Aklan Islands Philippines
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History: Aklan Province Islands Philippines



"Aklanon" refers to the people of Aklan province, their language, and culture. Folk belief is that Aklan derived its name from a river called Akean. When the Spaniards came, they asked the region’s name from a man fishing in the river, and the man thought they were asking him for the name of the river. The Aklanon belong to a larger group called Visayan, and the Aklanon language is a sub classification of the Visayan language. It is said that the Aklanon language substitutes the phonetic sound "ea" for "l," pronounced with rolling "r" sound, because Datu Bangkaya, the first ruler of Aklan (originally Akean), had a short tongue and therefore could not pronounce the "l" sound.

Aklan was formerly a part of Capiz province on the island of Panay in Western Visayas; hence, its history is often connected with that of Capiz. It became a separate province on 8 Nov 1956 under Republic Act No. 1414, with Kalibo as its capital. The province has 17 municipalities: Altavas, Balete, Banga, Batan, Buruanga, Kalibo, Ibajay, Lezo, Libacao, Madalag, Makato, Malay, Malinao, Nabas, New Washington, Numancia, and Tangalan. The inhabitants of Sapian town, in Capiz, also speak Aklanon.

Aklan lies on the northern part of Panay island, which has three other provinces: Capiz, Iloilo, and Antique. It is shaped like a triangle pointing southward, bounded on the west by Antique, on the east by Capiz and on the North by the Visayan Sea. Its topography is swampy along the coasts, and rolling and mountainous inland. Its forest lands are being depleted, and the open forests and grasslands are expanding. Population estimate as of 1988 was 387,000 (RR’s Philippine Almanac 1990; 189)

According to Maragtas, the historical-fictional account by Pedro Monteclaro (1907), 10 Bornean Datu (chieftains) purchased Panay from the Aeta, cultivated the land and renamed the island Madya-as. They divided it into three sakup (districts); Aklan (including Capiz), Irong-irong (now Iloilo), and Hamtik (Antique). These were loosely united under a government called the confederation of Madya-as. Datu Bangkaya of Aklan, who succeeded Datu Sumakwel of Hamtik, the original head of this confederation, is credited with having adopted the syllabaric form of writing and spreading it to the other provinces.

Archaeological findings indicate extensive trade with other Asians from the 10th to 15th centuries. Shipbuilding was an established industry, for the Aklanon engaged in inter-island trade. Textiles were being woven out of piña, sinamay, and jusi fibers. Abaca materials were among the commodities traded.

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