Mineral Resources of the Philippines

Mineral Resources of the Philippines

by Apolinario Villalobos

During the pre-colonial days of the Philippines, only gold was mined by the natives. The precious metal was among the reasons why the archipelago was coveted by colonizers. Different mineral deposits are practically distributed among the islands and islets that compose the archipelago.

Gold can be found in the Mountain Province, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Camarines  Norte, Camarines Sur, and Mindanao; chromite in Zambales, Batangas, Mindoro, Masbate, Palawan, Surigao, Agusan, Davao, Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga del Sur, and Mountain Province; copper in Ilocos Norte, Tarlac, Zambales, Batangas, Catanduanes, Antique, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Cebu and Tawi-tawi; iron in Ilocos Norte, Mountain Province, Cagayan, Bulacan, Bataan, Camarines Norte, Marinduque, Surigao,Davao and Palawan; natural asphalt in Leyte. Nonoc island is known for its nickel.

Manganese can be found in  Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Coron Island in the Calamian group, Siquijor, Bohol, Bukidnon, and Leyte; coal in Polilio island, Laguna, Quezon, Mindoro, Capiz, Negros, Cebu, Samar, Davao, Cotabato, and Zamboanga del Sur; oil in Cebu, Cotabato, and Quezon; gypsum in Batangas; sulfur in  Camiguin Island; pyrite in Camarines Sur, Palawan and Surigao; soda feldspar in Cebu, Biiran Island, and Sarangani; phosphate in Pangasinan, Camarines Sur, Albay, Catanduanes, Palawan, Iloilo, Samar and Bohol; quartz sand in Ilocos Norte; magnesite in Davao; granulite and quicksilver in Palawan. Today, the coastline of Ilocos Norte is gashed with non-stop mining of quartz sand by shiploads.

Romblon is known for its world-class marble which can also be mined in the Mountain Province, Guimaras Island, and Bulacan; guano deposit abounds in Pangasinan, Zambales, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Iloilo and Palawan; silica sand can be found in Lubang Island near Palawan, Dinagat island near Surigao, and in Palawan;  limestone abounds in Cagayan, Isabela, Bulacan, Quezon, Samar, Panay island, Cotabato provinces, Cebu, and Palawan.

It is no wonder that “modern colonizers” salivate at the prospect of economically enslaving the Philippines, on account of her abundant mineral deposits which could be considered as “collaterals” for never-ending renewal of debts. This is also the reason why, the Americans immediately demanded the inclusion of the “Parity Rights” in the Philippine Constitution before total self-governance was finally granted.

The West Philippine Sea being disputed with China and other neighboring SEAsian countries, and the Ligwasan Marsh in Cotabato are reputed to be rich in natural gas and deuterium. With the predicted exhaustion of oil deposit in the Middle East, industrialized countries are looking for alternative sources of fuel, and the Philippines is among them.

How can the Filipino, then, not fight for his rights, and protect what are his, such as those that have been mentioned?

Mountain Ranges, River Systems, and Volcanoes of the Philippines

Mountain Ranges, River Systems

and Volcanoes of  the Philippines

By Apolinario Villalobos

For the Filipinos, it is important to have a bird’s eye view of their country for better understanding and appreciation. For the foreigners, it is equally important, so that they will have an idea why the Philippines is called, Emerald Isles of the Pacific, Pearl of the Orient Seas, Land of the Rising Sun, etc.

For one thing, the archipelagic country is composed of more than 7,000 islands and islets, depending on the tide. The irregular coastline is about 10,850 statute miles. The Philippine Deep located 40 miles northeast of Mindanao is the deepest ocean depth at 37,782 feet, which is deeper than Marianas Deep which measures 36,640 feet. Volcanic in origin, the total land surface is 114, 830 square miles. The country is divided into main groups such as, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.


Luzon is the northern chunk of the archipelago with Batanes as its northernmost province. The mountain ranges that dominate the Central Plains are: Caraballo del Sur, with the apex located between Abra, Ilocos Norte, and Cagayan. The Caraballo  Occidental is divided into the northern and central, traversing the western area of the Cagayan River. The Sierra Madre which is known in some history books as Pacific Coast Range originates from Baler and covers Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Cagayan, making it the longest range in the Philippines. The eastern and southeastern mountain ranges, meanwhile, starts from Caraballo de Baler to San Bernardino Strait, and ends in Mayon volcano in Albay and Bulusan volcano in Sorsogon, both of the Bicol region in the southern tip of Luzon mainland.

