Patno˝gon is one of the eight municipalities located in the central part of Antique Province. It is exactly 25 kilometers away from the provincial capital of San Jose de Buenavista,
and 122 kilometers away from Iloilo City. It came under the Spanish colonial
administration in 1762, but has a
history that predates the arrival of the Spaniards.
original settlers were Maghats, who called their settlement Catuayan.
They had their own religious cult, based around the Supreme God Bulalacao. Their
High Priest was called Ba˝got-banwa. The Maghats were reputed to have
a harsh and cruel justice system, which was carried out with efficiency and impartiality.
present town was named after o˝gon or thorn that a barefoot. Spanish priest
from neighboring Bugasong stepped on along the bank of the Catmon (Patno˝gon)
River. The Maghats were initially hostile
to the Spaniards, but both slowly found common cause against the predatory raids of Moslem pirates.
is located at the northern portion of Antique Province. It is roughly
86 kilometers away from San Jose de Buenavista, and 88 kilometers away from Kalibo, the provincial capital of Aklan Province.
The old town
of Culasi was originally in Lipata Point, but was relocated inland due to the constant raids of Moslem pirates during the
18th century. Culasi was a hotbed of rebellion during the Spanish colonial period, requiring the town to be placed under
military administration from 1735 up to the arrival of the Americans in 1900.
at the base of the majestic Mount Madja-as, which, at more than 6,000 feet, is the highest peak in Panay. The
mountain is ideal for trekking and camping. It has one of the last remaining virgin rainforests of the region, still
sheltering wild board and rare orchids.
the colonial period, Spanish authorities
noted that the forests contained much-coveted hardwoods like the molave, lumati, lawaan,
maguilumboy, janla-atan, ogjayan and jaras. Madja-as is not an easy ascent, and it
may take two to three days to make the trip from the base at Barangay Flores
to the top and back. But if a trekker braves the hazardous
tree-topped mountain trails and blood-sucking leeches, he or she will be rewarded
with breathtaking views of the provinces outlying islands and the verdant plains
of central Iloilo. Local adventurers
also speak of the mountain's 14 waterfalls and many hidden lakes.
The intrepid trekker may just bump into the rare spotted deer and cloud
rat which inhabit the rainforest. Or even get to chat with an Ati (aboriginal Aeta), who could tell him or her that Aninipay was the name his ancestors originally gave Panay Island, long before the arriviste Malays changed it to
Madja-as. Or, perhaps, even get to hear the ancient tale
of how the giants Labaw Danggun, Huma-dapnun and Dumalapdap became overlords of the island with Labaw
Danggun ruling Irong-irong (Iloilo), Humadapnun ruling Hamtik (Antique) and Dumalapdap
from Madja-as is the mighty Tibiao River. During the rainy season, the river becomes a raging torrent that runs wild about 20
kilometers to the sea. Because
the river snakes its way down the mountain through numerous narrow and rocky passages, its many challenging
drops and rapids make it a natural site for white-water kayaking.
Just off the shores of Culasi are the islands af Mararison, Batbatan and Maningning.
These three islands and their
underwater reefs protect Culasi's coastline from the open sea of the East Cuyo
Pass. Historically, the three islands, together with the outlying Semirara and
Boracay islands, formed part
of the encomienda of Pandan in Panay in the late
16th century. The province of Antique
was then divided into two encomiendas, one in the south whose center was in Hamtik, and another in the north whose
center was in Pandan. These were
initially held by Francisco de Rivera and Gabriel Colindres, although the conquistador and governor-general
Miguel Lopez de Legazpi gave Hamtik to Diego Jimenez in 1570.
Culase˝os, however, have their own interesting stories on the origins of Mararison (haughty, disobedient one), Batbatan (talkative,
disrespectful one) and Maningning (shining, beautiful one). One particular legend talks of how these three islands were actually beautiful sisters who were punished by an angry god/father, who continues to keep them under his immortal watchful
eye from the heights of Madja-as.
legends are not wrong: the islands are indeed beautiful. Nearest to the coast
and the most accessible is Mararison (or Maralison, depending how the name slides
on the tongue), and it is visible from the sandy shores of Culasi. It is possible
to even swim to the island, to test one's skill and endurance, as some brave
and hardy locals have done. This option, though, may require a dose of
courage, as a curious bagis (shark) or two may be encountered along the way.
Mararison is quite small and easily covered by foot. Every visit is made memorable by its calm and crystal-white waters as one approaches the island. Looking down from the boat, it
is possible to see the wide variety of tropical sea life as if one were viewing it from a clear glass aquarium. On shore, a short walk from the beach, is a cave that can be
explored -- that is, if one is willing to put up with the scents left behind by the resident bats. Another of the island's interesting residents is the pitcher
plant. Those tempted to bring one back to the mainland are advised not to, lest
the tempestuous seas are incited to capsize one's boat for disrespect and thievery. But local legends aside, Mararison is ideal for a quick swim and barbecue, or just
to snorkel one's problems away.
Further away from Mararison is the island of Batbatan. This island is well-documented in old Hispanic
records, where its inhabitants raised wheat and produced wax. The island is still
sparsely inhabited, but the main source of income by the residents nowadays comes
from fishing. Like Mararison, Batbatan is fringed by a beach where one will find
the ripple in the waves and the salty breezes soothing to the soul.
farthest of the island sisters is Maningning. It is roughly a two-hour trip on
the open sea from mainland Culasi. From an angle, it looks like a slice of cake
lying sideways on a plate of deep blue, with its lighthouse a solitary candle. The lighthouse is located on the highest point of the island and was built
decades ago to warn passing ships of the treacherous reefs offshore. From here, one can look out to the blue eternity. Beyond this
point is the Sulu Sea and then the island province of Palawan, which separates it from the South China Sea. Maningning lives up to its name. For aside from its quiet white beach, its seabed is replete with colorful reefs. Some
portions show damage from blast fishing, but the island's deep waters and strong
currents have providentially protected this vibrant world, leaving most of it untouched by man's ignorance and greed. Deep-sea enthusiasts are now promoting
Maningning as a world-class diving destination, though curiously, the island is named as Maniguin
in various international guide books. Perhaps a case of outsiders having problems with the vernacular?
Somehow, Maningning still remains the better, more proper melodic and romantic name to this charming lady of the high seas.
Lucky divers who have explored the depths of the island hae been enchanted by the wide diversity of exotic tropical species
in its waters like green sea turtles, manta rays and hammerhead sharks.