Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, he was surprised! He even asked, how can it be possible when the name Ishmael is a Muslim?


From the desert, the Abrahamaic faith, also called Mosaic faith that also hinges on the belief on the coming of a “redeemer” spread. When Jesus came, he followed a new path along which he spread his teachings that filled the pages of the New Testament. When he died on the cross, his followers insisted that he was the sacrificial lamb for the sins of mankind – the redeemer who have finally come and did the act of redemption. But many refused to accept this, as they even keep on questioning his identity if he, indeed, belongs to the House of David from where, the redeemer should come from, more so with the allegation of his being the son of God.


If Jesus was the result of a “virgin birth” that gives credence to the “annunciation” as one of the “mysteries”, then, he does not belong to the House of David, because Mary, herself, as his biological mother does not, but only Joseph, who is his “foster father”, therefore, not his “biological father”. In other words, he is not the prophesied “redeemer” as insisted by his followers. Such question is one of the so many asked since the medieval period when the pagan Romans were converted into Christianity, and overdid their religiosity by incorporating pagan practices into what was supposed to be a simplistic way of spirituality. Instead of giving enlightenment on the issue, the early church leaders added problems, one of which is the question on “Trinity” that even widened the “schism”. Is it not immoral to keep the truth from the people who thought they are following the right path?


The “extensions” of the Church of Rome distributed throughout Europe as the 15th century was ending, was purported to be the largest “landholders” during the time. That was also the time when Christianity was forced into the inhabitants of the islands that came to be known as Philippines, so named by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, in honor of the Spanish king, Philip II. But before the Spaniards came to the shores of the archipelagic islands, they had already sacked the long- thriving Inca and other highly developed cities that they converted into their colonies, and they called the natives “Indios”. For the Spaniards, the natives that they suppressed and made to kneel in front of the cross are called “Indios” who, for them are ignorant… this is how the natives of the Philippines and America were first called, and not by their real indigenous names.


The Spanish Christian missionaries who were also fond of shouting “punyeta”, “sin verguenza”, and “hijo de puta” to the natives, did the same hideous conduct of conversion they used in South America, when they came to the Philippines, as they went into the frenzy of burning cultural and intellectual treasures, because for them those were “demonic” and did not conform with “Christianity” which for them still, was the “righteous way”. They even went to the extent of executing “babaylans” or native priestesses.


During the closing of the 15th century, the Roman Church owned practically, almost half of France and Germany, and two-fifths of Sweden and England, not to mention Mexico and other South American colonies and the Philippines where, the early haciendas were located in Cavite, Batangas, Bulacan, Pampanga, Rizal, as well as, the islands of Negros, Panay and Cebu. While the colonies in Europe were not so productive, in the Philippines, the vast tracts of land that were literally grabbed from the natives were planted to sugar cane, rice, and coconut. Today, a few Filipino families who are also into politics are “hold-over owners” of these haciendas. And, they are so much devoted Roman Catholics!…and so, exploitation goes on!


Because of  her exploitation disguised by evangelization, Rome grew splendidly and gloriously. To maintain such splendor and glory, the papacy resorted to requiring all ecclesiastical appointees to remit their revenues to the “papal curia” in Vatican. A scandal that gave birth to the Reformation movement and also widened further the “schism” is about the pope’s selling of indulgences. Imagine the pope selling “tickets” to heaven! The large sum of money that flowed into the Vatican’s coffer led to more corruption, most prominent of which were committed by:


  • Sixtus IV (reign: 1471-84), who spent enormous sum of money in building the “chapel” that he named after himself, the “Sistine”, aside from causing the enrichment of his nephews and nieces;
  • Alexander VI, a.ka., Rodrigo Borgia (reign: 1492-1503) who allegedly, openly acknowledged and afforded financial opportunities to his illegitimate children;
  • Julius II (reign: 153-13), nephew of Sixtus IV, and who was said to be warlike, notorious politician, and who also spent lavishly on art, but failed in his duties as Head of the Roman Church.