The mountain range that begins at Tagaytay, passes through the rest of the province of Cavite, onward through Batangas, ending in Mt. Makiling. Meanwhile, the Zambales range, begins at Cape Bolinao, running along the China coast up to the Bataan peninsula. On the island of Mindoro, the sierra range starts at Mt. Halcon, forking into three, with the northwest ending at Calavite Point which for centuries has been used as a landmark of mariners that cruise through Manila Bay and Mindoro Strait, the eastern fork from Naujan Lake, and the western fork that follows the Mindoro Strait

The river systems of Luzon are: Rio Grande de Cagayan and its tributaries that flow towards Cagayan Valley: the Agno Grande that flows to Benguet and the valleys of Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, and Tarlac; the Abra River while serving as the catch basin of tributaries from the Cordillera, flows to Lepanto, Bontoc and  Abra; and, the Rio  Grande de Pampanga and its tributaries that flow towards the valleys of Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Bulacan.

Other river systems are: Magat River flows across Isabela and Nueva Ecija with tributaries flowing from the Mountain Province to Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac; Laoag River in Ilocos Norte; Abra River in Abra; Tinig River, Amburayan River, and Chico River in Mountain Province; Tarlac River; Angat River in Bulacan; Marikina River and Pasig River in Metro Manila; Pagsanjan River in Laguna; Maragondon River in Cavite; Tayabas River in Quezon; Labo River in Sorsogon; Pitogo River in Occidental Mindoro; Boac and Mogpog rivers in Marinduque; and, the most famous, Underground River in Palawan.

The volcanoes of Luzon are Mt. Iraya in Batanes, Taal in Batangas, Banahaw in Quezon, Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon, and Mayon in Albay. Mt. Mayon has erupted more than 30 times since 1615; Taal, the smallest volcano in the world has erupted about 30 times, as well, with the most destructive in January 30, 1911 which killed more than 1,300 people, and its last eruption occurred in September 3, 1976.


Negros island is partitioned by a mountain range with northwest to southwest orientation with the protrusion of Mt. Kanlaon as the highest, and the rest are:  Mt. Razor, Mt. Silay Mandalague, and Mt. Malapantao. Panay Island has a north to south orientation of a mountain range that separates Iloilo, Aklan and Capiz provinces from Antique, and with Mt. Madjaas as the highest peak, with the rest: Mt. Agudo, Mt. Lantuan, Caniapasan, Mt. Malinao, Mt. Nangtud, Mt. Nausang, and Mt. Usigan.

The river systems of Visayas are: Panay River in Pan-ay, Sibalom River in Antique, Suaque River in Iloilo, Bago River in Negros Occidental, Mabanga River in Bohol, Ulut and Catubig rivers in Samar.


The four mountain ranges of Mindanao are: Surigao mountain range that follows the outline of the Pacific coas; Butuan range that serves as the water shed of the Agusan River on the east, and Pulangui river on the west; the Mt. Apo range located in the central and western portion of the island; and the western range, from Iligan Bay up to the shores of Basilan Strait. In Lanao, north of Mt. Iniaoan is Mt. Catmon, while south of Lake Lanao is Mt. Butlig. Separating Cotabato and Lanao are Mt. Maraturang and Ragang volcanoes. Other mountains in Cotabato are Mt. Dinaca, Mt. Bulik, Mt. Magolo and Mt. Matutum. In Bukidnon, the two highest peaks are Mt. Kintanglad west of Malaybalay, and Mt. Kalatungan. Aside from Mt. Apo, another active volcano in Mindanao is Mt. Makaturing in Lanao.

The Rio Grande de Mindanao, fed by the outflows of two lakes, and the largest river system in the Philippines flows to the central plain of Mindanao. The Agusan River which is the second biggest, next to Rio Grande de Mindanao, flows to the basin of Surigao. Other rivers in Mindanao are: Buluan River in Maguindanao, Kapingkong River in Sultan Kudarat, Dansalan River in Cotabato, and Clarin River in Misamis Occidental. Ligwasan marsh occupies a vast tract of area in Cotabato to which some water of the Rio Grande de Mindanao also flows.

Lately, the Philippines has become a favorite mountaineering destination of trekking enthusiasts from other countries, and whose number swelled that of the locals composed of professional bloggers, students and young professionals. Among the most popular are:  Mt Iraya in Batanes, Mt. Dos Cuernos in Cagayan, Mt. Pulog in Benguet, Mt. Halcon in Mindoro, Mt. Cristobal and Mt. Banahaw in Quezon, and Mt. Makiling in Laguna; Mt. Madja-as in Antique; Mt. Guiting-guiting in Sibuyan (Romblon); Mt. Manunggal in Cebu; Mt. Kanlaon in Negros; Mt. Apo in Davao, Mt. Hibok-hibok in Camiguin, Mt. Kitanglad in Malaybalay, and  Mt. Matutum in South Cotabato. I know that more mountains, though not impressive in height but equally challenging, are just waiting to be explored, aside from what I have mentioned.

