A Journey Through History: Panay Island, Western Visayas
Panay Island is one of the Philippines' largest islands in land area and population. Hosting 4 provinces, it is best known for Iloilo City and nearby Boracay Island. It has 12 major rivers, mountains as high as 2,117 meters (6,946 feet), and fertile land. It is also home to Piña cloth, the "Queen of Philippine Fabrics."
One interesting river is the Iloilo River running through Iloilo City. "Ilo" is short for "ilong," which means "nose." The course of the Iloilo River, charted on a map, looks like a nose.
Panay Island has a long history of shipbuilding. The island is a source of quality timber, and the locals are expert craftsmen and boatmen. They were so skilled, in fact, they impressed the Spaniards. The Spaniards then used Panay labor for building and manning ships.
Archaeology, Anthropology, and Geology: Panay Island
Pre-colonial history was oral, but Panay Island nonetheless has a rich, 800-year history. First there were the Ati, then the Malay, and then the Spanish. Panay Island hosted the first Visayan state before colonization. It's history includes Christianity's rise and an early revolt against Spain. It also hosted the second Spanish settlement in the Philippines. Today, Spanish relics make Iloilo City Panay Island's cultural capital.
Panay Island's caves offer more than the usual spelunking. The caves are rich in archaeology and anthropology. You may find objects such as stone tools, bone tools, and earthenware pottery.
Also, ask the locals about Hinilawod. It is a 29,000-verse epic poem, one of the world's longest. In its entirety, the oral history takes 30 hours to recite over 3 days.
Your Panay Island Excursion
Panay Island is near Boracay, so there are white sand beaches, coral reefs, mangrove forests, and species diversity. Go snorkeling at Gui-ob Beach, go spelunking in the bat caves, or go searching for snail shells. Attend Ati-Atihan festivals, "The Mother of all Philippine Festivals," in Kalibo, Makato and Ibajai. And, watch the Paraw Regatta Festival sailboat race in Iloilo. Other places to go include:
- Caticlan Jetty Port, the only way to get to Boracay, Caticlan
- fishponds, Roxas, Capiz
- Garin Farm, spiritual pilgrimage site, Iloilo
- Gui-ob Beach, Mararison Island, Antique
- Gui-ub Cave, Iloilo
- Jawili Beach, Aklan
- Jawili Falls, Aklan
- Langub Cave, 27-meter (89-foot) wide entrance, Capiz
- Lapuz Lapuz Cave, 90 meters (300 feet) long, Iloilo
- Lezo, clay pottery making, Kalibo
- lighthouse, Kalibo, Aklan
- Malumpati Health Spring, the Philippines' cleanest water, Pandan, Antique
- mango farms, Guimaras, Iloilo
- Nablag Cave, Mararison Island, Antique
- La Paz public market, Iloilo
- Luyo Beach, Mararison Island, Antique
- Madalag River, Aklan
- Miagao Church (Santo Tomas de Villanueva Parish Church), UNESCO World Heritage Site, Iloilo
- Naulan Cave, plus 3 neighboring caves, Capiz
- Phaidon Beach, Antique
- Pilar Caves, Capiz
- Quipot Cave, Capiz
- rainforest, Pandan, Antique
- Santa Monica Parish Church (Panay Church), Asia's largest church bell, Capiz
- Ulian River, origin of pre-Spanish name "Simsiman"
When you get hungry, Roxas, Capiz is the "Seafood Capital of the Philippines." It features crab, lobster, shellfishes, and other fishes. When in Aklan, try the Inubarang Manok chicken. Also, the Spanish name that became "Panay" means "bread," so be sure to try the bread!