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Beating Historical Rhythms



Giving names to places may be derived from various things that may have contribute or can be associated to its history, geographical composition, unique products, and many more which can refl ect a broad description of a given location. Society dwells with this kind of matter as the latter seeks to identify the essence of its existence. It aims to establish an identity for its people that may serve a medium in uplifting its culture and beliefs. This may also channel a mindset on how someone perceives a landscape. Questions are often served in the round table for discussions in to order seal a structured claim that supplements the legitimacy of facts or widely accepted affi rmations.

Streets, kalye, towns, cities, and provinces have gained their names in both synonymous and subjective processes which may or may not be linked to an etymological evolution. Some were particularly formed by word coiners of the streets based on amorphous inspirations from trees, accidents, stores, or intersections such as crossing kamunsil, bangga’ panot, that has become dilate and yield recognition from many. In larger contextual frameworks, places and their names play a signifi cant platform in preserving its cultural practices by consistently commemorating their origin through devotion, celebrations, or festivals which directly emphasize its relevance. Mostly were named from important historical fi gures such as heroes, endemic animals found in their locality,


VOL.59 nO.1 | The DOLPHIN

and abundantly growing plants or crops. As mentioned, those were just some of the numerous reasons that determine the dawn of civilizations that gratify the advent of a place. But most importantly, a deeper interest transcribes to a community with enterprising and hardworking people whose simple town was named after a musical instrument used by their ancestors in defending their territory – Guimbal. Wayback 1575, Christianity reached Guimbal and was entitled to become a visita - a small town with small chapel for worship purposes. Later on, it was established as an independent doctrina in 1590 by Augustinians with San Nicolas de Tolentino as its patron saint. Guimbal, which was originally annexed to Oton, is known for its Bantayan Festival that is annually celebrated as a way to remember its rich history and to sanctify faith of its people, who were formerly Pagans, in surviving invasions of numerous Moro attacks. Its Christian church enjoys active devotees and has maintained a strong religious community for 400 hundred years such as the Confradia de Nuestra Seniora de Consolacion y Sagrada Coria. The antiquity of Guimbal does revolve in various landmarks such as the Bantayan Moro watchtower, the Stone Bridge or Taytay Tigre, and the Zulueta Bridge (formerly known as the Virginia Bridge). These sites amplify a compelling setting of the town as to how it was established and became witnesses of its ever-changing development. The name Guimbal is the prime objective of the discourse for it is believed to have originated from Gimba, an instrument made from hallowed trunk of palm tree covered by either goat or deer skin often referred to a Malay instrument with thirty centimeters in diameter. As accepted by majority, this was used to by the early settlers atop the Bantayan watchtower to create warning signals for approaching Moro invaders. Moro pirates’ active attacks in Guimbal manifest there motif of stealing and looting the town and to capture native Guimbalanons to be sold as slaves in Kolambongan, Mindanao. There were consecutive attempts that often led to bloodshed. This could also to be the retaliation of Mindanao due to what the Spaniards deed. Spaniards, in serious desire to conquer Mindanao islands and to minimize casualty, often used Visayans as part of their soldier fl eet. To combat the growing threat the Moro pirates have brought, the natives conceptualized so-called watchtowers to increase their visibility along the coast of Guimbal. Discerning to stories, Bantayan or the watchtowers were not originally made from stones rather it was made from bamboo. However, bamboos are not sturdy enough and can’t withstand a long exposure to varying weather and so they were replaced. Five watchtowers were built with unique characteristics. They all diff er in sizes and architectural design and were situated in distinct locations along the shore of the town. One in Bagumbayan, the biggest and octagonal shape in Pescadores, the smaller one in Generosa, Rizal Tuguisan, and square shaped in Nanga. A shoreline protection project was built to combat the rising sea level and to achieve a successful preservation of the three remaining watchtowers. Each one consists of gimba or drum together with budyong an instrument made from bull’s horn, are played to warn all the natives if imminent Moro attack was recognized. Claims proposed that the manner of producing a signal for people to be informed is a channel. As long as one of the gimba from any of the watchtowers sounded, the remaining will also follow which became effi cient by allowing the natives to prepare their defenses. This is consistently done by the natives the moment the Moros attempt to invade. Potent results appeared as the Moro invasions gradually died out and Guimbalanons enjoyed the town’s resources. According to Mr. Omar E. Gelpe, member of the Parish Catechetical Ministry and reviewed numerous accounts about Guimbal, missionary priests who arrived in the town in early years quoted the phrase Con Mucho Bombo that equates to “there are so many drums”. A substantiation that supports the existence of drums in various parts of Guimbal which could be probably used as either safety apparatus or musical instrument. It yields a relation between



HERITAGE. Bantayan watchtower as a tangible evidence of Guimbal’s early civilizations.

the drum and how the town’s name was attained. The long-standing Bantayan watchtowers, in support on the other hand, serve as powerful evidence for the augmentation of Guimbal’s history. Intellects and history concerned individuals keep on digging write ups and historical accounts that will answer the scarcity of some information in further strengthening the assertion that Guimbal got its name from gimba. Researches are conceptualized to maximize any given source and deliver more clear and detailed information including dates. By doing so, the inadequacy of knowledge will be fi lled and to suffi ce the demand for clarifi cations. Enlightenment across the town could

REVIVING. A photo of modern Guimba with sophisticated designs.

be possible through dissemination or conducting a coherent performance in its celebrated festival if facts become available. A gimba making contest, in fact, is now a part of the Bantayan Festival which aims to showcase the ability of the people in constructing and designing a gimba refl ecting historical landmarks found within the town spearheaded by Mrs. Karen Gayanilo, Municipal Tourism Coordinator and recently elected as the president of the Iloilo Tourism Offi cers’ Association. She believes that this kind of event can magnify the Guimbalanons’ creativity which resonates the culture they live. This is also a way to maintain a fi rm thrust to the authenticity of an object that serve as the contour of the town’s story. Defi ning what we are today needs a thorough refl ection of our past. We cannot dissect without introducing ourselves to what happened. Confi dence in hoisting up an identity only takes place when one has determined his existence and where he came from. Things like this may often push us to the edge of our seats by wondering about “what if’s.” Contemplating about given affi rmations is integral to avoid false knowledge and to cultivate critical thinking through appreciation of the tangible and intangible. There should be a great desire in adjudicating the truth; the reality we must live; and the propagation of culture among generations. The journey of Guimbal for more than four centuries has been challenging yet polychromatic for it was able to survive the test of time and evolved into a progressive town which caters the welfare of its people. It has able to attain balance in the battle between development and preservation; a town where modernity blends with antiquity.


Celebrated every April is a re-enactment of the battle between the Guimbalanons and the Muslim pirates. Guimbal’s ancestral settlement near the sea became the objects of frequent Moro raids. Pirates attacked and enslaved Christian-Filipinos. Their invasions left tracks of death, blood, and ashes. The presentation is in a theatrical dance format and highlights the use of the prop guimba, an ancient instrument that resembled a drum and is beaten by hand to send messages from tower to tower to warn the community of an incoming raid. The bantayan is also featured since it was instrumental in securing the area for defense and to protect the peaceful community from Muslim marauders who were responsible for looting the town and capturing the natives.

Source: https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/travel-andtourism/2003/03/16/199159/town-called-guimbal

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