History of Kalibo

(According to the Historical Research entitled Calivo: The Founding of Town” by J.E. Barrios and E.A. Lerona

The town of Kalibo is the capital of province of Aklan, one of the four provinces comprising the island of Panay, the sixth largest island in the philippines. Aklan is a relatively new province in the Philippine atlas.

The province of Aklan is bounded on the West by Antique, on the south by Capiz, on the norhtwest by the Sulu Sea, and on the east by Sibuyan Sea. It has a total land area of 192,190 hectares with 17 towns and 317 barangays.

The Aklanon word for bubbling or boiling is “akae”. “Akean” is the contraction of “akaean” which mean where there is bubbling or boiling.

How the town got its present name calls on a number of stories quite similar to each other. In Fr. Gaspar de San Agustin’s book Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas, he noted that Father Juan de Alba baptized one thousand natives of Kalibo in 1569: “…y por este se llama el pueblo Calivo, que significa mil…” (… and that is why the place is called Calivo, which means one thousand…) The Spanish missionaries wrote “Akean” as “Aclan” and changed it later to “Calivo” because the name Aclan is of the river. This is, to some degree, in agreement with Fr. Juan Fernandez who said that “there were at first one thousand inhabitants in this town so that it was called “Calibo” which mean ‘one thousand’ and this name has prevailed up to the present.”

In 1569, when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Juan Salcedo were in Pan-ay, the Aclanons and Ibahainons sought their help on the attacks made by “wild natives” and residents of the neighboring island of Mindoro “who plundered, looted, and ravished the inhabitants.” With the help of some 500 Aclanons, Legazpi and Salcedo pacified Aclan and Ibajay.

After that, they went after the aggressors up to Mamburao (in Mindoro). After a blood compact with Salcedo, the chief, of the place (Mindoro) promised never to molest Aclan and Ibajay again. It was during this time – when Salcedo was winning over the enemies of Aklan and Ibajay – that Fr. Alba was triumphantly defeating the prestige of the babailanes among their followers who worshipped the goddesses Macabantug and Macabusog. This was when Fr. Alba converted and baptized the 1,000 souls from whence the name Calivo has risen.

Despite Calivo having had an initial baptism of 1,000 souls, however, it was not until 1581 when actual missionary work began. It can be remembered that Salcedo came to Aclan in 1569 after the inhabitants sought the Spaniard’s help against “wild attacks.” After this, the Spaniards immediately proceeded to the island of Lucon (Luzon), capturing Manila from the Chinese pirates and thereafter making it the capital of the whole Philippine Islands on June 24, 1571. Fr. Alba, the priest who made the conversion of the thousand Calivonhons, meanwhile, did not stay in Calivo because he was then assigned in Dumangas. Calivo was made a parish only in April 22, 1581.

Aclan, the Encomienda

Between the years 1569 and 1581, despite the relocation of the center of their power to Lucon in 1571, the Spaniards did not make a disappearance in this part of the island. During the years 1571 and 1572 the government allotted 143 encomienda to the officers and men in the Philippines. By 1571, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, first Governor and captain-General of the Philippines, competed a listing of the villages in the Philippines and started to assign them to his officers and soldiers as encomiendas. Aclan was one of those lands first assigned by legazpi.

Aklan as a Prehispanic Barangay

Unlike other settlements in ancient Philippines, there must have already been a good number of people residing along the river of Aclán prior to the coming of the Spaniards organized in communities. For it can be remembered that in 1569, “when Legazpi arrived in Pan-ay, the Aclánons and Ibahainons fought against the Moro pirates who frequently devastated these two towns.” If Aclán has no organized barangay government, they could not have helped the Spaniards who have sought their help “crush the enemies” with its “500 Aclánon volunteers.”Also on this year (1569) until 1571 (where Legazpi assigned encomiendas to his officers), the people of Aclán resided by the river. Aclán, having 2,000 Indios, is believed to be one of the bigger and organized barangays in ancient times.

From Encomienda to Pueblo

On 17 November 1526, [the then King] Chares V issued instructions that all future expeditions be accompanied by at least two priests to make sure that the conquistadores did not imperil the “immortal soul” of the king [of Spain] in the process of extending his earthly dominions. Priest had actually regularly accompanied Spanish expeditions overseas even before 1526. They were needed to attend to the spiritual life of the members of the expedition; and if the task of evangelization in the newly-discovered lands was the responsibility of the crown, then the priests’ presence were essential.

It is already known that the King ordered Legazpi to assign and allot as encomiendas the villages of the islands to the soldiers who were with him in the voyage, to which Legazpi complied. Later on, however, the encomienda system was abolished by the King because of the abuses of some encomienderos to the natives. This was in the year 1574. But it was not until half a century later that the encomienda system was wholly abolished. The missionaries, in the meantime, being the ones responsible in reporting to the King of Spain the abuses of the encomienderos, tried to find means to protect, and at the same time, to forward their aim to convert the natives. From Agoncillo, the following passages have been taken:

  One of the first tasks… imposed on the missionaries and the encomienderos was to collect all the scattered Filipinos together in a reduccion (resettlement) bajo el son de la campana (under the sound of the bell) or bajo el toque de la campana (under the peal of the bell).

As early as 1580, the Franciscans… proceeded “to establish pueblos…” where the church and convent would be constructed. All the new Christian converts were required to construct their houses around the church and the unbaptized were invited to do the same. This was approved… by… thethen Governor General of the Philippines himself. The reduccion plan presented by Franciscan Fr. Juan de la Plasencia to the Synod of Manila (1582) was approved unanimously by missionaries of the religious orders.

With the reduccion, the Spaniards attempted to tame the… Filipinos through Christian indoctrination in a quite novel settlement pattern using the convento/casa real/plaza complex as a focal point…

With the reduccion, the pre-colonial barangays metamorphosed externally and internally.

With the reduccion, the encomiendas were re-laid out to accommodate a pueblo where a church and convent would be constructed. As how the barangay transformed to become the encomienda, the same people in the same place under a different label.

With the reduccion, Aclán was accepted by the Augustinians to become one of its parishes on April 22, 1581.It could not, however, be Aclán’s acceptance as a parish which signaled its development as a town. It was not hard for the Spaniards to impose the reduccion in Aclán; there was, no need for the Spaniards to gather the residents of Aclán in one place. Aclán was, in the very first place, already a large settlement prior to the coming of the Spaniards. It should not be taken that the founding of Aclán was after or based on the reduccion concept. If it should thus be asked when Aclán was founded as a town in the concept of the Spaniards, it was when it was assigned as an encomienda – on November 3, 1571. The moment Aclán became an encomienda to the Spaniards, it fostered the development of the place to gradually become a town as people conceive of it now.

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