TANGIBLE CULTURAL ASSESTS (Natural Heritage)
Mt. Guinobatan and Cave
Mt. Guinobatan is the highest peak present in the municipality where it deep cave the Guinobatan cave believed to be stretching down through Kotkot (barangay Salvacion today) via underground passages carrying fresh water that wells up in an undersea spring, or sawang, in the open sea .The Mt. Guinobatan and its cave is a natural heritage of the municipality situated in Barangay Buenavista and has an area of 4.1268 hectares designated as Cadastral Lot No. 2062, a public forest as declared by the Office of the Municipal Assessor. This was declared as Municipal Park of the municipality through Municipal Ordinance No. 2010-011, approved last November 4, 2010. During World War II when the Japanese air raids would bomb Belison and the nearby communities, families from all around fled to Guinobatan Cave. This place became the hiding place or “bakwitan” of Belisongnons during the Spanish and Japanese era, people from the lowlands would hide in its thick forest and caves. Because of elevation, the evacuees could easily see and identify approaching enemy soldiers. Fisherfolks regarded it as a palngat (or visual landmark) to turn to when visibility became poor especially during adverse weather conditions. It serves as a guide so that these fisherfolks and other sea travelers would not get lost at sea. During Holy Week (Semana Santa) Guinobatan becomes a center of religious pilgrimage for many of the people of Belison. From various walks of life, Belisongnons flock to Guinobatan for religious renewal and some collect a few items of more pagan religious significance. They search for pangalap or panudlak (magic charms or objects of good fortune for one’s personal well-being, or for one’s business and livelihood ventures) for success and prosperity in farming, fishing and business.
Centennial Acacia Trees
Another prominent landmark of the Municipality of Belison are the century old acacia trees lining up in the highway in front of the municipal hall at Poblacion, Belison, Antique. The previous number of this acacia trees are ten (10) however, the current number depleted to seven (7) due to natural death and falling down. This approximately hundred years old trees is distinct in the Province of Antique because of its location. This serves as the landmark to easily locate the municipal hall. Many mythical stories told by the older folks that these trees serve to be the mansion of the “engkantos” the reason why these trees stand still even being struck by strong winds. However, when some of these trees fall down, many old folks believe that the engkantos had already lived the place due to noise and other destructive activities in the area.
Sinaja Bridge is the oldest bridge in the municipality of Belison situated at Sinaja, Belison, Antique. It has a length of 4.5 meters with a width of 4 meters and a loading capacity of 10 tons. It is made of concrete materials constructed during the Spanish regime sometimes in 1908 to let the people pass in Sinaja River. The marker of the said bridge is still very evident bearing the year of construction and its constractor. The bridge is constructed by a Contractor named Eduardo Olivares
Dr. Jose Rizal Monument
The bust monument of Dr. Jose Rizal had been there even before the town separated from its mother town, Patnongon. It was constructed in September 12, 1926 by the Monuments of Rizal Society to give due honor to the greatest Filipino Hero. It is situated at the back of the Municipal Session Hall in Poblacion.
The cemburio is the local name for chimney of sugar mills. Considering that Belison is an agricultural town, sugar mills are numerous within the area. However, the oldest sugar mill in the municipality is situated at Concepcion, Belison, Antique built during the 1960s and originally owned by the Casalan clan. It was made of stone riprap and served as the chimney in cooking sugar in traditional muscovado sugar production.
Remnants of Gabaldon Building
Introduced during the American period named in honor of the late Assemblyman Isauro Gabaldon a lawmaker from 1907-1912. The Gabaldon building served as the first classrooms in the District of Belison located at the campus of Belison Central School. This building was constructed in the year 1946 right after the World War II. This is built with the first flooring elevated four feet from the ground to also serve as playground for the school children. However, the said building was demolished in the year 1970 and its remnant was preserved to apprise the new generation about the value of previous school buildings and other structures. Today, it serves as the stage of Belison Central School during their Flag Raising Ceremony.
Pagunsan Ancestral House
Built during the pre-war era, this house is made of hard woods from its walls and floors. The roof is made of the thick and rust proof G.I. sheets. It is owned by the family of the late Bernabe Pagunsan, one of the first primary school teachers in Belison. Today, it is almost dilapidated and needs an urgent restoration.
INTANGIBLE CULTURAL ASSESTS (Festival and Events)
This festival was launched during the 45th Foundation Day Anniversary Celebration of the Municipality in March 8-10, 2006. This is usually held during the month of March specifically during the foundation day anniversary celebration of the town. This festival is not a religious festival. It simply reminds the people of the importance of Mt. Guinobatan and its cave which serve as their refuge during the wars. During this festival, various activities were held to entertain people from different walks of life. From sports events, talent competition, exhibits of different local products of every barangays and playground demonstration of pupils and students depicting the past, present and future of Belison. The festivities usually commence with a grand parade participated by the different agencies and sectors of the town. Streetdancing and Mardi-Gras competition is one of the highlights of the festivities. Every barangay had their tribe to compete. Another highlight is the Lin-ay Kang Belison Competition. This beauty pageant aims to seek the most beautiful and brainy Belisongnon lady to compete in the Lin-ay Kang Antique.
Flores de Mayo
The Flowers of May or Flores de Mayo festivals is a religious festivity. It is a month-long celebration where the blessed Virgin is the focus of devotion. Every afternoon in May, young people go to church to pray the rosary and offer flowers and songs to the Blessed Mother. Halad is the flower and prayer offerings to Mary. People in each barangay gather colorful flowers to decorate their barangay chapel altars and aisles. They bundle the blooms in exotic arrangements, presenting the “Flowers of May” to the Virgin Mary. Typical of the local culture, each daily halad is hosted by a family and followed by a celebration of food and fellowship. People look forward to these gatherings as much as they do to the rain that comes in May, cooling the hot summer air, and bringing fresh green and colorful flowers. In the traditional enactment of Flores de Mayo, at the end of the month young ladies of the town come out to portray the various titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary, carrying her symbols in a procession called Santa Cruzan. But here in Belison, the end of Flores de Mayo is marked by a symbolic event, in line with the town’s historical beginnings and livelihood.
