Anini-y is a typical town of Antique that is imbued with historical facets and tourist attractions. Various myths and legends tried to explain how the town got its unique name, “Anini-y” or “place of small rivers.” This Spanish customary writing of Y instead of I spurred researchers to finding that once upon a time, in the present area of the municipality, there existed a community called Igneini. It was cited to be the gateway into the prosperous Aninipay (old Panay) kingdom of the mighty Ati king, Marikudo. However, cultural historians believe that “dash Y” in the name actually is “dash I” which is a Malayan suffix, meaning “place/people of.” This suffix is only used for a place that is very important or has achieve a degree of greatness, as in the case of Hantik-i which later became Antique or used as in May-i believed to be the legendary old Manila.
Anthropological research reveals that Anini-y, specifically Sira-an hot springs, and Nogas Island, played a major role in the early civilization of Panay. Sira-an hot spring, which is considered ‘holy’ by “manogbulong” or native medicine men, functioned as a quarantine station. Nogas Island’s role was economic, as it was here that “baking” or striped golden-yellow seashell used as currency in the kingdom of the Atis was abundant. As such, Anini-y was a garrison of sorts with the multiple functions of “currency’s minting plant” and as a guard post for access to the kingdom’s “headquarters.” These strategic functions of what was to be Anini-y resulted to pre-Hispanic “visitors” to Panay like the Chinese and Malayans staying north and a healthy distance from Marikudo’s men in the restricted area around Nogas Island. They settled outside of Anini-y causing it to remain very sparsely populated until the coming of the Spaniards.
Furthermore, the Santaren Papers declared that the landing of the ten Bornean datus took place in Embidayan. This is a rock formation at a beach that is now part of Sinogbuhan but is claimed by local folks to have been part of Anini-y before but the leadership then failed to claim. Its mention is important, the barter of Panay having historical significance. Said barter meeting took place under the “kadapdapan” which root word is dapdap -the old name of the last barangay of Anini-y less than a 100 meter from the rock. Maragtas by Monteclaro also related that after the barter, the Atis went to the headwaters of Igdaganas to live in Anini-y uplands.
Anini-y started to blossom as a community with the coming of settlers from Asluman, Hamtik around 1630. Then came people from Cagayancillo, an island southwest of Panay but a couple from Alimodian and Cuyo was identified to be the first non-Ati settler in Anini-y. This explains Anini-y’s intonation to be akin to Alimodian’s.
Politically, Anini-y became an arabal of Dao -now T. Fornier, in 1840. The barangays of Casay, San Francisco and Sta. Magdalena were included under the administration of Anini-y in 1848. As a political unit, its physical and social developments started under several capitanes in 1849 up to 1854 with the construction of Dao-San Joaquin arterial road, Anini-y street system, schoolhouse and recruitment of teachers, and the first census of Anini-y.
It took a man of strong character, Fray Geronimo Vaquerin to manage and build the most enduring physical projects of Anini-y: the walls around the catholic cemetery and the colonial baroque church with four brass bells from Europe. These projects affirmed the fact that the people of Anini-y can accomplish outstanding feat, only if everyone contributed to the effort as much as they could. The men worked on the walls and carried the heavy loads, while women and children brought the needed sand and stones to the job site. There were hermanas who volunteered for food procurement and preparation.
The Spanish conquerors desired to achieve control, maintain peace and order, and facilitate tax collection. All community activities during the Spanish period were put under the direct supervision of a priest, who in turn appointed or caused the election of a dominant local clan leader to act as the community’s capitan. The first capitan of Anini-y, Nicolas Magbanua, was elected in 1847. Those who followed and the year they started their tenure were Mariano Magbanua (1849), Don Juan Grande (1850), Mariano Magbanua (1853), Lorenzo Asenci (1854), Victorino Suansing (1858), Lorenzo Asenci (1869), Saturnino Erispe (1879), and Francisco Valle (1887). It was capitanes Catalino Magbanua, Saturnino Erispe, and Vicente Salcedo who helped Padre Vaquerin most during the construction of the new church from 1890-94. Up to 1895, a capitan was elected or appointed every year and Gregorio Niervez was the first capitan to govern for a period of four years. It was during his incumbency that the revolution heated up.
Conscription of Anini-y’s youth to the army to fight the moros or other Filipinos in other places, marauding moros, locusts devouring whole harvest, intermittent poor harvest, hunger, earthquake as well as epidemic were reported in the chronicles to have troubled Anini-y in the past.
The canonical books had likewise reported that the people of Anini-y did not remain entirely subservient during all those years. With their “principales” leading, they were able to expel a powerful Augustinian friar in 1875. In 1900, the church and the convento of Anini-y were occupied and used by the Aglipayan community, as there was no priest in Anini-y during the revolution until mid 1904. On the summer of 1908, church properties in Anini-y were returned to the Catholics.
The coming of the Americans at the turn of the 20th century and their introduction of democratic form of government reverted the status of Anini-y as an arabal of Dao. Castor Belleza (1899-1900) and Enrique Fabila (1901-1902) were appointed, consecutively, as temporary presidents of the municipality, until Catalino Salcedo (1903-1904) was formally elected president. Basilio Grande succeeded him as president and remained as such for several years. It was during his term that the seat of the municipal government was transferred to Dao. This arrangement lasted beyond the Second World War.