During the time, the papacy did not monopolize immorality, as there was a popular adage then, that said, “if you want your son to be corrupted, make him decide to become a priest”.

It was alleged that confessors solicited sexual favors from female penitents, and thousands of priests were said to maintain concubines. Reformists were making a mockery of the church by saying that for Jesus’ ministers, it’s always money – from baptism, marriage, till death, with such greed and perversion spreading to Hispanic colonies.


Today, in the Philippines, so many Christian ministries have sprung up in almost every corner of big cities, sporting different names and congregate in inauspicious apartment units, former offices, multi-purpose halls of subdivisions, former movie theaters, and for the richy…Cultural Center of the Philippines and Folk Arts Theater which are the projects of Imelda Marcos within the Cultural Center of the Philippines.


There is a joke today about the unemployed, but with an oratorical gift to just put up a “ministry” in order to survive out of the tithes or “love offering” from members. These followers attend the gatherings and listen to the same never changing themes about love that they fail to put into practice, as they go back to their old “selfish” ways when they go home by keeping to themselves – within the security of their homes and company of select friends. Still, some enterprising bible-toting ministers even go to the extent of using the religious book in soliciting money from commuters by hopping on to buses and jeepneys to “share” the words from the bible in exchange for money to be put in envelops that they patiently distribute. As this kind of undertaking is some kind of a money-making enterprise, those who conduct such should be taxed!


The pope, himself, acknowledges the proliferation of immorality and corruption in the Roman Catholic Church that is why lately, an external auditing firm has been contracted to check on the Vatican records. He even apologized for the abuse committed by some members of the clergy. In other words, nobody among the members of the Vatican-based church is free from the stain of immorality. Still, in the Philippines, the Iglesia ni Cristo, biggest Christian church next to the Roman Catholic, is rocked with a scandal that is undergoing an investigation. There could still be other religious scandals going around, but just get to be contained due to their insignificance, compared to the cursing of Duterte who is running for presidency during the 2016 election.


The world today is full of “habitual” sinners – “immorals” in the eyes of the “moralists”, just because these people that they despise do not attend religious services or utter curses habitually, or just simply, polygamous. Can they be compared with those who attend these so-called religious services but got no slightest idea what compassion means? Can they be compared with husbands who fool their wives by playing around with their “queridas”, or wives who squander the wage hard- earned by their husband abroad, on their kept “lovers”?


Worst, these “moralists” are emboldened by the thought that it is alright for them to commit sin because they can go to confession, afterwards anyway! ….or worse, eat the host, bread or biscuit that symbolize the body of Christ, the better for them to get “cleansed” immediately! (I read stories about pagan tribes who eat the body of their brave opponents so that such character can be made part of them).


Some of these “good” people do not even know the name of their neighbors, so how can they say they love God that they cannot see, but cannot love their neighbors who are just a few steps away from them? Is it not sheer hypocrisy which is just another form of immorality?  Some of them still, who have become more financially stable than the rest, act like horses pulling indigenous “calesas”, that are allowed to look just straight ahead, which is a manifestation of selfishness.


By the way, I do not deny that I am a sinner through and through!…please pray for me!

Historically, Malaysian kaya tayo?…kung hindi matanggap, eh di, “Aeta” na lang!

Historically, Malaysian kaya tayo?
…kung hindi naman matanggap, eh di, “Aeta” na lang!
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Kung gagayahin ng Malaysia ang pamimilosopo ng Tsina sa pag-angkin ng halos lahat ng mga bahura o reefs sa West Philippine Sea at karagatan mismo, ay kaya nilang gawin, kung ibabatay pa rin sa kasaysayan. Nakasaad kasi sa history books na ginagamit sa mga eskwelahan sa Pilipinas ang tungkol sa “Ten Bornean Datus” na nakarating sa Visayas, particularly sa Panay Island, at doon ay nadatnan nila ang mga “Aeta” sa pamumuno ni Marikudo na nagbenta sa kanila ng lupang matitirhan. Ang mga “Aeta” o “Ati” sa salitang Bisaya ay maliliit na taong kulot ang buhok, sarat ang ilong, at maitim ang balat. Ibig sabihin, ang mga “Aeta” ang talagang mga lehitimong katutubo ng Pilipinas.