It is fascinating to know that outdoor sports bloggers do their share in promoting the sport to boost the tourism industry of the Philippines, by posting their discovered peaks as they trek around the country. Browsers need only to use the tags: “Philippine mountains”, “Philippine mountaineering”, “Philippine trekking”, and “Philippine tourism” to access their sites.

Mt. Kanlaon

Mt. Kanlaon

By Apolinario Villalobos

Roughly half the size of Switzerland, Negros Island has a topography which is basically mountainous and volcanic. From the northern end of the island, the mountain ranges cut the mainland into several portions. Aside from the volcanic Mt. Silay, the Mt. Kanlaon has figured as the other most popular peak at 8,100 feet above sea level, in fact, the highest in the whole of central Philippines. The most outstanding features of Mt. Kanlaon are the lush tropical rain forests with various types of wildlife that comprise a well-preserved ecology system in the area.

It was declared as a national park in August 1934 and has likewise conformed to the standards of an international park due to its undisturbed ecosystem with geomorphological and physiological characteristics in an almost primeval setting and condition. Its virgin forests covers more or less 75 percent of the park’s 24,500 hectares and is one of the few remaining domains in the country where significant number of wildlife exists. It is a special-interest destination in the Visayas region for birdwatchers, nature explorers, and trekkers.

Mt. Kanlaon, referred to as the “sacred mountain” of the Visayas, is alos among the thirteen active volcanoes in the Philippines. Trekking to the peak is an activity which is of great interest to mountaineers and simple tourists who just love adventure.

When I joined the PAL Mountaineering Club for a trek up Mt. Kanlaon, we took the traditional trail that started from the base camp at Masulog in Canlaon City. From the base camp, we trod on the trails winding over hills, passing through vegetable plantations until we reached the forest line. Normally, the actual trek should start at about four in the morning, just before the break of dawn, in time to within the forest line by sunrise. Trekking inside the forest took about three hours.

When we reached the rocky and steep 7,300 promontory, we had a bird’s eye view of the plains below. Trekking does not require the use of any climbing rope, but it is necessary when the climber prefers to negotiate either the rather steeper east or west face of the volcanic cone.

At the summit, I was awed by the magnificent artwork of nature as best exemplified by the geologic structure of the active crater which measures 300 meters across and descending to a depth of about 780 feet where vents emit thick wisps of sulfuric fume.

The active crater which marks the highest point of the volcano was the result of an explosion that took place at the southern flank of the original crater cone some millions of years ago. Now extinct, the crater is huge with steeper sides, particularly the northern wall which has been covered with mossy type of forest comprised of dwarf trees. Inside the old crater, a wide area, sandy and very flat as if it has been flattened by an enormous roller, serves a s camping ground for the trekkers. The locals call the flat land, Margaha Valley, which usually gets flooded during the rainy season, and becomes some kind of a lagoon.

There are small lagoons found in the forested area of the National Park, the most beautiful of which is the “Hardin sang Balo” (Garden of the Widow), a supposedly enchanted spot, as locals believe that the lagoon is owned by fairies.

Trekking to the summit of Mt. Kanlaon should be made leisurely to enjoy the sceneries and the indigenous flora and fauna encountered along the way. The forested areas, by the way, are infested with leeches.

For treks, individuals and groups as advised to coordinate with the local tourism office so that necessary assistance can be extended, and most importantly, monitoring for their safety can be made.

Negros Occidental

Negros Occidental
By Apolinario Villalobos

Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, Negros Island was known as Buglas. The Spaniards, however, who saw the island inhabited by Negritoes, called it Negros which stuck until today.

Starting as a military district during the occupation of the Spaniards, the western part was sparsely populated, with only Ilog and Binalbagan as the major settlements. For administrative purposes, the western part became a part of the Province of Iloilo with Ilog as the capital. The seat of government, however, was transferred to Himamaylan, then to Bacolod, the present capital.

Don Emilio Saravia was the first politico-military General when Negros was raised to the category of a politico-military province. Rapid growth took place in the last half of the nineteenth century during which there was a heavy incursion of migrants from Antique, Capiz and Cebu, who occupied sparsely populated districts. Sugar cane plantations mushroomed. Partly responsible for the remarkable increase of haciendas, were the opening of Iloilo and Cebu ports the ports to foreign commerce. As for the province, strategically located harbors became the site of busy days in hauling loads of sugar canes to barges and ships.

