Color And Pageantry Abound At Romblon's Biniray Festival
Sibuyan Island - WWF Destination of the month
Romblon Travel Guide Free e-Cards. Invite 'em to discover Romblon
Romblon's latest weather forecast by CNN.com
Travel Guide Tip to Philippines and Romblon
Travel Lows and Woes: The Closing Gangplank
I have never lived in Banton. I have made several trips to Banton. I have visited the towns of Odiongan, Calatrava, Badajoz, Semara. We lived in Sebali (Concepcion) for almost two years. The visits made were mostly when I accompanied Tang Ambe, as he was founding
schools. At a later date, I was his escort when he was guest speaker at Romblon High graduation. Let me start chronologically. World War Two found the family in Pinamalayan, Mindoro. From there we could hear Corregidor island, bombarded into submission. The family with other families decided to evacuate to Sebali. They figured out the island was too small for thre Japanese to bother. How wrong they were! The island has a "hidden harbor". You won't see the town unless you are past the entrance. As a young impresssionable child, I saw bowlegged soldiers of Nippon. They went from house to house, thoroughly searching with their bayonets, glinting in the sun. The men were all gathered into the church, while the women and children were left alone. The soldiers were looking for submarines. It must have been in late '1943 or early 1944. What do I remember of the Concepcion? I was one of the four boys in the family. We early discovered the guavas ripening and untouched near the cemetery above the town. We did not know till later that the guavas were taboo. There was an artesian well in town, used mostly for washing. Later the well could not accomodate the whole town. My older sisters, Liberty F Yuzon, and Aurora F. Trabert, washed clothes in a small river. As a child I shared fetching of drinking water, in bamboo tube containers. My other brothers, Gabriel, Felixberto,and Jose Burgos had their share . We had our share of play, Tang Ambe found plenty of time in his hands. He told us stories from ther Bible, and from books. This was not done continously, as we had to find food to feed a family of 9. Tang Ambe always told us (can I use the word brainwash) ---BANTOANONS are a special people. Among the requirements of being a Bantonanon is to be able to speak the dialect. All nine of us learned it. Even my San Carlos, Pangasinan born mother. Come to think of it, I learned the dialect earlier than I learned English. A temporary and informal school was set up. Mrs. Liberty Yuzon was in charge of one class. Another was Emilia Fallarme. Our short schooling was aborted by the arrival of a Japanese"lantsa". The children disappeared in a flash, some through the windows. For paper, we used the documents from the municipio. The school books and supplies, were used as kindling by the occupying Japanese, who used the schoolhouse. Tang Ambe travelled to Mindoro to get our supply of rice. He also bought and bartered tobacco. Their batel was soon intercepted by patrolling Japanese. Luckily
when the batel was pulled, it was pulled towards Sebali.
What image does Banton evoke in my mind?. BATO -----ROCK. BANTOANONS.......ROCKLIKE. This young child totally believed he was required to kiss a rock as soon as he landed. He was later informed it was not obligatory. I remembered terraced Banton. The homes were built in the flaft terraced
area. I was taken to an aunt's house, at "itaas" Naning Aning, cries whenever he sees any of us. Visiting Banton for the 9 of us, was some kind of a reward. Holy Week and the feast day of San Nicholas de Tolentino were big events. Let us talk about the Banto anons. They are hardworking,achievement-oriented family-orinted,closely knit Christian families with a spirit of Wonderlust. My grandfather,whose name I carry, followed the "viajero"route. He had visited Marinduque, Mindoro, Bondoc peninsula, Lubang and Batangas. Mindanao beakoned to the to the Bantoanons. Later, the island of Hawaii, and mainland U.S.A. What impelled the Batoanon to travel? The island was small and could barely support the ever increasing population. A title of a play "KA SUYOG AY PA MAIT" spells out the migration to Mindoro. Earlier, the islands had moved to other islands including Tablas island etc. The wonderlust, can be explained by the story of two uncles.....Lorenzo, and David Fabella. They were born in Banton and moved to Odiongan.They proceeded to Manila, where they stowed away in a ship to America. This was in the early 1920s. Uncle Lorenzo did not stay in California long. He moved to Hawaii, where his descendants now live. In my hand are pictures of the brothers. One showed Uncle Lorenz as a "surfer ". We saw a picture of the brothers, in cheauffers's uniform. A picture of Uncle Lorenz showed him as a "dandy", in sunday best, hair parted in the middle. Among other things, he owned and managed a restaurant. Uncle Dave's story is a little different. He was employed as a "gopher" by a kindly Los Angeles judge. The judge allowed him to take night courses at UCLA. World War II found him in the merchant marine. He travelled the world over. After the war, he decided to use is GI Bill, go to Coumbia U for a graduate degree. He dreamed of returning to the Islands.
