Posts Tagged ‘Iloilo’

Paradiso in Iloilo

April 7, 2009 26 comments

pic2 The temperature hit 33 degrees in North Iloilo and people were hiding from the obnoxious sun rays that could curtail the dreams of  Americans in attaining a fair complexion. Yet no matter how hot the day was, the fact that summer is meant for escapades, my family decided to try island hopping in what I deem the most beautiful place at the world’s end- Isla Higante. It is even more beautiful and virgin than Boracay which I think is not worthwhile for an urban getaway.

The place was a couple of hours from mainland Carles in the northern tip of Iloilo, where you would be welcomed by white sand beaches and boobies perching on huge boulders.  The view of Sicogon Island alone could make you jump from the motor boat and savor the grandiosity where it had once been known as the haven of God.  As we neared the place of Higante Norte, we disembarked and immersed in cool crystalline waters that either refreshed my soul or healed my longing to be in union with nature. The sand was fine as silk which was fascinating for a mortal like me to experience. The place was indeed holy for the natives for most of them owe their lives to the abundance of the sea. And upon docking at the island, one would be mesmerized by gigantic sea walls engineered by divine hands themselves. You wouldn’t believe that this place exists in a parochial and bucolic place in Iloilo. Ahhh!, I say, “there is nothing more beautiful in life than to experience beauty itself! And this place is divine beauty!”


The place was extraordinary and the experience would not have been complete unless you explored its rocky mountains. My brother and my cousins trekked the rock mountain of barangay Granada for two and a half hours. And when we reached the top, Lo! The UP flag was there signifying that UP students had conquered this place before. Had I brought my marker, I would write “Uno ka? 100 Ako.” The beauty became more exhilarating when we started to sing the “Top of the World.”

But as a curious man, I didn’t limit myself in mere experience for I always wanted to know. And so I roamed the community and asked the people about the place, its origin and myth. The place was indeed fascinating as every island has its story to tell, yet people were more enamored by the tale of Higantes.

Higantes Islands are two big islands endowed with rich natural beauty. On the north, lies the panoramic barangay Granada and barangay Asluman as the fishing drop point of the island. In Asluman, you would find the most satisfying shells like scallops, diwal, oysters, budyong¸ and tuklap-tuklap which are gathered for exportation. On the south, barangay Gabi stands majestically with its wide span of white sand beach (Antonea) and barangay Lantangan on the other end which is very mysterious because of its rock formations that exactly looks like Minas Tirith in Lord of the Rings. Some folks claimed that this was once a fortress or a castle of engkantados where they have sporadically seen a golden boat docking. It had a multitude of caves and a blue lagoon inside known as Tangke. Also, there are said to be sea portals in the place where you will be transported to Masbate and Aklan. According to the natives, the caves and portals were beautiful window drapes and Turkish doors long time ago. But as time progresses and human civilization advances, the beauty of a place regresses. This only means that the ascent of human knowledge is also the death of myths.

But why Higante? When you look at the two islands from a distance, you would see forms of two sleeping giants The one is called Babayi, which is located in the south (Sur) and the other Lalaki in the north (Norte). In the between the two islands were two big boulders which were called Higantuna and Higantillo, also known as children of the giants. In short this is a family group of islands, exactly suitable for families who like worthwhile adventures. In this life, we only have a lifetime to spend, and it is just beautiful to experience a paradise right here, right now way ahead our own deaths. If Dante’s Paradiso exists, it can be found in Higantes.


P.S. If you like to evade this boisterous world, come to Higante Islands and not to Boracay. You’ll be surprised how Boracay can be more urban compared to some cities in the Philippines. Higante is completely opposite because instead of hanging with people and wasting your pocket to zero you will be partying with nature itself – crows, boobies and hawks; crabs, lobsters, shrimps; scallops, oysters and other shells; monkeys and wild cats; sea snakes and eels; rays and tunas; corals and urchins. And believe it, we only spent a quarter of our total expense in Boracay!