The island was divided into two in 1890, but the civil government was established only on April 20, 1901. The islanders were lucky for not having experienced a bloody revolution, unlike the provinces of Luzon. This could be attributed to the lax administration of the Spanish and the ingenuity of the Negrenses during the “actual” revolution which lasted for only twenty-four hours. Revolutionary plans which were closely coordinated with Aguinaldo in Luzon were also smoothly carried out on the island.

November 5, 1898 saw the forces of General Araneta converging at the town plaza of Bago and amidst shouts tinged with patriotism, proclaimed the “First Republic of Negros”. It was the beginning of the island’s own version of revolution which was full of bluff. The Negrenses were poorly armed, though overwhelming in number compared to the only three hundred but well-armed Spanish soldiers and two platoons of native civil guards who were concentrated at Bacolod. The governor-general during that time was Col. Isidro de Castro y Cisveros.

The Negrenses’ only armament consisted of three guns: a mauser rifle, a Remington revolver, and a shotgun. The rest were with knives, bolos, and spears. The ingenuity of Gen. Araneta made him thought of letting his men carry nipa stems to look like rifles and pull rolled “sawali” mats to look like cannons which they did at dawn. The effect was tremendous, that the outnumbered Spanish forces under Castro did not offer any resistance at all.

The bluff which probably was the biggest and most daring in the annals of the country’s historic past made Negros Occidental a free province while on the island of Luzon, lives were sacrificed and bloods were shed.

The Negrenses as the rest of the Filipinos in other parts of the archipelago had all the reasons to fight to the last for freedom’s sake. They knew the extent of the land’s fertility which is particularly suited to sugar cane. It once competed with Cuba and other sugar producing countries in supplying the world market with the sweet granules, reputed in the ancient times as the food of the kings.

Occupying the northern and western part of the island in the heart of the Visayas region, the province has an area of 774,000 hectares with 560,988 actually cultivated, the bigger chunk of which to sugar cane.

By sea, the province is accessible through the ports of Pulupandan on the west, Escalante on the north and San Carlos on the east. The northern and western portions of the province are characterized by vast plains. The rest are mountain ranges that vary in elevation. Sulphuric and medicinal springs are found in the province, but the most popular is Mambucal of Murcia. Rivers break the monotony of the coastal plain, with Silay, Ilog, Binalbagan, and Bago as the major ones.

The people of Negros Occidental, as those on the oriental side, may be called Negrenses, Negrosanon or Bisaya. A few of the Negritoes who were originally, the settlers of the island, can be found in the hinterlands. And, those who claim to be “natives”, are actually descendants of migrants from the nearby provinces of Cebu and Panay Island. The middle part of the Spanish era saw the peak of their influx and some had intermarried with these foreigners, a reason why some of the Negrenses are mestizos.

The Negrenses are characterized by their kindness and gregariousness. There’s always the presumption that those who come from Negros are rich, and this embarrases the real Negrense who is actually, humble. Very likeable, the Negrense easily trusts even strangers. Seldom can one find a suspicious Negrense. On the other hand, he will always find a way to help a stranger. A happy lot, they call each other and even strangers “migs”, a contraction of “amigo” or “amiga”, Spanish for “friend”. Eighty to ninety percent of the population speaks Hiligaynon, and the rest speaks Cebuano. Although, Filipino is taught in school, this is seldom used.

The 15,606 hectares of fertile land referred to by the natives as Bacolod is known before as “Buklod” or “Bakolod”, which means, “hump”. Governor General Narciso Claveria declard it as the fourth capital of the whole island in 1848. It was only later that the big portion of the land was planted to sugar cane, as during the arrival of the Spaniards, the natives were planting only palay, corn, and sweet potato in a settlement which was then called, “Daan-Banwa”.

The rich Hispanic heritage of the province is showcased in Castillian residences distributed throughout the province but with most, concentrated at Silay City, touted as the “Paris of Negros”. Foremost of these historic landmarks is “Balay Negrense”. Other remarkable landmarks are the Palacio Episcopal, San Sebastian Cathedra and the Capitol Building.
Serving as reminders about the rich past of the province during the heyday of sugar production, are the steam locomotives in some towns that used to carry sugar canes to azucareras.

Notable too, are the province’s nationally- recognized personas, such as Leandro Locsin for Architecture, and Conchita Gaston for music, the latter as an internationally- recognized mezzo-soprano. A unique Negrense art is well- expressed in the Victorias Milling Company chapel with a mural of the “angry” Christ as its centerpiece, a masterpiece of local artist, Alfonso Ossorio.