Noong panahon ni Marcos, napag-alamang may mga dapat baguhin sa mga nilalaman ng mga libro tungkol sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas. May ginawa na kaya rito ang nanahimik na National Historical Commission? Bakit hindi rin sila kumikibo sa isyu ng West Philippine Sea na may kinalaman sa kasaysayan? Bakit hindi nila opisyal na ituwid ang mga maling itinuturo sa mga bata? Kulang kaya sa budget? Naibulsa din kaya ng mga kawatan ang budget nila? Yong DepEd naman at CHED, busy ba sa pag-apruba ng maraming workbook na hindi na magagamit uli?

Ang nangyayari sa West Philippine Sea ay dapat isisi sa unang gumawa ng mapa ng mundo kung saan ay nakasulat ang “South China Sea”, kaya akala tuloy ng mga Intsik ay kanila ang malawak na karagatang ito dahil may pangalan nila. Kung nakaisip ang mga cartographer noon ng “Pacific Ocean” at “Atlantic Ocean”, bakit hindi sila nakaisip ng ibang pangalan sa halip na “South China Sea”, ganoong napakalayo na nito sa mainland China? Intsik din kaya ang gumawa ng mapa?

Ang dapat namang sisihin sa haka-hakang nanggaling ang lahi ng Pilipino sa Malaysia, ay ang nagpangalandakan ng “Ten Bornean Datus”, dahil gusto lang yata niyang magkaroon ng kulay ang librong isinulat, kaya nilagyan ng ganitong kwento. Pati ang “katotohanan” tungkol sa Kalantiaw Code ay pinagdudahan na rin. Subalit ang masaklap ay ginamit pa ang kasaysayan sa isang TV series na “Amaya” kaya lalong nag-ugat ng malalim ang pinagdudahang mga pangyayari noong unang panahon. Aliw na aliw naman ang mga nanonood dahil kay Marian Rivera! Ganyan na ba kababaw ang Pilipino?

At dahil sa ugali ng Pilipino na malikhain, pinagbatayan pa ng isang relihiyosong festival ang pagdating ng mga datu sa Panay. Gumawa sila ng “Ati-atihan”, isang nakalilitong festival dahil hindi malaman kung saan nakasentro ito… kung sa Sto. Niῆo o sa mga “Aeta”. Narambol din ang mga costume, kaya nagpapaligsahan na lang sa pagka-outlandish at kulay. Bakit hindi nililinaw ng simbahang Katoliko at ahensiyang may kinalaman sa kasaysayan ang mga kalituhang ito? Dahil ba naging tourist attraction na?

Pero, para safe ang mga nagpi-festival na lunsod…yong sa Iloilo, tinawag na “Dinagyang”…yong sa Cebu, tinawag na “Sinulog”. Samantalang, itinuloy na lang ng Kalibo, tunay na pinanggalingan ng festival na ito, ang dati nang tawag na “Ati-Atihan”. Kalaunan, naging generic na rin ang katawagan, dahil basta may mga costume at street dancing, ang festival ay itinuturing na “ati-atihan”. Yan ang isa sa mga malinaw na katunayan tungkol sa ating nakalilitong pagkakakilanlan.

Ngayon, kung hindi matanggap na ang ninuno ng mga Pilipino ay ang mga “Aeta” na dinatnan ng mga datu galing Borneo, ibig sabihin, mga Malaysian kaya tayo? Ang malinaw kasi, hindi tayo Kastila, Amerikano, o Hapon – mga lahing umalipin sa atin. Ang pagkaroon ng kulay ng mga Pilipino, na kayumangging mapusyaw, o tisayin at tisuyin ay resulta lamang ng mga pambubuntis na ginawa ng mga dayuhang ito sa mga babaeng native noon kaya nahaluan ang dugo nila at ang resulta ay ang mga sumunod na henerasyon.