Tagging Iloilo

February 10, 2009 4 comments

road bumpers
road bumpers

I have been traveling every part of Iloilo for 2 months to check on the existing data in all municipalities along with the problems   in gathering, storing and analyzing them. It wasn’t easy to locate the problems in their data system unless you sit down with the department heads and excavate each process starting from the barangay up to the municipal offices. I felt that I have lost weight and that I have to compensate for the sleepless night of analyzing data and making reports. I sometimes skipped regular meals because of my erratic travel schedule s. Working as researcher for a very strict boss from ADB (former official of the WorldBank that used to handle cases like the rigged $33M project of DPWH), you have to get all the result in time or else you would have the entire malediction in life. I haven’t really regret working with him because I have learned a lot from him as well except that I forgot to think of myself and that I hardly noticed the people I love especially my girlfriend who luckily was very understanding of my job. Sorry sweetheart.

The data actually are all present within the locality however there is no system to consolidate and process these information in a centralized databank. The result is a messy setting that leaves even the investors and researchers perplexed over the data. But leave that for the moment. I would not talk about it because that would fill this whole page talking about myself and the problems that clothed me during my encounters with various MPDCs. I want to talk something I learned along the whole span of my research period. I know this may subject to some validation and that the whole panorama of the result may sound absurd, but as far as the data is concerned, numbers will never lie unless fabricated.

1.       In the entire Iloilo, Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) shrunk down at 20 % leaving all the municipalities with the difficulties in managing finance and expenditures. This is due to the contesting figures between the actual barangay demographic survey and the 2007 Census result by NSO. The disparity of statistics surmount to the loss of 8-10% of the whole population of Iloilo.  It has been noted that the smaller the IRA for the LGU, the bigger the saving of the National Government especially that the 2010 election is nearing in which the saving will be undoubtedly spent .

2.       The Municipality of the Estancia ranks as the second smallest municipality next to Pavia. Since their IRA is reduced to almost 5 million that rotted to the shrinking of demographic figures due to the unreliable survey of NSO, the municipality has to find other means to let the municipality going. The presence of the feeder port in the locality boosted their income to 50-60M annually making the locality as one of the most promising municipalities in the Province of Iloilo. However this could have been boosted more if the RO-RO operation will be transferred to Estancia instead of Caticlan which is 4 hours faster going to Batangas. If it takes a cargo to transport goods to Batangas via Caticlan in 18 hrs, in Estancia it will only take 13-14 hrs of travel. This simply means that the goods will arrive fresher and marketable. If this will be initiated and implemented, the whole province will enjoy a boost up of 9% in the local economy.

3.       In local economy, one primary driver is transportation. Since Iloilo is known to be an old city with old-engineered roads for one-way flow, traffic is very immanent. No matter how the city government constructs road networks and fly-overs to pave way to the drastic shift to urbanization, the traffic will remain a problem. Why? Every month there is an increase of more than a hundred motorcycles in the entire province which adds up to the inconvenience of the flow of traffic. The greater the number of motorcycles, the greater the number of accidents.  About more than 30% of the total accidents are all motorcycle accidents. Another factor is the increase of about 1% of the total jeepneys is put into the road every month thus contributing also to the problems of traffic system. And going to private cars, about 70 car loans are approved every month by the entire banks in Iloilo thus also causing logjams.  Naks! Late na lg ako palagi!

4.       In economic capitalization, in the entire banks in Iloilo have a total 95B deposits. About 30% of it is owned by the Chinese businessman. Another 30% is owned by the local conglomerates. The next slice which amounts to 20% of the 95B is owned by educational institutions and the last 20% is owned by OFWs. This amount is not utilized or invested in the locality thus making Iloilo as only depositing site and not and investment prospect. In order for Iloilo to make it to the level of competitiveness with Cebu, Ilonggos have to invest locally.

5.       The Province’s biggest income comes Real Property Tax. It said that more than 60% of the whole income comes from RPT. However, the survey shows only 24% of the whole RPT are collected annually. If the collection is met at 100%, how happy Iloilo should be! Yayaman tayong talaga!!!

6.   In environmental aspect, Iloilo is assumed to have water shortage by 2012. the Maasin water shed will no longer hold the ditribution of water in the increasing number of households in the MIGEDC area excluding Guimaras. About 30% of the entire supply goes to illegal connections that are most rampant in the slum areas in the city. This a big problem and the government has to track all the channel of distributions before the problem gets worst.

These and more are just preliminary results of the research. I wish to discuss a lot more but that will already be illegal in some sense as far as research is concerned. I just hope that by these realizations, Ilonggos will be prompted to help improve Iloilo.  I still believe that the biggest change starts with the individual because it is this basic unit that makes up the system. Let us then move for a change and make Iloilo “The Next Big Thing!”


