Bantayan Island, Cebu

CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal - The Freeman

The Municipality of Bantayan used to comprise the entire island. Now it is composed of the towns of Bantayan, Madridejos, and Santa Fe. In the book of lawyer Gervasio Lira Lavilles, “Cebu: History of its Four Cities and Forty-Nine Municipalities”, he said that the town has 19 barrios including the islets of Doong, Botiguez, Hilotungan, Lipayran, Mambacayao, Moamboc, and Silagon. The other town is Madridejos which, according to the same book of Lavilles, the brains of the Cebu City Charter, tradition credits that “Lazaro Mangubat as the first to settle in the northern part of the island of Bantayan, where Madridejos is now located. He was the founder of Lawis, meaning point to the sea. It was he who proclaimed this place as the VISITA DE LAWIS”.

The third town is Santa Fe which was named after Santa Fe in Spain. According to Lavilles, the town was previously called as Ugtong because in the early days the surrounding sea was teeming with fish called Cogtong.

The “Golden Book of Cebu 1937” provides a more visual illustration of the past of Bantayan Island:

“Bantayan Island is noted for its pearl and fish and famous for its beautiful pina cloth. The mother of pearls are exported to Singapore, China, Japan, Europe and the United States, where they are manufactured into buttons, house decorations and other beautiful articles. The flesh is used for food and the pearls which at times attain the size of a pigeon’s egg are sold at enormous prices. Though the pearl fishing industry is quite declining and no lighters or barges are dedicated to the industry due to the big capital required, the fishermen during days when the sea is calm and clear, pass their time peeping into the deep sea for mother of pearls. At present big and beautiful pearls are still in the possession of the rich people of Bantayan.”

“The fishing industry of Bantayan is second to none in the island. Of the many devices used in catching fish in this place, the most common are the fish corral or fish trap made of split bamboo woven together by vines; the “surambao”, the materials being coconut leaves tied together by a rope sometimes with the length of 200 meters; the hook and line; the ordinary fish net made of woven abaca fiber called “Baling” and the big net with lights, the so called “Iwag” or Light, the most modern of them all. There are at present around 36 sets of Iwag, each of which has launch pulling from 8 to 12 big bancas or cascoes depending on the power of launches. During dark nights or when the moon is new and the weather is fair, the Iwags go far out to the deep sea to fish, and with hundreds of lamps each having 1,000 candle power or more, they brighten the horizon. In one night the catch, sold fresh, salted or dried for export, value sometimes at from P500 to P5,000.”

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