Visiting Historic and Progressive Pototan
Many words can describe the town of Pototan, Iloilo – rice, Christmas Capital, the Magbanuas – to name a few. But this progressive town has lots to offer. In my recent visit, the town was full of activity; after all, that’s what you have if you’re one of the top agricultural producers in the region.
History and Reputation etched on its landmarks
On my visit to the plaza, one cannot help notice the symbolism decorated on landmarks erected. One of the first that caught my attention is the presence of the carabao bust on every base of a lamp post. The carabao, the iconic representation of Filipino agriculture, is an allure to Pototan’s reputation as Panay’s rice granary.
To further boost rice production in the town, a P200 million Modern Integrated Rice Processing Complex was constructed at Barangay Amamaros. The project was implemented with the cooperation of the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and would include rice production and processing facilities, warehouse, seed cleaning and storage plants, drying plant, hauling facilities and support facilities. The complex is nearly completed as of this time. (This would warrant me to return and visit the complex sometime in the future).
Another significant landmark is the monument erected to honor the Magbanua siblings – Pascual, Elias, and Teresa, for their exemplary contribution in the struggle for freedom during the Spanish and American colonial times.
Growing up and educated in Tarlac, I knew few Ilonggo heroes but I definitely adm
ire Teresa Magbanua. I learned about her not in my elementary history textbooks but on an episode of the TV show Bayani where she was portrayed by award-winning actress Jacklyn Jose. Teresa Magbanua, fondly called Nay Isa, was the only woman to command combat troops in the Visayas because of her fighting skill and bravery. Truly, she deserved the title “The Joan of Arc of the Visayas.” Born from the elite, Nay Isa was confronted with the dilemma of leaving her family and elite lifestyle and joining the revolution. She chose to struggle for freedom and the rest was history.
Pascual, the eldest, was appointed brigadier general of the revolutionary army because of his educational background, social position and as an excellent fighter / a master swordsman. A skilled tactician, he was able to hold off the American advance to interior Iloilo towns and was responsible for the fortifications along Tacas-Sambag-Jibaoan Line.
Elias, on the other hand, was sent by his older brother to Negros to recruit and organize men to defend the island from American invaders. He was killed during an American raid of their camp.
In honor of the freedom fighters during the Japanese Invasion, a marker at the base of the plaza’s obelisk was attached. It is important to note that Pototan witnessed some of the significant battles during World War II in the liberation of Panay.
Religiosity and Culture in Pototan
The greenest and most spacious plaza in the province, the Pototan Plaza is the town’s pride in showcasing its progress. The stately mahogany trees, the awesome man-made lagoon, and of course the iconic gazebo are some of the attractions to be seen in the plaza. The plaza is also transformed into a Christmas village during Pototan’s Iwag Festival of Lights. This earned the town the title, “Christmas Capital of Western Visayas“.
A stone-throw away from the plaza is Iloilo’s most advanced and fully equipped covered court and gymnasium. The Pototan Coliseum has a seating capacity enough to accommodate 5,500 spectators. Its facilities such as the basketball court, lighting and sound systems are of international standards.
Education has always been an integral part in the town of Pototan. One of the oldest colleges in the province, the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepción located beside the parish church, was founded in 1932 by Hijas de Jesus Filipinas.
I believe the neoclassic Town Hall of Pototan is one of the most beautiful in the province.
The church of Senor San Jose Parish in Pototan is one of the visible structures in town. The church is built on ground meters above the ground, does giving it a commanding view of the town center. The church is also bears the town’s agriculture traditions – wheel-like designs are used in the facade. Inside, the place of worship is elegant with the beautiful marble altar in front.
Early History of Pototan
According to folklores, the first settlers in Pototan were the family of Datu Ramon, a grandson of Datu Puti who was from Dumangas. The first inhabited area was at Barangay Naslo which was formerly the poblacion. The place was known for the abundance of trees called “putat” which was later called as “Kaputatan” or as place of many Putat Trees. Later they settled near the banks of Suage River because of its secured water supply. This place flourished due to the local trade with the Chinese and the subsequent colonization by Spain.
Pototan is now a 1st Class Municipality with an approximate population of 67,626 (2007).
Pototan Town Center is situated adjacent to the intersection of Iloilo-Capiz Highway, Barotac Nuevo-Pototan Road, and Janiuay-Mina-Pototan Road. It is accessible, around 30 minutes from Tagbak Terminal in Iloilo City. You can ride jeepney or buses traversing the national highway.Tags: Iloilo, Pototan