P.S. I promise to write more of my realizations next time and probably will be discussing more of the beautiful side about Iloilo.


Pamalandong on Iloilo History

November 28, 2008 10 comments

aerial view of iloilo river

aerial view of iloilo river

Lack of knowledge can be daunting especially in a situation when you are caught off-guard. This is what happened to me the other day when my younger cousin asked why our place was called Iloilo. Sensing that she might have been devouring topics on the history of places such as the origin of Manila or Cebu, I asked her why she was interested. She gave me a shrug, “I was just asking.” She continued to say that nobody speaks much of Iloilo’s origins except for the accounts of Tomas Confesor, Gen. Martin Delgado and Gen. Quintin Salas and not a great deal about the history of our place per se. It was difficult for me to answer except for the few facts that have been embedded in me by my boring highschool teachers. And what I know of Iloilo is very limited to the simple information that native Ilonggos named it after the shape of the Iloilo River whose meanders resemble the shape of the “nose” or ilong. Since Iloilo is predominantly Karay-a speaking people where “L” is substituted with “R” it was first called Irong-irong. Due to the changing formation of the local lexicon which has been tainted with the incorporation of Spanish terms, the name Irong-irong was changed to Iloilo.

“Why is it called Iloilo?” is no ordinary query because a little distortion may create a big error in the future learning, thus a deep pamalandong is needed. Pamalandong here means a very deep reflection which does not limit knowledge to learning but experiencing as well. In the English language, it means “altruism” yet it connotes more “reflection.” Pa in Hiligaynon is a prefix which means “going to” or “to indulge” while landong means “shadow” or “under the guidance of.” Thus, pamalandong literally means “going into the shadow of.” Another beauty of this term is the notion that it goes with silence therefore signifying a critical analysis of the past. In delving into history, it is not just the hard facts that matter but the hues that surround the events that make it more important. One has to know the ways and the emotions to inject alacrity among the readers.

To make my point sturdy and credible, I explored the Provincial Library and the UP – Western Visayas Center for Culture and the Arts Studies. I was amazed to find good sources that could point out to this historical conjecture. However good, there is a dearth for such books which only proves that Ilonggos are not particular in their quest of history. They say that Ilonggos have lost their passion in excavating their past and trying to muster a concrete panorama of the odyssey of Ilonggo people. History then becomes esoteric stuff where it only applies to few who have chosen this line of discipline thus limiting the spread of knowledge among the people. I guess we all need a good pamalandong on this.

I realized that a simple historical research will lead to an insatiable drive for the past. In the case of Iloilo, I not only discovered that because the Spanish could not utter the “ng” well, and the “R” of the natives irked them, they dropped the former name and changed it to Iloilo but much more. But why of all things, the river became the basis of the name and not the vast plain of Iloilo that during the 16th century was blessed with booming sugarcane and rice production compared with other provinces in the entire Visayan Region? The thirst for an answer prompted me to dig more in the library. However, I couldn’t find exact answers to this except the little information I’ve gathered from few academic books. This lot led me to use my own logic in the way of pamalandong. I guess the reason behind was that the Iloilo River was no ordinary river. Unlike other rivers which root from great mountains then flow down to create a river delta, Iloilo river begins from the sea and ends in the sea. You get the picture? It is not actually a river but a sea estuary (which logically means that it has brackish water) that makes it a unique body of water. Although geologists don’t agree in calling this as Iloilo River, we could not blame our folks for their lack of terminologies. What they perceived as a long body of water with narrow borders was automatically termed a river. Estuary for the academic regards will be acceptable but will remain excusable to be called a river by the common people.

Aside from that, Iloilo was well known of its major river systems that traversed the whole province. It was through these rivers that agricultural crops became abundant and effectually put the name of Iloilo as the rice granary of Visayas. Since this land was populated by heathens, they gave the river a special praise for serving as the life-blood of crop production. That might also be one reason why they chose to name this place based on the mightiest and strangest river they knew – the Irong-irong River. Alas, there are no documents that would support my postulate because the first thing that Spaniards did when they first arrived in Iloilo was to proselytize the natives into Christianity and obliterate all practices that reciprocate the dogmas of the church. Sayang!

