THE MANY FACETS OF ANTIQUE

BINIYARANSan Jose, Antique, May 28, 2003 -- Clear waters, white beaches, ample 
sunshine and just about 15 minutes away by boat from the nearest town ... 
plus an unfamiliar greeting of "Krruhhay!"

Nope, this definitely ain't Boracay. In fact, unlike Boracay, the 
white-sand islands of Antique offer more secluded getaways as most have yet 
to be explored and their potentials as new vacation spots tapped.

Mararison island, some four kilometers off the coast of Culasi offers long 
stretches of beaches perfect for just loitering under the sun and acquire 
that much desired tan. Those interested in fishing would also find a haven 
in this island which boasts of an abundant and diverse marine life. 
Visitors must however remember to bring other essentials because being 
relatively unexplored, the island has no shops yet.

About eight kilometers from Mararison is Batbatan island, a favored dive 
spot whose shoreline is dotted by mounds of soft greenery, natural coves 
and anchorages. Caluya island offers similar attractions for swimming, 
snorkeling and spear fishing while the privately-owned Phaidon beach has a 
view of the mountains just as ideal for swimming and sunbathing.

But for those who prefer stay inland, Antique boasts of several waterfalls 
from the red-tinted waters of the "Pula Water Falls" in Remigio to the 
seven-basin falls of Kipot Falls and the 100-foot falls Kalamasag Falls 
both in Culasi. Falls could reach as high as 150-feet like the Bugtong Bato 
Waterfalls in Tibiao and as low as 50-feet like the Macalbag waterfalls in 
Barbaza which has several unexplored caves.

For mountain climbers, Antique showcases 2,117-meter-high Mt. Madia-as 
where different species of flora and fauna, rare orchids and wild deer and 
boar can be found. Like the other mountains in and around the island Mt. 
Madia-as also has a lagoon and rain forest. Estaca Hill in Bugasong, though 
much smaller at only 200 feet, offers a great view of the sea and hills. It 
is the site of an old watchtower that was once used to warn natives of 
Muslim pirates. Marble Mountain in Pandan offers marble deposits of 
different colors. Cresta de Gallo mountain in Anini-y has a peak shaped 
like a rooster's crown.

For those into spelunking, there is Tiquis cave in Tibiao located near 
Manglamon beach; Maanhit Cave in Libertad, a bat habitat rich in guano; and 
natural hot springs such as Sira-an Hot Spring and the Malumpati Health 
spring and Tourist Resort.

The province, particularly the Semirara Island, also holds the second 
largest deposit of coal in the country. It also serves as a sanctuary for 
different avian species like the hornbill and Serpent Eagle. The largest 
flower in the world, Rafflesia, and smallest banana can also be found in 
this province.

But apart from its vast natural resources, Antique Gov. Gov. Salvacion 
Perez said the 252,000-hectare province has a rich culture and history. In 
fact, several old churches and houses still stand as silent witnesses to 
history. A number of them however are in dire need of restoration and 
maintenance while some are on the verge of being lost for good.

But Gov. Perez stressed that this rich heritage is not being forgotten and 
is in fact honored at the annual Binirayan Festival which commemorates the 
landing of the 10 Malayan Datus led by Datu Sumakwel in Malandog, Hamtic in 
the middle 13th century and the start of the first Malayan settlement in 
the country.

Binirayan was initiated by the late governor Evelio Javier in 1974 who felt 
that instead of being just an event of revelry and feasting, the festival 
should serve as a symbol of every Antiqueños "journey to their past, their 
roots and lost glory."

Marikudo, the chief of the Ati and original settlers in Malandog, was said 
to have bartered the Panay island for a golden salakot and necklace. The 
Ati then chose to live in the mountains and left the poblacion and their 
rich farmlands and seas after the gold items were given by the Datus who 
merely showed their gratitude for the warm welcome and acceptance of them 
through their gifts. It is this misconception that the Binirayan hopes to 
correct.

"In Binirayan, we celebrate our nobility. ... The barter was not a business 
transaction, but a gesture of friendship and civility, our ancestors being 
freedom-loving people. ... Out of generosity, the noble Ati chieftain 
accommodated the Malays and shared with them our land," Gov. Perez said.

The festival is comprised of several activities like the Pasundayag Trade 
Fair where Antique "showcases its best" in terms of local products like 
woven hats, fans, bags and cloths, gemstones and shell accessories and food 
products and other produce; an arts exhibit for local talents whose 
expertise are in paintings and sculptures; a Mardi-gras and ati-ati 
competitions; the Kasadyahan or street dancing; the Lin-Ay Kang Antique 
beauty pageant; and Bugal Kang Antique achievers awards.

The highlight of this festival, however, is the Biray (to land in the local 
dialect), a fluvial parade of colorful vintas or small ships similar to the 
ones used by the "boat people" of Borneo who landed in Malandog. This is 
followed by the reenactment of the landing and the start of civilization in 
the island.

She adds: "Our Antique now may be a far cry from the Malanog of our 
forebears, but we rejoice in knowing that the same spirit that drove 
Sumakwel to lead his people and govern righteously lives on. Our Binirayan 
celebration aims to concretize our commitment to change for a better 
quality of life here in Antique. The change should start in us: in our 
views, in our attitudes, and in our choices... Krruhhay, Antique!" (By 
JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR, Malaya)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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