Malinaw ang kalituhan natin sa tunay na pagkakakilanlan ng ating lahi. Kaya sa kalituhan, madalas ayaw aminin ng mga Pilipinong nasa abroad na sila ay galing sa lahing sinakop ng ibang bansa. At, ang ganyang kahinaan din ang magpapalaho ng ating lahi kung hindi tayo magkakaisa dahil lamang sa magkaibang paniniwala sa Diyos na isinalaksak lang din sa kaisipan ng ating mga ninuno noong panahon ng pananakop. Ang katatagan ng isang lahi ay nakasalalay sa katatagan din ng tunay na identity nito. Kung nakakalito ang identity, hindi buo ang pagkatao ng mga taong tinutukoy ng lahi.

Sa isang banda, kung sa Amerika naman nakatira ang nagdi-deny na Pilipino siya, para sa akin ay okey lang…kung TNT siya!…o Tago Ng Tago! Mag-ingat lang siya dahil maari siyang ipagkanulo ng kalahi niya kapalit ang ilang pirasong berdeng pera na kung tawagin ay dolyar!

Aklan (Visayas Region, Philippines)

By Apolinario Villalobos

Aklan, which was known before as “Akean” could be considered as both the youngest and the oldest province of the Philippines. Together with what is now Capiz, it was established as the “Minuro it Akean” by settlers from Borneo in 1213. The location of the capital of Aklan was changed several times. Towards the end of the fourteenth century, the capital was moved to the present site of Batan which was captured by a group of Chinese adventurers led by Datu Kalantiaw in 1399 from Datu Dinagandan. Kalantiaw’s son, Kalantiaw III, set down in 1433, a written moral code which has come to be known as Code of Kalantiaw. The short-lived Kalantiaw Dynasty ended when Kalantiaw III was slain in a duel with Datu Manduyog, a legitimate successor to Datu Dinagandan. The new leader moved the capital to Bakan (Banga) in 1437. Several datus succeeded Manduyog, and when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi landed in Batan in 1565, Datu Kabanyag was ruling Aklan from what is now Barrio Guadalupe in Libacao.

During the time of Legazpi, Aklan was divided into five “enconmiendas” which were distributed among his followers. Settlements along the Aklan river were administered by Antonio Flores; those in the area of Mambusao, by Gaspar Ruiz de Morales; those in the present- day Ibajay, by Pedro Sarmiento; those in the area of Batan by Francisco de Rivera; and those in the area of Panay, by Pedro Gullen de Lievena.

Along with political changes, the Spaniards introduced Christianity that resulted to the conversion of thousands of Aklanons, and who, were baptized by Father Andres de Aguirre. Towns were laid out following the Spanish system -each organized around a plaza surrounded by the church, municipal building and the school. Roads were also carved from forests to connect the principal towns to each other. In 1716, the area of the old Aklan was administered together with Capiz, as one province, but with the central government based at the latter.

In 1896, an Aklanon member of Bonifacio’s Katipunan arrived in Batan to organize the local struggle for freedom. The battles fought are commemorated today by numerous municipal holidays, with New Washington’s “Pacto de Sangre” as one. Having developed an identity of their own, including a distinct dialect, the people of Aklan did not feel it right that they should be governed from Capiz whose inhabitants spoke a different dialect.

When the Spaniards ceded the Philippines to the Americans, the Aklanons petitioned for their separation from Capiz. In 1901, upon the arrival of the Taft Commission in Capiz for the inauguration of the new civil government under the Americans, the Aklan delegation, headed by Natalio B. Acevedo, presented a formal request for the separation. The request was not denied outright, nor was it acted upon immediately. As a compromise, however, the Americans promised to set up a separate Court of First Instance for Aklan at Batan, and appointed Simeon Mobo Reyes as the first Provincial Secretary.