Aside from the municipal festival celebrated by the whole municipality, every barangay of the town has its religious fiesta set aside to remember particular patron saints. Fiesta is a special time with friends, a time for fellowship, food, and lots of activities. They usually feature a mass and a procession. Long after the religious ritual is completed, people eat, drink, and enjoy the rest of the day. There are dancing during the night and other colorful activities to make the people attending the fiesta enjoyed. Most often people are busy for weeks or even months preparing for them. It is surprising, how even those facing many problems in their day-to-day life set them aside and participate in the festivities. Even those constituents across the miles find time to go home in their respective barangay just to witness their barangay’s religious fiesta. Below are the specific dates of religious fiestas in every barangay together with their patron saints.
INTANGIBLE ASSETS (Place Names)
The Lublub Ati is considered as place name in the municipality located at Poblacion, Belison, Antique densely covered by trees and bamboos alongside by the Belison River. The name itself suggests that the place served as first home for the “Aetas or Ati” living in the municipality. Unpublished accounts that long before the arrival of the Spanish friars, Ati or Aetas settled in the place alongside the Belison River where sources of their food is abundance and to make themselves separated from the natives of the place. However, during the early part of 17th century, this simple community was raided frequently by the fast and furious Moro pirates riding their vinta boats. Some of the frightened natives seek refuge in this place where the Atis settled. As the attacked frequently happened, the native from the main part of the land made the place as their hiding place together with the Aetas. Later on, the Atis abandoned the place as they wandered looking for food and they have not returned in the place since they abandone it. The Lublub Ati also served as the hiding place of the Belisongnon as they seek refuge from the hands of the Japanese soldiers during the World War II. Today, a performing arts guild was organized by a certain local artist bearing the name of the place, the Lublub Ati Performing Arts Guild (LAPAG).
“Kotkot” is a vernacular term for erosion or intrusion. It is the early name of now, Barangay Salvacion. Long before the arrival of Spanish friars in the Province of Antique, unstinted civilization flourished in the coastal areas of what is now Belison. Unpublished accounts say that part of Belison called Kotkot was always eroded by coastal water. In one instances of the flood, a certain resident found the graven image of Santa Salvacion floating in the flood water. He took the graven image and placed it in their home. Since then, flooding in the place stopped and the residents change the name of the place into Salvacion. To the local busalian (mystics), the deep cave of Mt. Guinobatan stretch down through Kotkot via underground passages carrying fresh water that wells up in an undersea spring, or sawang, in the open ocean.
The term “Bagumbayan” means a new barrio or barangay. This is the old name of Barangay Concepcion today. Once upon a time, the place was a part of Barangay Rombang and was known as “Durog”. The family of a soldier who was the father of a certain Tiburcio was the first settler in the place. However, as time pass by many families join them and organization was organized to manage the sitio. In 1912, a great flood devastated the place destroying all houses as well as plants and other properties. Tiburcio and his wife Clementia, has a portion of land in a place called “Puntod”. They invited their relatives and friends to transfer and settle in that place since it is far from the river. Another organization was formed to manage the place and the people called their new place “Bagumbayan”. A chapel was built for worship and prayers with Immaculate Concepcion as the patron saint. Later, the people agreed to change the name of their new barrio into Concepcion, to venerate the name of Nuestra Señora La Immaculada Concepcion, their patron saint. From that time on, Bagumbayan was change into Concepcion, one of the eleven barangay of the municipality.
INTANGIBLE ASSETS (Stories)
Mythical Origin of Belison
The historic tale of how the town of Belison got its name dates back to the Spanish era. During those colonial times, certain places or areas where people inhabited do not have definite names. In such case, the Spanish government decided to conduct a land survey in order to have recorded information in all settlements of pueblos, sitios, barangays and others. In the course if the conduct of the survey in the land of Datu Sumakwel, the Spanish authorities came to a place near a river, presently called the Belison River. Here, they saw an elderly man digging something at the bank of the river. The Spaniards approached the old man and asked him for the name of the place in a language too strange for the old man to comprehend and understand. The old man was silent for a while for which the strangers repeated the same inquiry in the same words of mouth. The old man, being deaf as well, thought that the strangers asked what his name was and what he is doing. Having that thought, he answered that his name is “BELI” and he was digging for “OSON” (a small variety of crab abundant in that place). The strangers believing that the old man’s reply was the name of the place, noted the words “BELI” and “OSON” while moving on to other places. That incident was handed down from generation to generation, until the settlement was formally and finally called “BELISON”.
Tigadlum Kang Guinobatan
Unpublished accounts say that during the Spanish era, a renowned busalian (or mystic) by the name of Kapitan Tinong (or Tan Tinong) named the mountainous region where Mt. Guinobatan dominantly stands Buenavista; Spanish for “good view.” Accounts have been told of this famous busalian, Tan Tinong who was captured by Spanish soldiers. Charged with heresy and witch doctor, they decided to put him to death. They tied him up firmly and placed him inside a large abaca (burlap) sack and thrown into the sea. To the amazement of everyone he slipped out of the ropes and was saved by a floating wooden statue… a carved saint. After his ordeal, he placed the saint in a small chapel in his barangay, Buenavista. Today people still venerate Nuestra Señora de Caysasay, their patron saint.