The History and Cultural Exchange of the Spaniards in the Filipino Island of Boracay
Boracay is more than just another Island and Resort by the Sea. Its rich History dates back in the early 17th-8th Century.As history books tell stories of times past, few is ever written or told about the island's history prior to its popularity in the seventies. Many would write about it but with always the same tone - its past being shaded or unknown. Others would tell tales about how the island was discovered - film crews, German writers, backpackers. Others persevered which enabled them to retrieve data from past histories that led to the unfolding of the history of one of the best beaches of the world.
Some people considered themselves lucky for having had the time spent with the settlers and old people in Boracay. Accounts of fisherfolks and Ati indeed were mentioned. There is one account that they revealed - about who they often referred to as the "First Family" of Boracay - they were considered as among the first settlers of the island who lived among the Ati.
No wonder there are Villas and Cottages named in her honor.
No wonder there are structures which stood and are named in his honor.
The Island belongs to the Western Visayas group and is located in the northwestern tip of Panay, in the west Visayas of Region VI, neighboring the Sibuyan Sea. The island has three major Villages namely; Yapak in the North, Balabag in the middle, and Manoc-Manoc in the south, and numerous small barrios or barangays or sitios, all linked together by a maze of paths, labeled into five commercial stations.
The name Boracay is attributed to different origins. One story says that it is derived from the local word "borac" which means white cotton with characteristics close to the color and texture of Boracay's white sugary and powdery sand. Another credits the name to local words "bora," meaning bubbles, and "bocay," meaning white. Yet another version dating back to the Spanish era says the name is derived from "sagay," the word for shell, and "boray," the word for seed.
Akeanon is predominantly spoken in Aklan. Other than Tagalog/Filipino and other local vernaculars, English is widely spoken in the island.
The source of living was mainly fishing. Then later farming was introduced by the local settlers so that coconut and tobacco plantation and vegetation provided for the livelihood of the Boracaynon settlers. They would trade copra with Aklan and in some parts of Luzon for rice and other goods. In the 1960s and 1970s, families from Panay and neighboring towns became frequent visitors to the island.
Antropological studies suggests that the Ati were the original settlers in the island but interbred and/or crossbred with other people we now called the "Boracayons".
The First Family: Lamberto Hontiveros Tirol and Sofia Ner Gonzales
They settled in the island in the 1900s when Lamberto became a Judge in Buruanga, an old name for Malay. Sofia had a small lot in the area where they constructed a small shelter. Later on, a number of islanders sold their lots to the couple, until a relatively large area was occupied by the family.
It was reported by the locals and documented by the Bureau of Lands sometime in 1920 particularly by the Office of the Land Inspector in Buruanga (now Malay), District 17, that it was Lamberto who founded the barrio of Yapac in 1913, a portion of the island he bought from some islanders in addition to the already owned lot by Sofia adjoining thereto. At that time, Yapac only constituted seven houses and one barrio church.
Lamberto, or Lamber as he was fondly called by the islanders, was a good provider, he worked hard to earned his own keep and to give his family a good life. Sofia, or Sofing, as she was fondly called by her fellow Boracaynons, was a green thumb, a good administratrix and a good employer. While Lamberto work, she and her workers would go around and about the island planting trees and vegetables. She was able to plant thousands of coconut trees along with corn and tobacco. Her main product was that of tobacco and copra. It was written that she was able to produce first class tobacco which were traded from all over Luzon. In 1987, she was esteemed as "The Woman Behind The Greening of Boracay" in The Sunday Times Magazine. The same was reprinted in 1998 by a local paper in Panay.
It was an early demise for Lamberto. He died sometime in 1924, a year of mourning not just for the family he left behind but also for the Boracaynons. He was, to them, a father, a trustworthy "Amoy" and a friend. He left behind a young widow to tend their orphaned children. Despite her broken heart, she maintained that composure of a strong willed woman, continued to take care of the island, made it into something the world would call "Island Paradise."
With the help of a nephew Josefino Sta Maria Tirol, Sofia was able to place her portion in the island under the Torrens System. In 1929, Sofia was granted a title in her favor and for the Heirs of Lamberto Hontiveros Tirol. At that time, Aklan was still part of Capiz, so was Malay, so that the Ordinary Registration Proceedings for Titling over Panay was lodge in the Courts of First Instance in Capiz Area. In 1931, Honorable Enrique Altavaz of the General Land Registration Office issued giving formally a torrens title over a large portion of the island.
Sofia's ground work gained her the appreciation she much deserved. In 1987, in a magazine (The Sunday Times Magazine, November, 1987), an article was written about the woman behind the greening of Boracay. The article was about Sofia Ner Gonzales. Today, the island remained to be as Sofia intended it to be: an Island Paradise. She would have wanted it the way it was: with all the coconut trees standing almost everywhere, including bended cocos that gave the island the unique scenery peculiarly exclusive to Boracay. Sadly, those trees are no longer there. Environment and legal issues beset the island. Government intervention seem to aggravate the matter. Nonetheless, Boracay remained one of the best beaches in the world.
Rapid growth of the Island began in 1970, and the population has grown. Today, this beautiful sea island continues to offer Visitor and Resident alike a beautiful oasis featuring miles of blue beaches, World Class golf, recreation and a renewal of spirit as one finds himself surrounded, and enriched by, the peaceful beauty of nature.