The history of the Guimbalanon's struggle should be established so that the younger generations will know how their forefathers generously shed their blood for the noble cause. Its return to significance gave birth to the annual celebration of Bantayan Festival that started in 2003.
Bantayan Festival is an annual re-enactment of the battle between the natives of Guimbal and the Muslim pirates. The theatrical dance format of the presentation incorporates the prop guimba, an ancient instrument of the Spanish Panayanons that resembled a drum and is beaten by hand to send messages from tower to tower to warn the community of an incoming raid. The bantayan and guimba were instrumental in securing their area for defense and to protect their peaceful community from Muslim marauders who were responsible for the looting of many communities and capturing the natives. The town was believed to have derived its name from guimba.
This year, the people of Guimbal, headed by their very dynamic Municipal Mayor, Hon. Christine S. Garin is inviting everyone to their 9th Bantayan Festival on April 12-16, 2011 with the following series of activities for everyone to enjoy. On April 12 (Tuesday) the festival opens with a Mass at 1 p.m., Opening Parade and Street Dancing Competition at the poblacion area 2 p.m., Opening Program at the municipal plaza, 3 p.m. and the Search for Miss Bantayan Festival at the Municipal Amphitheater at 7 p.m.; April 13 (Wednesday) will be a day for the children with an Acrobatic Show at the Amphitheater at 7 p.m.; April 14 (Thursday) Boat Racing and Porma Balas at the Bantayan Beach Resort, 8 a.m., Pinta Lawas at 12 noontime at the Bantayan Beach Resort, Fluvial Parade at Guimbal Shoreline, 1:30 p.m., Re-enactment of the Moro Raids at the Bantayan Beach Resort, 2:30 p.m., 7th Bantayan Video Festival at the Amphitheater, 7 p.m.; April 15 (Friday) is a Musical Concert featuring Gerard Santos and Princess Velasco with Stand-up Comedians from Manila at the Amphitheater, 7 p.m.; April 16 (Saturday) Tribal Dance Drama Competition at the poblacion, 1 p.m., Merrymaking at 5 p.m., Awards Night and Fireworks Competition at the Amphitheater, 7 p.m.; April 12 -16 Food Festival and Agro Fair.
The prosperous and peaceful municipality of Guimbal has plenty to celebrate and be grateful of. Guimbalanons owe much to their rich heritage of the past.
In 1590, Christianization of Guimbal took place and settlements in the area became the operation fields of Spanish authorities. And just like any Christianized villages, inhabitants lived closer together forming a bigger community for local administration of the mission.
Like the rest of Christian villages in the area, Guimbal’s ancestral settlement near the sea became the objects of frequent Moro raids. Pirates attacked and enslaved Christian-Filipinos. Their invasions left tracks of death, blood, and ashes. Captives were even sold in Sandakan and other slave markets in the East Indies. Women and children hurriedly left their coastal dwellings to escape the pursuing Moros.
As Muslim raids in the southern areas of Iloilo continued periodically over the years, bantayans were built. They were built out of huge blocks of stones. This earthen fortifications were easily visible from its spot just a little way inland fro the shore.
The bantayan or Moro watchtower is one of the most valuable ruins built centuries ago. It maintains a noticeable and significant historic integrity to the people of Guimbal. It is one of the sought after attraction of the town that you should not miss if you are visiting the area. It is considered as a cultural icon of the people of Guimbal, reminding them of their ancestors who died from conflict against the fiercely independent Muslim warriors.
Some bantayan have lasted for centuries due to its remarkable strength. The ones remaining in Guimbal and that you can still see with your eyes are found in Barangays Tuguisan, C. Colon and Pescadores where one can get an unfettered and more authentic look.
The municipality of Guimbal is 29 kilometers east from the city of Iloilo. The town lies along the southern portion of the province and shares borders with Tigbauan on the east; on the northeast by Tubungan; Igbaras on the northwest; and west by Miag-ao. With a land area of 44.61 square kilometers it is politically subdivided into 33 barangays.