Friday, January 11, 2013

The Historic Municipality of Miagao

photo by Jun Fuerte

MIAGAO remains one of Iloilo's great municipalities. Redolent of past glories, it is packed with memorable sights and enjoys an incomparable setting. The offer for visitors is extremely varied, from historic attractions to cultural with highly interesting folklore and artisany. Its varied landscapes and the friendly character of its population have turned it into one of the most attractive towns in Iloilo.

photo by Jun Fuerte

The Baroque-Romanesque style of the iconic St. Thomas of Villanova Parish popularly known as Miagao Church in Barangay Tacas is this town’s representative attraction. It was constructed in 1786 and completed in 1797. It was built as a place of worship and as a watchtower to protect the natives from Muslim pirates that regularly pillaged the town. The huge stone blocks were quarried in Sitio Tubug, San Joaquin and in the mountains of Igbaras. The church sinks six meters deep in the ground with walls 2.5meters thick including the outside buttresses. It boasts of its native fa├žade with a unique explosion of botanical motif of coconut, banana, papaya tree and a stylized guava fruit. Its centerpiece is San Cristobal in rolled pants carrying the child Jesus. It was declared as a National Shrine in 1973 and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993, the only one in the Visayas and Mindanao.

photo by Carlos Garcia (PSI)

The annual celebration of Salakayan Festival is an opportunity for the people of Miag-ao to pay tribute to their cultural roots. Taken from the Hiligaynon word “Salakay” or “to attack,” the festival is marked by local warriors ready to defend their land from the attacks of Muslim pirates. This dance-drama presentation shows the victorious battle that took place in May 7, 1754. Along with the tribal dance competition is a special procession of the Gigantes or towering figures that commonly depict archetypes of the town, such as historical figures of local relevance. The much anticipated tribal dance competition this year will be celebrated on February 9 at 3 p.m. The celebration of the Salakayan Festival and its special events are important components of Miag-ao’s tourism industry. It does not only offer its community an opportunity to celebrate whatever they wish, it also provides attractions for visitors from nearby barangays.

photo by Jun Fuerte

Barangay Indag-an is known as the chief source of quality handloom fabrics such as hablon---a hand woven fabric from polyester yarn, and patadyong---a multi-colored handloom cotton weaved usually with narrow width. These textiles were sought after throughout the Philippines and beyond.  The ancient craft of hand-weaving, along with hand spinning, remains a popular craft in this barangay up to this day. It is an integral part of the cultural identity here. It is a time consuming, laborious process that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years, but one that is a source of great pride. It is one of the most important crafts handed down from generation to generation, and the indigenous fabrics of hablon and patadyong are admired for their sheer beauty, uniqueness and global appeal.

photo by Jun Fuerte

Barangay Cagbang is also famous for traditional pottery making is still being practiced with the hands and a few primitive tools that were used for adding texture and design. The abundance of ceramic clay in the area result to the production of kuron---a wide-mouthed with round bottom pot popular for cooking is the most common earthenware produced in the area. Plant pots or Paso and the Banga, used to store drinking water are also produced. These products are usually being sold in local market. Potters feel that the process of working with the clay ties them to their ancestors. Their bonds to their culture and heritage are maintained by following and preserving conventional pottery making methods. The techniques of pottery-making are guided by the spiritual and cultural interests of this community.

photo by Jun Fuerte

TAYTAY BONI in Barangay Igtuba is considered to be one of the nine surviving Spanish bridges in the Philippines. Named after Boni Neular, the construction foreman and major carpenter, it was constructed in 1854. Made of stone blocks, the bridge connected the town to neighboring Guimbal. It was still used after World War II but was damaged in 1948 by a strong earthquake that resulted to the destruction of the middle part of the bridge and the crumbling of its walls. It is approximately six meters high with walls a meter thick. Its waterway is said to have a dimension of 2.44 meters high and 2.74 meters wide.
The municipality of Miagao is 40.5 kilometers south from Iloilo City. It is bounded by the towns of Igbaras to the northeast, by Guimbal to the east, by San Joaquin to the west and by the municipality of Sibalom in the province of Antique to the northwest. It is comprised of 199 barangays sharing a land area of 13,286 hectares. To get to the town, one can take a jeepney at the Don Benito Q. Acap Sr. Southern Iloilo Perimeter Boundary Terminal in Barangay Mohon, Oton, Iloilo. Metered taxis are also available at the terminal.

If you are holidaying Iloilo, enjoy some day excursions to the historic town of Miagao. For more information, please contact, Mr. Edison Molanida-Municipal Tourism Officer at 09206995881.

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