Aklan is believed to have been settled in the 12th century by settlers from Borneo, ruled by the chieftain Datu Dinagandan which traded with its neighbouring islands.
Towards the end of the 14th century,Datu Dinagandan moved the capital from what is now Batan. In 1433, Datu Kalantiaw's grandson and successor, Datu Kalantiaw III, was said by Jose Marcos to have formulated a set of laws known today as the Code of Kalantiaw. Well respected scholarly long-term Philippine resident historian William Henry Scott, proved these "laws" to be a total fabrication. In 1437, the short-lived dynasty of Datu Kalantiaw ended when Datu Kalantiaw III was killed in battle with the tribes of Datu Manduyog, the legitimate successor of Datu Dinagandan. When Datu Manduyog became the new chieftain, he moved the capital to Bakan (now known as Banga).
Several datus succeeded Datu Manduyog until the Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi landed in Batan in 1565 and claimed the island for Spain, in early Spanish accounts it was called El Río de Aclán. Datu Kabanyag was the chieftain at that period and had his capital in Libacao.
In 1942, the Japanese invaded Aklan during World War II and in 1945, combined Filipino and American army along with Aklanon guerrillas liberated Aklan during the war in the Pacific.
Aklan finally became a separate province through Republic Act No. 1414 signed by Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay on April 25, 1956, separating Aklan from Capiz. The original towns were Altavas, Balete, Batan, Banga, Buruanga, Ibajay, Kalibo, Lezo, Libacao, Madalag, Malay, Makato, Malinao, Nabas, New Washington, Numancia, and Tangalan, then all part of the province of Capiz. The province was inaugurated on November 8, 1956. José Raz Menez was appointed the first governor of Aklan by President Magsaysay and he served until December 30, 1959. In 1960, Godofredo P. Ramos became the first elected governor but upon resigning to run for Congress he was succeeded by the vice governor, Virgilio S. Patricio. In 1964, José B. Legaspi succeeded Patricio and he held office for two consecutive terms from 1964 to 1971.
Aklan occupies the northern third of the island of Panay and is bordered by the provinces of Iloilo from the south, Capiz from the east and Antique from the southwest. It also faces the Sibuyan Sea from the north. The province includes the island of Boracay which is located at its northwestern tip.
The province boasts high geographic diversity, ranging from white sandy beaches, mangroves and mountainous landscapes. It also boasts the river Akean, which appears unique due to its "boiling or frothing" appearance.
The main inhabitants of the province are the Aklanon, who are part of the Visayan ethnic group. Other inhabitants include the Negrito, locally known as the Ati and the Sulod, a lesser known tribal group living in the hinterlands of Panay. Other Visayans are also present such as the Karay-a, the Hiligaynon and the Capiznon.
Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion of the people and Christian festivals such as Christmas and Lent are regarded with high importance. Meanwhile, Christian icons such as the Santo Niño are regarded as cultural symbols of the people. Animism, however, is still practised by the Ati.
A view of the Grotto in Boracay at dusk. Tourism is the main industry in Boracay.
Aklan depends greatly on agriculture. The massive and sustained education and research in agriculture production, the implementation of national program in agriculture, well-established marketing strategies, as well as the support of the agribusiness industry and other private and non-government sectors, result to better production and higher income of the farmers.
Palay is still the number one crop grown in the province. The total area planted with rice is 42,218 hectares effective area, or 0.39 percent of the total agricultural area of the province. In the year 2000, rice production registered a total of 123,292 metric tons, or an increase of 8,405 metric tons over that of the 1999 production of 115,524 metric tons. The increase in production was attributed to the implementation of the Strategic Agricultural and Fishery Development Program (SAFDP); and, the improvement of the irrigation system that increases the irrigated rice areas.
With the implementation of the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) rice production program using the Hybrid rice, production is expected to increase by 15 percent or an average of 10 metric tons per hectare in the succeeding years. However, the problem of low price support for rice still continues to affect the production sector.
In general, Aklan is sufficient in meat and other livestock and poultry products, though in the inventory of livestock and poultry in the year 2000, hog and chicken had a decrease in population from 114,890 heads of hogs and 886,597 heads of chickens in 1999 to 95,950 heads of hogs and 782,820 heads of chicken in the 2000. The decrease in production were attributed to the following factors: high cost of feeds, feed supplements and biologics; livestock and poultry diseases; increasing price of chicks; and, high cost of labor.