Despite the knowledge gap, simply because there are no adequate sources or that I have not been eager enough to look for more reference, I can never help but to give conjecture on the notion of the river in relation to the name Iloilo. According to Fr. Policarpio Hernandez OSA in his records of the past, the Iloilo River served to be a channel of trade in 1855 from Villa Rica de Oton-Arevalo to what is now called Iloilo City. During those times, Iloilo stood to have the biggest international commercial port complex outside Manila. The active relation on commerce and trade with other countries made Iloilo the host of galleon trade from Visayas to Mollucas; this put Iloilo as the Queen City of the South before Cebu took hold of the title.

These accounts only show why the river is very important to the Ilonggos and there is no wonder why they named the place in lieu of the most prominent Iloilo River. I just hope that next time somebody will asks me about Iloilo, I have a little dose of knowledge to arm myself.

Categories: Ilong-Ilonganon Tags: ,

oblation, exposed

October 28, 2008 14 comments
you have chosen UP as the right institution, but i am not sure if UP has chosen the right you

you have chosen UP as the right institution, but i am not sure if UP has chosen the right you

Recently, I had the chance to visit UP to meet my friend Miguel. It was then that I was able to breathe the same intellectual ambiance of the campus. I’ve missed everything about it. I even miss the avenue of activism in the campus where students blindly thought that the government was the sole cause of maelstrom of poverty and injustices. Though I never joined any rallies in Iloilo, I was once an active member of the student activist group in Cebu. I used to join my “comrades” march the length of Mango Avenue to Jones Street whenever a big stir happened in congress or if a scam erupted in the national government. It was a good feeling to voice out what we thought was the sentiments of the masses, and the feeling of solidarity was overwhelming that you could no longer distinguish whether your actions were genuine or mere aping. Fr. Bulatao called this a common consciousness stirred by one definite emotion like in the case of EDSA Revolution. It was a nice feeling but I was fooled, I knew. It was only when I left the group that I began to realize the blunders of activism and the maneuvering of the opposition. My friends were eager to hold me back and brainwashed me to look at the brighter side by insisting that we were doing what others are afraid of – to fight for a change. However the opposite happened. Instead of believing them, I started to loathe them, for it was easy to follow one’s principles than live up to them exactly as stated. And when you have not lived up to it, that would only mean hypocrisy; and I just couldn’t take it. Later on, I discovered what I was fighting for was not the plea of the masses but the perpetuation of some ideologues which I dare not mention.

…and back to UP. The government is pouring bigger funds this time for R&D compared to last year’s. This is good news because UP will be one of the recipients of the billions of pesos (pardon me, if I forgot the exact amount). The good thing about this is the potential of the institution to boost academic pressure among the students to delve more in R&D and to set aside the principle of activism for a while. At least, the government will have the reason to curb the growth of foolish belief among students and establish a steadfast cooperation starting from the academe. As you know, when other countries in Asia are scuttling for Science Development, the Philippines still lags in their cause for cultural change and the idea of science as a stratified phase for national development has not been considered seriously but rather regarded as a maudlin fanaticism. Maybe its time that the state university should be careful in selecting students who are willing to commit themselves to national development by studying well and by fostering the importance of research and development as the primary drive for progress. I can say this because I’ve witnessed that many of what we call “iskolar ng bayan” squander the government budget indirectly by cutting and skipping their classes for a shallow reason that passing grade isn’t earned by attendance alone. How many bright students enjoy receiving government subsidy, and instead of returning back what the government has invested for them, they themselves become the forefront of activism and criticize the government for not living up to its promises to alleviate poverty? Are they not part of this huge malfeasance by not attending classes? The government is spending much for them hence they must contribute to what they are supposed to deliver.

Ruminating on this, it is sad that some of these students who made it to UP are themselves the best examples of lousiness. No questions with their intellect, but reaping for investment is another story and we always know that there is always the time of reckoning. The government should think twice of the next batch of “iskolar ng bayan” to come in. It may not be the same, but the label “the breeding ground of activism (communism to the extent)” will linger on.

As the UP centennial celebration will end soon, many things have been discussed including its century academic excellence that prides its students and its faculties. I have no qualms to say that those bright students chose the right institution, but I am not pretty sure if UP has chosen the right students to nourish. Maybe, it will for the next hundred years. I hope.

Categories: yupi kong mahal Tags: , ,