The struggle for separation became more intense, with the sentiment expressed in the “Akeanon”, a publication which initially saw print in 1914. Aklanons in Congress filed numerous bills, such as the Urquiola-Alba Bill in 1920, the Laserna-Suner Bills in 1925 and 1930, and the Tumbokon Bill in 1934.

Aklan, finally became an independent province when the late President Ramon Magsaysay signed into law on April 25, 1956, the RA 1414, separating it from Capiz. This law was authored by then Congressman Godofredo P. Ramos who, together with Augusto B. Legaspi, were chosen as delegates to the 1971 Constitutional Convention later on. The province was officially inaugurated on November 8, 1956, with Jose Raz Menez appointed by President Ramon Magsaysay, as the first Governor, and who, served until December 30, 1959. In 1960, Godofredo P. Ramos became the first elected governor, but upon his resignation due to his intention to run for Congress, he was succeeded by the vice-governor, Virgilio S. Patricio.

The Aklanons speak a distinct “karay-a” dialect much different from those spoken in other parts of Panay Island, and the accent is likewise unique. Most noticeable is the pronunciation of letter “l” as “y”. Just like the rest of Visayans, they however, are noted for their hospitality, kindness and charm. As for culture, theirs is also of a diverse blend of the Hispanic, American, and Malay.

Being a coastal province, Aklan is never without delightful beaches to boast, with those located at Numancia and Mabilo as the most proximate to the capital town of Kalibo. For spelunkers, there’s Tigayon Cave to explore.

Around seven kilometers from Kalibo is Banga with its Manduyog hill which was once used as a lookout against the marauding pirates. It is now the site of the Aklan Agricultural College. The hill also features life-size images depicting the twelve stations of the Cross, distributed along the winding trail cut from the side of the hill. From the crest, one can have a commanding view of the plains below, as well as, the Sibuyan Sea.

The province’s past is preserved at a shrine in Batan that serves as repository or museum of historical mementos attesting to its rich past. Batan was the seat of government of Datu Kalantiaw III, author of the famous moral code named after him. At Songkolan, four kilometers from the poblacion, is Ob-ob Hill where one can have a view of the Tinagong Dagat (Hidden Sea).

At Tangalan, an hour’s drive from Kalibo is Jawili Falls, a beautiful seven-tiered falls, set in a picturesque lush surrounding of trees and palms. Going farther northwest, one can reach the elevated town of Ibajay. And, several kilometers from it is Campo Verde, the pine-covered reforestation project of the province.

The twenty-kilometer Tulingan Cave is found at Nabas which stretches from Barrio Libertad of the town to Barrio Patris of Pandan town in the neighboring province of Antique. It features clear pools and guano deposits.

Passing through Buruanga, an historically significant town, being the temporary settlement of the early settlers during the Glacial Period, once can reach Caticlan, a barrio of Malay, and where pumpboats can be taken for Boracay, a world-renown island, for its powder- white sandy beaches. Due to the significant influx of tourists to the island, Caticlan has now an airport that can accommodate flights from Manila and other major cities.

Aside from Boracay, Aklan is also noted for its Ati-Atihan Festival celebrated at Kalibo every January, although it is alleged by some locals that the original festival was held at Ibajay. During the three-day celebration, the air reverberates with the shouts of “Hala Bira!” and “Viva, Sr. Santo Niῆo”. The feeling, as one is carried by the current of swaying and dancing devotees, is just ecstatic. No word is enough to describe the contaminating emotion amidst the deafening shouts, shrill sounds of whistles and ever increasing crescendo of beaten drums. One day is reserved for street dancing competition among “tribes”, during which the different local groups and some from other provinces show their dancing prowess and colorful costumes.

Kalibo, the capital town is served by different domestic airlines, shipping lines and ferries. Buses and aircon vans for Caticlan are available for those who would like to make a side trip to Boracay. The capital town was actually, the traditional jump-off point in going to Caticlan, until the latter’s airport was finally constructed to accommodate direct flights from Manila and other major cities.