Negros Occidental’s enticement is not limited to its historic heritage, but also in its fiestas or carnivals. The most popular among these fiestas is the “Masskara” of Bacolod City which features colorful smiling masks worn by street dance performers. The rest of the festivals are “Pasalamat” of La Carlota, “Pintaflores” of San Carlos, and the “Bailes de Luces” of La Castellana. While the festivals have their own dates for celebration, they are showcased during the “Pana-ad sa Negros Festival” held every April in the vast 25 hectares Pana-ad Stadium. The so-called Festival of festivals, bring together all the 13 cities and 19 towns of the province in several days of collective activities that include tourist,trade,commercial and cultural fair. Exhibits, beauty and talent competitions, as well as, games are crammed in the limited days of the celebration.

For outdoor sports enthusiast, the province offers Mt. Kanlaon National Park that teems with different species of indigenous plants teeming birdlife. The mountain is the object of yearly summer climb of mountaineering groups and individuals, both local and foreign. Aside from the national park, other unspoiled natural charms of the province may be discovered, as one explores areas that are off-the-beaten trails…the non-traditional destinations, such as Cauayan, 133 kilometers away from Bacolod City. The town has its own white beach, the Punta Bulata, aside from its being the take-off point for Danjugan Marine Life Sanctuary which is a veritable dive and snorkeling spot, aside from the varied birdlife for the delight birdwatchers. The town’s picturesque Lina-on Bay offers a nice perch for a sweeping view of the Sulu Sea. It would also be nice to take a respite at the Punta Sojoton lighthouse for a view of the extent of the Cauayan coastline.

Other destinations that should not be missed because of their natural attractions are Sipalay with its forty-two identified dive sites, white beaches, and wrecks at Campomanes Bay; Hinoba-aan, the tuna capital of the province, also, with its white beaches, and Ubong Cave; Ma-ao with its Kipot Falls; and, Silay’s Patag Heights from where the breathtaking canyon of Mt. Marapara can be viewed.

The province can be accessed via flights from Manila, as well as, ports of Pulupandan, Escalante and San Carlos. For those who are interested to scale Mt. Kanlaon, arrangement should be made with the local government’s tourism office.

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.

Moalboal: Cebu’s Hidden Gem

Moalboal: Cebu’s Hidden Gem

By Apolinario Villalobos

For a strange sounding place like Moalboal which most Filipinos do not even know where such can be found, a shrug is the usual reaction. But if Europeans and Japanese divers have liked it so much that they come back year after year, then, it must be something extraordinary for a place. It is far from Cebu and the road is semi-rugged but still this exotic-sounding southwestern town of Cebu draws the interest of most foreign sea lovers.

According to a folktale, the name Moalboal came from the word “bukal-bukal”, mispronounced by a woman with a cleft palate, when she thought that a Spaniard for the name of the place, but thinking that she was being asked here where she fetched her water. Because of her impairment in speech, she told the Spaniard that that the water came from “moal-moal”.

The folk hero of the Moalboalnons was Laguno Sabanal, a warrior from Bohol who came to settle in the village with his family. It was alleged that he was protected by a prayer which in the dialect is called “yamyam”, that could deter enemies from harming him. It was tested when the village was invaded by Moros from Mindanao. He told the men of the village to throw coconut husks into the sea and with a prayer, he made the invaders perceive them as warriors swimming towards them. In haste, the Moros left and did not bother the village anymore. When he died, it was said that he was buried beside a spring near the beach. They used a tree trunk as a marker that bleeds every time someone tried to cut it.

To be exact, Moalboal is 89 kilometers southwest of Cebu City and travel time is about two and a half to three hours over semi-rugged road that winds through quaint uptowns and fishing villages. It is between the towns of Alcantara and Badian. One actually traverses the width of the island, with a chance to see coralline cliffs several hundred feet above sea level and undulating coco plantations. Along the way, there’s also the chance to mingle with villagers during a “tiyangge” or “tabo” (village market day) which is held on Thursdays and Sundays during which makeshift stalls mushroom along the road. At Barili, which is also along the way, one can have a glimpse of Mantayupan Falls.

There are seven towns that precede Moalboal. They vary from sleepy to bustling and antiquated to highly-developed. Moalboal, is itself a quiet town with an unassuming market where most of the activities of its inhabitants are centered. The concrete municipal building faces the big Catholic Church which is flanked by high school buildings fronting the Tanon Strait. Wooden houses line the roads that comprise the town’s crisscrossing streets which may be unimpressive to discriminating intruders. But the scene does not picture Moalboal in totality.

