Hamtic is located at the southwester portion of Antique and is seven (7) kilometres from San Jose de Buenavista,the provincial capital and about 90 kilometers from Iloilo City.
It has a total land area of 135.0 square kilometre and is one of the smallest municipalities, roughly, it ranks 8th among the smallest. It is composed of 47 barangys, 43 of which are rural and which occupy an area of 13,074 hectares while 5 are considered urban have an area of 870 hectares while the smallest is Poblacion 1 with a land area of 10 hectares. Of the 47 barangays, 13 are found along the coast.Sixteen barangays are in the upland areas and 31 are in the lowland areas.
Nevetheless, Hamtic is proud to be the birthplace of famous Antiqueños, foremost of whom is former governor Evelio B. Javier, born in Brgy. Lanag(now renamed Brgy. EBJ) and is considered as the local hero of Antique. Gen. Leandro Fullon, whose statue is erected at the town’s plaza, was the last general to surrender and the first revolutionary governor of Antique, also a Hamticanon.
The latest edition to the strings of tourist attractions found in Hamtic, aside from the hero’s birthplace, is the Rosa Mystica Park in Brgy. Dangcalan where soul-searchers can have a corner to come to and to meditate. The Park boasts of statues depicting the Lord’s Via Crucis and is situated on top of a hill, also Rosa Mystica’s image, thus the park is named. It can be reached by tricycle and has minimal entrance fee (maybe for its maintenance). It is open daily to accommodate local and foreign visitors.
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Hamtic or Hamtik is the oldest town in Antique. It was the first capital of the province during the Spanish regime. Later, San Jose de Buenavista was made capital by the Spaniards in 1802. Hamtic was then relegated to a mere barrio, forming a part of San Jose.
It was in Malandog where datu Sumakwel and his followers together with six other chieftains from Borneo, made a permanent settlement. Within a short period, the settlement in Malandog considered the First Malayan settlement in the Philippines), progressed and continued to grow until it embraced three “sakops”, namely : Hamtik, Aklan and irong-irong. Datu Sumakwel was the Chief Datu of Hamtik but soon became the recognized ruler of the whole Island of Panay.
Hamtik was already a flourishing Malayan settlement when the Spaniards came to Panay. However, the settlement was later renamed Antique by the Spaniards and made the first capital of the province. In 1762, the seat of the Province was transferred to Bugasong, another progressing Spanish Settlement, but in 1802 it was moved to San Jose de Buenavista, the present capital of the Province of antique.
The town of Hamtic was created separately from the Municipality of San Jose by virtue of Executive Order No. 3 of the President of the Philippines and was officially inaugurated on January 20,1954. Since then, the Municipality is celebrating its birth anniversary.
Malandog, one of the barangays of Hamtic at present, was the first barangay reached by Datu Sumakwel and the Malayan datus when they first landed in Panay island. Later they discovered that the place was marshy and unsuitable for settlement so they transferred three kilometres south of Malandog. They were satisfied because there are many trees in the large plains and they can gather materials to be used for the construction of their houses. They called this place “Hantik” after the humming big black ants that produce the sound “tik” when they bite. Hantik was the place where the first Malayan settlement and the purchase of Panay between Datu sumakwel and the Aetas Chief datu Marikudo had occurred. Panay was traded for one sarong and one gold necklace.
It was when the Spaniards colonized the island that the site’s name was changed to antique, which later on became the name of the whole province . There was also a time when Hamtic was considered the capital town of the Province. Then the Spaniards transferred the capital to San Jose de Buenavista relegating Hamtic as a mere “arraval”.
Hamtic town boasts of its historic origin – it was the seat of civilization, not only in the region, but in the whole country. As its municipal theme song goes:
Sa imo nga baybayun binirayan nakilala
Puud nga pag bug-os nga Antique ginhalinan
Puod nga bantog sa Hamtikan kag Sumakwelan
Hamtic malinong, mainuswagun nga banwa
Napun-an kang dunang manggad kag kasadya…ha
Maabi-abihun katawhan mo nga dungganun sa tanan nga panahon
ikaw amun palanggaun.”
Local historians tell how Hamtic came to be thru its legend.
During the 13th century, at the time that Sulu experienced a change from the high influence of Banjarmasin, Borneo was full of discontentment. The leader of Borneo then was Sultan Makatunaw, known for its cruelty and greediness. To escape from his wrath, the ten datus led by datu Puti sailed away in their “balangays” in search of freedom in a new and peaceful land. The other nine (9) datus were Datu sumakwel, Bangkaya, Paiburong, Padohinog, Lubay , Dumalugdog, Dumangsil, Dumangsol and Balinsusa. Strong winds and tides brought this group of sailors, businessmen, sculpturs, farmers, blacksmiths/carpenters and spiritual babaylan to the Sirawagan River, once a portion of Antique but presently claimed by San Joaquin, Iloilo. Nearby lies the Andona Creek where these foreigners met with the natives, black, short and kinky-haired inhabitants called atis or negritoes as the Spaniards used to call them.
The leader of the datus, datu Puti met with Datu Marikudo, heir of datu Polpolan, the chieftain of the Atis, who immediately asked what they (the foreigners) wanted. Datu Puti replied that they need to purchase a land they can call their own and where they can live peacefully. Marikudo readily agreed to allow them to occupy the area near the sea while the Atis will occupy the hillsides and the mountainous part. The agreement would be done with a barter.
The Atis were happy with what they got – a gold salakot, a long necklace and a gold “batya”. Unluckily, the land that the datus purchased run out of food, water and other provisions. Datu Puti sent Datu Sumakwel to travel north with a group of other Datus’ wives, “bangut-banwa”, guides and the rest. They reached the shores of Hantik, and later anchored at Malandog or “Malindog” (tabungos). They sailed towards the mouth of the two rivers, Bocboc and Malandog and carefully anchored thereat. Datu Sumakwel went around the land and found out that there was abundance of harvest in the fields and foods from the seas and wild animals in the hills and mountains. He then went back to Sirawagan to report to Datu Puti what he had discovered. Datu Puti then called everyone to prepare to sail northbound, to Malandog.
Later, datu Puti sailed north from Malandog and reached the provinces of Batangas, Laguna and to other parts of Luzon. With him were Datu Dumangsil and Datu Balinsusa. Meanwhile, datu Sumakwel became the most respected leader of Hamtic and later the whole of Panay (Sources: Local Historians and Oral History)