Coconut still occupies the largest area planted among major permanent agriculture crops. The total area planted with coconut is 32,276 hectares (ha.). Ibajay ranks the largest with 4,317 ha. ; followed by Balete with 2,611 ha, ; Banga with 2,314 ha. ; Makato with 2,089 ha. ; and, Altavas with 2,054 ha. All the rest of the municipalities have areas below 2000 ha. However, in terms of copra production, Makato ranks number one with 2,770 metric tons per year; next is Balete with 2,669; and Libacao with 2,399. The rest produce less than 2000 metric tons. Total production is 25,375 metric tons annually.
Aside from palay and coconut, other major crops that contributed to uplift the economy of Aklan are being developed. These are high valued crops with export potential, such as banana (Lakatan), mango, rambutan, and lanzones; and fiber crops such as piña fiber and abaca.
Aquaculture constitutes a significant component in the province's fishery industry. The province has a total fishpond area of 7,807.14 hectares (ha.), of which 7,749.9247 ha. Are fully developed and only 57,2153 ha. are underdeveloped. Of the total fishpond areas, 4,512.04162 ha. Are with Fishpond Lease Agreement (FLA); 138.85672 ha. Are with permits; 2,729.02636 ha. are on process/application; and, 370.0 ha. are titled.
Aside from Piña, Abaca abounds in Aklan. Innovations were made out of this fabric to suit the demanding supply of the fashion market. Dyed abaca cloths are made into place mats. bags, wall decors, fans, etc.
Beyond Boracay and the Ati-atihan, one can also find a dream possession in the province - the Piña cloth, considered as the "Queen of the Philippine Fabrics," and other fineries made from it. The Piña cloth is considered a prime produce of Kalibo, weaved from its unique crude wooden or bamboo handloom that changed little from eight centuries ago.
Lezo, one of the 17 municipalities of Aklan, is known for its red clay, which the natives use to make pots, vases and various novelty items. The people of Lezo have a means of livelihood because of the abundant supply of red clay provided by nature.
Despite the prevalence of Christianity native beliefs about the aswang and the babaylan are still prevalent among the people. Kulam or witchcraft, locally known as "amulit" is still feared by many residents.
The province is known for its festivities which includes the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo. Originally, the festival was to celebrate the treaty between the Ati and the Malayan tribes who settled in the Island. The Ati live in the mountain regions and the Malay people in the flatlands or close to the water. The festivity begins on the dry season, at which time the Ati come down from the mountains to trade and celebrate with the Malayan tribes. When the Spaniards settled in the region and converted the Malays to their Christian religion, they asked the Malays to celebrate this festivity to coincide with the Feast of the "Santo Niño" (Holy Child) which is usually held during the third week of January.
Bariw Festival is a unique Festival showcasing the skills of every Nabasnon in weaving bags, mats and hats made of bariw leaves - the prospering livelihood in the municipality. It is highlighted by the dance performance of local talent and ingenuity to the beat of the drums and indigenous rhythm celebrated every May 14 of the year.
Bugna Festival is a festival showcasing the different locally produced products and eco-tourism destinations of Tangalan like the marine sanctuary and coral garden, Afga Point, Campo Verde, Jawili Falls, Bughawi beach and reforestation project every May 16th of the year.
Kali-Ugyon Festival (kali stands for Kalipayan or hapiness and Ugyon meaning unity). This is the festival celebrated in Libacao every December 30 to January 1, costumed in modern and indigenous outfits bringing people together on the streets for merry-making and to drive away evil spirits in the coming New Year.
Aklanons are known for their literature, which includes the epic of Kalantiao. Certain Aklanons, such as Melchor F. Cichon, Roman Aguirre, have produced several notable literary works in the province.
Universities and Colleges
Aklan is the home of the Regional Science High School for Region VI (RSHS-VI), one of the specialized system of public secondary schools in the Philippines.
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^ "Population and Annual Growth Rates for The Philippines and Its Regions, Provinces, and Highly Urbanized Cities". 2010 Census and Housing Population. National Statistics Office. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
"The Fraudulent Code of Kalantiáw". Archived from the original on 18 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-09.
Augusto V. de Viana (2006-09-17). "The Order of Kalantiaw? Haosiao!". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 2007-09-15. Retrieved 2007-07-09. (archived from the original on 2007-09-15)
Scott, William Henry (1984). Prehispanic Source Materials for the study of Philippine History. New Day Publishers. pp. 132–134. ISBN 971-10-0226-4.
Agoncillo, Teodoro C. (1990) . History of the Filipino People (8th ed.). Quezon City: Garotech Publishing. pp. 26–28. ISBN 971-8711-06-6.
"An Act to Create the Province of Aklan". LawPH.com. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
^ "Province: Aklan". PSGC Interactive. Makati City, Philippines: National Statistical Coordination Board. Retrieved 5 February 2013.