Today, the main road fronting the municipal building is named Laguno, after the folk hero.

One has to take a road westward to Basdiot where Panagsama Beach is located, to see more or rather, the “real” Moalboal. Panagsama is just a small community of fishermen who live in clusters of cottages along the white beach which is also pockmarked with resorts, most of which also offer dive packages. It Divers and snorkelers need not go far from the beach to enjoy colorful coral gardens. But the more adventurous has the option to rent a pumpboat that could bring him farther out. North of the town is White Beach (Bas Dako) at Barangay Saavedra, which is also frequented by sea lovers.

A mere forty five minutes away on a pumpboat is Pescador Island ringed by cavernous drop-offs, replete with marine life and corals. A veritable dive area, this speck of rock with a thin layer of soil is also the locals’ fishing ground.

The ‘70s which was considered as the golden years of the tourism industry in the country, also saw the rise to popularity of Moalboal whose pioneering habitués were backpackers from Europe. Simple native huts comprised the early “resorts” without electrical fixtures. Some of backpackers preferred to pitch their tents along the beach which the locals tolerated.

Today, resorts with modern facilities such as bar and restaurant, some even with swimming pool, dot the beaches of Panagsama and Bas Dako (White Beach). Arrangement can be made with their management regarding the renting of boats and dive or snorkeling facilities.

A Philippine town or village comes to zesty life during fiestas. For Moalboal, it’s the Kagasangan Festival that revolves around the corals, celebrated during the 15th and 16th of May.

Unlike Boracay, Moalboal is serenely laid back, where peace and quiet moments can be enjoyed – a deserved destination at the end of the 89-kilometer travel over semi-rugged roads. This veritable hidden getaway can be reached on buses with regular daily schedule from Cebu City. Commuters should take note that the bus they take for Moalboal is via Barili. These buses can be taken at the Cebu South bus station. Those who are in a hurry may take a taxi at the airport, for which assistance from tourism personnel is necessary. Within the locality and in going to nearby towns, tri-sikad (tricycles), pedicabs and multi-cabs are available for the commute.

Isang Pagbabalik-tanaw

Isang Pagbabalik-tanaw

Ni Apolinario Villalobos


Upang maiwasan ang sobra-sobrang paninisi sa bagong administrasyon, maganda rin sigurong rebyuhin ang mga nakaraan upang maunawaan kung paanong nagkaugat ang korapsyon sa ating bansa. Gawin ang pagbalik- tanaw, kahi’t pahapyaw man lang.


Bago dumating ang mga Kastila, may mga original nang Pilipino, na talagang purong dugong Pilipino ang naninirahan sa mga isla ng Pilipinas, kanya-kanya nga lang sila ng teritoryo. Hindi nagkakaisa sa ilaim ng iisang lider, subali’t maganda ang samahan. Nang dumating ang mga Kastila, nakapagdiwang ng Misa sa isang isla na ngayon ay pinagtatalunan pa kung yong Limasawa ba ng Leyte o Masao sa Butuan. May nag-alburutong isang datu, si Lapu-lapu ng Mactan, kaya naputol ang misyon ni Magellan. Nang dumating si Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, naipangalan sa hari ng Espanya ang mga isla – unang pangangamkam.


Naging Kristiyano ang ilang mga Pilipino dahil naguyo sila ng mga misyonaryo. May mga Pilipinang inanakan ng mga prayle – unang pangbabastardo. Itinayo ang Intramuros upang maihiwalay sa mga tsino at mga katutubo na naninirahan sa tabi ng Ilog-Pasig ang mga Kastila – unang deskriminasyon.


Nang magkaroon ng kumpul-kumpol ng mga “rebelde” sa pangunguna ng Katipunan na itinatag ni Andres Bonifacio, nabahala ang mga Kastila kaya sinupil lahat ng mga inaakala nila ay pag-aaklas laban sa kanila. Pinabaril ng mga Kastila si Jose Rizal sa Bagumbayan (Luneta) sa kanyang mga kababayang mga sundalo – unang kabayanihan.


Namatay si Bonifacio sa Mt. Buntis dahil sa pulitika, lumutang si Emilio Aguinaldo na ipinagpatuloy ang pakipaglaban sa mga Kastila. Napapayag siyang ma-exile sa Hongkong. Nagkaroon ng kasunduan ang Espanya at mga Amerikano na nagdaos pa ng moro-morong “digmaan”, yon pala ay binenta na ng Espanya ang Pilipinas sa Amerika – unang pagtraidor sa tiwalang ibinigay ng Pilipino sa Amerika na akala ni Aguinaldo ay tutulong sa upang labanan ang mga Kastila.