Alluring Antique and the Late Governor Evelio B. Javier

Alluring Antique

And the late Gov. Evelio B. Javier

By Apolinario Villalobos

Antique is invariably likened in shape to a seahorse and described by others as an oversized serrated hemline on the western border of the three-cornered, scarf-like land mass that is Panay. It is nestled between the bluish China Sea on the west and mountain ranges on the east. With a length of 155 kilometers and a width of 33 kilometers at its widest, Antique has a total land area of approximately 252,000 hectares. Long mountain ranges separate it from the rest of the provinces of Panay Island. It is bounded on the north and northeast by Aklan, on the east by Capiz, and on the southeast by Iloilo. On the west is the Cuyo East Pass of the Sulu Sea, part of the vast China Sea.

The province is rich in metallic, as well as, non-metallic minerals. Metallic reserves include copper, chromite, gold and silver, while the non-metallic include China clay, structural clay, pottery clay, phosphate, coal and marble. A yet, undetermined volume of manganese, nickel, gold and silver are believed to abound in the lowlands of Pandan and Libertad. Coal is found on Semirara Island.

Other than rich geologic resources, Antique is also endowed by nature with alluring attributes that are bound to enthrall visitors, making them wonder how it could have stayed unnoticed for a long time.

The Antiqueῆos, just like the rest of the inhabitants of Panay Island are charming and hospitable. They are ready with a smile that can make a stranger feel at home, the moment he steps on the province’s threshold. There is a mingling tint of races in their physical make up. While some show strong Malay features, the rest are of the Ati and Spanish strains. Their Visayan dialect, called Karay-a may not sound lilting due to its rolling accent, but the intonation is pleasant to the ear.

Antique’s own kind of January festival with a religious undertone, though, with strong historic feature is called “Binirayan Festival”. The “biray” refers to the sailboats used by the ten Bornean datu who landed at Malandag, when they escaped the tyrannical rule of their sultan, Makatunaw. Their landing site at Malandag is marked with an austere structure. The celebration has caught up with the rest of the festivals of provinces of Panay, such as Ati-Atihan of Kalibo (Aklan), Dinagyang of Iloilo, and Halaran of Roxas (Capiz).

A visitor will never be bored in Antique which is blessed by nature with mountains, waterfalls, profuse wildlife, beaches and coral gardens, not to mention the historic landmarks in practically, every town. At San Jose de Buenavista, the capital, snorkeling can be enjoyed at Comun, where clusters of colorful reefs can be found. It has also its share of beautiful beaches, such as the Madranga and Taringting, where visitors usually rest after a day’s revelry during the Binirayan Festival, held at its permanent site, the La Granja.

South of San Jose de Buenavista, a little more than an hour away from downtown, is Anini-y, with its medicinal sulphuric Sira-an hot spring, that gushes out of rocks, overlooking the Panay Gulf. The town’s Hispanic past is punctuated by its centuries-old church made of white corals. It also takes pride in its two islands, Nogas and Hurao-Hurao. The former is ringed by coral gardens, while the latter can be reached by wading in the water during low tide. There’s also the Cresta del Gallo which the locals call Punta Nasog, so appropriately named because the cliffs look like a cock’s comb, especially, when they are silhouetted against the darkening horizon late in the afternoon.

A quarter of an hour’s drive from San Jose is Hamtic, the site of the first Malay settlement in Panay. The site is particularly located at Malandag, a progressive district where an austere structure serves as the marker of the historic spot.

Going northeast on a forty-five minutes of commute on a jeepney, one will reach San Remegio, a beautiful hillside town, frequented by weekenders for its two scenic waterfalls, as well as, Bato Cueva, a cave situated on a hill. From this perch, one can have a sweeping view of the plains traversed by a river down below, and cloud-capped jade mountains.

