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Brief History of Kalibo

The proud ancient town of Kalibo was established between 1212-1250 A.D. when Malayan settlers arrived in Aninipay (now Panay Island) from Borneo.

The island then inhabited by aboriginal aetas, was renamed the settlers as “Madyaas” after the majestic mountain that bordered the three original geographical divisions (sakups) they created for the island, namely Hamtik (now Antique), Irong-Irong (now Iloilo) and Akean (now Aklan) which included the present province of Capiz.

In its glory, Madyanos (meaning little paradise), the precursor of Akean (derived from the name of the river that traverses the valley) and what is now Kalibo, was a center of the intellectual, cultural, spiritual and political life not only of the entire province (minuro or sakup) but also of the entire Katieingban it Madyaas  (Confederation of Madyaas).

The Spanish era marked tremendous changes and development in the socio-economic-political make-up of early Kalibonhons.

Some historical notes attest the Miguel Lopez de Legaspi while in Panay sent forth Juan de Salcedo together with Spanish soldiers in response to the appeal for assistance of Aklanons.

Along with them was Fr. Juan de Alba who officiated the baptism of one thousand (“isa ca livo”) inhabitants which was the beginning of the natives’ conversion to Christianity.

From then on, the Spaniards started calling Akean “Calivo” derived from the phrase sankalibo as what it is known today, in conformity with the local language.

A significant milestone, the mass baptism held on the third Sunday of January, Feast of the Holy Infant, was celebrated by both the natives and the Spaniards with songs and dances accompanied by drumbeats and chants of “Viva kay Senor Sto. Nino!”

Since then, the event was commemorated every year and has evolved into a unique religious-historical-cultural tradition known as the Sto. Nino Ati-Atihan Festival.

Calivo was canonically erected as a Parish on April 21, 1581. A decade earlier, on November 3, 1571, Calivo was given to Antonio Flores as an encomienda. This date was officially recognized in 2006 as the foundation day of the town.

Kalibo was designated as the capital town of the new province of Aklan by virtue of Republic Act No. 1414 and by proclamation of President Ramon Magsaysay on July 14, 1956.

In 1997, Kalibo was categorized as a First class municipality. Today, Kalibo is the center of educational and socio-economic hub of Northern Panay.


(Taken from the 2012 Kalibo Foundation Day program)