Nagkaroon ng ikalawang digmaang pandaigdig, iniwan ng mga Amerikano ang mga Pilipino sa kamay ng mga Hapon. May pangakong “I shall return…” kaya’t hinayaan munang magahasa ng mga Hapon ang karangalan ng Pilipinas, lalo na ng mga Pilipina, na naging comfort women ng mga Hapong sundalo. Nakabalik nga si MacArthur, subali’t hindi pa rin lubusang pinaubaya sa mga Pilipino ang pag-enjoy sa tinatawag na demokrasya, kaya tawag sa mga Amerikano ay “big American brother”, at ang tawag sa Pilipino ay “little brown brother” – pangalawang deskriminasyon.


Kinopya ng Pilipinas ang saligang batas ng Amerika, nagkaroon ng mga eleksiyon na nagluklok ng mga presidente. Lumitaw na hindi pa handa ang mga Pilipino sa tinatawag na demokrasya, maraming dispalenghadong programa. Ang tinaguriang “mambo President”, si Magsaysay, namatay sa pagbagsak ng eroplanong sinakyan niya. Ang sabi ng iba, sinadya daw na pabagsakin ang eroplano – unang manipestasyon ng “dirty politics” sa bansa.


Nagsunuran ang ibang eleksiyon, may mga kwento ng mga kandidato na ginagawan ng kaso ng mga nakaupo sa administrasyon, upang makulong dahil kalaban sa pulitika. Ang isang kwento ay tungkol sa isang nagrebyu para sa pagsusulit ng abogasya sa loob ng kulungan. Nakapasa naman, topnotcher pa! Pinaglaban niya ang kaso niya sa korte, nanalo siya, absuwelto. Tumakbong senador, umiral ang emosyong Pilipino na mahilig sa madramang nobela, nanalo siya. Dahil matalino daw, nanalo ding presidente ng bansa. Siya si Ferdinand Marcos. Nang nakita daw niyang hindi na kaya ng demokrasya ang pagkontrol sa mga katiwalian, gumamit siya ng kamay na bakal… nagdeklara ng Martial Law – kung ilang dekadang umiral. May mga napansin nang gulangan, nakawan, korapsyon wika nga sa ilalim ng kanyang pamumuno. Subali’t under control daw. Maraming proyekto ang mga naipatayo, tulad ng Cultural Center Complex, mga pagamutan para sa mga maysakit sa bato at puso, LRT, Coastal Road, at marami pang iba. Marami ring pumaligid sa pamilya… mga taga-bulong daw, lalo na sa First Lady.


Pinababa si Marcos dahil pinapatay daw niya si Ninoy Aquino. Umiral na naman ang emosyon ng Pilipino. Pinalitan siya ng biyuda ni Ninoy, na iniluklok daw ng People Power na pinakialaman din ng isang Obispo, ang namayapang Jaime Sin na nanawagan ng mga tao upang suportahan ang biyuda. Maraming dumating, nagpiknik sa EDSA, nagpista sa pagbenta ang mga sidewalk vendors dahil maraming dumating na walang pagkaing dala. Nang maupo na si Gng. Cory, marami ang natuwa dahil ang akala nila ay mawawala na ang korapsyon pati ang mga taong mahilig umaligid-ligid at tumambay sa Malakanyang. Napansin ng ilang militante sa Armed Forces ng bansa na wala namang nangyaring maganda kaya nagkaroon ng maliitang kudeta. Domoble ang napansing dami ng korapsyon, dahil nasilip ang kahinaan ng pamunuan na umasa sa mga dati nang nasa poder at sanay sa paggawa ng kamalasaduhan. Walang mga konkretong proyekto para sa bansa.