dark, high forehead and eye glasses. A splitting image of Tang Ambe, his cousin. Uncle Dave was a well-read and self -educated person. In one of his Florida trips, he gave mehis 50 volume Great Books.He was always
glad to see write ups I have sent to Philippine newspapers. I tried to encourage him to tape his recollections, adventures and misadventures I gave him a tape recorder, and I waited. Three years later, when I visited him, he returned the tape recorder.No tapes. From bits and pieces of his "storia" he told me the following.Hids father, was lost at sea. Mother, moved to Odiongan, remarried, moved to Roxas, married a third time. I remember Nanang Dede as we fondly called her. I was in the fourth year of high school, in 1952.
The Bantoanon regard for education can be told over and over. For it invol ved
cousins Gabriel Sr.and Faustino Sr. founder of Banton high. Tang Ambe's being
indentured to a Chinaman in Romblon capital was a strong motivation to make
education available to his people. Of course, I remember the house of Tang Tino,
as the high school's original site. Holy Week attracts Batoanon's from all over. I remember Tatang Coning (Cornelio Faigao), He was a ward of Tang Ambe,, while studying at UP. He made a name as a writer, poet, , professor of English, and a journalist. I remember our Cubao house full of Bantonanons....Katipunang Asi, The Banton Uplift Club among others. There after San Miguel and Scotch,the older group would recall their salad days. Remiscing...of the old days. There I met the younger generation, where I was attracted to prettier kasimanwas, and practiced a few dance steps. The older group would get noisier and Papa would start singing "RAKUNG KATINGAYA't mga ibang nasyon, nagugunhele sa mga
bantoanon.."..to the tune of La Golondrina. We attended an Ugat Faigao reunion in Toronto in 1987. The clan painstakingly and lovingly produced a "family tree". The family tree tracks down the interrelation ships among Banton families. By the way, There is an Ugat Faigao runion in Las Vegas this year.
* Max Fabella retired as a social worker. He is a community activist, lecturer, journalist, and author. Finished B.A. and M.A. from the University of the Philippines. Taught at the University of the East. Reporter for Phil based newpapersin the U.S. Editor of FILIPINIANA, managing editor,ASIAN TIMES OF FLORIDA, editor of RIZALIAN. Co-author of KNOWING RIZAL with GabrielfF. Fabella, contributor to Romero and Sta Romana, RIZAL AND PHIL NATIONALISM,editor, A PORTABLE RIZAL
** Images courtesy of Ish Fabicon, from his personal homepage Banton Island.
Instead, he opted to stay in New Orleans. He also owned and managed a restaurant in the French quarter. He owned and managed an apartments which he aptly named Fa Bella. When we first saw him in person, there is no mistaking the Fabella features. Short,
SHARE YOUR STORY.We'd like to hear from you ! Tell us your own travel stories and adventures and we'll post it here. Send your travel stories either in English, Tagalog, Hiligaynon, Romblomanon, or Asi with pictures (if you will) to my e-mail addy: email@example.com
A birds eye view of Banton town. Photo courtesy of Ish Fabicon
Fabella library in Banton. Photo courtesy of Yagting.com Point Matagar Park in Banton Islands. Photo courtesy of Yagting.com
Welcome to the
"Marble Country of the Philippines"
Copyright © Milex Fabula 2001
For any comments and suggestions please e-mail the webmaster
HELP US SUPPORT
Please make a donation thru
Any amount will be highly appreciated and acknowledge