At Culasi, one will surely be impressed by the mountain ranges that serve as the boundary between the neighboring provinces of Capiz and Aklan, with Mt. Madia-as as the highest peak. Approaching the mountain from town, its awe-inspiring “hundred waterfalls” can make one gasp in admiration.

Seen from the shores of Culasi is Mararison Island which could be reached on a pumpboat in thirty minutes. During the ‘80s, we had a rare opportunity to pitch tent on it shore after our memorable climb of Mt. Madia-as. While approaching the island, we were impressed by the coral gardens below the calm waters, so that, as soon as we have pitched our tents, we raced to them. Practically, the whole island is ringed by the coral colonies with varying depths. A surprise was the freshwater spring whose gushes can only be enjoyed during the low tide, as it gets submerged during high tide. Not far from Mararison Island is Batbatan islet with its equally inviting coral reefs.

Culasi, particularly, Lipata point is historically significant, for having been made as a temporary port for the submarines of the Allied Forces during the WWII.

Practically, the whole length of the province’s coast from Anini-y to Libertad is dotted with beaches and historical landmarks, such as the watch towers at Bugasong and Libertad, and beaches, foremost of which are those of Taguimtim, Cadiao, Hatay-Hatay, Manglamon, and Barbaza, Piῆa.

The sturdy churches built by the Spanish friars in major towns of the province have survived years of natural calamities and still are the center of the people’s activities. Virtually, every major town has one.

Other inland attractions are the Pula waterfalls and Lake Danao of San Remigio which is already known for its Bato Cueva; Macalbag waterfalls of Barbaza; Bugang River of Pandan; Tiguis cave of Tibiao which also boasts of a swift river ideal for kayaking; Sebaste’s waterfalls; and, guano-filled Maanghit Cave of Libertad. A less explored group of islands are those that compose the municipality of Caluya, which aside from the island town, are Bogtongan and Semirara, known for their white beaches, and with the latter enjoying a protection as bird sanctuary.

Near the Aklan boundary in the north is Pandan, a town famous for its Malumpati Beach and Hot Springs. It is much nearer Kalibo, though, as the travel time on a pumpboat is a little more than an hour. The late governor Evelio Javier brought me to this place for a pumpboat ride to Boracay when this internationally-renowned island was just in its virginal state. He guided me around the famous island, whose powdery white beaches at the time were just dotted with quaint fishermen’s lean-to cottages. During his lifetime, the brisk development of the island was perhaps far from his mind, because of its almost inaccessibility. He was an advocate of ecology and what I will never forget while we were tracing our steps back to the waiting pumpboat, was when he told me, “I hope this island will not be damaged by the tourism industry…” He was proud of Boracay, as though, it was within the scope of Antique, for geographically and politically, the island is part of the neighboring Aklan province. By God’s design, perhaps, he did not live long to be saddened at how Boracay looks like now. He was mercilessly assassinated on February 11, 1986. To commemorate his staunch leadership as a young governor of the province, the EBJ Freedom Park was built in his name.

While in Antique, one can always find something to do, as it is replete with varying natural endowments – from nature tripping to culture research, and religious exploration. It is this variation that made its youthful governor, the late, Evelio B. Javier advocate ecology-based tourism so that both the man-made and natural legacies can be preserved and shared by the Antiqueῆos with the world – in their unspoiled state. He must have felt the fear for the onslaught of the uncontrolled tourism industry to happen years beyond his lifetime, hence, his heartfelt advocacy. Unfortunately, his fear has become a reality….

Today, every time Antique is mentioned, what comes to my mind is the face of the late “manong Belio”, as how I called him then. He was the first governor I met who did not have any single bodyguard when moving around. He always had time to be with his people, even driving to as far as Valderrama, an inland town, to play basketball with the young farmers. Most especially, he was proud of his culture, and his Karay-a dialect that he uses without qualm, every time he had an opportunity. I just hope that his spirit will guide the Antiqueῆos so that his advocacy will live on.