Nagkaroon ng bagong presidente, si Fidel Ramos. Sa ilalim ng kanyang administrasyon, kaliwa’t kanan ang bentahan ng mga properties ng gobyerno, kasama na ang mga ahensiyang nagpapatakbo ng mga pangunahing serbisyo tulad ng kuryente at tubig, napasakamay ng mga pribadong kumpanya na may mga kasamang banyaga sa korporasyon. Mabuti na lang at hindi natuloy ang para sa Manila Hotel. Kasama sa plano ang mga ospital at base military sa pagitan ng Makati, Pateros, at Pasig (may Global City na doon ngayon). Kasama itong mga bentahan sa hangarin ng bagong pamunuan na makasabay sa trend ng globalization na sinalihan ng Pilipinas, na bandang huli ay napansing hindi rin nakabuti, sa halip ay lalo lang nagpadami ng mga nagugutom dahil sa pagsirit ng mga presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin. Na-deregulate ang pagkontrol sa langis na siyang pinakamalaking indulto. Nagkaroon ng “open skies” kaya nagdagsaan ang mga international airlines sa bansa, tumiklop ang Philippine Airlines, hindi nakaya ang kumpetisyon. Wala ring nagawang mga konkretong proyekto para sa bansa, ang mga korapsyon lalong namayagpag daw, komisyunang kaliwa’t kanan sa pagbenta ng mga propredad ng bansa – unang pagkanulo sa soberinya pang-ekonomiya ng Pilipinas.


Nagkaroon ng artistang presidente, si Joseph Estrada, bise- presidente ang ekonomista daw na si Gloria Arroyo, propesora pa. Maraming artista ang nahirang na tumulong sa kanya kasama na yong nagpa-popular ng kasabihang, “weather- weather lang, yan….”. Hindi natapos ang termino ni Joseph Estrada dahil sa kaliwa’t kanang napansin daw na bulilyaso…na-impeach. Nadamay sa mga kontrobersiya ang may ginintuang boses na si Nora Aunor – unang patunay na nakakahila ang pagiging tanyag.


Pumalit si Gloria na nagsabi agad na hindi tatakbong presidente, subali’t bago matapos ang minanang trabaho mula sa na-impeach na si Joseph Estrada, may divine intervention daw na tumulong sa kanya upang magdesisyon siyang tumakbo na lang. Tumakbo nga at sinubukan ng mga tao, parang okey naman, subali’t sa umpisa lang pala. Unti-unting nabisto ang mga palihim daw na mga transaksyon, dawit pa ang asawa. Nang mawala sa puwesto, nagsingawan ang mga baho, umalingasaw, matindi.


Nang maupo ang isa na namang Aquino, si Noynoy Aquino, nangakong makikinig daw sa mga utos ng mga tao. At ang mga Pilipino ay aakayin niya sa matuwid na daan. Lumampas lang ng kaunti sa kalahati ng kanyang termino, naglitawan ang mga kasong kahindik-hindik! Animo sinakluban ng langit ang sambayanan…na feeling ay parang inagawan ng pagkain. Nakawin ba naman ng mga taong pinagkatiwalaan nila ang pera ng bayan…mga taong ibinoto dahil matatalino daw. Yon pala, ginamit ang katalinuhan upang mapaikutan ang mga batas! Kasama daw diyan yong mga itinalaga mismo ng pangulo sa mga puwesto! Ito na ang pinakamatinding pagkanulo ng gobyerno sa tiwala ng taong-bayan!


Hindi marinig ng pangulo ang mga utos ng taong bayan… natatalo ng lakas ng mga bulong ng mga nakapaligid sa kanya, mga miyembro daw ng Student Council, ng mga dating classmate, ng mga kabarilan sa shooting range, at ng kung anu-ano pang bintang ng media. Hindi rin niya maakay ang sambayan tungo sa tuwid na daan dahil wala pang na-construct na maski kapirasong distansiyang ganitong matinong highway o kalsada man lang. Ang mga nagawa kasing yari sa aspalto, ilang ulan lang, animo ay binagsakan ng pira-pirasong bomba, kaya uka-uka. Ang mga yari sa semento, dahil sa kanipisan, ilang buwan lang animo ay binarikos sa dami ng mga crack na sanga-sanga.


Nagsimula sa isang maliit na korapsyon, lumala nang lumala. Yan ang kuwento ng Pilipinas…ng animo ay ginahasa na ating Inang Bansa!…isang malungkot na pagbabalik-tanaw, na mas malungkot pa sa isang Korean nobela, na kinahihiligan ng mga Pilipino, na ang iba ay nagtataas ng mga nakatikom na kamay sa harap ng TV camera at sumisigaw na inosente ang mahal nilang……alam nyo na! Hindi daw nagnakaw…inosente, hangga’t hindi napatunayan! …walang nakakita, lalo na yong babaeng may piring nga naman sa mga mata! Sige na nga!



(Pasensiya na sa kahabaan ng diskurso…nadala lang ng kanyang damdamin ang nagsulat, nagka-stiff neck nga sa kalilingon sa mga nakaraan. Lalong pasensiya, sa mga gumagamit ng smartphone sa pagbasa na hindi sana nag-overheat. Nag-take chance lang ang sumulat dahil libre ang mag-post.)