The 1940′s account of a very strong earthquake that caused land movements and sea retreating half a kilometer seaward remains in the senior citizen’s psyche.
On August 5, 1949, President Elpidio Quirino signed EO 205 mandating Anini-y to cease from being an arabal of Dao and to become a separate municipality. The late Juan C. Obaga was appointed its first mayor through the efforts of the late Antique Congressman Egmidio Nietes. Other appointed officials served with him until 1951 when the regular election was held. The pioneer administration did little accomplishments as the town had meager revenue at its creation. However, its population was very happy of their being independent from the mother municipality. The Obaga Administration of 1951-1954 improved a little bit as shown in the increase in its revenues.
Mayor Juan C. Draper became the chief executive in 1955. With assistance from Antique Congressman Tobias A. Fornier, chairman of Committee on Appropriations, the 1955-59 administration initiated plaza beautification, and improvements of municipal roads and public markets. In 1960, Mayor Juan C. Ela who followed him instituted reforms and intensified tax collection resulting to police force augmentation, improvement/ expansion and repair of old municipal building and increase of employees’ salaries. It was under the Ela Administration that the fishery privilege of the town was bided at higher prices.
Mayor Leon A. Sayo’s reign started in 1964. Opening of new schools and new roads, construction of water and small irrigation systems, hiring of more employees and police, and increases in salaries financed by rigid tax collection marked his administration. An avid Marcos man, he remained in office during the martial law years after having been elected for three consecutive terms. Through a fiat, the addition of the ABC President and KB Federation President as sectoral representatives expanded the membership of the Sangguniang Bayan. Since the positions are accorded the same privileges and remuneration as the elected SB member, thence, sectoral elections became hotly contested.
It was during this period when communities and families were polarized into pro and anti Marcos factions with the disciplinarian and the stern, mostly the parents, sided with the regime. Predominantly, the youths and the progressives were on the other side. Anini-y’s distance from the capital town where the opposition was strong, DYKA’s weak signal and people listening more to Iloilo “sensational” stations, and absence of special projects and programs run by Evelio’s adherents espousing people empowerment left out Anini-y from the mainstream of social movements. The civil society’s lackluster participation in today’s local governance and rural development efforts, even from coops that has survived for more than a decade is its result. In the first election after the lifting of martial law, the people again supported Mayor Sayo. It was during his administration that Sira-an hot spring was developed as a tourism destination. The longest reigning town chief’s term ended with President Marcos overthrow at the EDSA revolt.
When President Aquino took power, Virgilio T. Rendon was appointed OIC municipal mayor for two years. Briefly, Florentino M. Egida served for 2 months, more or less, as chief executive until the first post-EDSA set of officers was duly elected. Mayor Rendon was elected into the position twice until 1995. The passing of RA 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991 granted him and the local officials expanded powers and additional funds through increase in the local share from the internal revenue allotment. His administration was characterized by the continuation of programs that was started under the previous regimen. The livestock auction market became a good source of municipal revenue. Nogas Island was given attention and a program was initiated to make it as another tourism attraction while preserving what is left of the island. During his administration, the last of the upland barangays of Anini-y was connected to the main roads.
The incumbent local chief executive, Hon. Reynaldo B. Pollicar became municipal mayor during the second half of President Ramos’ term, in 1995. His chief supporter and project financier was then Congressman Exequiel B. Javier, chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, who is now the governor of Antique. The Pollicar administration is marked by visible improvements in the infrastructure sector and in the access to delivery of basic social services. Under his able leadership and close working relationship with the incumbent governor, the fondest dream of the people, which is the concreting of the national roads in the major barangays of Anini-y was realized. The construction of two functional irrigation systems for Lisub A, Talisayan and Sagua, another for Nato and Butuan, and physical development of Sira-an and municipal plaza, park and hall were also realized. Barangays that need permanent multi-purpose hall are now provided access to this facility. Integrated coastal, upland and lowland projects are in various stages of implementation deemed to bring economic empowerment, socio-cultural developments and sustainable impact in the quality of life of the people of Anini-y.
The holding of the recent ‘Urukay-Surhano Festival” – a municipal agro-food industrial and cultural fair is dubbed to be a new direction in local governance. It has provided the reason for the people to unite and celebrate as a community. All sectors have started to participate.
The present administration is now trying its hand to explore the efficacy of the principles of “reinventing the government” and has set its eyes on eco-tourism as its vehicle to progress. Anini-y’s geographic distance from San Jose, the capital town of Antique, and Iloilo City -the regional center is being capitalized as a plus factor. It has become the local tourism mecca for visitors from various municipalities of Antique up to far off municipalities of Iloilo for invigorating and balmy rest and recreation.
Another factor that should be mentioned in the glowing achievements of Mayor Pollicar is the all out support to his administration being provided by his Vice Mayor Glenn E. Hernaez. The vice-mayor has ably stirred the sanggunian into a positive development force. Other incumbents are: Sangguniang Bayan Members Adviento Orlando P. Solis, Jessie Rey R. Cabasan, Efren D. Sumaculub, Ariston V. Near, Serafin M. Formarejo, Bernabe E. Samones, Jr., Orlando O. Sumugat and Leticia Z. Fallar; ABC President Baltazar U. Aguillon and SKF President Arlene N. Huelar. Through the years, the municipality of Anini-y has managed to inch closer to its niche in development. This blending of culture and history will remain a legacy now and its hope for the future.