Manduyog Hill

Manduyog Hill

Manduyog Hill is a religious sanctuary located at the Aklan State University, Banga, Aklan, the Philippines.

Manduyog Hill serenely stands at the eastern side of the Aklan State University in the municipality of Banga. Covered with lush green vegetation that turns to varied hues in summer, the hill occupies a segment in Aklan’s history. Although disputed by some sceptics as mere legends, Banganhons still believe that in 1437, Datu Manduyog, a descendant of the Borneo Datu during his reign as the ruler of Aklan transferred the seat of government from Batan to Bakan in Banga at the foot of the hill now named after the valiant Datu. The hill then served as a watch tower to warn the natives against invading Moro pirates. (This historical vignette has no historical record as basis, but has been manufactured in such a way as to acquire a hint of historical veracity, primarily through yearly programs or shows supposedly commemorating that historical event. Nonetheless, it has found no support among the established and respected historians of the Philippines, and is thus relegated as folklore of no historical provenance or significance.)

The hispanization of Panay brought Miguel Lopez de Legaspi the shores of Batan in 1565. Eventually, Christianization began and the new religion left as an indelible mark a Cross at the summit of the hill which vanished with the passing years. In later years, a concrete cross was erected through the initiative of the late Mr. Jose A. Urquiola but, it too, succumbed to the harsh elements of time. Imbued with a deep sense of religiosity, the Banganhons nurture the idea of rebuilding the cross at the hill, a dream shared by Knights of Columbus of Banga. But that dream gave no form for nobody took on such responsibility.

The enthusiasm to develop Manduyog hill into a religious shrine was revived anew during the last few months of the superintendence of Mr. Tranguilino V. San Pedro at Aklan Agricultural College. It was that simple prodding of constructing a cross in Manduyog Hill from the retired librarian of ASCA Mrs. Patria Q. Aguilar, wife of Dr. Helmar E. Aguilar, then College department head who eventually the University President together with Griselda S. Sayon, former faculty member, which renewed the interest to get the work in Manduyog Hill, started. With the imminent transfer of Supt. San Pedro, the work of planning and coordinating with concerned sectors fell upon Dr. Helmar E. Aguilar, who was assisted by Mrs. Constancia G. Legaspi, an instructor of this college. With their combined efforts, the support of the AAC faculty, staff and students, and the guidance of Rev.Fr. Leopoldo D. Lauron, Parish Priest of Banga, the Manduyog Development Project was started.

Initially, the hill was cleared with the help of Dr. Renato Z. Gepty,then farm manager and the late Dr. Ramon D. Duena, then a faculty member, Mr. Ricardo C. Villaruel,a farm mechanics teacher, assisted by the supervising the college students undergoing the YCAP. The giant cross was finally erected on March 11, 1975. Engr. Pedro R. Sayon, a college instructor who also supervised the work, drafted the plan of the huge steel cross. After its completion Mr.Susano Israel installed electric bulbs on it and when the bulbs lighted on the night of March 25, people saw it in the distance were awe struck , for it shone like a divine phenomenon, glittering against the dark velvet firmament. The cross was blessed on March 26, 1975. It was preceded by via crusis followed by a field Mass officiated by Rev. Fr. Lauron.

With the cross at the Manduyog now overlooking at Banga, the religious ardor and feeling of pride surged in every Banganhon’s heart. Thus came the idea of constructing life size statues depicting the way of the cross along the winding road. Spearheaded by the college and strongly supported by the Knight of Columbus of Banga in 5362, the parish the community, and other devotes Catholics donors for station were identified. These responded with enthusiasm. On March 23, 1975, Palm Sunday, 14 wooden crosses marking the exact site of the stations were blessed. Mr. Pio G. Pabelico from Jumarap,Banga, Aklan, a local sculptor, was commissioned to do the statues for the 14 stations.

The first celebration of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was held on September 14, 1975. Three priests officiated the Eucharistic celebration at 6:00 that morning: Rev. Fr. Leopoldo D. Lauron as the main celebrant assisted by Rev. Fr. Honre Magallanes and Rev. Fr. Antonio Doroño. A crowd estimated at more than 2,000 braved the September drizzle. Thereafter, a ground demonstration was held in front of the Gabaldon Building by Mr. Jorge C. Icotanim and Miss Diana Jean R. Irader.

In the afternoon, a stage presentation was given at the Amphitheater spearheaded by Dr. Liberarto M. Yerro, Mrs. Constancia G. Legaspi, Mrs. Laura Ruis-Isturis and the late Dr. Ninfa R. Oñas. Dr. Aguilar, who had now become the Superintendent of AAC, and Mrs. Contancia Gomez-Legaspi, continued to work hard on this collaborative project, now gaining strong support from different sectors. Through the generosity of the couples Mr. Jun Lazo and Mrs. Emma Guevarra-Lazo, a chapel was also built at the southern peak of the hill where masses are celebrated. The provincial government also extended support. Then Governor Roberto Garcia lent heavy equipment to the College to wider and level the roads uphill. The former Department (DLGCD) gave some construction materials for the concrete walks and steps starting from the back of the science building up to the ninth station. The students undergoing Civic Action Program (YCAP) provided the manpower.

In addition to the fourteen stations, another sculpture, the Agony in the Garden, was constructed near the welcome marker of the hill. This was donated by the late Judge and Mrs. Diosdado Y. Reloj, Sr. and Mr. and Mrs. Bienvenido Navarra, who were long time friends.

Sixteen years later, in June 1991, the 27-foot (8.3m) steel cross at the summit of Manduyog Hill was replaced by a 40-foot concrete one. Engr. Loreto P. Indelible drafted the design and supervised the construction. Nearly three decades after its completion, the problem of keeping the Manduoyg project in top shape rose. But the commitment of Doctor Aguilar was intact. With the help of Msgr. Raul Gonzales, now the Parish priest of Banga, a meeting was held on March 9, 2000 at the Banga Parish between the station donors and the College, represented by Dr. Aguilar. There, it was decided to give the College full responsibilities in maintaining and improving the project. The following years, Pres. Aguilar decided to do repairs at Manduyog Hill. With the assist. of Mr. Theodore Rowan and some suggestion from Mr. Edelberto Solidum, plans were laid out. Thus on March 12, 2001 the work began under the able supervision of engr. Edsel Elarde and Mr. Nelson Pastrana. The work included the rehabilitation of the damage statues by Mr. Ricardo Cajigal

Today, Manduyog Hill attracts visitors not only with in the province but even from other provinces in the country. During fiest day every September 14 and the Lenten season, throngs of multitudes go up the Hill not only the religious fervor, but also by the captivating spell of its magical tranquility.

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