(Bantoanon version of the Biblical Jonah)
* Some islanders believed that this story is true and others are in limbo
wondering 'could this be true?'. Since this had happened long time ago and the story was
handed down to the next generation orally without any trace of a recorded account, I
just put this in category - Folktales. But history of my island tells us that there indeed
a sporadic raid of Moro pirates in Banton. Fact is that we have the living witness to such
raids - Fort San Nicolas built nearly 400 years ago.
How about the big fish? In this age of
information technology and computers where any information you want to know is
readily available in the internet, I searched migration pattern of whale shark Rhincodon Typus aka "Butanding". There are sightings
of this kind of fish in Honda Bay, Palawan and Donsol, Sorsogon. Considering the route of
these fish when they migrate looking for food from Palawan to Sorsogon surely they will
pass Tablas Straight. During my elementary grades in the island, fishermen there will tell
us stories of great fish locally known as "Sakung". Could this be the same
specie that Lolo Awing encountered? Do you want to see a picture how big a real "Butanding" is?
time ago during the height of Muslim piracy or should I say Muslim-Spanish conflict the
marauding Moros occasionally invaded the island of Banton. This was the reason why Fort
San Nicolas was built during the time of Fr. Agustin de San Pedro more known as Padre
Capitan, the warrior priest.
||Aside from the massive fort, two watchtowers were
built. One on top of Onti - a hill overlooking Sibuyan sea and another one adjacent to
Fort San Nicolas in sitio Puyo. These watchtowers served as outpost of lookouts who then
ring the bells when Moro vintas are seen swiftly sailing in the horizon approaching the
island. Upon hearing these warnings the islanders hurriedly take refuge inside the fort. By
the way the fort is more or less 2 hectares protected by walls more than a meter in
thickness and a varying height of 5 meters up. And there is a deep well inside where they
can get water just in case the invaders stay longer in the island.
||In one of the raids they captured Lolo Awing a
resident of barangay Sibay more or less four kilometers away from the Poblacion where Fort
San Nicolas is located. Lolo Awing was a pious man and loved by the islanders especially
by his barrio folks. When the pirates left the island nobody knows where the old man was
taken. The only thing and dreaded to imagine was that Lolo Awing was condemned to a
||The pirates on their way home and sensing that
their captive is just a poor old man and cannot serve his master efficiently, they change
their plan. They did not bring home the prisoner instead they pass to an
isolated islet and left the poor old man there. In that islet Lolo Awing lived on
wild fruits and seashells. He literally lived alone in an isolated island feeling as if he
was the biblical Adam.
||Morning and afternoon he scanned the horizon
wishing that a friendly sailboat will pass by or just taking a chance if he can see a
trace of his island Banton. But even if Banton could be seen from his place it will take
him many days to make a raft, not to mention the obstacle in rowing back home. Instead in
that islet he made a makeshift refuge of leaves and branches to protect him from rain,
heat and cold of the night.
In his most miserable and
distressed situation the only one he knows where he can turn to is to our Almighty God.
Night and day he fervently prayed to God for help. He knows that nobody even his town
folks will ever dare to conduct a rescue. At that time he was nowhere and unimaginable to
| Continued on next page..