The brave islanders of Bantayan, Cebu
CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal (The Freeman) - November 15, 2015 - 9:00am

The municipality of Bantayan, Cebu originally composed the whole island of Bantayan, is now divided into three towns, the other two, Sta. Fe and Madridejos.

Considering its proximity to the Island of Panay and Negros, Hiligaynon, mixed with Cebuano, is spoken by its inhabitants. Bantayan simply means “to watch,” in reference to the watchtowers constructed during the early years of the occupation of the Spaniards starting in 1565.

The watchtowers were where sentinels were posted to watch Moro vintas who used to raid the island. That is why the island and the town is called BANTAYAN.

Recorded to be the town or pueblo leaders of Bantayan were Capitan Fortunato Villaceran, Capitan Rogerio Villacrucis and Capitan Magdaleno Villacin. When the Americans overthrew the Spanish colonizers Bantayan had its presidents as chief executives: Gregorio Escario who had the honor of being bestowed the title of the First President of Bantayan.

The Escario clan for decades dominated the leadership of the municipal government. Isidro R. Escario for decades served as mayor of Bantayan. The wife of Isidro (he also became a member of the Provincial Board of Cebu) by the name of Remedios A. Escario succeeded her husband as mayor.

In 1964, these were the town officials of Bantayan, Cebu:

Remedios A. Escario, mayor, Sebastian Escalona, vice mayor, Pedro Fua, municipal secretary, Andres Momongan, judge, Sixto Ortega, treasurer, Salvador C. Abella, chief of police and Dr. Magdalena Ybanez as health officer.

As municipal councilors: Anselmo Otero, Cesar Pestano, Nemesio Acain, Jacinto Layese, Manuel Montemar, Juan Bawagan, Florentino R. Villacrucis and Dionisio Salve.

The longtime mayor of Bantayan, Remedios Abello Escario, was the child of Diego Abello and Candelaria Causing Abello. The “Abello Theater” is named after them.

Presently, the officials of the town are members of the Escario clan. The mayor is Ian Christopher Gonzaga Escario while the vice mayor is Chad Kenneth Escario Canares.

A daughter of Mayor Remedios (more known as Ma Mediong) by the name of Geralyn Escario who married a Canares also served as mayor of Bantayan for years (his son is now the vice mayor). An uncle of Geralyn, the brother of her mother, Salvador Abello also served Bantayan as chief of police.

A son of Mayor Isidro by the name of Rex also became mayor of Bantayan from 1988 to 1992. On September 29, 1947, the following were appointed as councilors of Bantayan by the president: Vicente Escalona and Domingo Manzanares.

Another member of the Escario Clan became mayor of Bantayan his name, Jesus. An Escario became mayor of Cebu City, his name Dr. Nicolas Gandiongco Escario Sr.

Bantayan holds the record of having a Bantayanon, Atty. Ramon M. Villaceran (admitted to the Bar on February 10, 1911) to have married the first woman lawyer of the Philippines by the name of Maria Francisco who was admitted to the Bar on March 30, 1911. The first Cebuano (outside of Cebu City and Island of Cebu) to have topped the Bar Examinations came from Bantayan, Cebu. His name is Roque Desquitado. The first lawyer of Bantayan, Cebu is Eulalio E. Causing who became a lawyer on March 27, 1907. Causing also became Civilian Governor of Davao.

Bantayan, Cebu also produced successful lawyers, among the many, Rafael Ybanez (February 3, 1951), Jose V. Yap (March 23, 1970), Elias V. Ortiz (March 16, 1965), Inocentes Y. Pabello (admitted to the Bar on March 31, 1948, Vicente Villarin Pacifico who was born on March 10, 1912 in Bantayan, Cebu became a lawyer on January 21, 1955. Pacifico brought pride to Bantayan for having been secretary to the mayor of Cebu City, he also taught in the College of Law at the Southwestern University.

In the 1990’s, Bantayan, Cebu produced new lawyers, namely, Ariel C. Reyes, who was admitted to the Bar on April 11, 1996 and Jeanette M. Negre, became a lawyer on May 3, 2005.

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