One cannot exactly trace the origin of the name Bantayan. In the ancient map of the Philippines drawn by the Spanish navigators sometimes in the mid 1500’s, the name Bantayan already appears. In fact, when the Augustinian Friars met in an important meeting in Manila in 1579 to finalize their decision, Bantayan as a parish in the island, had already been identified as it is known today. 

The establishment of the Convento de la Asuncion de Nuestra Señora in Bantayan on June 11, 1580 makes Bantayan as the first and oldest parish in the Visayas and Mindanao. Its ecclesiastical jurisdiction was so wide that it included Guam and Marianas.
Historians can only speculate on the origin of Bantayan. Some say that it could come from the word “bantayan” meaning to protect or watch over. They further surmise that the reason for this could have been the rich marine resources of the island, so rich indeed that it prompted the Spaniards to call Bantayan “Madre de Los Pescados” – Mother of the Fishes. Research on the island’s past reveals that, at one point in time, the island of Bantayan was completely surrounded by coral reefs. 

Bantayan had a flourishing community already when the Spaniards came. Proof of these are the precolonial artifacts that continue to be found or dug up in the old settlements: Barangay Bantigue all the way to Barangay Patao in the Western part of the island and Barangay Baigad all the way to Barangay Atop-atop in the Eastern part. A large chunk of the precolonial Collection of the Sugbu Museum is on loan from a private Bantayanon collector. 

Bantayan further became a thriving town during the Spanish period as evidenced by the presence of Casas de Teja. Had a fire not razed one half of the town proper in 1973, Bantayan would certainly beat Vigan as the country’s premiere Heritage Site. Sortido Cebuana, a Spanish-influenced quadrille dance originated from Bantayan.
Bantayan is the center of Commerce and Industry as well as Arts and Culture in the entire island. It is a First Class Municipality covering 25 Barangays, 5 of which are island Barangays covering a total of 14 islets.


Tubig sa Karomata: sourced out from the deep wells, tap water placed in tin tanks which are fitted into wooden “KAROMATAS”, is peddled around to consumers. 

The “Karomata sa Tubig” was a common sight plying around the main streets in Poblacion Bantayan, until the establishment of BREMANDCOR & BIWA, two water resource systems that supply the household needs of the municipality & until the proliferation of the commercial mineral water.

Gradually, these unique features, only then in Bantayan, have gone extinct with the modernization of the town’s water systems.


Kubkuban: the old ocean-friendly means of hauling bounties from the Visayan Seas and sometimes used as a carrier of saints during the Fluvial Procession.