(previous Blogger post, October 22, 2006, Sunday)

Once and for all, I’d like to erase the aswang (witch) image of Capiz. It is so far from what the place really is all about. I’ve been coming to the province since I was a baby, and not once have I had even a remotely aswang-related experience. Yes, I’ve walked on dark streets at midnight, and I’m still in one piece today. I’m more scared at midnight here in Metro Manila. It’s all supernatural. Human vultures are much more dangerous.

Of course, it’s my father’s home province, so that’s probably why aswangs don’t show their faces to me. I might even be one, haha! Kidding! Capiz is the first place I”ve ever traveled to – before I could even talk. I’m glad to see how it progressed through the years. Gone were the days of no electricity and no running water.

Capiz is officially nicknamed ‘Seafood Capital of the Philippines’, a moniker it truly deserves. It is the one place where I literally pig out on seafood. I love meat, but I could go for days without it in our province. Seafood in Capiz is fresh, safe, yummy, plentiful, and really cheap. Special mention goes to its crabs, shrimps, diwal (angel-wings shellfish) and bangus.

Roxas City is the capital of Capiz. It is named after Capiz native, President Manuel Roxas. The city appears to be a regular provincial capital, with its typical layout of the Cathedral, plaza, and Capitol all in one area. What I love about it is the bridge over the river that runs through Roxas City. Its beautiful design is reminiscent of a pont (bridge) over River Seine in Paris. I took a closer look at that bridge and river during my last visit, and only then did I spot the similarity.

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Baybay Beach in Roxas City has gray sand, but it is just as powdery as Boracay’s white sand. It’s waters are not as clear and as calm, and has a tendency to be jelly fish-infested in late summer/early rainy season afternoons, but it’s still a popular hangout for locals and tourists alike. Cheap but delicious food, and cheap but clean cottages abound. It has become a tradition for us to go there late in the afternoon until early evening with some of my cousins, usually on the day before we go back to Manila. The atmosphere is so laid back as compared to the more popular resorts in the Philippines. My favorite is just watching the fishermen haul in their last catch of the day.

Pan-ay is my dad’s hometown. It is the next town after Roxas City, around 20 minutes away. Pan-ay’s distinctive landmark is the Sta. Monica Church, where you can find Asia’s biggest bell. Visitors are allowed to climb the belfry to get a closer look. Its gong is as big as a person’s head, and several people can fit under its mouth. The sound can be heard up to 7 kilometers away. The bell was cast with roughly 70 sacks of coins donated by parishioners, and has this inscription in Spanish:

“Soy la voz de Dios que llevare’ y enzalsare’ desde el principio hasta el fin de este pueblo de Panay para que los fieles de Jesus vengan a esta casa de Dios a recibir las gracias celestials”

(“I am the voice of God which will echo and praise from the beginning until the end of this town of Pan-ay, so that the faithful of Jesus Christ will come to this house of God to receive heavenly graces.”)

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The Baroque church itself is a masterpiece, built using corals. Recently restored (ehem, by my uncle’s team 😉 ), the church still has much of its original terra cotta and black and white marble floor, main altar retablo and side altar retablos. Even the old pulpit was retained. A museum beside the church shows more of its history and treasures.

Capiz is probably just like any bucolic place in the Philippines, but the people make it more special. In my opinion – probably a tad biased one – Visayans are one of the nicest people in the Philippines. They are so welcoming. It doesn’t matter who you are, they are eager to embrace you into their fold. They probably don’t know the meaning of the word ‘wary’. Their lilting accent makes them even more endearing. There’s no exact English translation for it, they are simply ‘malambing’. The closest translation would probably be ‘gentle’. Yes, even the aswangs have that quality, haha!

Seriously, come visit Capiz if you want a truly charming experience.

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